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Clarendon is often thought of as the laid-back, cool kid in Arlington's class of urban villages. This is a place where you can expect to see t-shirts, baseball caps, flip flops and Volvos. It's a nightlife destination where people can have a great yet moderately priced dinner before heading to one of several local bars. Of course, Clarendon is much more than that. Not just a hip place to hang out after work, it also offers mid-sized office buildings near the Clarendon Metro station and safe, stable neighborhoods full of single-family homes and tree-lined streets, offering great opportunities to live, work, and play - no car required.
Along with Virginia Square, Ballston, Court House, and Rosslyn, Clarendon is located on the Wilson Boulevard-Clarendon Boulevard corridor, which was named one of 10 "Great Streets" in the U.S. by the American Planning Association in 2008.
Clarendon plays host to businesses of all sorts and sizes, many of them with nationally recognized names. The Market Common Clarendon shopping center features Barnes & Noble, Crate & Barrel, Apple, The Container Store and Pottery Barn. But Clarendon is probably better known for its local, homegrown businesses. This combination of local and national results in a shopping and retail scene that is quite varied and unique.
The prevalence of small businesses also contributes to the strong sense of community that pervades the area and manifests itself through a variety of neighborhood organizations and special events. One such organization, The Clarendon Alliance, is a neighborhood association that unites residents with business owners, both local and national, to address community issues and concerns and to promote the community. Regular events in the area include a farmers market every Wednesday afternoon, year-'round.There is also an annual Mardi Gras celebration and the Clarendon Day festival in the fall. These events reinforce the feeling of welcome and camaraderie that can be felt just spending an evening here.
Clarendon's reputation for good food and lively bars is very well deserved, as people from throughout the DC metropolitan area come to the neighborhood to sample the ethnic restaurants. Favorites range from Chinese to El Salvadoran to the best Peruvian chicken you've ever had, but you can also find Japanese, Greek, Cuban, American, Barbecue, Moroccan and several Vietnamese eateries all within walking distance of the Metro station. Of course, people stay for the nightlife once they're here. Whether it's the laid-back atmosphere and local music at Iota or Galaxy Hut (official capacity: 48), the sports bar atmosphere of Mister Day's, the cavernous Whitlow's, or the lovely Clarendon Ballroom, there is a lot of fun to be had after dark in Clarendon.
With its comfort, community, and cuisine, it's no surprise then that the area is attracting more and more people. Newly constructed housing options are presenting more opportunities for prospective residents seeking to join in the fun. However, even as more people arrive, the locals tend to agree that Clarendon will be able to retain its unique individuality as a young, quirky, and exciting urban village.