Ballston/Virginia Square – Arlington, VA

The Ballston/Virginia Square neighborhood sits three miles southwest of Washington, D.C. in Arlington, VA. Mainly serving as a commuter neighborhood for D.C.-based employees, Ballston provides a quieter place to live with a nice mix of restaurants and nightlife. Getting around the neighborhood proves very easy on foot and bike as does transportation in and out of the area via public transportation. Neighborhood residents love the area for its ideal mix of city amenities and suburban living.

Schools in Ballston/Virginia Square

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Ballston/Virginia Square residents benefit from a wide range of restaurants and bars, most located along the main thoroughfare of North Fairfax Drive. Whether you want local eateries or ethnic cuisine, this neighborhood contains plenty of both. The Peruvian El Pollo Rico will top the list of almost any local you ask. The menu remains simple, yet effective. You have one meat option, Peruvian chicken, for every dish. Three side options, steak fries, coleslaw or rice, come with the chicken. Choose your sauce to top it all off. Locals love the incredible steak fries. Order your food to go, even if you dine in, to get larger portions. If you don't want to wait in the long lines at El Pollo Rico, you could always head to Metro Halal Food Cart at the corner of North Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard for delicious Pakistani food on the go. Immensely popular at lunchtime as office workers make their way down the street, this food cart has delicious combo platters complete with chick peas and salad. The chicken and lamb combo, and the veggie combo, stand out on the varied menu. Leave your plastic at your desk, though, as this place only accepts cash. For nightlife, locals typically head to the next neighborhood over, Clarendon, which has a few more options. Locals pack spots such as A-Town Bar & Grill on game days, but the vibe remains casual and fun. Less than a mile to the east sits Whitlow's on Wilson with a rooftop tiki bar and live music. The regular bar stays open until 2 a.m. every day, while the rooftop tiki bar opens weather permitting.

History & Culture

Named in honor of the Ball family, Ballston started to boom when transportation routes were introduced in the 1700s. Initially called Ball's Crossroads, the neighborhood sprung from the intersection of North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard in 1740 when the two roads were developed. Fairfax Drive grew in 1896 with the introduction of a trolley line that first connected Ballston to other areas of Northern Virginia and D.C. Rapid redevelopment happened yet again with the completion of the Ballston Metro Station in 1979 and when an entrance to I-66 opened in 1982. In its highly urbanized modern state, Ballston/Virginia Square is host to many restaurant, bars, shopping area, and art galleries. The Arlington Arts Center offer painting classes for beginners and hosts a number of art galleries. Taste of Arlington is a community event held every May, where food from over 50 restaurants draws crowds in the tens of thousands.


The ease of walking or biking anywhere in the neighborhood highlights the ease of transportation. Bikers enjoy the flat terrain and many bike lanes throughout the area. Additionally, bike sharing trough Capital Bikeshare offers commuters or even weekend riders more chances to ride. The Ballston Metro Station and the Virginia Square Metro Station, both located on Fairfax Drive, provide easy transport throughout northern Virginia, the District and Maryland by way of the orange and silver lines. A number of Arlington Transit (ART) buses also serve the neighborhood. A reloadable SmarTrip card works on both of these public transportation systems and provides the most convenience for frequent riders. A good number of cabs drive around the neighborhood, especially on the major thoroughfares of Fairfax and Wilson. If standing out on the street hailing a cab isn't quite your thing, use the smartphone app to get an Uber driver. Drivers enjoy the convenience of being close to many of the area's major roads including Route 50, I-66 and the George Washington Parkway. Within the neighborhood, traffic and parking can get bad, especially around the commercial areas. Still, a handful of parking is zoned for residential parking only, providing locals a leg up on visitors.


Ballston/Virginia Square residents pay a price for their neighborhood amenities. The $1,915 average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment sits at 14 percent higher than the Arlington average of $1,678. With respect to transportation, gas in Arlington averages about five percent less than prices around the country. Getting into the city center via public transportation can be done for $1.75 on either an ART bus or the metro. Note that on the metro, however, fares can rises as high as $5.90 the further you go and during peak commuting hours. A meal at a nice local restaurant will run around $15 and regular-priced beers go for $5.


The Ballston Common Mall serves as the hub of commercial shopping in the neighborhood. Here, residents enjoy the movie theater, inexpensive clothing, and accessories from stores like Wet Seal and Claire's, department store items at Macy's, or home items from Bath and Body Works. The neighborhood also provides outdoor enthusiasts with shops such as Potomac River Running and Casual Adventure Outfitters for all their adventure needs. Local boutiques such as Golden Shoe Repair and Willy’s Barber Shop & Hair Stylists have developed longstanding community relationships and continually provide top service. Shoppers turn to the local Harris Teeter on North Glebe Road or the Giant Food on Washington Boulevard to meet their grocery needs. Since these two destinations sit on opposite ends of the neighborhood, residents enjoy a high level of convenience no matter where they live. The Ballston Farmers Market right outside the metro station also provides fresh produce and baked goods from May through October every Friday between noon and 2 p.m. The live music makes the shopping that much more enjoyable.


The many neighborhood parks allow residents to get outside often and enjoy nature. Dog walkers frequent Oakland Park, but Quincy Park remains the neighborhood's highlight. Centrally located with the public library just across the street, Quincy Park features a volleyball court, basketball court, tennis courts, baseball fields and covered picnic areas. Families come here to picnic, adults come to play pickup games and youth league use the facilities for games as well. If you have young kids, head to Hayes Park where the tot and school-age playgrounds and summer splash pad offer lots of enjoyment for the kiddos. While no annual events occur in the parks themselves, the location of Oakland and Maury Parks on either side of Wilson Boulevard make them ideal places to take a breather from the Taste of Arlington food festival route.
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