Cleveland Park Guide
|Median Rent||Median Sqft|
|1 Bed||$2,409||693 sqft|
Want to live near big-city amenities close to the nation’s capital but away from the hustle and bustle of big-city life? Cleveland Park, with its laid-back charm, greenspaces, shops, and eateries, might be your speed. Located in the northwestern quadrant of Washington DC, the neighborhood is roughly a 10-minute drive from Downtown DC, depending on traffic (or even quicker by Metro). Its east to west boundaries are Williamsburg Lane, NW to Wisconsin Avenue, NW, and north to south are Tilden Street, NW to Woodley Road, NW.
Cleveland Park’s Queen Anne homes, tree-lined streets, and quaint commercial center has all the feels of yesteryear. The neighborhood was named for President Grover Cleveland, who built a summer home here, inspiring a tradition of Washingtonians moving up Connecticut Avenue for the cool summer breezes from its hilltop perch. When the electric streetcar arrived, connecting residents to Downtown DC, the neighborhood underwent a second phase of development as a “streetcar suburb.” Independent architects began designing in a variety of popular styles of the time. That’s why you’ll see homes of very different sizes and styles — from Victorian houses to Tudor Revival apartment buildings — harmoniously alongside one another. Though many of its side streets are made up of residential homes, many Cleveland Park residents are renters.
A walkable neighborhood, most errands can be accomplished on foot in Cleveland Park, and the streets are somewhat bikeable. Forewarning, if you live on the western side of the neighborhood, you’ll have to muscle uphill to get home, but the walk will at least be filled with scenic views of some of DC’s most beautiful homes. There has been ongoing discussion around improving protected bike lanes along the length of Connecticut Avenue, but progress has been slow though hotly debated.
There’s good public transportation here with a designated Metro stop on the Red Line at Connecticut Avenue, between Ordway and Porter Streets. Another option is to take advantage of major bus routes on Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues, including the L1, L2, 30N, and 30S. There’s also the 96 bus, which cuts across Woodley Road, and the H3 and H4 routes, which run along Porter Street.
For those with a car in Cleveland Park, it’s ideal to find an apartment that comes with parking. There are a few garages on the outer edges of the neighborhood, but they aren’t cheap. If you’re out shopping and a retailer doesn’t validate, expect to pay a pretty penny in a managed parking lot.
You can always drop into your Cleveland Park Starbucks for your morning joe, but Bourbon Coffee is a neighborhood coffee shop you can feel good about supporting. They claim to be the first retail coffee brand to source their beans directly from farmers in Rwanda in a way that helps the growers keep more of the money. Come in and enjoy the quiet atmosphere with lots of open seating.
Want a pastry with your cup of java? SakuSaku, lovingly referred to as a “flakerie” has built a cult following with its French-Japanese pastries. The bakery serves up what’s been hailed as exceptionally crackly, flaky pastries stuffed with surprising fillings. Try the za’atar Gruyere croissant or one that pairs a pistachio spread with bars of dark chocolate. There’s also the “cruffin,” a cardamom rose bun filled with lemon meringue pie.
Keep dinners out just as interesting with a variety of restaurants in Cleveland Park. When you want California-style Mexican, pay a visit to California Tortilla. It’s a counter-serve chain that serves made-to-order burritos and quesadillas, either traditional or with a twist. Come in for a predictable Carnitas Verde Burrito ,or mix it up with a Korean BBQ one. No matter what you choose, one thing remains the same: the Wall of Flame challenges guests with an incredible display of 75 hot sauces in different flavors and heat levels.
Speaking of heat, Thai spices await you at Siam House. You might not be impressed by the decor or the windows overlooking the Exxon gas station across the street, but you will remember the flavorful menu. Locals come for the crispy chicken Kaprow, a dish flavored with hot chili and basil, or clay pot shrimp served on cellophane noodles. Be prepared for Thai-level spiciness whatever you order.
You can have Chinese takeout any day, but here’s a taste of China you should make more time for. Dolan Uyghur Restaurant specializes in Uyghur cuisine, food from a Turkic-speaking people of Northwestern China that folds in a range of Middle Eastern flavors. Sample from a range of nutritious dishes from kebabs to stir-fries to goshnan, a Uyghur-style pizza. You’ll appreciate how the menu reflects the diversity of this region’s culinary melting pot.
