Getting to Know the DMV: Crystal City

This Northern Virginia neighborhood is undergoing significant changes as Amazon’s new headquarters prepares to move in.

Crystal City
Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood is easy to access from George Washington University’s Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. (William Atkins/ GW Today)
November 06, 2019

By Kristen Mitchell

The Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, Va., has been in the news a lot since it was announced as Amazon’s much-anticipated second headquarters. Long seen as an outpost for government offices and contractors, the neighborhood is rapidly changing as the tech giant prepares to move in.

The Crystal City you see today stems from a growing demand for office space in a section of Arlington that until the 1960s had been home to brickyards, warehouses and motels serving nearby what was then called Washington National Airport. The neighborhood got the name Crystal City from an early apartment building, Crystal House.

Today Crystal City is again undergoing a transformation as some buildings are torn down and others are planned to take their place to accommodate the arrival of 25,000 new Amazon employees over the next several years. Located just a few Metro stops from Foggy Bottom, now is an exciting time to see for yourself why the country’s most popular online retailer is betting on Northern Virginia.

Gravelly Point

Gravelly Point, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, is a short walk or bike ride from Crystal City. (William Atkins/ GW Today)

Get Outside
Crystal City is an active neighborhood with several parks and other spaces to get outside on a nice day.

  • Long Bridge Park is perfect for long walks or to add a little distance to an evening run. This park also provides a view of the Washington Monument, making it a neighborhood go-to for watching D.C.’s July 4 fireworks.
  • Crystal City Water Park has plenty of chairs and tables, which makes it an ideal spot for a lunch picnic. Complete with ping pong tables and an oversized chess board, this is a great place to kick back with friends and enjoy a nice day. Plan ahead to catch a free yoga class or other community events.
  • Crystal City Workout Park is home to volleyball courts, a basketball court and outdoor gym equipment. If you’re looking for a fun way to get a sweat session in, this is a perfect place to mix it up.
  • Feeling adventurous? Check out nearby Gravelly Point on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Lay out a blanket and watch the planes fly close overhead as they take off and land at Ronald Reagan National Airport. You can quickly walk or ride a bike here on the Mount Vernon Trail.

Long Bridge Park

Pedestrians walk along the raised walkway at Crystal City's Long Bridge Park. (William Atkins/ GW Today)

Fill Your Plate

  • Start your day with a nitro cold brew from Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters at 12th Street South, located at the border of Crystal City and neighboring Pentagon City.
  • Snag a table at Jaleo on Crystal Drive for an authentic Spanish lunch with small plate offerings. This beloved D.C.-area treasure was developed by world renowned chef and George Washington University instructor José Andrés.
  • Finish your day at Highline RxR on Crystal Dr\ive for a fun night out with friends. This second-story restaurant and bar offers great views of the neighborhood’s main corridor and has a stacked selection of board games to keep you entertained



Freddie's Beach Bar and Restaurant is Northern Virginia's only LGBTQ, straight-friendly restaurant and bar. It is located at 555 23rd St. S.

Just Beachy
Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant located at 555 23rd St. S. is a Crystal City institution. This LGBTQ-friendly spot is known for having a delicious brunch, an unforgettable drag scene and a welcoming environment to all.

Late Night Bite
Bob & Edith’s Diner has several locations throughout Northern Virginia, but the Crystal City is the most accessible to D.C. residents. This old school diner on South 32rd Street is open 24 hours a day and has unbeatable prices that make it difficult to say no to a late night slice of pie.

Shop Underground
Crystal City is home to an underground shopping complex, which today seems like a relic from another time. Connected with the Crystal City Metro Station, however, it’s hard to beat the convenience if you are looking for a quick snack or a last minute pedicure.

Crystal City Water Park

Crystal City Water Park, complete with ping pong tables and an oversized chess board, is an ideal spot for an outdoor lunch.  The park is located at 1750 Crystal Dr. (William Atkins/ GW Today)

How to Get There:
From Foggy Bottom

  • Metro: Take the Blue Line train from Foggy Bottom straight to Crystal City. You can also get there on the Yellow Line.
  • Capital Bikeshare: Rent a bike at any of the several bikeshare docks in Foggy Bottom and bike the roughly 5.5 miles to Crystal City using the Mount Vernon Trail. It should take about 35 minutes to make the trip. Make sure to follow all traffic laws.

From Mount Vernon

  • Campus Shuttles- The Vern Express runs between the Mount Vernon and Foggy Bottom campuses. The shuttle will only make stops on campus, so once you are in Foggy Bottom follow the suggested travel routes mentioned above.


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