3. Arlington County
Culture: The county has three distinct regions that fulfill different purposes: North Arlington is now the business center; the Ballston-to-Rosslyn corridor has high-rises, universities, tons of bars & restaurants, and a mix of housing (most of which isn’t too affordable); and South Arlington is the highway community that Arlington used to be. The people who live here enjoy that their neighborhoods are relatively quiet (except during rush hour), and that the community is diverse. Really, South Arlington (Pentagon City/Aurora Heights) is the kangaroo pouch of the Pentagon and DC proper -- a lot of people who live in the Aurora Heights neighborhood have been here or decades, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a valley within the Beltway that’s quiet, but near everything. A little higher on the hill are homes of some VIP types, but I’m not about to compliment them on getting the best views of the city.
Transportation: Metro/bus, Ca-Bi, Car2Go. North Arlington is the neighborhood that the Orange Line built, while Columbia Pike is re-inventing itself on 1950s infrastructure. There was almost a streetcar, but now they’re moving toward Bus Rapid Transit.
Dining: Go to Texas Jack’s for the brisket, and some of the best nachos in the area. For a laid-back atmosphere and solid eats, check out the veggie dogs and beers at Galaxy Hut. They’ve also got several arcade games that function as tabletops. In South Arlington, hit up Lost Dog Cafe for some of the best sandwiches available. The pizza’s great, but ask them to make the crust a little crispy, because it seems like it’s homemade, so it might not be as uniform as you’re used to. If you want entertainment, then Arlington Drafthouse is a solid go-to. Headlining comedians show up regularly, it also has dollar movie nights, and it will regularly air large sporting events for free (so earmark this for the Olympics). In really-South Arlington, Freddie’s Beach Bar is one of the best. It’s small, but for the ambiance, the heavy-pouring staff, karaoke, and Drag Bingo, it can’t be beat.