North Highland – Arlington, VA

North Highland encompasses the thin sliver of residential land tucked between Fort Bennett Park and the Custis Memorial Parkway. The neighborhood belongs to the Rosslyn region, which in turn stands as an urban village in Arlington. At just 3.5 miles west of Washington, D.C., the tiny neighborhood provides working professionals with a safe haven to retreat after work. Residents include highly educated professionals and some families who both want to take advantage of excellent housing options and wealth of employment opportunities both in neighboring areas and the city. Former and current residents say the area surpasses others for its stunning views and easy commute, but the active community in Rosslyn distinguishes it even further.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Local eateries occupy the same space as the local retailers, though residents of North Highland consider both Rosslyn and Clarendon their territory when it comes to a good meal. However, The Italian Store provides locals with an affordable Italian gem on the cuffs of their neighborhood. The small deli specializes in spicy Italian meats that layer perfectly for thick, flavorful hoagies. Sub addicts suggest ordering the Capri on a soft roll and grabbing a Milano to go. If the smell of olive oil in the air puts you in the mood for an autentico dinner, pick up a few slices of New York style pie, especially if they’ve just made a Bianca. For a sit-down meal that will please sophisticated and meat-loving palates, get a New York strip from Ray’s The Steaks on Wilson Boulevard. The restaurant attracts dinner crowds from all over for its tender cuts of meat that frequently get topped with house-made specialties, such as tangy bleu cheese crumbles atop the charred outer layer. Preface your five-star ribeye with the phenomenal crab bisque or lobster macaroni and cheese for a first course that will leave you drooling for more. The bacon-wrapped filet pairs perfectly with mushrooms marinated in wine, although frequent visitors recommend planning your main meal so you have room for a slice of key lime pie. The nightlife scene in North Highland is quiet, since the rowdy activities of the city to do spill over into this residential nook. However, thirsty residents looking for a fresh beer after work head to Ragtime on Court House Road to sip their hoppy pint in a traditional pub-style bar. This bar, along with a few others, help make up for the lack of standalone music venues by hosting live bands throughout the week. Ragtime pairs a lively atmosphere with local and seasonal draft beers, which makes it an ideal location to hang out at well past midnight. A trendier local to savor live performances and strong cocktails exists at Galaxy Hut, a dive-bar and vegetarian café that pushes the limits on standard pub fare. Locals looking to party til 2 a.m. choose Galaxy for the dark and intimate atmosphere that simultaneously feels exuberant. A generous happy hour and regular beer specials help take the edge off brave patrons who dare to sing live karaoke, though the real attraction at Galaxy consists of late night munchies, such as their famed tater tots, and unique brews from around the state.

History & Culture

The shoreline of Rosslyn originally housed gambling halls, saloons, brothels and all the unattractive qualities associated them until reformers saw the developmental potential and pushed the unmentionables out of the area. Rise of electric trolleys in the late 1800s inspired people to expand into Arlington. However, the area’s real burst of life occurred after the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge opened to carry the major interstate into D.C. The expansion that occurred afterward was essential in fostering the local economy. The North Highland region itself doesn’t house any museums of its own, but at least three historical outlets reside only minutes away in Rosslyn. Locals also depend on Rosslyn for trendy art galleries and events, such as the Artisphere Gallery and Rosslyn Jazz Festival.


Residents in North Highland navigate the area using a few different methods. For instance, the North Highland neighborhood itself and the western half of the Custis Memorial Parkway remain quite walkable, though cyclists also stick to these areas for their designated lanes and bike infrastructure. Despite the ease of getting around on foot, locals still opt for temporary lifts from Uber and Red Top Cab if they are not amongst the majority who own cars. Driving contends as a leader in local transportation, but the five bus lines that pass through the area add an additional option for residents who don’t want the hassle of locating public parking. Public transportation stays especially prominent amongst professionals who work in the city, since access to Rosslyn Metro Station allows them to hop on the Blue, Orange or Silver Lines to reach the city. For those who don’t work in D.C., the handful of major roadways in the area, such as Custis Memorial Parkway and George Washington Memorial Parkway, sit just a few miles away, in addition to the Lee Highway that cuts through upper Arlington.


Living amid all the action while maintaining the privacy of a small suburb costs about 12 percent higher than living in D.C. Residents in North Highland pay roughly the same amount for standard services, such as utilities and health care. However, a vastly more expensive housing market makes up the difference since average monthly rental prices sit at $1,581 for a one-bedroom apartment. Additionally, gas prices hover about 3 percent higher than the national average and a one-day bus and rail pass costs $14.50. Residents consider the higher overall costs part of the package but take refuge in some affordable amenities, such as beer for $5 at a local bar.


Shopping options in North Highland are limited because of the residential profile, but locals looking to spend the day shopping don't have to travel far to reach popular retailers. In fact, the majority of stores line Wilson and Clarendon Boulevard, which sits less than five minutes south of the neighborhood. These stores include big-name chains such as Barnes and Noble and Crate & Barrel, as well as high-end specialty retailers such as Free People and South Moon Under. While corporate sellers provide access to all the necessities, locals tend to seek out local boutiques like Current Boutique. This little shop sells gently-used consignment clothing from high-end brands. Thrift mavens appreciate the selection and affordability, although they can find these same qualities by perusing the Metro Mall in Rosslyn or the Market Commons Mall in Clarendon. Alternatively, boutique shoppers hop the river to browse the boutiques in Georgetown. There, Ella Rue focuses on luxury consignment. Whether you want ripped jeans or fancy new-to-you shoes, this boutique has what you need. Pick up groceries from Giant Food on Lee Highway or return to Wilson Boulevard for produce from the Whole Foods Market. Specialty grocers such as Trader Joe's also reside along the Clarendon border, but locals prefer the Euro Market and Philippine Oriental Market for a more exotic selection. North Highland doesn't host its own farmers' market, but locals interested in purchasing farm-fresh items attend the Arlington Farmers' Market on Courthouse Road, which holds the reputation of being one of the best markets in the area.


Plenty of outdoor spaces scatter the area, though no parks reside in the North Highland neighborhood. However, the majority of land north of the neighborhood is undeveloped, especially along the green space that winds the length of the Potomac River. Therefore, active locals looking to stretch their legs head north, with the exception of the Lyon Village Park on Highland Street. This free, small community park attracts athletes to its basketball court, while families flock to the playground and splash zone. Locals looking for a scenic job or biking route head up to the Thrifton Hills Park off 23rd Street. This natural area combines twisting trails with picnic tables and benches for quiet afternoons away from the bustle. Pet owners let their furry friends tag alone, since the stream provides an excellent swimming spot for pets to swim. No entrance fee is charged, which makes Thrifton Hills a gem amongst the urban oasis. Though no exercise-centric parks reside in the area, residents looking for a bit more space to get active venture to the Fort Bennett Park and Palisades trails to take advantage of the 11-acre space, complete with dozens of paths and an old spring house. Due to limit space and conservation of the natural areas, none of these parks host large public events, but locals seem to appreciate this fact and enjoy the recreational escape.
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