Donaldson Run is recognized as one of the best places to live in Virginia partly for its tree-covered scenery and parks, but how well does it preserve that reputation? We’ve put together our top places that we believe make this neighborhood an Arlington favorite.
About the Neighborhood
Donaldson Run shares its name with the stream that runs through the center of the neighborhood and flows into the Potomac. The area was once farmland, and the Donaldson name goes back to one of the early farming families who shuttled crops to and from Georgetown.
The Donaldson Run stream has been part of an ongoing restoration project since 2004 to mitigate some of the erosion along its banks. Since that time, the stream has regained much of its flow and vegetation, giving the brilliant terrain new life. A community of volunteers in the Donaldson Run Civic Association are part of a wider initiative to help preserve the features that give this neighborhood a charming and relaxed feel.
As for the residential areas, they comprise a small community of mostly homeowners. Common styles for homes are ramblers and colonials, but there is a fair share of Cape Cods and split levels as well. It’s not uncommon to see homebuyers looking to this neighborhood for more space. For transportation, residents rely mostly on their own vehicles, with the Ballston Metro being the closest option. However, commutes to D.C. are relatively short. Residents also enjoy convenient access to hiking trails to step away and get a breath of fresh air, which brings us to our favorite places…
Top Places in Donaldson Run
With the amount of green space here, it’s no surprise this list is dominated by parks that rival some of the best picnic spots in Arlington. Here’s our list of top places in the neighborhood:
- Potomac Overlook Regional Park: East of Donaldson Run stream is the Potomac Overlook Regional Park. Enjoy nearly two miles of easy hiking trails to go along with outdoor activities for family trips. The park includes campfire sites, an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, and a Nature Center with educational exhibits on surrounding wildlife. At its northeastern tip is a scenic overlook with a can’t-miss view.
- Zachary Taylor Park: Inside Zachary Taylor Park, you’ll find a creekside trail that runs through the neighborhood, perfect for a relaxed walk. Small cascades along the creek ferry water to Donaldson Run, giving this park an especially calm atmosphere. The trail is considered to be very easy and can even be taken on with a stroller in hand.
- Lee Heights Park: Lee Heights is a small three-acre park of open space with benches to relax on. Visitors can sit back and cherish the peace and quiet that Donaldson Run is known for.
- Donaldson Run Trail: This is a heavily wooded trail that makes you forget you’re mere miles from a major city. The Donaldson Run Trail is a moderate two-mile hike, and it runs in a loop along the eastern side of the neighborhood, with several twists and turns for more adventurous trail seekers.
- Marymount University: And finally we have Marymount University, a quiet and picturesque campus to the southwest of Donaldson Run. A bike trail runs from the edge of the small campus all the way to Zachary Taylor Park, giving bikers an amazing route to travel.
It only became official yesterday afternoon, but this is now a long federal holiday weekend.
We join the rest of the Arlington community in commemorating and reflecting on Juneteenth today and tomorrow.
Given the new holiday, we’re ending the day a bit early. Below are the most-read ARLnow articles of the week.
- Arlington’s Torri Huske Going to Tokyo After Setting Record at Olympic Trials
- Authorities Advise Removing Bird Feeders, Still Stumped By Reports of Sick and Dead Birds
- RCA Redevelopment in Rosslyn Gets Green Light
- Popular NYC Bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr Opening in Crystal City This Weekend
- Combo Sandwich and Flower Shop to Replace Buzz Bakery in Ballston
- Noise Complaints Drown Out Discussion of Forthcoming Cherrydale Farmers Market
- Progressive Voice: Spreading “Gentle” Density Across Arlington Benefits Everyone
- County Board Drills Into AHC About Serrano Apartments Conditions
- ACPD Reports More Thefts Involving Unlocked Vehicles
- County Board Approves $16 Million Loan for Affordable Apartment Building in Ballston
- Whitlow’s Is Closing Next Week and Throwing Itself a Going-Away Party
Feel free to discuss those or any other local topics in the comments. Have a nice weekend!
This sponsored column is written by Todd Himes, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.
