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The Best Suburbs in Washington, D.C.
Moving to a new city is always challenging. And a large part of that challenge is looking for a place to live. There are so many things to consider when weighing your options-house styles, neighborhood safety, quality of schools, the convenience of location-it all can be quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve researched the best suburbs in Washington D.C. for you, so you don’t have to. You’ve no doubt seen our Washington, D.C. City Guide, which includes a short section on a few of D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods.
This list is a more in-depth neighborhood guides meant to examine what it’s like living in each of these highlighted areas, with links to popular destinations, as well as available houses for sale and apartments for rent (and by the way of introduction, we’re Bellhop — local movers in D.C. and movers throughout the country).
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So you’re interested in moving to D.C.?
Good choice. Few spots in the States have blended rich culture, amazing food, public parks, historical monuments, and renowned museums, as well as D.C. No wonder this city ranks high on the best places to live in the country.
If you’re hoping to find your perfect pocket of the city, this guide is for you. Look below for some helpful details and information on the four best suburbs in Washington, D.C.
Despite its proximity to the center city (just 3.5 miles northwest), Cathedral Heights is quite residential. This suburb adheres to professionals working in D.C. And families appreciate the quick access to inner-city, calm atmosphere, safety, and large lots. Upper Northwest and Bethesda are close by, and Glover Archbold Park and Rock Creek Park are 10-minute walks away.
Besides the stunning centerpiece and namesake of the neighborhood (the Washington National Cathedral), Cathedral Heights is known for its traditional brick architecture and bounty of mature trees. The neighborhood draws a diverse, international crowd and offers a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Neighbors get to know each other, attending frequent open-house parties and community gatherings, making it the friendliest area on our guide to the best suburbs in Washington D.C.
Friendly Factor in Cathedral Heights
Cathedral Heights is pet, bike, and pedestrian-friendly. Dog parks scatter the neighborhood, like the Newark Street Dog Park and Columbia Heights Dog Park. And locals enjoy this neighborhood’s scenic walkways, bike lanes, and public parks, like Newark Park and Turtle Park.
Things to Do in Cathedral Heights
Cathedral Heights offers a wonderful array of culturally diverse food. Try the traditional Japanese dishes from Raku, or tasty Tex-Mex from Cactus Cantina. Or sample the authentic Italian dishes at Casolare and Baja-style fare at Millie’s. The Kreeger Museum features 19th and 20th-century artists and several acres of sculpture gardens.
Homes in Cathedral Heights
Houses vary from large single-family homes to multi-family units. Smaller semi-detached houses, condos, and co-ops are also prevalent. A small condo in the neighborhood currently costs around $170k. Houses range in price and can cost over a half million.
Schools in Cathedral Heights
Schools serving Cathedral Heights include Mann Elementary School, Hardy Middle School, and Wilson High School among others.
Bethesda is the popular home for many of Washington’s elite. At only about 7 miles northwest of or a quick metro ride to downtown D.C., Bethesda’s location is on point. With a median household income of $133,000, this neighborhood ranks as one of the wealthiest in the area. And polls of bachelor and graduate degrees places Bethesda as one of the highest educated areas of the country.
If these numbers intimidate you, don’t worry. Bethesda’s community is welcoming and supportive. Residents’ also display a high involvement in charitable, volunteer, and nonprofit activities. Protecting space and resources for the seniors in the community is important and acted upon. And the city takes care to provide housing options that are affordable to people of all incomes.
But that’s not all this neighborhood has to offer. The state of Maryland designated Bethesda as an Arts & Entertainment District, and for good reason. The Imagination Stage produces numerous professional theatre shows year round. The Bethesda Jazz and Supper Club serves Creole dishes and hosts jazz and blues shows. And Strathmore offers world-class concerts and art exhibitions at the music center, making it the most cultured area on our guide to the best suburbs in Washington D.C.
Friendly Factor in Bethesda
Bethesda warmly welcomes bikers, dog-walkers, and pedestrians. Their downtown streets are walkable and often-used by shoppers, joggers, and stroller-pushers alike. They even have a pamphlet with info about the best bike routes, public transportation, and bike-share locations. Tack on several dozen dog parks, you’ve found yourself a friendly place to live.
