Closest Metro: Clarendon on the Orange Line.
Clarendon and Courthouse are two of Arlington’s family of urban villages (which also encompasses nearby Rosslyn and Ballston). Clarendon and Wilson Blvds create the main drag that connect the two neighborhoods and are home to several retail stores, restaurants, and bars. In spite of running into one another, both are characterized by unique differences. Clarendon Blvd. houses a cluster of familiar chain retailers, while Wilson Blvd. is home to a number of “mom-and-pop” shops.
a.k.a. Spot (2509 N. Franklin Rd.; 703-248-0093). This specialty pet boutique sells dog and cat accessories like beds, toys, leashes, and collars. Well-behaved dogs are encouraged to come to the shop, and you can bathe them in the doggie self-wash at the back of the store, complete with a special fur dryer. (Advanced reservations for the doggie wash suggested.)
Ispirato (2620 Wilson Blvd.; 703-875-8182). Playing the double role of an art gallery and a home decor boutique, Ispirato is a tiny shop featuring whimsical paintings by owner Kevin Perez and his wife Lilian Wanandy-Perez. In addition to the art, the ceramics, glass, toys and pillows they carry combine bold colors and simple shapes for a modern approach to interior design.
The Papery (2871 Clarendon Blvd.; 703-875-0391). This fine paper shop customizes stationary for personal or business use. Other items like photo albums, frames, and candles make it the perfect place to shop for a gift. You can also pick up cards and wrapping paper.
ShoeFly (2618 Wilson Blvd.; 703-243-6490). This little boutique is chock full of shoes from designers like Miz Mooz, Sugar, Matisse, and Andrew Stevens. Don’t let the name fool you—they also carry funky purses and jewelry for women who like to accessorize.
Faccia Luna (2909 Wilson Blvd.; 703-276-3099). With so many choices for pizza out there, Faccia Luna sets itself apart with an “urban trattoria” feel (informal and inexpensive dining with a more upscale feel than traditional pizzerias). The restaurant’s namesake pizza is topped with sausage, fresh mushroom, and roasted red pepper—yum.
The Java Shack (2507 N. Franklin Rd.; 703-527-9556). This cozy coffee house sits on the end of a residential street, and the friendly staff will make you feel right at home. In warm weather, sitting on the front porch with coffee or a sandwich is a great lazy day activity.
Tallula (2761 Washington Blvd.; 703-778-5051). A trendy spot that seems to appear out of nowhere, Tallula is a restaurant, bar and lounge that offers American cuisine and a wine list of hundreds of wines by the bottle. For lighter fare, try the “Amuse Yourself” menu, which consists of two-bite finger foods like baby burgers and risotto fritters that range from $2.25 to $3.50.
Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd.; 703-276-9693). A local favorite, Whitlow’s is the place to be at brunch, happy hour, and on weekend nights. Their specialty burgers are half priced on Mondays, and Tuesday through Friday all sandwiches are half priced between 11 a.m. and noon. Live music and a spirited bar crowd make it a young hangout at night.