In my last column, I mentioned one of the great things about getting people back into the store has been the questions I’ve been fielding from all of you, and the conversations it has allowed me to get started.
My weekly beer newsletters I send out frequently feature a section belovedly titled “Arrowine House of Lagers,” and that is driven, in part, by the increase in both supply and demand. But honestly, I’d be doing it even if it was just for my own personal amusement. There is, over and over, one subsect of lagers that seems to beguile folks: the Kellerbier. Even a few years ago the style remained relatively obscure here in the U.S., and traditional German versions rarely traveled this far.
Let’s make one thing clear: All Kellerbiers are not created equal. Kellerbier means simply “cellar beer,” and it is a style of lager that would have traditionally been matured (or lagered) inside of an oak cask stored in a cave or cellar. Inside of that cask, the beer would remain unfiltered and unpasteurized. and in this case, it would have had its bunghole (yes, they really call it that) left open to the surrounding cellar air. It would have carbonated itself gently and naturally but not to the level that it would have if it had stayed in a closed container trapping the CO2.
While this openness does allow the flow of air from inside the cave, it is completely different from an open or even spontaneous fermentation, so don’t expect fruity open-air pale ale esters or the wild funk of a lambic. Served directly from the cask, this beer would be cloudy, lightly carbonated and perhaps softer than a longer aged traditional lager. Outside of that requirement, any lager could be considered a Kellerbier if it was served in this method, right?
So wait, does that mean that my New England unfiltered hazy IPAs could all be considered Kellebiers as well? Nope — completely different styles. What about a cask of English Best Bitter? That’s closer, but Germany’s brewing traditions utilized their many natural caves for lagering as opposed to the British traditions of warmer fermenting ales. Perhaps you’re inducted into the Cult of Rothaus and love their unpasteurized Pilsner. You might be thinking unpasteurized, lager this HAS to qualify — but alas no. That doesn’t mean this increasingly more popular style isn’t without its variances.
If you’re looking to buy a home in Arlington, you’ll find plenty of open houses taking place throughout the area this weekend.
Before diving into some of your options, let’s take a look at the numbers… There are currently 746 homes listed for sale in Arlington, according to Homesnap. That includes 498 condos, 204 detached homes and 44 townhomes. The median list price is $584,900.
Here are a few noteworthy open houses coming up this weekend:
- 6429 27th Street N.
5 BD/4.5+ BA single-family home
Noteworthy: Roof deck lounge, white oak floors, clawfoot tub
Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m.
- 2815 11th Street N.
3 BD/3.5 BA townhome
Noteworthy: Park view from front porch, spacious deck, two-car garage
Open: Saturday and Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
- 2620 S. Fern Street
5 BD/3 BA single-family home
Noteworthy: Sunroom, lower level with separate entrance
Open: Saturday, 2-4:30 p.m.
- 2015 N. Quantico Street
4 BD/4 BA single-family home
Noteworthy: Corner lot, covered patio, award-winning garden
Open: Sunday, 12-2 p.m.
- 3600 14th Street S.
3 BD/3 BA single-family home
Noteworthy: Updated kitchen, custom built-ins, screened porch
Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- 1200 Crystal Drive #312
2 BD/2 BA condo
Noteworthy: Floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive balcony, 24-hour concierge
Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m.
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A mobility advocacy group is asking the county to build a three-year plan for funding projects that make non-car transit faster, more desirable and safer.
And the group, Sustainable Mobility, is trying to capitalize on signs that people are interested in bicycling and walking more coming out of the pandemic.
“We have to seize that opportunity before everybody gets into their cars again,” said Chris Slatt, the group’s president, who is also chair of the Transportation Commission and an opinion columnist on ARLnow. “This is an inflection point. Arlington has let too many opportunities pass during COVID-19 — we never achieved open streets, when people demanded more space to walk, sit and eat — we need them to do better now.”
Its recommendations respond to a draft document outlining the large projects that Arlington County intends to embark on over the next three years. This plan, called the Capital Improvement Plan, is winding its way through review processes and is set to be approved by the County Board in July.
