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The best of D.C.’s family-friendly neighborhoods

Washington D.C. is a great place to raise a family, but some neighborhoods in the capital are just better than others. Let’s get to know the cream of the crop of D.C.’s family-friendly communities.

1. Georgetown

Family Fun

    The oldest neighborhood in D.C. (it was founded in the mid-18th century), Georgetown is an established neighborhood known for its distinctive 18th century architecture.

    For such a relatively compact area, Georgetown is packed with over 500 stores that cater to a variety of needs and services. Great education is also located nearby, and you’ll be pleased to learn that the neighborhood has community partnerships with George Washington University and Georgetown University.

2. Glover Park

    Due to its tight-knit community and support system, Glover Park is well-known to be a very family-friendly community. Aside from being the home of a topnotch school (Stoddert Elementary), Glover Park is also home to a collection of community gardens, softball fields, and more. Last but not the least, Georgetown is located right around the corner.

3. DuPont Circle

    Home to a relatively young and well-educated community, DuPont Circle is another family-friendly neighborhood you should check out. Amidst its expensive townhomes are more affordable real estate options, walkable streets, and a growing art and food scene. You’ll need to check the schools, however, if they can accommodate your child once you move to the neighborhood.

4. Chevy Chase

    D.C.’s Chevy Chase, one of the first “streetcar suburbs,” is one of the cleanest and safest neighborhoods in the capital. Lafayette Elementary, a highly rated school, is located in the area, and working parents will find the public transportation commendable.

5. Friendship Heights

    It’s not hard to make a friend at Friendship Heights, a family-friendly neighborhood lined with spacious apartments and upscale retail boutiques. Aside from the great commute, Friendship Heights boasts well-maintained and walkable streets and access to the efficient train system. Janney Elementary is located in close proximity to Friendship Heights, and you can easily walk your kids to school.

Learn more about D.C.’s wonderful neighborhoods by checking out our comprehensive area guides.

Washington DC Shopping Guide

From upscale fashion boutiques to indie storefronts, Washington, D.C.’s neighborhoods are filled to the brim with endless shopping opportunities. Here’s your definitive guide to the capital’s best shopping districts.

Georgetown
DC ShoppingOne place where you can find just about anything is Georgetown. Long established as a shopping hub, you can find trendy brands like Tory Burch and rag & bone in the area.

Consignment stores, like Ella Rue and Second Time Around, are also prevalent in Georgetown is you prefer casual shopping. National retailers, of course, can’t be absent in the district’s shopping scene.

Last but not the least, Georgetown has its fair collection of eccentric boutiques where you can check out (and purchase) antiques and other specialty finds. Most of these establishments are found in Book Hill, just along Wisconsin Avenue.

Downtown DC
Tourists and locals flock to Downtown for a bevy of shopping options. The latest among these is CityCenterDC, a sprawling 10-acre shopping center complete with restaurants and cafes. High-end retailers like Hermes, Dior, Kate Space, Burberry, and Paul Stuart have set up shop, making it a destination for fashionistas.

Chinatown is also a great place to score unique finds. This historic neighborhood has welcomed waves of development recently, and new, trendy stores like Loft and Urban Outfitters have popped up.

Meanwhile, F Street is home to national retailers like Banana Republic, Anne Taylor, H&M, Zara, J.Crew, and Anthropologie. F Street is also where you can find Macy’s, one of the largest department store chains in the country.

U Street/14th Street
For antique houseware, modern home décor, edgy clothing, and even some alcohol, head to U Street. Some say this is where the hipsters go, but we just think it’s a very cool place to be.

Furniture stores like GoodWood, Rom & Board, Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot may be where you’ll find your holy grails of home décor. Shops like Junction and Lettie Good offer trendy clothing. For a fine bottle of wine, Cork & Fork is the place to be. Meanwhile, Batch 13 is where you will get some of the best American whiskey in the capital.

Check our blog once in a while for the latest in shopping in Washington, D.C.

7 Ways to keep your home stylish and pet-friendly

Playful paws Pets are part of the family, and most of us will go to great lengths just to make sure they are comfortable. Here are seven practical tips that will make your home pet-friendly without sacrificing style.

