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What is your favorite thing about raising kids in the North Arlington area?
My favorite thing about raising kids in Arlington is that it’s conveniently located minutes from DC and provides the best of both worlds—an urban feel in some areas closer to the metro with quick accessibility to amenities; and quiet neighborhoods close by with parks and amazing schools.
What makes North Arlington, VA family-friendly and unique?
A unique quality of raising children in Arlington is the walkability and accessibility to parks. Being so close to DC and still feeling close to nature is a huge plus when raising a family. According to parks.arlingtonva.us, 98% of residents can walk to a park in 10 minutes or less, the average park size is 2.1 acres, and Arlington spends $234.58 per resident on its parks.
What community events or local attractions are there?
North Arlington has an abundance of Farmer’s Markets throughout both the week and weekends, including:
- Arlington Farmers Market Arlington County Courthouse parking lot , North Courthouse Road, and North 14th Street , Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon (Jan. 2 to April 9) Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon (April 18 to Dec. 26)
- Ballston FRESHFARM Market Welburn Square, 901 N. Taylor Street , Thursdays, 3-7 p.m. (April 14 to Oct. 27)
- Marymount Farmers Market 2807 N. Glebe Road, Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (May 21 to Nov. 19)
- Westover Farmers Market Westover Library 1644 North McKinley Road, Sundays, 8 a.m. to noon (May-November) Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (December to April)
My kids are big fans of the breakfast sandwiches and fresh fruit at the Marymount and Westover markets.
Plus, as mentioned previously, parks are abundant all over the county. Here are some of my kids’ favorites:
- Chestnut Hills Park in the Yorktown neighborhood is over 4 acres with large slides for older kids and a low climbing area for smaller children. There’s lots of open green space, swings, and a huge sand pit area.
- Woodstock Park in Waverly Hills is conveniently located a block away from the Lee Heights shops (where you can pick up coffee and chocolate croissants from Pastries by Randolph) and is shaded with a basketball court and a nice looped path where kids can ride bikes and scooter.
- Hayes Park, in Cherrydale, has a fun space-themed splash pad with giant stone planets and fountains for younger kids to enjoy throughout the summer.
There’s never a shortage of toys at parks in Arlington either, as many families leave ride-on toys like cars for other children to enjoy once their kids have outgrown them.
Why would you recommend Arlington to families?
It’s hard to pick a few things that make Arlington great for families because there are many reasons! The schools are amazing, with many choice programs available, like Spanish immersion at Key Elementary.
There are several Nature Centers located in North Arlington that are free and offer educational programs throughout the year.
- Gulf Branch Nature Center has “campfire evenings” throughout the summer for families for $5.00, as well as nature programs during the day for Preschoolers.
- In the summer, Potomac Overview Park offers concerts, family fun nights, and more every 2nd Saturday of the month from 7–9 p.m. Families are welcome to bring an evening meal and enjoy a picnic on the lawn.
Mothers of North Arlington (MONA) is a local social and support group for mothers (expectant mothers included). It offers monthly socials, outings for children, workshops for parents, Moms Night Out events, playgroups, a variety of special interest clubs, two active message boards for information and support, and community service opportunities.
What nearby schools or childcare places do kids go to?
Preschools are in high demand in Arlington, so my advice for new families would be to get on a waitlist as soon as possible.
Mt Olivet, for example, has a half-day, play-based program with loving teachers (one of whom has been teaching there for 40 years!).
Other half-day preschools include—Trinity Presbyterian, Early Years (located at Cherrydale Methodist, Cherrydale Baptist, Westover Baptist, and Kinhaven.
A popular full-day option is Little Ambassadors Academy, now with two locations–one in Cherrydale and another closer to Overlee; Clarendon Childcare Center and Full Circle Montessori are others. A full list of preschool options can be found here.
Where are your favorite places to shop in North Arlington?
There is an abundance of stores throughout North Arlington, but I’ll focus this write-up on a smaller strip of businesses located at Lee Heights Shops, 4518 Lee Highway.