Things to Do in Bethesda
One of this neighborhood’s winning attractions is the indoor/outdoor Bethesda Row. This shopping destination is full of boutiques, home decor shops, and art galleries. Long benches next to bubbling fountains and local restaurants are available for post-shopping fatigue.
Check a local’s calendar, and you’ll most likely find a note marking the annual Taste of Bethesda. This food and music festival gathers over 60 restaurants, five stages of entertainment, and 40,000 attendees who hit the Woodmont Triangle.
Want exceptional local grub in your new neighborhood? You’ve got it. Addie’s is a local favorite and one of chef Jeff Black’s six restaurants, not to mention his two bars and fish market. This elegant corner of Potomac Ave. serves decadent dishes like the Seafood Tower, a fresh seafood sampling the chef selected that day.
Passage To India serves authentic, exotic Indian food. Their flavor-packed menu includes dishes like Aloo Tuk, with crisped potato skins, cilantro-yogurt, and cranberry chutney. Duck Duck Goose is a modern French brasserie serving small plate dishes and bottomless mimosas at brunch. Kōbō is secretly tucked away – a restaurant within a restaurant. This private, 6-person counter within Sushiko provide guests with a multi-course meal, served to them by the chef himself.
Great beers are easy to find at Owen’s Ordinary, a neighborhood tavern with a beer garden, serving 50 regional craft beers on draft. On their menu, these beers are sub-sectioned into the flavor profiles hop, fruit & spice, roast, smoke, malt, tart & funky, and crisp.
Homes in Bethesda
The average cost of homes in Bethesda levels out at around $1.1 million. But shop around because prices range drastically throughout the neighborhood. Renters typically pay $2,603/month for a 946 square-foot apartment.
Schools in Bethesda
Schools serving Bethesda include Winston Churchill, Poolesville, and Thomas S. Wootton among others. Bethesda has some of the best schools in Maryland, according to Niche.com
This pretty residential pocket, about 8 miles south of downtown D.C., is home to some of the oldest houses in the area. In portions of the neighborhood, these character-rich homes line worn, cobblestone streets. The entire east length of the neighborhood lines the Potomac River, giving Alexandria its spectacular waterfront views. With its flourishing restaurant and bar scene, Alexandria has become a hot-spot for people interested in living close to the city. And downtown is relatively easy to get to, making it the most convenient area on our guide to the best suburbs in Washington D.C.
Friendly Factor in Alexandria
Alexandria is known for its love of dogs, and a multitude of local businesses offer “yappy hours” where patrons can bring their pups along with them. In fact, it’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t allow pets on the patio! But Alexandria doesn’t stop at dogs – bikers, walkers, joggers, and stroller-pushers are all welcome here.
Things to Do in Alexandria
This neighborhood offers its special blend of history, culture, arts, food, and entertainment. The Torpedo Factory Art Center boasts of more artist studios (82, to be exact) available for public visits than anywhere else in the country. Plus, they offer seven galleries that will fill any art-lovers pining heart.
The Alexandria Black History Museum honors the African American experience and the cultural diversity within the neighborhood. Jones Point Park weaves a path through the city’s past. Tours pass by the DC boundary stones laid in 1791, a lighthouse established in 1855, and a World War I shipyard.
Alexandria also offers a plethora of trip-worthy restaurants. We recommend you try out Eddie’s Little Shop and Deli – if you can appreciate a good sandwich, we guarantee that you’ll appreciate Eddie’s Little Shop.
And there’s more! Vermilion, a farm-to-table hub hosts promotional events about local farmers and foragers. And Brabo, a fancy French stop cooks up some kick-butt cocktails. But our list doesn’t scratch the surface. For a full appreciation of Alexandria’s robust food scene, try out the 3.5-hour history tour of Old Town, with intermingled stops at top restaurants.
Homes in Alexandria
Schools in Alexandria
Schools serving Alexandria include Lyles-Crouch Elementary School, Charles Barrett Elementary School, George Washington Middle School, and T.C. Williams High School. Schools serving Alexandria, Virginia include some of the best schools in the state of Virginia.
It’s about 7 miles from Shirlington to Washington, D.C., and boy, will you want to make the drive! One article calls Shirlington “the heart and soul of arts and entertainment in Arlington – home to the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre company, WETA and more.”
