If you and your family are moving to Washington, D.C., then rest assured there are plenty of family-friendly neighborhoods from which you can choose. Choose the right area and you will be near good schools, safe parks, and historic monuments not found in any other part of the country. Consider our list of the 9 best neighborhoods for D.C. families before you start planning your move.
If you’re just beginning the research process, it makes sense to start with the oldest neighborhood in the area. Georgetown was founded in 1751, a full 40 years before Washington itself was established. The quaint area is home to cobblestone streets and 18th-century architecture.
Families will find everything they need right at their fingertips. In a relatively small area, more than 500 stores are spread across 750 acres. As far as schools go, many elementary, middle, and high schools have established community partnerships with Georgetown University and George Washington University. These partnerships allow students to become involved in higher education at a young age and help them fully develop.
Military families who are only in D.C. for a short time will enjoy the history and the authentic “D.C. experience” that inherently comes with life in the Georgetown area. Even if you’re moving from a larger house, you may want to consider renting an apartment with a view of the Potomac and keeping extra furnishings in storage while stationed in the area. The experience will fascinate your kids and create lasting memories of the area.
During the past decade, Glover Park has seen a 25 percent increase in the population of kids and teenagers, and it’s known among many D.C. residents as the “Leave it to Beaver” community. Tucked between Glover Archbold Park and the United States Naval Observatory, the area is home to Stoddert Elementary School, which ranked first among all D.C. public schools in 2010. Many military families send their children to Stoddert, and the school welcomed students from more than 23 countries in 2013.
On top of the education opportunities, Glover Park has a strong community and support system for families. The area has an excellent community website with great forums to use as resources and for finding potential babysitters; the neighborhood also is known for its softball fields and community gardens. Between its rising foodie scene and the fact that it lies within walking distance to Georgetown, Glover Park is an ideal choice for families who want to live in one of the safest neighborhoods in D.C. but still have fun.
While some people believe the Palisades neighborhood extends through the Kent and Berkley neighborhoods, the general consensus is that its territory begins at the intersection of Foxhall Road and MacArthur Boulevard and runs northwest between MacArthur and the Potomac River.
The Palisades area gets very little through traffic, with most of the cars driving along MacArthur commuting in and out of D.C. This effectively has made the Palisades into a quiet community constituted mostly of single-family homes. Families who aren’t accustomed to city life will feel comfortable in the Palisades, as its location and structure provide a small-town feel with farmers markets and holiday parades.
The Palisades area also is home to Francis Scott Key Elementary School, and many families relocate to send their kids there, along with top-ranked middle and high schools. In addition to being one of the best neighborhoods in D.C., The Palisades is a cute mini-town for your kids to grow up in.
DuPont Circle is one of the more affluent areas you could consider when moving to Washington D.C. The neighborhood struggled with crime several decades ago, but it now is home to townhouses worth $1-2 million. Fortunately, not all homes in the area are that expensive, and the majority of residents are young and well educated.
Like other D.C. neighborhoods, DuPont is walkable, and you will want to walk around and take in the arts and food scenes that are growing there. Before you move, check the schools to make sure there is room for your child. You may have to get on a waiting list before you even start boxing up your home in order to ensure your child makes it into preschool.
Not to be confused with Chevy Chase, Md., this neighborhood in northwest D.C. is often compared to Mayberry, the neighborhood from “The Andy Griffith Show.” It was founded in 1907 as one of the first “streetcar suburbs.” Government workers often would have jobs in the city, and then they would come home to relax in the green, peaceful neighborhood of Chevy Chase. To this day, Chevy Chase is still one of the best neighborhoods for D.C. families, as it is among the cleanest and safest in the metro D.C. area. Out-of-state families moving to the area for work likely will do well living here, thanks to the easy commutes and good public transportation offered by this area.
Lafayette is the closest elementary school in the area, and this top-ranked school borders a park with playgrounds, tennis courts, and even a small amphitheater. There are still some iconic locations from the “streetcar suburb” days that stand strong in Chevy Chase, including the Avalon Theater and the American City Diner.
Most of the neighborhoods on this list have been focused on areas with single-family homes, but what about a neighborhood for apartment-dwelling families? Military and middle-income families that still want to live in a nice area should look into Friendship Heights.
Not only does it have well-maintained high-rises, but the area also is known for its walkable streets and metro stations. If you don’t own a car, this is an optimal neighborhood for commuting into the city. If you send your children to Janney Elementary, you should be able to walk them to school and drop them off every day.
Shopaholics be warned: Friendship Heights draws in D.C. residents for its upscale retail options, which range from J. Crew to Gucci.
Don’t be intimidated by the stately congressional buildings — the neighborhood of Capitol Hill is vibrant and more than suitable for families. In the early 1800s, the neighborhood was a cross-section of congressmen and laborers from the Navy Yard, and it grew into the city’s largest historical district and most diverse neighborhood. Congressmen live just a few blocks away from an eclectic mixture of Georgetown law students, retirees, and new families.
Foot travel and public transportation also are the favorite options for Capitol Hill residents, as parking is hard to come by and real estate is expensive. Residents of this area would be wise to keep their vehicles in storage if they don’t plan to use them daily. Then, when they’re taking a road trip to visit family or just to see the country, they will have easy access to it without the upkeep.
American University Park
If you’re looking for one of the best Washington, D.C. suburbs for families, then you can’t go wrong with American University Park. The majority of the homes are owned by families and senior citizens, and there isn’t much by way of commercial businesses. The architecture rarely varies, and residents maintain row after row of white picket fences and manicured lawns.
It’s possible to take the metro and commute downtown, and you can go to work confidently knowing that your children are receiving a quality education. Students will attend Janney Elementary as well (American University Park borders Friendship Heights), but they can enroll in nearby St. Ann's Academy as an alternative.
Bordering American University Park is Spring Valley, a neighborhood lined with oak trees and houses that get larger as you go farther south. While three past presidents called Spring Valley home before they moved into the White House, it’s not just a neighborhood for the political elite. Many families choose to live there as an alternative to Georgetown.
The low crime rate and suburban feel make it hard for residents to believe that they’re still within city limits. If you visit the area to look for houses, stop into Wagshal’s Market and Deli, which has been a local favorite since 1925.
While budget is important, it’s also good to find a neighborhood that meets your needs and makes you feel comfortable. Whether you’re opting for the opulent Dupont Circle or are shopping around in Friendship Heights, there are many great family-oriented areas to live in Washington D.C.