5 Best Family Friendly Neighborhoods in Washington, DC
Washington, DC is a melting pot of nations, and people flock to the city for its rich diversity in culture and history. Employment growth opportunities, low teacher to student ratios in schools and a #1 ranking in the American Fitness Index makes Washington, DC a perfect place to raise a family. Read on for the five best family friendly neighborhoods in DC!
If ever there was a city that could be voted “The Best of Everything”, Washington, DC would fill the #1 spot. There is something for everyone, here - from vibrant, active outdoor areas, to a rich, tumultuous history that shaped the foundations of America to trendy restaurants and shops. We’re a haven for foodies, fitness buffs, history and politics nerds, and you can drive to the beach or to the mountains in just a few hours.
When you come to visit DC, it’s easy to fall in love with its quirks. There are streets labeled with states and letters (you won't find the letter "J" though) and Presidents have kept alligators as pets in the White House. You might be delighted to discover that one of the gargoyles on the National Cathedral is replaced with Darth Vader (seriously, he's there!).
But what makes DC unique is the diversity in its neighborhoods and boroughs. There is a place for every family to call home and we’ve picked the five that we think are some of the best the city has to offer.
Image by Daniel Lobo via Flickr
Known to DC locals as “Little Rome”, Brookland is a hot spot for artists, gardeners, and families alike. The neighborhood has flourished in the last few years and is one of the friendlier places you’ll find in the city, making it a wonderful place to raise children. It’s a haven for budding artists and foodies, and many of the shops and restaurants in this area offer an air of sophistication while catering to the young and young at heart.
What makes this neighborhood so unique, however, is some of its cultural experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Visit the Franciscan Monastery at the corner of Quincy Street and 14th Ave and take in some of their charming gardens. Built in 1898, the Monastery has an impressive 42 acres within the city limits, and garden tours are free in the spring and early fall months. You can even bring your pets to have them blessed! It’s a small bit of old-world charm amongst the modern amenities of the city.
You'll find quaint, single-family homes with ample yard spaces in this neighborhood. It also hosts some of the area’s most popular school choices: Washington Yu Ying Elementary School, a bilingual Chinese-English institution that ranks high amongst DC’s elementary schools, Archbishop Carroll High School, and Catholic University are all a short commute within the community. Its infrastructure and metro access makes this neighborhood ideal for those searching for a minimal city commute, too.
If your family loves a quieter, organic approach to city living, Brookland will definitely appeal to you. It continues to attract families looking small-town living in a big city.
Though it used to be a quiet, country estate in the late 1700s, Petworth exploded in the early 20th century as a diverse, vibrant “trolley car” neighborhood in the North West quadrant of the city. There’s rich history here for sure, including President Lincoln's Cottage where he developed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The neighborhood’s renovated library is the pride of this community, and hosts seasonal crafts and regular family story hours that encourage family time. You can even practice yoga! The park across the street in Grant Circle is a great place to relax, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
And, if there’s one thing you’ll find plenty of in Petworth, is its diversity and sense of love for community. Drew Schneider, long time Petworth resident and Editor at Petworth News, (@petworthdcnews) echoed the sentiment that their residents invest that love into their neighborhood.
“Any culture comes from the perspective of the people that live there. The more people get involved, the more people come out to the events like our Jazz festivals and street fairs. Petworth prides itself on community, because its residents care about their community.”
There has also been a noticeable boom in residents with children, he says, and the community has reflected this change with the additions of small businesses and services that cater to them.
Home prices in this neighborhood are as diverse as its residents, too. Condos start in the low 130’s to single family homes in the high 700’s, which make it ideal for families of every size and shape.
3. Glover Park
If there’s one thing Glover Park inhabitants do well, it’s Halloween. Residents are known for going all out on the holiday and neighbors really take pride in having the best decorations on the block. Some residents even display movies projected on large sheets for the neighborhood’s happy haunts and there is a general sense of porch culture wrapped up in this small urban community.
Since 2010, the neighborhood has seen a surge in children and young teens, and with its reputation of having some of the best schools in the area with Stoddard Elementary, Hardy Middle, and Woodrow Wilson High School, it’s easy to see why lots of new residents call Glover Park their home.
You can find any sort of local event you need at the Guy Mason Rec Center, which hosts everything from Little League games to Summer festivals, and parents can share nannies, babysitters, and set up playdates between families on the community’s website.
While you won’t find any metro access here, many residents don’t seem to mind. The streets here are far from busy, but the neighborhood’s proximity to major highways like I-66, the George Washington Parkway and Route 50, make it a driving commuter’s dream. Despite being 5 minutes from one of DC’s busiest neighborhoods, you’d never know it when you’re here - they are their own little universe.
4. Capitol Hill
There’s a good reason why Capitol Hill is sometimes called “Stroller City”. Parking is somewhat hard to nab here and walking is the preferred choice of transportation, but one of the most surprising things about Capitol Hill are the amount of young families that live within its limits. It’s a popular spot for politicians, which makes sense given its proximity to the Capitol building, but you’ll also find a healthy dose of engineers, mathematicians, and people in the finance industry.
What makes it one of the best choices for families, however, is its “little city” feel. Many of its residents like that they are their own tight-knit community where they meet at the Eastern Market on the weekends, or at one of the three main parks.
“Picture a large New England village with rowhomes, church steeples and every merchant you can need. That’s what you have with Capitol Hill. The neighborhood is a tight community and MomsOnTheHill is a resource bar none for parents. Several parks allow for families and for pet owners to feel welcome, too.”
He also notes that the neighborhood is just a few blocks from Nationals Park at Navy Yard, and a short commute to the Verizon Center in Chinatown, which makes this neighborhood a sports family’s dream locale.
Fun fact about Georgetown, it was established as a neighborhood about 40 years before Washington, DC itself was established as a city. Georgetown is easily one of the trendiest spots in Washington, with its waterfront amenities, restaurants, shopping, and tourists as far as the eye can see. It’s busy and bustling, and is never short on charm.
There are at least 500 shops and stores in the area so everything you need is just a short walk away, and it’s in close proximity to Glover Park, too.The schools here have partnered with the two juggernaut higher education institutions, Georgetown University and George Washington University to provide local students with access to higher education early on.
If we’re being honest, the average home price in Georgetown is among the highest in the city, and you’re paying strictly for location, location, location. But for busy professional parents, you can’t deny its charm, and its accessibility to the rest of the city via it’s massive public transportation system.
And while finding a home in Georgetown with enough space to raise a big family might have it’s challenges, small families might just find what they’re looking for in a condo or apartment that overlooks the waterfront.
Claude gives us some insight on what makes this particular corner of Washington so appealing.
“[Georgetown is] a diverse range of ages each demanding the best of themselves. This is quintessential Washington, both to Americans and foreigners in our capital. Of course, what can be better than intellectual challenge, fine dining and strolling along the art galleries?”
It certainly makes for an interesting, cultured childhood.
Whether you’re a family of fitness buffs that loves to jog and bike together, avid sports fans looking for a perfect day at the ballpark, or artists looking for a new muse, Washington, DC has a neighborhood that will cater to your family. If you’re thinking about relocating, consider one of these awesome neighborhoods to call your forever home.
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