We recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Arlington with a group of fellow travel writers. I spent years working around Ballston Common Mall in my former corporate life and it was good to be able to come back and spend some quality relaxing time here. Close enough to the Washington D.C. sights, but a different energy and vitality entirely.
Most people know Arlington as site of the Arlington National Cemetery. Definitely worth a visit for anyone who enjoys history or beautiful park-like surroundings. The view from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is fabulous. Plan to spend some time as you will either need to walk to take a shuttle to see all corners of the site. No cars are allowed.
For you military types, you’ll also want to check out three other signature locations:
o Marine War Memorial
o Air Force Memorial
All located in Arlington. Hours vary, especially now with the shutdown of our government. Hopefully, our illustrious senators and representatives will get their collective stuff together soon.
I’ll be doing a full feature on Arlington National Cemetery soon, complete with lots of photos, but for now, I asked some locals what they love about Arlington. Got lots of great ideas for you, so enjoy their take on what makes Arlington great.
Carrie Devorah thinks you need to check out the benefits of shopping in Crystal City. “It’s Metro accessible, quiet, the underground mall, the artists alliance, class clothes...quiet, and did I say quiet? The Water Park is a signature site here in Arlington –very popular for Hispanic community weddings and when the girl turns 15. Best eateries include Jaleo, Teds Montana Grill and Good Stuff Eatery. More Starbucks than one can shake a stick at...Fed Ex Kinkos, the funniest USPS employees, events all the time that are foot accessible...Did I say quiet?” (Hey Carrie, might be quiet but it doesn’t sound dull.)
Joan Porte reveals an underpublicized area known as Westover. “There is great food, the Lebanese Taverna, Thai Noi and the Lost Dog and Stray Cat - all area institutions - as well as Ayers Hardware. What? A hardware store? Yes - Ayers is an institution, a throwback to the 50s and 60s when a store had everything. Ayers has everything from garden supplies to yarn from canning material to socks. Everyone has to go to Ayers.”
Linda Anderson laughs every time she thinks about “The Comedy Spot in Ballston Mall. They have family friendly comedy/improv shows. So much fun and ‘clean’ family fun!”
City of eateries:
My top recommendation is Lyon Hall on N. Washington Blvd. Great vibe, sidewalk seating and the food is absolutely top notch. I had their French onion soup with sourdough and gruyere – mmmm. For the main course, I really savored every bite of my hazelnut-crusted mountain trout, served with summer beans, pee-wee potatoes and a vanilla bean butter. It was outstanding.
It goes without saying, and I won’t ruin the surprise, but you absolutely must visit their restrooms downstairs before or after dinner.
Matt Hagan recommends “Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington Village. Capitol City is the DC-area's first brewpub since Prohibition and brews its own beer on site at its Arlington location. Each October, Capitol City also hosts Northern Virginia's largest Oktoberfest beer festival celebration.” (See our Calendar of Events)
Sara Wilson says “The Arlington Drafthouse is a great stop for people looking for comedy shows or something to do at night. They host comedy shows, movies (ones released a month ago or so), and concerts, but I've haven't been there for concerts yet. The venue is pretty casual, floor seating with rows of tables and comfy leather chairs. They have table service too, so you can order food and drinks during the show or the movie. The price is great with movies usually being around $6 and comedy shows $20 or less from what I remember. And there's even free parking around back!” (Gotta love free parking.)
Lauren Herpich shared, “I highly recommend Lost Dog Cafe as a must-go spot. Not only are you guaranteed a great pizza (so many options!) at a fair price, but if you eat in, you truly get a fantastic local experience - not to mention a nice selection of bottled beers. My favorite: The Rin Tin Tin Pie!”
Jeff Wu seconds that recommendation. “"Great place, Great Service, Super Selection (30+ kinds of sandwiches, and tons of salads, pizzas, drinks, and also the freedom to make your own). Plus this place is all about serving the community. They put part of their profits to helping charity."
Adam Tope wants you to know about his favorite “El Pollo Rico. It’s the best Peruvian chicken in the DC area by far. Crispy skin, juicy, spicy, flavorful. There is a reason people wait in line for this chicken.”
Linda Anderson has a couple favs in Arlington. “Red, Hot and Blue - the are a chain in the area, but they have fantastic food and it's fast. For a sit down place, I've never seen food come out so quickly. Very reasonably priced, too! Also try The Weenie Beanie - it's in Shirlington and is a drive-in restaurant. It looks like a complete hole in the wall/old school Dairy Queen, with its walk up window. It's a greasy spoon in every sense of the word, but it's some of the most awesome food I've ever had! Club Sandwich, Onion Rings and Orange Soda - yum!”
Meg Mendelsohn also has a pair she recommends. “Bayou Bakery is my personal favorite for breakfast, coffee and sweets (and really anything southern) and Fuego is one of my favorites for dinner or drinks with friends (their Margaritas are the best!).”
For more information check out http://StayArlington.com
Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about travel destinations across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at email@example.com with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. For travel ideas in Cleveland and around the world, check his Calendar of Events. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.