Volunteers from Sustainable Mobility, or SusMo, combed through the transportation projects and identified a handful to nix, postpone or kick to developers for funding and implementation, which they say could free up about $17 million that could fund 20 projects or programs.
- Funding Vision Zero
- Speeding up transit
- Building safe routes to every school
- Building out the bike network for all ages and abilities
- Expanding and connecting the trail network
“None of what’s in our plan is really our idea,” Slatt said. “It is all things that are in sector plans, projects that… the county already has [identified], projects that were identified in the bicycle element of the Master Transportation Plan, or just ways to fund priorities that Arlington says they already have.”
- Changing the signals to reduce the time buses spend at intersections
- Completing the Arlington Blvd Trail
- Conducting a feasibility study of dedicated transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Columbia Pike
- All-door bus boarding and off-vehicle fare collection, to speed up buses
- A trail on the west side of Carlin Springs road, with a connection to the W&OD Trail, to provide a safer route to Kenmore Middle School
- Protected bike lanes on S. George Mason Drive between Route 7 and Route 50, providing a safe connection to Wakefield High School
- Additional capital funding for other Safe Routes to School projects
- Protected bike lanes on a portion of N. Highland Street in Clarendon
- A two-way protected bike lane on Fairfax Drive between Ballston and Clarendon
- Other “neighborhood bikeways”
Some projects are already in the County Manager’s draft Capital Improvement Program proposal, including a feasibility study for a trail underpass under Shirlington Road near the Weenie Beenie, and a new trail along the Arlington National Cemetery wall between Columbia Pike and Memorial Avenue.
Lyon’s Legacy is a limited-run opinion column on the history of housing in Arlington. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
I grew up in Arlington because, in the 90s, it was a place where middle-class parents could afford to own a home and raise two children. I loved my childhood here. But because of Arlington’s economically-exclusive zoning laws and their contribution to rising housing prices, I don’t expect to be able to give my kids the same.
This is the eighth and last part of Lyon’s Legacy, a biweekly series on ARLnow. You can read the whole thing, with citations, here.
As I grew up, my family lived in three neighborhoods: Tara-Leeway, Woodland Acres, and Cherrydale. All were wonderful, with lovely neighbors, beautiful parks, friendly schools, and — my favorite — peaceful libraries. But all three are subject to restrictive single-family zoning, prices have skyrocketed, and on my NGO salary I can’t imagine ever being able to afford a home and children in any of them.
Now I am grown enough to see that Arlington has a choice. We can leave our zoning restrictions in place and watch our county turn into an exclusive enclave of the super-rich. Or we can build a few stories taller, turn some car parking into bike lanes, and smile at the kids of the new middle-class family in the apartment next door.
Legalize six-unit apartments on any lot in Arlington. Use the zoning code, not the GLUP. Remove requirements for setbacks and off-street parking. Build bike lanes, bus lanes, schools, and parks to provide for the new residents. Legalize neighborhood retail. Our neighborhoods will not only become more inclusive, they will also become more sustainable, economically productive, safer, socially-connected, and physically and mentally healthy.
Lyon’s changes to our county a century ago were radical. He and men like him utterly transformed Arlington, converting it from farmland to exclusive suburbs. Many things that Lyon did were good: he left us with beautiful parks and charming homes. But he also left us with laws, forged in racism, that have only become more stringently exclusive as housing prices have risen over the last few decades. To expunge racist exclusion from Lyon’s legacy in Arlington, we now must be as bold as he was then.
Confronting exclusive zoning, we not only face racial injustice — we face our own contributions to global climate change. Those of us living in Arlington’s northwestern, single-family, economically-exclusive ZIP codes of 22205 and 22207 have the largest carbon footprint in the county, over 60 CO2-equivalent tonnes of greenhouse gas per household per year. Carbon emissions in DC’s ZIP codes of 20001 and 20009 are about half of that. This is largely because people living in walkable neighborhoods drive cars less, but also because it’s more efficient to heat and cool apartments than single-family homes.