Get your beer and burger at Cleveland Park Bar & Grill on Connecticut Avenue NW, where you’ll find a great selection on tap and a rooftop deck when weather permits outdoor dining. A sports lover’s paradise with over 40 big-screen TVs, it’s a great spot to catch a game of your sport of choice. Located just a half a block from the Cleveland Park metro, across the street from the Uptown movie theatre, and less than half a mile from the DC National Zoo, the pub appeals to residents as well as out of town visitors.
When you’re craving a classic Italian sub, head to Vace’s Delicatessen. Dating back to 1976, this authentic Italian deli can pack a mean picnic. It’s the perfect place to pick up sandwiches for an afternoon in the park or a brown-bag lunch for the office.
Prefer to cook at home? Pick up groceries conveniently at Yes! Organic Market. Close to the metro, this branch of the veteran local chain stocks health-conscious, eco-friendly groceries and prepared foods. It’s a bit smaller than other branches but seems to make up for its size with a wide selection of products.
While Cleveland Park isn't a shopping mecca, there are a few stores of note. Wine drinkers, pick your poison or just a bottle of red at Cleveland Park Liquors & Fine Wines. They have a good selection of wine, especially regional “Grape American Road Trip” wines from places like Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Virginia, and more. You can also find many craft beer and cider labels. More often than not, there’s a free tasting held in-store where you can sample liquors before you buy.
Shop at Weygandt Wines for the complete opposite type of wine store dedicated to fine, old-world wines and little-known producers with very few American vintages. Peter Weygandt, the owner/ importer, is world-renowned for his portfolio of top “boutique” French wines. If you’re an educated wine drinker or someone who likes sommelier advice, you’ll want to come here, especially if you like to collect or store bottles for special occasions. It’s located in a historic shopping center, Sam’s Park & Shop, considered one of the country’s original strip malls shopping centers dating back to the 1930s.
Also inside Sam’s Park & Shop is a Target where you can pick up home goods, clothing, electronics, and essential pantry items. It’s not as big as the usual Target big box stores, but it’s conveniently steps from the east entrance of the metro and has a little bit of everything for your apartment.
Shopping for a thoughtfully hand-curated gift? Don’t let the name of Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond deter you. It may be hard to remember (or even say out loud), but this shop, inspired by spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy and his philosophy of self-transcendence, has the best collection of surprise and delight gifts. Pick up a unique card and peruse an assortment of sundries as varied as Tibetan singing bowls to goat milk skincare and Maine hand-dipped candles.
Another unique local shop, Town Jewelers greets customers with father and son owners, part of the Forghani family operating the store since 1976. Find a full showroom of fine jewelry and watches as well as custom engagement rings and other specially made pieces. You can even come in to trade-in your broken or no longer used jewelry. Don’t know the last time you wore that heart-shaped, 14K locket from your 16th birthday? Maybe there’s a market for it at Town Jewelers.
There are plenty of outdoor spaces for recreation in Cleveland Park. Locals can enjoy the beauties of Rock Creek Park, a 1,754-acre urban paradise that offers equestrian and hiking trails, a planetarium, a nature center, sports venues, and a world-class tennis stadium. Take a walk in the Rosedale Conservancy, also known as the neighborhood’s village green. It spans three acres on the site of a historic estate. Wander the terraced grounds and discover a 1790s farmhouse built around a 1740s stone cottage. This structure is thought to be the oldest surviving property in DC. If you’re in the mood for a more wooded hike, head to Melvin C. Hazen Park. It runs along Cleveland Park’s northern boundary and connects to Rock Creek Park in the east. The park follows the path of one of Rock Creek’s tributary streams with scenic nature trails.
For indoor fun, give Atomic Billiards a try. Beyond billiards, you can even sign up for a game of shuffleboard or darts. Games are reasonably priced, but if you like the dive bar vibe, you can buy a membership; members can play unlimited games and enjoy drink discounts, among other perks.
Once you’ve settled in, think about joining The Cleveland Park Club, a private, non-profit social club for the community. It’s not just for kiddie camps. Adults can mingle with neighbors around a summer pool, potluck dinners, and at sponsored events like the November Porch Party.
Cleveland Park is home to the flagship campus of The University of the District of Columbia, a public historically black land-grant university in Washington, DC. It was established in 1851 and is the only public university in the city. Known as UDC’s Van Ness campus, it’s mostly a commuter school. UDC offers 81 undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as the Workforce Development Program, providing a variety of practical, nonacademic educational programs and training.
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