Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is Columbia Heights kid-friendly?

Just received an email from a reader with a baby who is asking about the neighborhood's kid-friendliness. I know there are events, like the Singing Lizard events at Sticky Fingers and things like parents' happy hours at Wonderland, but no having a kid myself I don't know for sure. Can those of you with kiddos say what you think in the comments? Here's the email:
I see there a some real estate deals around DC USA. My wife and I don't know to much about the neighborhood. We go there a few times a year to go to Target for our supplies or out to eat with friends.
We are primarily concerned with the safety of the neighborhood.  How safe is it for my wife and baby to walk around at night?  Is there a lot of young families in the area? Is the closet park to take kids to Meridian Hill?
One other concern we have which you mentioned on your blog is that one thing we love about DC is that its not the burbs and you have so many non chain options.  If we did move to C.H. it's like we are moving into chain central.  It kind of turns us off and are nervous it would turn others off when we go to resale.
Your thoughts? I would assume it's ok to walk around with your kid until maybe 10 pm, and depending on where you are, but again, I'm a guy and I don't have a kid.

For more kid-related posts, check out my kids tag.


  1. I'm a mom of a 2 year old boy and have lived in Columbia Heights since before he was born. If the mom and baby are walking at night just on 14th St. where all the business are, then it is very safe. I probably wouldn't walk, by myself, with my son past 9:30PM, but kids are usually in bed by this time, so that shouldn't be a problem. In terms of parks, there is a great playground on Girard St. and 15th, right beside the Community Center. It is virtually brand new, and has play equipment for different age levels. There is also a great new park/playground on the corner of Irving and Georgia. Both are definitely daytime or early evening parks. I wouldn't hang out too much at night time in either park. As far as the chains go, I think there is a good balance of unique restaurants AND chains, which is kind of the best of both worlds. So, in terms of resale value, I don't think it would be a problem at all. In fact, I think it would be a bonus! Most restaurants in Columbia Heights are kid-friendly as well. In the summer the fountain at the Columbia Heights Plaza is a fantastic place for kids and families to hang out. We love it because it is so diverse and the kids love playing in the fountain. Hope this is all helpful!

  2. What does the fact that you're "a guy" have to do with the question? Do you expect women without kids to know better simply because they are women? I hope that's not what you meant.

  3. No, I'm saying that I'm fairly comfortable walking around at night, but a solo woman may be less comfortable.

  4. That makes sense--thank you for the clarification!

  5. I don't have children yet, but I can say a few things.

    On safety: my wife is rather small and rather attractive, yet as far as I know she's never been harassed or threatened in our neighborhood.

    On the neighborhood kids: we have a small dog that's, apparently, a total tween magnet. So I find myself interacting with the middle school students at Capital City PCS and Lincoln Middle School all the time. They're as loud and hyperactive as you'd expect from that age group, but they're also polite and friendly. I think this is the kind of neighborhood where your next-door-neighbor's kid could probably be a good babysitter.

    On local business: They're here, they're just hiding, especially on Mt. Pleasant St. and 11th St.

  6. I've been here for four years, and have two little girls (2 and a half and 6 months). I agree with everything Amy and Tom said. This is a great neighborhood for kids.

    Both failed to mention perhaps the greatest thing for parents and small children - our close proximity to the Friday night kids happy hour at The Reef in Adams Morgan.

  7. We moved to Columbia Heights as we were planning to start a family. Our twin sons are D.C. natives who just turned 6 1/2. We think this is a great neighborhood for kids and families, and more and more are moving in.

    There are a few caveats. My sons go to the 11th and Monroe corner park, a longtime problem area, and things are usually fine, but there are a few oddballs who hang out there. And there are some sketchy folks, as in any urban neighborhood.

    I agree with Amy that the recent changes make the area even more family-friendly. We use DCUSA and surrounding restaurants regularly. And the new fountain plaza is a plus.

  8. Not exactly Columbia Heights, but on 15th and W NW (across from Meridian park), a house with a locked metal gate blocking the entry way was broken into during broad daylight today. I saw a ton of cops there on my way home tonight.

    I don't have kids, but that kind of stuff is a deterrent to me starting a family here.

  9. We have a 4 year old boy and have lived here since before he was born. He loves walking all over the place with us - From Red Rocks to the Zoo and Walter Pierce Park (The newly renovated Girard St park can be creepy some times with drugs and rocks being thrown.) I watch out for a lot of things like broken glass and rowdy teenagers and the occasional stray bullet - Yes it happens even during the day. But it is all relative. The traffic flying all around is by far my biggest worry with a toddler.

  10. I like living here with my kids and there are many benefits and perks to life in the city in general and to being close to retail and metro, but honestly, if I had to go back in time to when we bought the house before we had kids, I probably wouldn't have chosen CH. This is one of the *only* DC neighborhoods not experiencing a baby boom and as a parent, I feel it. There are many more single young people here than young families - a trend I didn't realize was going to happen ten years ago. Nothing wrong with single young people by any means, but if one wants a neighborhood full of families, CH just isn't it.

  11. Having lived in CH for 10 years with three kids now age 5,5 and 7 I think there are better places to live in DC, like Takoma DC. But I bought when houses were cheap so we're here for the long haul. I think in a few years there will be more kids and one won't have to drive across town to meet up with playdates. My kids know what robbers are and they are definitely having a different childhood experience than I did. In the end the neighborhood is generally safe, and you know there's gangs in Manasas too.


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