Just as with housing affordability, in climate change a compromise is insufficient. Minor increases in density through duplexes or rowhomes will not be enough to overcome Arlington’s car dependence and allow us to live less carbon-intensive lifestyles, doing our part to restrict anthropogenic global warming to 1.5 degrees C. Nor will electric cars, not when their batteries depend on extractive rare-earth mining and electricity from burning coal. If Arlington believed in climate science and in the urgency of the crisis, we would get rid of our garages, not just change what we park in them.
Whitlow’s, the long-time watering hole on Wilson Blvd, is closing its doors for good on Saturday, June 26.
But first come the parties.
On Wednesday, June 23, there’s a “jam session” featuring members of the Grammy-nominated reggae band SOJA. The group hails from Arlington, with several members graduating from Yorktown High School. More live music is scheduled throughout this week and next, according to Whitlow’s website.
“One final blowout… Get here early,” says the website. “No one cuts the line unless you are Dave Grohl.”
An employee confirmed to ARLnow on the phone that Whitlow’s last day at 2854 Wilson Blvd is set to be June 26. They also noted that management was looking for a new location but haven’t found anything yet.
ARLnow has reached out to management about any further updates on the future of Whitlow’s, but has yet to hear back.
In late March, the restaurant announced it was closing after efforts to renew its lease were unsuccessful.
Whitlow’s had attempted to negotiate an extension on a lease expiring at the end of June, a social media post said, but talks proved fruitless. So, instead, it is set to close its longtime Clarendon space while “actively looking for a future home.”
Whitlow’s opened in 1946 as a greasy spoon eatery and bar in D.C. before closing in 1989 and relocating to Clarendon six years later. Opening in 1995, it has remained a neighborhood mainstay for more than two and a half decades. That is, until now.
ARLnow first reported in August 2019 that the space would be available for lease starting July 1, 2021 but management seemed confident that a deal would be brokered.
“We plan on being here for years to come,” manager Jon Williams told ARLnow at the time.
Currently, 2854 Wilson Blvd still appears to be available for lease at an undisclosed price.
“We don’t necessarily see this as a goodbye, but more of a see you later,” the March social media post read. “In the meantime, there are three months left and we are going to make the best of it!”
With now less than two weeks left, Whitlow’s does seem to be partying hard before the music stops.
Big Ballston Restaurant Opening Today — WHINO, a 150-seat restaurant, craft cocktail bar and art gallery, is set to open its doors at Ballston Quarter today. [ARLnow]
County Considering Green Valley Curfew — “No arrests yet, but Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz says police are making progress after a June 6 shoot-’em-up in the Green Valley neighborhood… The matter became the topic of discussion at the June 12 County Board meeting, when one neighbor called on county leaders to impose a curfew at dusk for the park and school area. County Board member Katie Cristol has asked staff to return with an opinion on whether such an approach would be legal.” [Sun Gazette]
Police Planning for ‘National Night Out’ — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) invites community members and organizations to celebrate outdoor National Night Out (NNO) events on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our communities safer and improve quality of life.” [Arlington County]
APS Animal-Science Program Dwindling — “I am an 11th-grader at Washington-Liberty High School and a technical-animal-science student at the Arlington Career Center. The animal-science program is at risk. The number of animals in the program has been dwindling for years. The program has not been permitted to replace the recently deceased miniature horse. Only one goat is left, and he’s 17. The sole surviving ferret, at nine, is living on borrowed time. However, the administration wants to cut our programs even more, taking away our only goat and our four chickens.” [Sun Gazette]
W-L Student’s Vax Effort Lauded — “Before graduation, McBride spent countless hours convincing her classmates to get vaccinated against COVID-19. ‘I was making sure if vaccines were available for some of my friends, they were going to be able to get it and access it,’ she said. ‘I was very compelled by the thought that I want to be able to see my friends in the future, I want to make sure my friends are healthy, and the community is healthy, and their family is healthy in the future.'” [WJLA]
Man Arrested for Columbia Pike Robbery — “The female victim was walking to her parked vehicle when she observed the suspect sitting near by. As she approached the vehicle, the suspect allegedly ran towards her with his arms outstretched and demanded money. The victim backed away and the suspect ran across the street and approached another victim in a similar manner. Arriving officers canvassed the area and located the suspect.” [ACPD]
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