By Regina Lynch Hudson
Located just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, Arlington County may be the smallest county in the nation, but it certainly packs quite a bit to see and do into a relatively tiny space.
Known worldwide as home to the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington also features dozens of other unique attractions and historic sites. Approximately 212,000 residents call Arlington home, and Arlingtonians spend their time in any of the county’s distinct urban villages, each with its own vibe and personality. The villages feature everything from the arts and walkability of Shirlington to the funky shops, restaurants and clubs of Clarendon. What’s more, there are plenty of unique museums and sites, ranging from the DEA Museum (www.deamuseum.org) to the Arlington House (www.nps.gov/arho), and places to honor our nation’s history, like the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial (www.pentagonmemorial.net) or Air Force Memorial (www.airforcememorial.org).
The recently-renovated Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City is Arlington’s lone 4.5 star property and offers the perfect blend of luxury and convenience. This nationally acclaimed hotel is just five minutes from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and 10 minutes from downtown Washington, D.C. Plus, there is Metro service right at the hotel’s front entrance, making it easy to get around. It’s also the closest hotel to the Pentagon.
The hotel features 366 guest rooms, including 21 suites, and is full of all of the luxuries customers expect from the Ritz-Carlton brand with personalized service for every detail.
An added bonus for those looking for some retail therapy is The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, which is adjacent to the hotel. The Fashion Centre is known as one of the nation’s finest shopping facilities and features more than 150 specialty shops, including Nordstrom, Henri Bendel and Michael Kors.
The Power Palette
Whether your business takes you to the urban village of Ballston, known as Arlington’s science and technology hub; to the corporate headquarters located in Crystal City; or anywhere in between, there are plenty of places to wine and dine over a great power lunch or dinner. Feast on modern American cuisine with just a touch of French influence at Willow (www.willowva.com) in Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood. Try the gougeres from the nosh menu. Your dining companions will thank you later. In Clarendon, dine to impress at Lyon Hall (www.lyonhallarlington.com) or the Liberty Tavern (www.thelibertytavern.com), where President Obama has been spotted.
For global cuisine, don’t miss the kebobs or in-house hummus at Me Jana (www.me-jana.com), a fine-dining Lebanese restaurant. Jose Andres’ award-winning Jaleo Spanish Tapas & Bar (www.jaleo.com) in Crystal City is a must-try for tapas fans, where the paella is outstanding. An Arlington insider haunt is Guapo’s (www.guaposrestaurant.com), a family owned Mexican restaurant in the village of Shirlington. While it looks like a casual neighborhood hangout (and it is), it’s also a favorite hideaway for some of D.C.’s public figures.
Footloose & Fancy Free
Arts and culture fans will find plenty to enjoy. The Artisphere (www.artistphere.com), Arlington’s new cultural center, boasts numerous performance and gallery spaces and an ever-changing list of concerts and exhibits. Make sure your calendar includes Works in Progress Gallery, where artists frequently are on-hand demonstrating each piece of the creative process. For performance, Arlington is home to the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre (www.signature-theatre.com) in Shirlington, which produces musical blockbusters as well as world premieres. The Synetic Theater (www.synetictheater.org) in Crystal City is known as the premier American physical theatre and combines movement and traditional stage works in ways you’ve never seen before. Its ongoing Silent Shakespeare series is simply amazing.
For those who enjoy some time in the kitchen, go behind the curtain of Arlington’s foodie scene with culinary demos and classes. From making paella with an award-winning chef to learning about the soul of Cajun cuisine and discovering the secrets (and incredible tastes) of a master chocolatier, you’ll depart with new-found culinary expertise and some very happy tastebuds. Best of all, Arlington is easy to navigate car-free, so it’s simple to explore these attractions and more on foot or on two wheels. Arlington’s Capital BikeShare (www.capitalbikeshare.com) stations let visitors easily rent bikes — by the hour, day, week, or more; and with dozens of stations around, when you arrive at one destination, simply return the bike to the nearest location. Arlington also features 11 Metro stops to make getting around a breeze.
Someone Helpful: Thanks to our friends at Stay Arlington (www.stayarlington.com) and Arlington Economic Development (www.arlingtonva.us) for providing helpful and fun facts for this article.