1. Go for durable fabrics.

    Dogs and cats love to hang out at comfortable sofas and the like, so it’s best to make wise upholstery choices. Stay away from linen and tweed as they can easily get ripped by dog nails. Instead, choose performance velvet. Spot cleaning won’t be an issue, and it repels mud as well.

2. Choose when to splurge and save.

    As a pet owner, you have a good idea of what will get dirty, stained, or even destroyed by your pets. List down these home items and choose budget-friendly options. You can splurge on stylish accents that won’t get damaged by your pets.

3. Invest in throw blankets.

    Throw blankets liven up any room with splashes of patterns and color, but you can also use them to protect your upholstery from muddy paws as well as fur. This will come in handy if you’ve already invested in a gorgeous sofa.

4. Choose closed storage.

    Pets can get nosy and they always seem to be searching for the most comfortable nook in your home. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but if your cat or dog has a trouble-making streak, closed storage will make your life easier. Now you won’t have to worry about treats getting eaten or important items getting chewed.

5. Removable duvet covers for comfy snuggles.

    Protect your comforter from fur, paw prints, or even occasional pet barf by using removable duvet covers or slips. In case of any accidents, you can easily remove the slip and throw it in a washing machine. Use on beds or sofas – a great alternative if you’re not too keen on throw blankets.

6. Remember these when shopping for rugs.

    To make your life infinitely easier when co-habiting with a pet, go for rugs that are in dark colors, have small patterns, and easy-to-scrub color-fast fibers. Dark colors and small patterns hide stains better than lighter colored rugs or large patterns. You’ll also want rugs that can be scrubbed without sacrificing color pay-off in the long run.

7. Relax.

    You live with pets. Everyday will be unpredictable. Don’t strive for perfection and choose practical yet stylish options. It will make life easier for you and your beloved pets.

For more home improvement tips, check out our blog.

7 Best Bars in DC

Best BarsWashington D.C. has places where you can shop, be entertained, and eat to your heart’s content. For this version of “The Bests,” we bring you to the capital’s drinking joints. From old school watering holes to stylish cocktail lounges, we bring you the 7 best bars in D.C.

A&D
1314 9th St NW

Hailed as one of the best neighborhood bars in D.C., A&D offers a variety of well-crafted cocktails and elevated pub grub – all of which you can enjoy thanks to the bar’s friendly staff and the laidback atmosphere. One of the best things about A&D, however, is that most of their cocktails are crafted using the best local spirits available, such as Catoctin Creek rye and Green Hat Gin.

Brookland’s Finest Bar and Kitchen
3126 12th St NE

Most bars aren’t considered family-friendly, but Brookland’s Finest is an exception. Serving classic American comfort food and stiff cocktails, this bar and kitchen in the Northeast part of the capital hits all the right spots, regardless of your age group. Think of it this way – you can get hammered heer, and get food after to beat the hangover. Convenient!

All Souls Bar
725 T St NW

Located in Shaw, All Souls Bar is the watering hole you need to visit if you’re after a no-nonsense style of drinking. The place is moderately decorated, the cocktail prices low, and the Negroni the best in the city. It’s unapologetically straightforward, without gimmicks, just great drinks. No wonder this place is frequently packed.

Brixton
901 U St NW

Reminiscent of a British restaurant and pub, Brixton serves delicious menu offerings that transcend continental divides and different cultures. Come up the second floor and be transported into a very British-style bar, complete with dark wood paneling and leather stools. Aside from the atmosphere, college kids love its draft beer.

The Argonaut
1433 H St NE

Aside from its name, The Argonaut is easily remembered thanks to its New American coastal dishes and ship-inspired décor. People flock to the bar for its themed nights and its selection of 12 draft beers ready on tap. Its location is rather unfriendly if you regularly take the Metro, but it’s also one of the reasons why it’s less packed than other bars in the area.

Boundary Stone
116 Rhode Island Ave NW

Hidden in Shaw, this Irish-style neighborhood pub comes complete with vintage furnishings and satisfying late-night bar grub. The real star, however, is Boundary Stone’s impressive whiskey selection. Because of this, the bar has amassed a loyal fan base. For this, we can ensure its continued existence despite the number of bars that have popped up along the strip. Nothing beats a classic.