Looking for a place downtown where everything is happening? It has it. Want a cozy townhouse in a quieter part of the city? It has that, too. Need something close to the Washington National Airport? Say no more! Shirlington is a prime location near Washington, D.C., with beautiful parks, various restaurants, and tons of things to do.
It has great schools, making it suitable for families. It’s even called the top neighborhood to purchase a home in all of Arlington. What’s the vibe there? It’s nice, walkable, safe, and friendly.
Whether you’re moving with kids or are a young professional looking for a quieter lifestyle than being smack dab in Washington, D.C., but still want to be around lots of amenities and activities, Shirlington could be a great place to call home. It’s also not too shabby in terms of scenery! Just Google it. Trust us.
Friendly Factor in Shirlington
Out of all the neighborhoods in the Arlington area, Shirlington is dubbed the “39th most walkable.” The parks bring people together, particularly Shirlington Park, Glen Carlyn Park, and Barcroft Park. Dogs will also have quite the time in Shirlington. Why? For one, you have the Shirlington Dog Park, where the dogs are known for being friendly and the pet owners responsible!
Things to Do in Shirlington
The Village at Shirlington is a must-visit if you like shopping. The shopping center has all your favorite stores and many great restaurants if you’re looking for a bite to eat. Some other fun things to do are catching a show at the Signature Theatre, watching a movie at the AMC Shirlington 7, or taking a class at Theatre on the Run. Really, Shirlington has it all!
Homes in Shirlington
You can find a little of every type of home in Shirlington, including townhouses, apartments, condos, and single-family homes. Homes are selling for an average cost of $392,000 there right now, which is down from last year. A one-room apartment goes for about $2,363, which is up from last year.
Schools in Shirlington
Schools serving Shirlington include Arlington Traditional Elementary School, Abingdon Elementary School, Gunston Middle School, Dorothy Hamm Middle School, Washington Liberty High School, and H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, among others.
Does Silver Spring sound familiar, but you just can’t put your finger on it? It might be because it’s the location of the Seventh-day Adventist World Headquarters, National Capital Trolley Museum, and National Association of the Deaf, among other famous places.
This diverse and cultural suburb is the art center of Montgomery County, Maryland, with things going on all the time, from concerts to other events. But don’t let that deter you if you have kids. In fact, this suburb has much more to it than a thriving nightlife. It also has top-rated schools and lots to do for kids. (Oh, and fun fact: it’s the second-best Maryland suburb for young professionals.)
So, if you want something that is close to Washington, D.C., but you don’t want to sacrifice activities, start browsing for a home or condo in Silver Spring! There are quite a few options that could be great for a young person looking to move near the big city and commute in for work.
Friendly Factor in Silver Spring
Silver Spring is considered “somewhat walkable,” with a walk score of 63. The good news is that the suburb is extremely dog friendly, though. In fact, your furry friends are welcome at a number of establishments, from hotels and Airbnbs to restaurants (El Golfo, Denizens, Bump ‘n Grind, All Set Restaurant and Bar, etc.).
Things to Do in Silver Spring
Our personal favorite activities in Silver Spring are going to the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Downtown Silver Spring, visiting the National Museum of Health & Medicine, and getting food at one of the suburb’s many highly rated restaurants (Copper Canyon Grill, Mi Rancho, and The Society Restaurant & Lounge–to name a few).
Homes in Silver Spring
Single-family homes are most abundant in Silver Spring. That means that whether you want a bungalow or something larger in a quiet area, that suburb has it. There are also quite a few condos in Downtown Silver Spring. Homes are selling for about $517,000 in Silver Spring, and rent is approximately $1,873 for an apartment just under 900 square feet.
Schools in Silver Spring
Schools serving Silver Spring include Rosemary Hills Elementary School, JoAnn Leleck Elementary School, Silver Spring International Middle School, Ida B. Wells Middle School, Northwood High School, and Nora School, among others.
There you have it: the best suburbs of Washington, D.C.
We hope this was helpful, and if you decide to take the plunge, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends here at Bellhop, trusted local movers in Washington, DC. Need to move quickly? We also provide last minute moving services in Washington DC! Lastly, if you’re looking to move to a neighboring city such as Baltimore, or are moving long-distance to Washington DC, feel free to give us call as well!
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