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19 Reasons To Love Arlington, Virginia

The 'City without the Gritty' near our nation's capital has some capital attractions of its own.

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1. It's home to some typical "D.C." landmarks


Arlington Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Iwo Jima Memorial are often backdrops for "D.C." TV shows like House of Cards or Scandal, but they're technically in Arlington.

4. Tacos El Chilango

Arlington Now / Via

If you like your meals on your wheels to also be steals, El Chilango is the spot for you. Their reasonably priced tacos al pastor, lengua and carne asada earned an enviable 4.8-star Yelp rating: this is no ordinary food truck.

(Bonus: if you order in Spanish, even in really poorly accented Spanish, they'll often throw in a free taco. Taco bout a deal!)

5. Teddy Roosevelt Island

Doug Mahugh / Via

This beautiful wooded refuge offers miles of hiking trails and a larger-than-life monument to America's favorite president and conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt. It's right off the highway but rarely crowded, letting you read Teddy's timeless words of wisdom, carved into giant slabs of marble, in peace.

While the island is technically part of Washington, D.C., the only way to reach it (or get off, if those deer ever decide to attack...) is on the Arlington side of the river.

6. DCA, the world's most convenient airport

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Unlike its distant neighbor Dulles, DCA is totally metro accessible (as in, metro entrance attached to the terminal) and just a 10-minute car ride from almost anywhere in Arlington. Plus, you get monumental views of D.C. (get it? monumental?) as you're flying in.

7. Gravelly Point Park

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Gravelly Point is the closest you'll get to an airborne plane without actually being inside of it. All the planes landing at DCA pass dangerously close (or what feels like dangerously close) to the grass where people picnic and play soccer, creating great photo opportunities like this.

9. This park that looks like the Death Star landed in Hobbiton.

Rosslyn BID / Via

It's called "Dark Star" park, but affectionate locals call it Death Star. Each August 1st at precisely 9:32 AM, the shadows cast by the spheres line up perfectly with their reflecting pools, marking the anniversary of the day William Henry Ross purchased the land that became Rosslyn (the neighborhood where the park sits today.)

10. Ice, Ice, Baby

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Skate like a pro year-round at the Washington Capitals' IcePlex in Ballston. It's the closest year-round ice rink to Washington, D.C., and you can even watch the Capitals practice for free! (It's attached to a mall and movie theater, so be sure to end your trip with an Orange Julius.)

11. Clarendon Nightlife

Clarendon Ballroom / Via

Clarendon. It's where the kids who have just graduated from college —and the kids who just act like they've recently graduated— go to get their drink on. That's why nightlife in Clarendon can be infinitely more entertaining (read: trashy) than nightlife in D.C. For the full experience, end your night at Clarendon Ballroom, with stops at Whitlow's, Spider Kelly's or Don Tito's along the way.

12. Phô 75

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Is your mouth watering yet? This cash-only, cafeteria-style joint offers un-phô-gettable noodle bowls that are delicious and good phô you (and your wallet.) It's the perfect way to warm your belly during the next snowpocalypse.

13. TechShop

TechShop / Via

Picture it: millions of dollars worth of equipment at your fingertips, from state-of-the-art 3D printers and lasers to etchers, waterjet cutters, industrial sewing machines, woodworking equipment, a spraypainting booth, and all the design software you could possibly need. It's the perfect place to prototype an invention, make friends with other makers, or just practice your craft.

18. Bayou Bakery

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A New Orleans-themed enclave which forever smells of fresh beignets. Try the Cajun brunch shrimp n' grits, the buttermilk biscuits with pepper jelly, or the roast beef arm drip. (Vegetarians, take note: the Tuesday lunch special, the veg-a-lotta sandwich, is heaven on a bun.)

19. Key Bridge — and what it connects us to.

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While Arlington has a lot to offer on its own, its proximity to Washington, D.C. is what truly makes it special. (In fact, it was supposed to be part of D.C. all along.) Take a short walk across Key Bridge and you'll land in Georgetown; jump a few metro stops down the line and you're at the White House. Arlington is the gateway to everything we love about D.C....and about America.

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