2022 is the Forest Hills Connection’s 10th anniversary year, and this is the tenth anniversary of our post-Thanksgiving tradition: Marlene Berlin’s “Shop-Local Workout.”
The first time our editor-in-chief invited us on some of her favorite local walking and shopping trips was in 2012. Each year, we publish a new version, with updates as needed.
The 2022 update removes Uptown Market, which closed in October after three years. We’ve also had to devise a detour for one of the walking routes, as the Soapstone Valley Trail is currently closed for the sewer rehabilitation project.
So now, without further adieu: The 2022 Shop-Local Workout.
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.
The Forest Hills, Van Ness and Chevy Chase walks
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, and its 2018 expansion opened up more shelf and floor space for all sorts of gifts for adults and children, including jigsaw puzzles.
The next stop is a few steps up Connecticut Avenue at Little Red Fox. Shop an assortment of uncommon beers, wines, hard ciders, vinegars, sauces (made there!), pastas, chocolates, coffees and teas. You can also peruse the selection online, make your purchase, and pick it up at the store on your way to the next place on the list. While you’re there, be sure to wish them a happy anniversary. Little Red Fox opened on November 26th, 2013.
From here you could head north to Chevy Chase or south to the Van Ness commercial strip.
Southbound shoppers will first reach neighborhood newcomer Shemali’s Market at Connecticut and Albemarle. In addition to ready-to-eat foods, the Van Ness outpost carries Lebanese, Turkish and Greek sauces, spices, teas, syrups and other items sure to delight the foodies on your list. The grocery section at Bread Furst across the street is another haven for cooks and bakers.
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 Park Story. The store sells women’s shoes and apparel, jewelry and home accessories, all made or designed locally or by independent brands.
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.
Hillwood Museum, Cleveland Park and Tenleytown
Another walking and shopping excursion takes you to the Hillwood Museum shop, and then to Cleveland Park. For those walking to Hillwood from Forest Hills, I’d normally suggest a hike through the Soapstone Valley, but the trail’s temporary closure requires a detour on city streets. So instead, you’ll head down Connecticut Avenue to Upton Street, which terminates just north of the Hillwood entrance on Linnean Avenue.
Once you’ve finished shopping at Hillwood (don’t forget the members discount), you can take Linnean south to Tilden, and walk down the hill to Pierce Mill. Once there, cross Tilden and go through parking lot, pass the bathrooms, and pick up the the Reservation 630 Trail (formerly the Melvin Hazen Trail). The trail will lead to Connecticut Avenue. From there, Cleveland Park is another 5-10 minute walk.
Shops in Cleveland Park that are worth the hike include Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss and Town Jewelers. (At Town Jewelers, appointments are recommended, so plan to get in touch before you arrive at their door.) Or consider stopping in at All Fired Up to make a gift.
If you still have energy to burn, walk north on Connecticut to Sedgwick, then follow Sedgwick west 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 Street 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.
Next, head north on Wisconsin to Tenleytown Ace Hardware, a employee-owned 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?
Just up Wisconsin, 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?
Continue north on Wisconsin to check out the bikes at ElectriCity Bikes and across the street, Tennis Zone Plus. This shop supplies gifts for tennis players, but also everything you need for squash, badminton, racquetball and pickleball, the newest racket sport that all ages are playing.
If you are looking for pet gifts or a pet to adopt, try the PetMac pet store on Fessenden just west of Wisconsin.
Your final stop in this journey is York Flowers, just north of Fessenden.
It has plants, flowers and arrangements that you can peruse in person, or order online. They have a holiday catalog and their own delivery service to make sure your order gets handled with care in the wide Metropolitan area – even as far as Reston.
Well, it’s time to head home to put your feet up and relax. Frankly, I have worn myself out just thinking about all this shopping.
What did we miss? Tell us about your favorite holiday – and everyday – shopping experiences… just a walk away.