Bluejacket
300 Tingey St SE

We’ve saved the best for last. The home of some of the best craft beer in the city, Bluejacket is housed in an old factory. Take your pick among its selection of drafts and cask ales. Partner it with something from Bluejacket’s upscale comfort food. The stainless steel, the rustic warm wood, and the brewery equipment present throughout the establishment elevates the Bluejacket experience to another level.

For the best new food in the metro area, check out this link.

Spotlight on DC’s historic parks: Potomac Park, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Rock Creek Park

Washington, D.C. is blessed with beautiful public spaces. Today, take a walk and explore three of the best parks in the capital.

Potomac Parks

Divided by the iconic Potomac River, the Potomac Parks are divided into two parts: East and West. Together, the parks encompass approximately 395 acres.

East Potomac Park
Located southwest of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Channel, East Potomac Park is frequented by a bevy of locals. East Potomac Park’s well-maintained paths are a favorite among cyclists, runners, and inline skaters.

East Potomac Park is home to a number of popular D.C. attractions. Within the expansive park, you’ll find the following:

  • East Potomac Park Golf Course
  • East Potomac Pool
  • Athletic fields and sports courts (for American football, baseball, softball, rugby, and soccer).

West Potomac Park
West Potomac Park is a designated national park located near the Washington Monument and the National Mall. The park, which encompasses approximately 395 acres, is the site of many national memorials and recreation fields.

Here are some of the key sites you’ll find within the West Potomac Park:

  • Vietnam War Veterans Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • World War II Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  • FDR Memorial
  • Constitution Gardens
  • The Tidal Basin

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Also known as the C&O Canal or the Grand Old Ditch, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is a national park that starts at Georgetown and ends in Cumberland, Maryland.

The C&O Canal is a popular spot for outdoor recreation and history. Seasonal public boat rides are offered to take visitors down the canal, which once transported coal from the Allegheny Mountains downstream. Other activities at C&O Canal include hiking, biking, and camping. For more information, click here.

Rock Creek Park

Encompassing over 2000 acres, Rock Creek Park is a protected landscape/seascape and a registered historic district. Aside from flourishing nature, you will find a well-preserved collection of buildings — perfect examples of NPS Rustic, Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Revival, and Early Republic architecture.

Aside from outdoor recreation and history, visitors flock to Rock Creek Park to observe and learn more about the night sky. You can find the high-tech Rock Creek Park Planetarium within the grounds.

Homebuying tips: Finding the right mortgage lender

Financing your home is half of the battle, which is why it’s important for you to come across the mortgage lender that is suitable to your needs. To find the best mortgage lender, here are five things to bear in mind.

  1. Make sure you have your credit report.

    The first step when you shop for a loan is to get your credit report. This will help you determine whether you even need to obtain one. If you do, your credit report will also play a role in figuring out the best loan program for you.

  2. Narrow down your search through referrals.

    To get names of potential lenders or brokers, turn to your trusted friends and family, or your real estate agent. Once you have some names, it’s time to take the search online and read reviews. From there, you can reach out to lenders or brokers you like.

  3. Ask questions.

    Now that you have names of potential lenders, it’s time to ask the right questions. Raise topics like their preferred means of communication, turnaround times, and lender fees. The sooner you know, the better.

  4. Don’t be afraid to disclose your financial situation.

    When shopping for a loan, communication is important. In order for lenders to offer the best loan program for you, you need to provide them the essential information. You might feel uneasy, but sharing all the significant details will make a ton of difference. Remember: potential lenders won’t be able to provide solutions if they are kept in the dark regarding your situation.
  5. Look at the bigger picture.

Get quotes from different mortgage companies, then compare. Some people stop at the principal and the interest rate, but it’s best to include all the points, so you can compare the full package. There are plenty of costs associated with homeownership, and reading the fine print and asking questions will help you make an informed decision.

Buying a home? Read more homebuying tips here.

Homebuying tips: from starter home to forever home

When it comes to real estate investments, we want to be fully sure we’re going to make the most out of it. First-time homebuyers might be inclined to buy a starter home, or rent a property first and save up for the home that’s going to be theirs forever.

