Walk to Everything
In these neighborhoods, residents have the best of both worlds: They live in single-family homes on quiet, leafy streets but are steps away from farmers markets, restaurants, shops and more.
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The Grants often walk to the shops and restaurants along Bethesda Avenue. All photos by Skip Brown
Christine and Rob Grant live in a cute yellow Cape Cod with blue shutters and white columns. The living room is painted rosy red. The kitchen has shiny new appliances. The backyard is big enough for summer cookouts.
“When we first came to this house, we thought, ooh, we can definitely live here,” says Rob, managing partner with the law firm of Furey, Doolan & Abell, LLP, in Chevy Chase.
It wasn’t just the house they loved. It was also the community feel. “You see neighbors out all the time,” Rob says.
They’re raising their three children in the home: Timmy, 5, Molly, 3, and Nora, 1. And though the house is a bit of a squeeze for five, they love the convenience of downtown living.
“The more you’re here, the more you discover the walkability,” says Christine, a senior communications manager at Marriott International in Bethesda.
The house, which was built in 1948, sits in East Bethesda, a neighborhood east of Wisconsin Avenue and north of East West Highway with quiet streets and an eclectic mix of architectural styles: unassuming postwar ranch homes, glassy modernist affairs, contemporary homes with two-car garages. Houses typically list between $780,000 and $1.5 million.
“I have memories of what Bethesda used to be like,” says Christine, who grew up in Bethesda’s Springfield neighborhood, between Massachusetts Avenue and River Road, at a time when the town was quieter and felt more suburban. “As it continues to grow and parking is ever scarcer, I think being able to walk downtown and walk to the Metro is even more important.”
And frankly, the couple says, it’s good for home values. That’s part of what attracted them to the house. The Bethesda and Medical Center Metro stops are each about a mile away. Neighborhood parks, schools, the library and the grocery store are just blocks from their home.
The Grants walk to breakfast at Bethesda Bagels, walk for coffee at Quartermaine Coffee Roasters, and walk to get dinner with the kids at Uncle Julio’s.
“I like the quesadillas,” Timmy says.
CHEVY CHASE, D.C.
Lots of people fall in love with Chevy Chase, D.C., for its tree-lined streets of historic homes. But for Brenda and Collin Cullen, it’s all about family history.
“I grew up here,” says Collin, a doctor in Bethesda, whose mother and nine of his 10 siblings still live within a few blocks of his home.
With six kids, ages 9 to 19, the Cullens rely on Chevy Chase’s walkability. The kids walk to school, and to soccer and basketball practices. Their friends’ houses are a few blocks away. Broad Branch Market, a charming, high-end corner store that’s become a neighborhood gathering spot, is just up the road.
“They can ride their bikes, their scooters, and they still feel very safe,” Brenda says.
Adult hangouts are nearby, too. The
Cullens can grab dinner at Clyde’s, or go to a movie at the Avalon Theatre. Friendship Heights, with its Metro station and high-end shops, is less than 1½ miles away.
In the upper northwest corner of the District, tucked between Rock Creek Park and Montgomery County, Chevy Chase, D.C., was built for transit. Its stately homes were laid out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries along broad streets that surrounded the streetcar line that stretched to downtown D.C. Those elegant homes—from colonials to turn-of-the-century foursquares and bungalows—still give Chevy Chase its pricey appeal. Home prices average around $1.2 million. Even with five bedrooms, the Cullens’ three-story stucco home, built in 1926, is a little tight for a family of eight.
“It’s a working house, not a show house,” Collin says, laughing. But the Cullens say there’s always room for friends or family who stop in after walking past the white picket fence.
“We have an open-door policy,” Brenda says.
“They can ride their bikes, their scooters, and they still feel very safe,” says Brenda Cullen of the family’s neighborhood (left). Restaurants, such as Macon Bistro & Larder on Connecticut Avenue, are nearby (right).