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Suburban Wonders: Bethesda

Perpetually battling for the title of “Best Suburb,” Bethesda has grown into a city with real estate that commands top dollar — and for good reason since it boasts top schools and nice homes.

Who lives here: Traditionally, Bethesda drew families looking for excellent schools. But with Metro’s arrival and the development of the pedestrian-friendly downtown, it attracts young couples and singles, too.

Most houses in Bethesda sell for between $700,000 and $1.8 million, according to Coldwell Banker agent Jane Fairweather. Smaller, older homes can still be found for around $600,000, particularly in such West Bethesda neighborhoods as Wyngate, Alta Vista, and Parkwood.

Popular neighborhoods:
Kenwood is famous for its country club, cherry trees, and grand homes. Brookmont has houses on the Potomac near the DC line. Tulip Hill’s 50-year-old houses sit on big lots. Carderock Springs has contemporaries tucked into heavily wooded yards.

What’s new:
The downtown area of Bethesda Row is adding a complex of stores, restaurants, and apartments. It’ll open next spring.

Local favorites:
Caddies on Cordell, which claims to be “Bethesda’s 19th hole,” is a popular after-work bar for young adults. During summer, baseball fans head out to see the Big Train, a team of college players, at the delightfully retro Shirley Povich Field at Cabin John Regional Park.

Biggest draw: In 2006 Bethesda’s public high schools—Whitman, Walter Johnson, and Bethesda–Chevy Chase—posted SAT scores among the six highest in the county. Top private schools such as Landon, Holton-Arms, Georgetown Prep, and Stone Ridge also call Bethesda home.

Residents complain about McMansions and teardowns that don’t fit in the neighborhood. Also, traffic and parking in downtown can be tough at night and on weekends.

Well-kept secret:
Although it’s hard to buy a home in the Whitman school district for less than $750,000, the Bannockburn neighborhood off River Road has houses starting in the mid $600,000s.

Why it beats McLean: House prices are steep but don’t reach the levels you pay in McLean.

On the Web: Bethesda Urban Partnership (; Montgomery County (; Maryland Community Newspapers (

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