- Lemoncello—A cute boutique that includes clothes for women and children, accessories, and small home gifts like picture frames and candles.
- Child’s Play—this is North Arlington’s go-to spot for last-minute birthday party gifts! This store offers every toy imaginable for babies to tween. There’s also an extensive bookstore in the basement. Giftwrap is free, making the gift-buying process quick and easy for everyone!
- Arrowine—A wine (and cheese! and beer!) aficionado’s dream, this neighborhood store has hundreds of wines and cheeses to try at affordable prices. They have free wine tastings every Friday from 5-7 pm.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in North Arlington?
Pietanza is my kids’ favorite restaurant, and what do they love? Butter noodles with a side of broccoli. There’s something in the cheese that brings them back for more. This is a very family-friendly establishment with delish pizzas, pasta, salads, and subs located at the Lee Harrison Center.
Puppatella has thin, Neopolitan-style pizza and is baked in the traditional 900+ degree wood-fire pizza oven manufactured by masters in Naples, Italy. You can’t go wrong with the traditional Margherita pizza, or the Diavola made with Spicy salami, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
If your family can’t decide on what to eat for dinner, check out the food court at the newly-opened Ballston Quarter. Hot Lola’s fried chicken is a hit with the kids, but there are also several high-quality and unique restaurants to choose from, all in one convenient food court.
What places make North Arlington feel kid-friendly?
Arlington County’s public libraries offer free story times throughout the week for all ages. Some of our most frequented libraries include—Central Library, Cherrydale Library, and Westover Library.
Each quarter, Arlington County’s Office of Parks & Recreation offers classes for babies up to 55+. My children started in the water babies courses at one of the local High Schools and enjoyed several summer camps run through the county at our elementary school.
Privately owned play spaces, such as Nook, the Little Gym, and Tumbles, are great spots for a playdate or somewhere to go when the weather isn’t that great!
Art House Seven has classes for ages 2 to adults in a comfortable two-story studio. They offer classes in sculpture, painting, ceramics, photography, cartooning, sewing, fiber arts, jewelry-making, and more. They have weekly classes, workshops, and summer camps.
What advice would you give to families who are new to North Arlington?
Pools and Preschools seem to be the things that North Arlington could use more of. Because of the high cost and minimal land space available, preschools and pools are hard to come by–so get on a waitlist early. Popular pools include Overlee, Donaldson Run, Knights of Columbus, and Dominion Hills. Personally, I waited 8 years to get into Overlee, but thankfully during that time, we moved to a neighborhood with a pool and were able to get off the summer waitlist after 4 short years! Upton Hills Regional Park is a public option with day-pass options.
Preschools can also seem daunting when first arriving in Arlington, but never fear—many spots open up by the end of summer as families decide on programs or move from the area.
Expert, experienced Realtor for Arlington, VA:
The Royster Hearth Group – Your Local Real Estate Team in Northern Virginia
HEARTH /härTH/ noun 1: HOME, especially when seen as a place of comfort and love.
Home is more than a place with a roof over our heads. It is a place of comfort, love, warmth, rest, and security – “HEARTH”. The Royster Hearth Group is a dedicated team in Northern Virginia to help you reach that place. Their mission statement is simple: Serve Our Neighbors, Not Ourselves. Whether you’re buying or selling, or just weighing your options, The Royster Hearth Group will love to talk to you! Tim Royster, Team Lead of the Royster Hearth Group, is a U.S. Army Veteran. Contact Tim at [email protected] or 571-275-0871. Look at their website at www.roysterhearthgroup.com, and be sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram too.
This is a guest post written by Kacy Littlehale.
Kacy lives with her husband, Bobby, and their three children (7, 4, and 1) in Arlington, VA. Having lived all over the country and abroad, Kacy enjoys experiencing new food and cultures. Since graduating from the University of Georgia in 2005, Kacy has worked as a designer with a consulting firm. For fun, Kacy enjoys dragging friends and family to DC events big and small and has an Etsy shop, emandmayes.com, which sells local and personalized gifts.