Anchored by a cluster of high end retailers and popular chains, you’d think Clarendon was better suited for a girlfriends-meet-up (which it is!) than a family-fun-day. But we found that there are kid-friendly surprises—think tucked-away toy stores and artisan bakeries—around every corner. If you have a few hours to spare, pack up the kids and drive out to this Arlington sub-city (or take the Metro’s orange line to the Clarendon stop) for some mommy/daddy-and-me time worth bragging about.
This off-the-beaten path independent toy store is packed to the rafters with cars, costumes, educational toys, books, tons of wooden building blocks, baby clothes, and more (yes, there’s more). Come to Kinder Haus Toys to snag a unique gift for a birthday kid and get it wrapped for free, or just get lost in the board game- and baby doll-filled aisles. Not trying to spend any money this time? Let the kids hang in the play area, which features a couple of decked-out train tables, for a few minutes. Insider tip: If you do make a purchase, keep your receipt. You can take it to Bakeshop across the street (see below) for a free cupcake.
Kinder Haus Toys
1220 N. Fillmore St. (Arlington, Va)
If dessert is calling your name (and especially if you have a Kinder Haus Toys receipt…see above) make a bee-line for Bakeshop, an unassuming bakery that whips up everything from cupcakes and cookies to banana pudding and ice cream chipwiches in small batches on site (translation: it smells like heaven in this joint). The neighborhood bakery has a nostalgic, childhood vibe with an open kitchen that little ones will enjoy peaking in on. Must-try treats include the super-moist cookie dough cupcake, the cinnamon sugar doughnuts (straight from the oven), and the oatmeal cream pie.
1025 N. Fillmore St. (Arlington, Va)
Burn off some of that sugar at Woodmont Park, a neighborhood-y playground peppered with play houses, slides, a rope bridge, monkey bars, and a rocking whale. For sportier kids looking for some pick-up play, the tucked away spot also has a basketball court and baseball field. The gazebo, outfitted with picnic tables, next to the playground is great for a lunch break. We love the small looping paved path—it’s just right for trike-riders or newbie bikers.
2422 N. Fillmore St. (Arlington, Va)
Make a Truck Stop
D.C.’s Capitol Hill isn’t the only place to find yummy, artisan food trucks. On most days, a few trucks—including Kaftamania and PhoWheels—can be found parked on the corner near Clarendon’s Market Common. The newest food truck on the block is Astro Doughnuts, which serves up pastries in nostalgic flavors like peanut butter and jelly and nutella. During the week, the truck lines can get substantial (but nothing too scary) around lunchtime. If you want to avoid a wait, swing by before noon or after 3 pm when the mad rush has died down. If the weather permits, take your grub to Market Common where there’s a smattering of benches for you and the kiddos to chow down.
Raise the Roof
Get a brief break from you little darlings by dropping them off at Sprout at Saffron, where they can play, create, explore, and meet new friends (all under super-supervision), while you catch up on emails or read or sip a cup of joe nearby. The youngest visitors get to have mom or dad right in the playroom (which is equipped with slides, books, blocks, and mats), while older kids get hands-on fun with instructors during open play or classes like Move ‘n Groove.
Sprout at Saffron
3260 Wilson Blvd., (Arlington, Va)
Do you have a favorite spot in Clarendon? Tell us in the comments section below.
Photos courtesy of Ayren Jackson-Cannady, Sprout at Saffron via Facebook, Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken via Facebook