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10 Cities Near Washington, D.C., You Won’t Want to Ignore in 2024

Washington DC

by Matt Lyons Posted on January 30, 2024

Sure, the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C., is heavily populated with members of the government — including federal employees, military personnel, and politicians — but there are so many other walks of life represented in the city, as well. Job opportunities in fields such as healthcare, technology, and tourism also abound. And residents living in D.C. have access to basically every perk a major city could have — from museums to art galleries, a diverse culture to an eclectic food scene.

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But although the advantages of daily living are what draw in so many new residents each year, when it comes to the cost of living in D.C., the high price tag could mean the difference between packing your bags and staying put. A smart compromise? Looking into cities near Washington, D.C., instead. 

With a move to one of the major cities near Washington, D.C., instead of right in the center of all the action, you can expect more square footage for what you pay, while worrying less about crime and enjoying more of a tranquil environment away from the hustle and bustle — just to name a few perks. But what are some of the best places to check out? Here are 10 of our favorites.

Best Cities Near Washington, D.C. – FAQs

Q: What cities commute to D.C.?
A:
Alexandria, Rockville, and Arlington are some of the top cities from Virginia and Maryland with commuters to D.C. 

Q: What are Washington, D.C.'s major cities?
A:
When it comes to what cities are near Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria top the list of major ones. 

Q: How close are Baltimore and D.C.?
A:
The commute from Baltimore to D.C. is roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Q: What state is D.C. closest to?
A:
D.C. is situated very close to both Maryland and Virginia; however, it’s a bit closer to Maryland’s suburbs. 

The Alexandria waterfront at sunset

10 Best Cities Near Washington, D.C.

Several of Maryland and Virginia’s top cities are located within a short commute to the D.C. area and offer similar amenities, from a diverse dining scene to a lively arts scene. Here are our top picks to check out.

1. Alexandria, VA

Situated along the beautiful Potomac River, the city of Alexandria is regarded as one of the best Virginia cities near Washington, D.C. With over 900 acres of parks, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking trails, botanical preserves, dog parks, and so much more. And whether you prefer to hike, bike, or walk, the beautiful 23-mile Alexandria Heritage Trail offers the perfect space to explore along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. 

In addition to being able to enjoy the glorious outdoors, local residents of Alexandria have access to the beloved Historic King Street. From restaurants and a weekly farmers’ market to hundreds of shops to peruse, this vibrant 2–block street is quite popular in the city.

2. Bethesda, MD

Located northwest of Washington, D.C., the laid-back town of Bethesda is home to a wide variety of D.C. commuters, as it’s only about a 30-minute drive away from the hustle and bustle. You don’t have to go to the big city to access exciting nightlife, however, as living in the central location of Bethesda also gives you easy access to Silver Spring

Residents of Bethesda can also take advantage of Bethesda Row, which is west of the city and has a variety of upscale stores and restaurants. Recreation is quite popular in the town, as well, as evidenced by the Capital Crescent Trail — one of the nation's most heavily used trails — which runs through the heart of the town and connects the Wisconsin South neighborhoods and Bethesda West.

3. Arlington, VA

Just a 20 -minute drive from D.C., the lively city of Arlington in Virginia offers just about everything a top suburb should. Packed with beautiful lush greenery, residents enjoy more of a tranquil atmosphere without the rush of the big city. To get acquainted with the local parklands that cover over 1,000 acres, in particular, the Four Mile Run Trail is a great place to begin. Start your journey near the neighborhood of Claremont, and you can even connect to the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Trail, if you keep traveling northwest. 

It’s not all about the outdoors in Arlington, though. The city also prides itself on its vibrant arts scene, where you can check out unique modern exhibits, art programs, and classical/contemporary performances at hotspots like The Signature Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington

4. Kensington, MD

Kensington is a charming and historic town near D.C. filled with bustling life and plenty of activities for everyone. Whether it’s enjoying the weekly farmers markets and summer concerts or chowing down at the cafes and restaurants that line the streets, you’ll never have a boring weekend here.

Speaking of good eats, Kensington has plenty of fine dining establishments that cater to those with a variety of taste buds, including Talia's Cuzina and The Dish and Dram. And there are also a variety of parks and recreation facilities that allow local residents to enjoy some time outdoors, including Rock Creek Regional Park, which is a great place to bike and hike.

