Arlington, Virginia is a city of harmonious contradictions. Much of Arlington is small, quiet suburbia steeped in history and tradition. However, sprinkled throughout you'll find bustling metropolises, eclectic shopping districts, and a thoroughly modern feel.
All of this is set on the backdrop of the city's location bordering the District of Columbia. Arlington capitalizes on D.C.'s energy while offering a respite from the never-ending pace of the capital city.
This dichotomy gives Arlington its character. The juxtaposition between small town and big city has led people to call Arlington neighborhoods "urban villages." All of the city's urban villages have this mix of old and new to varying degrees, and understanding those nuances can help you find the best fit. Here's a quick guide to give you an idea of which neighborhood in the city is right for you:
Located close enough to D.C. to commute but far enough away to unwind, Westover is a great location for those looking to have more of a small-town feel at home.
Arlington's Farmers Market is located in Westover, and the neighborhood is full of locally-owned stores and restaurants. It's utterly walkable, full of shady trees and benches to encourage people to stroll, and easily accessed via bus or Metro.
This urban village is younger than some of the other neighborhoods in Arlington, which means it's still developing its culture and personality. However, it's already a popular location for young professionals. Near the Washington-Old Dominion bike trail, it's a great location for runners, cyclists, and anyone else who might enjoy the scenic path.
Shirlington Village is a restaurant and shopping district right in the center of the neighborhood that is easily reached by foot from anywhere in Shirlington.
Aesthetically speaking, this neighborhood's old roots and new businesses have brought Ballston to a crossroads. Because the city is becoming a more popular location for companies, it's in a transitional stage between the past and the present.
Walking around the block, you can go from a booming metropolis to an adorable suburb. Ballston is a prime example of the idea of an "urban village," a place that's both modern and steeped in tradition.
Pentagon City is the perfect location for someone who wants to be close to D.C. and is prepared to pay the price.
A shopper's dream, this neighborhood is home to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, a shopping center with over 150 shops and restaurants. There are plenty of other shops and retailers in this area as well, so this is a great place to be if you like to stay on top of the newest fashions and trends.
The urban village of Clarendon is one of the rising stars of Arlington, Virginia. This was originally Arlington's downtown area– at one point it even attempted to incorporate as its own town– but it eventually fell out of popularity.
However, in 2003 the area blossomed once again, thanks in large part to new retail, office, and restaurant development at Market Common. Now the area is known for its exciting nightlife and regular neighborhood events.
A village named after a chandelier is bound to sparkle, and that's definitely the case here. Crystal City is one of the largest downtown areas in Arlington and is a great location for people who want to be in the thick of things.
The neighborhood is going through a state of transition, after having recently lost its significant military population due to base reorganization. However, the future looks as bright as the name: with Amazon building a headquarters nearby, Crystal City hopes to become an energetic place in the near future.
Although Virginia Square still has that characteristic Arlington blend, it's definitely more village than urban. Mostly residential, Virginia Square is a hub for arts, culture, and education.
It's the location of the Arlington Public Library and is full of parks and playgrounds. Like Westover, you can consider Virginia Square a small town in the middle of a big city: close enough to be connected, but far enough to get a chance to disconnect.
More than a fourth of Arlington's population lives in this urban village. This is due in part to its linear shape, stretching from the western border of Arlington all the way to Arlington Cemetery.
Although this area doesn't have a Metro stop, it is serviced by a number of buses, so public transportation is still easy to find. There are a number of parks scattered through the neighborhood, giving residents a chance to connect with nature. It's also home to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, a great place to catch a movie or grab a meal.