If you can’t decide between the two, here are a few tips and considerations that will help you make up your mind.

Buy a starter home first

A starter home is a house you can afford now without compromising your funds. You’ll get to benefit from historic low interest rates, which will greatly impact your monthly payments.

Take advantage of this, and pick a home you can turn into a rental property as time goes by and you have enough funds to finance your forever home.

Save up for your forever home

This is the type of home you see yourself living in for the next 20 years. You might even pass this on to your children, turn it into an ancestral property of sorts. The thing about forever homes, however, is that it’s out of the league of most 20- to 30-somethings.

You can save up for your forever home by choosing to rent a reasonably-priced home for the meantime. As long as you have a clear set of goals as well as self-discipline, you’ll be able to finance your forever home. This might take a while, however.

You can also buy a starter home for now — a property that has the potential to appreciate and build enough equity you can put into your forever home. You can sell your home once you’re ready, but if the conditions aren’t ripe, have it rented out instead.

Compromise

If the price difference between the starter home you’ve been eyeing and the forever home you’re interested in can be saved up in a span of year, you might want to hold your horses and wait it out until conditions are right.

If it’ll take you more than five years to save up for that price difference, however, perhaps it’s time to compromise and look for another property that’s right on the middle ground.

Remember, this is not an all-or-nothing game. You can still find a home that suits your needs for the meantime until you can finally purchase that home of your dreams.

Check out this link for more information and tips on homebuying.

2016 edition of best D.C. area high schools

Quality education has always been one of D.C.area’s main draws. To help families choose the best school to send their children, Lotus Prep, an education company based in Washington, D.C., came up with up a list of top high schools in the area based on academic excellence.

Touted as the only high school rankings of its kind by Mike Weagley, Lotus Prep’s chief executive officer, the top schools were chosen for their outstanding academic outcomes, including average SAT score and percentage of students named as Presidential Scholar candidates or National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists.

    1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology – Students from Thomas Jefferson boast an average SAT score of 1466 — the second highest in the area — but reign supreme when it comes to the percentage of National Merit semi-finalists (31.90%).

    2. Montgomery Blair High School – This magnet school in Silver Spring has the highest average SAT score in the D.C.-area (1488) and the second highest percentage in National Merit semi-finalists.

    3. Sidwell Friends School – A private school, Sidwell Friends has an average SAT score of 1400 (the third highest in the area) and the second highest percentage of Presidential Scholar candidates.

    4. National Cathedral School – Another private institution, National Cathedral boasts the highest percentage of Presidential Scholar candidates (9.76%) and students attending the best colleges in the United States (15.79%).

    5. St. Albans School – St. Albans, a private school in Washington, D.C., has the third highest percentage of students attending the top 15 colleges in the country (14.21%).

    6. Maret School – Maret School’s average SAT scores are impressive, and its percentage of students attending the country’s top colleges is also noteworthy.

    7. Georgetown Day School – Average SAT scores at Georgetown Day School number at 1343, while 9.54% of its graduates have went on to study in the country’s top 15 colleges.

    8. St. Anselm’s School – St. Anselm’s ties with Holton-Arms for the sixth highest average SAT score in the D.C.-area. It also boasts an impressive percentage of National Merit semi-finalists.

    9. Holton-Arms School – Holton-Arms has sixth highest percentage of National Merit semi-finalists (9.18%) in the D.C.-area.

    10. Potomac School – Potomac School completes the top 10 high schools in the D.C.-area with its impressive academic outcomes.

For the full rankings, visit http://www.lotusprep.com/best-high-schools-dc/.

Top 10 new restaurants in the Metro D.C. area

One might say it is both a blessing and curse to live in a city that’s home to a thriving and equally exciting culinary scene. Planning a lunch or dinner date in the Metro D.C. area can get confusing — we have so many choices on where to take our friends, family, or significant other to enjoy some good grub!

Thankfully, here’s a list to help guide you to all the hotspots where DC foodies are gathering. Enjoy and bon appétit!

    1. All Purpose

    All Purpose is the premier destination right now for artisanal pizzas, wine, and antipasti — all served in a trendy and rustic space. You can find this Italian-American joint at 1250 9th St NW.