Ashburn townhomes seen from a river in the fall

5. Ashburn, VA

A part of Loudoun County, Ashburn is a laid-back city full of open space and wildlife that’s still in close proximity to fun shopping centers, entertainment, and more (not to mention it’s less than an hour from D.C.). There's a lot to do in the Ashburn area itself, including spending some time at the local Belmont Country Club. Of course, shopping and dining at One Loudoun is also a resident favorite. There, you can explore local shops and dine at some fantastic eateries, such as Bar Louie and Ted’s Bulletin

6. Rockville, MD

The city of Rockville is one of the best Maryland cities near Washington, D.C., according to Niche. It’s full of history — it’s actually one of the oldest cities in the entire state. And it’s also home to some of the state's most advanced biomedical and technology companies!

Residents enjoy access to Rockville Town Square at the center of the city, which is a walkable area with a variety of cafes and restaurants that serve up a wide range of cuisines. It’s also a great place to go shopping for gifts and groceries.

And people who enjoy the outdoors will feel right at home in Rockville, as there are a variety of parks and recreation facilities that are designed for various activities. One can’t miss attraction, if particular, is the urban wildlife sanctuary at Croydon Creek Nature Center.

7. Oakton, VA

Oakton is ranked 11th on Niche’s list for “Best Suburbs to Live in Virginia” — especially for families (as it’s also 11th on Niche’s list for “Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in Virginia”). Just a 30-minute commute to D.C., Oakton has pretty much everything to offer, from fabulous outdoor recreation and a variety of shopping options to several fun activities and good schools.

There are many areas of natural beauty to explore in Oakton, as well, from the various parks, trails, and other areas of outdoor space, like Gabrielson Gardens Park and Ashlawn Park.

And you’ll never run out of options when shopping in Oakton, as you can find everything from shopping malls to farmers markets. Be sure to check out Oakton Shopping Center, which is the main shopping center in the city, along with FRESHFARM Oakton Farmers Market, which sells delicious edibles, including fruits, bread, and baked goods.

A wooden walkway through the Potomac, Maryland trees

8. Potomac, MD

Located in Maryland, the community of Potomac is situated about 13 miles from Washington, D.C. The area mainly consists of large homes with expansive lawns, which makes the atmosphere more relaxing and quiet for people who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of D.C. 

Potomac residents have easy access to various outdoor activities, such as the Billy Goat Trail, which is located near the Great Falls of Maryland. This eight-mile trail features different sections and is great for both experienced and novice hikers alike.

And one of the most popular areas for residents to eat and shop is the Potomac Place Shopping Center, an outdoor mall that’s reminiscent of a small-town main street.

9. South Riding, VA

South Riding is another one of the most vibrant and popular communities in Loudoun County — and the state. Just a 50-minute drive to D.C., this area is ideal for commuters, as well as families and retirees alike.

It’s easy to stay active in South Riding, as residents have access to hundreds of acres of parkland. The Dulles South Recreation Center also features indoor pools and a fitness center, and the South Riding Golf Club, designed by renowned architect Dan Maples, offers the opportunity to play a couple of rounds of golf while enjoying the local scenery.

10. Olney, MD

The formerly rural community of Olney has undergone a major transformation over the past few years. Its prime location, which is only 19 miles from Downtown Washington, D.C., is partly responsible for its rise. Other factors, like high-quality restaurants, a great culture, and plenty of employment opportunities, have also contributed to its emergence as one of the area's most desirable places to live.

Residents of Olney have also long regarded the area's thriving theater scene as one of the best in D.C. The Olney Theater Center, in particular, features multiple stages and is known for presenting a wide range of theatrical performances.

A man calls PODS moving and storage to plan his move to a city near D.C. A PODS container sits in his driveway

Plan Your Move to a City Near D.C. With PODS

When you're ready to make that fresh start and move to a new location in the D.C. area, consider renting a portable moving container from PODS. They will deliver the container right to your doorstep, and they'll pick it up and take it to your new residence when you’re ready. The best part? One month of storage is included, so you can move at your own pace.

Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.

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