We like to revisit this piece year after year because it combines our love for walking and our love for local businesses. And with the departure of a couple of businesses mentioned in the 2012 original, and the arrival of new ones, we thought it was time for an update of the walking tour of shops in Forest Hills/Van Ness, Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase and Tenleytown.
Those who know me best know I hate to shop. So you might wonder why I am writing about holiday shopping. I do hate to shop in large department or big box stores. They overwhelm me. My favorite type of shopping is only a walk away.
I like supporting the local shops. All you need is a backpack with one or two reusable bags and off you go on a pleasant shopping excursion. You don’t have to walk, but it’s healthier and much more fun.
Some of the best shopping for the holidays is right here in the Forest Hills neighborhood, at Politics and Prose. There is nothing I enjoy more than browsing through books for friends and family. I can’t help but slip a book or two into the pile as gifts for me. There is a new term for this: self-gifting. Another great place for gifts is across the street. The French bistro Terasol sells a large selection of handmade pottery and jewelry.
And before you leave, start gift baskets for the food, coffee, wine and beer lovers on your list at Little Red Fox.
From here you could head north to Chevy Chase or south to the Van Ness commercial strip.
Stock your friends’ or your own bar cart with mixers and libations from Bread Furst, Soapstone, Calvert Woodley Fine Wines & Spirits and Van Ness Wines and Liquors. At Soapstone, you can also shop for the art lover on your list. The artwork hanging on the walls is for sale. And DC Glass Artists operates a mini shop at Soapstone Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. through through December 24th.
If you visit Van Ness over the next four weekends, you might chance upon the Made in DC Pop-Up Shop at 4340 Connecticut Avenue (the UDC Law School). Here you’ll find a rotating group of local craftspeople selling handmade goods perfect for everyone on your list. You might even see Santa. Here’s list of vendors and operating hours.
For those trekking north on Connecticut Avenue instead, Chevy Chase is a treasure trove of locally-owned and operated shops. Around the corner from Starbucks on Livingston Street, you’ll find Full of Beans, a fabulous kids clothing store. Next door is Periwinkle Gifts , a fun gift store. Then round the corner back to Connecticut and check out the women’s active wear at Core 72 and plan to spend some time at Catch Can perusing the clothes, shoes, and items for the home. For the kids and game-loving adults on your list, don’t miss Child’s Play.
On McKinley, a half block off Connecticut, is Write for You stationary and gifts. One day I went into explore and came out with a watch. For the local movie buffs on your list, stop at the Avalon Theater, a wonderful neighborhood institution, for a gift card. Another great stop for kids is Ramer’s Shoes on Northampton. You don’t have to worry about getting the right shoe size – just pick out one of the colorful umbrellas hanging festively from the ceiling.
I think that’s enough for one day. Whether you’re in Van Ness or Chevy Chase, sit down at one of the local restaurants and treat yourself. You’ve earned it.
Another shopping excursion from Forest Hills is to take a hike through Soapstone Valley to Peirce Mill, and then walk up the hill on Tilden. Yes, you can make it. Turn right at Lenore Lane and head to the Hillwood Museum, which has a terrific gift sale in December.
Or continue to follow the trail under Tilden that leads to Cleveland Park, just below Sedgwick. This is part of the Melvin Hazen Trail system. Two gift shops in Cleveland Park are both worth the hike: Wake Up Little Suzie and Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss. These stores are on Connecticut Avenue.
If you still have energy to burn, walk north on Connecticut to Sedgwick, then follow Sedgwick to Tilden. Upon crossing Tilden, you will find a bank of 98 steps (yes, I have counted them) leading to International Drive.
If you want a good cardio workout, take the steps. Hook a left when you get to International Drive, which sweeps around in front of a bunch of embassies and leads to the corner with the Israeli Embassy and the Chinese Embassy (map). Take another left onto Van Ness and walk to Wisconsin Avenue.
On the southeast corner of Van Ness and Wisconsin is Sequels. It is a consignment shop located in an apartment building and packed to the gills with stuff. They have some funky jewelry. Across Wisconsin and slightly to the north Sullivan’s Toys and Art Supplies. This is where we often went to get art supplies when my girls were growing up.
When you get to Albemarle Street, hang a left and walk down to Iona Senior Services at 4125 Albemarle. On sale there is one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry, pastel paintings, prints, collage, found object sculpture, paintings, note cards and smaller unframed prints, too. Nearby is Tenleytown Ace Hardware, a locally owned and operated member of the national Ace cooperative. I love hardware stores, and you really can find unusual gifts. What about a double jumbo inflatable snow tube? Middle C Music is a don’t miss for the music lover in your life. It has sheet music, gifts and musical instruments you could give as gifts. How about a recorder or a ukulele? And a few lessons?
Keeping heading north on Wisconsin to check out the bikes at City Bikes. If you are looking for pet gifts or a pet to adopt, try the PetMac pet store on Fessenden just west of Wisconsin. And remember the gift basket items you’ve been collecting? You’re going to need baskets now! Extend your walk a bit and pick up a a few at the Friendship Heights World Market.
Well, it’s time to head home to put your feet up and relax. If you have bought too much for your backpack and shopping bags or just too tired to lug it all home, call an Uber or find a Car2Go. Frankly, I have worn myself out just thinking about all this shopping.
What did we miss? Tell us about your favorite holiday shopping experiences… just a walk away.