    2. Alta Strada

    Another Italian destination, this one found in 465 K St NW, Alta Strada is known to serve up an array of pizza and pastas created by Michael Schlow of The Riggsby and Tico fame. For drinks, head to Conosci, which is located next door.

    3. Whaley’s

    If you’re in the mood for classic seafood and cocktails, the best place to be right now is Whaley’s at 301 Water St SE Suite 115. Absolutely scrumptious, this establishment is also a certified sustainable raw bar.

    4. Ashlar Restaurant and Bar

    Located in Alexandria, VA, Ashlar serves up regional American cuisine in a fancy, upscale setting. You’ll love the interiors as much as you’ll love the menu, which consists of shared plates and steaks.

    5. The BBQ Joint

    For good old comfort food, head to 2005 14th St NW and sample Andrew Evans’ ribs and barbecue. Aside from this classic staple, foodies are also flocking to The BBQ Joint for its late night frito pie window.

    6. Buttercream Bakeshop

    For your sweeth tooth, Buttercream Bakeshop will satisfy all your cravings. Helmed by pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, Buttercream is home to beloved baked goods and celebration cakes.

    7. Pineapple and Pearls

    Located at 715 8th St SE, Pineapple and Pearls is the current favorite among foodies for coffee, sandwiches, and pastries. You can expect great things from this restaurant.

    8. Espita Mezcaleria

    Fancy some mezcal cuisine in Washington, D.C.? Head over to Espita Mezcaleria at 1250 9th St NW. Aside from its fantastic menu, the restaurant’s bright decor entices diners to come in.

    9. Kyirisan

    Asian flavors meet French flair at Kyirisan, located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Shaw, specifically at 1924 8th St NW. Great, original plates have been known to come out of its kitchen.

    10. Kapnos Kouzina

    Located in Bethesda, foodies flock to Kapnos Kouzina for its flatbreads, spicy fried chicken, meze, souvlaki, and a nice selection of Mediterranean regional wines and cocktails.

Looking for more suggestions? Check out this article by Zagat.

Spotlight on the Union Market Historic District

Nowadays, the Union Market Historic District is known throughout the D.C. area as an up-and-coming neighborhood where you can find a collection of mixed residential and retail spaces. In the months to come, more development projects will flow into the neighborhood, making Union Market’s gentrification process complete.

Let’s travel back in time and unravel the origins of the Union Market Historic District, and what makes it truly one of the D.C. area’s local gems.

It all started approximately 145 years ago

Before the Union Market Historic District, there was Centre Market, known as the largest market in Washington D.C. Opened to the public in 1871, Centre Market served as a crossroads due to its location — right between the Capitol Building and the White House, just a stone’s throw away from a railroad station and several streetcar lines. By the turn of the century, Centre Market was the commercial heart of Washington D.C.

Centre Market was torn down in 1931 to give way for the National Archives, but its memory lived on. Many of the businesses once part of the market set up shop in another venue they named Union Terminal Market.

It was the best place to buy meat, fish, dairy, and produce back then. A policy banning the outdoor sale of meats and eggs, however, turned the market upside down. In its place, a new indoor market was built, the building we now know today as the Union Market.

From the 80s up to the present, Union Market has continued to flourish. According to developer EDENS, it’s a place where local businesses thrive, a melting pot full of character and opportunities. Its history, culture, and relevance to Washington D.C.’s history makes it a district to watch out for.

What you can find in Union Market Historic District

  • The market itself, open Tuesdays to Sundays.
  • No Kings Collective + Lab 1270 – A commune for artists; regularly hosts flash art exhibitions and the like to provide an artistic space for local artists and city organizations.
  • Restaurants like Dolcezza, Cotton & Reed, Masseria, and Tap + Garden.
  • Maurice Electrical Work Space – Planned for both residential, retail, and office uses.
  • Angelika Pop-Up – A multi-screen cinema where you can enjoy specialty film programming and events.
  • Dock 5 – A warehouse with over 12,000 square feet of event space located right above Union Market.

For more details about Union Market Historic District, check out its official website: http://unionmarketdc.com.

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