Rosslyn: America’s Real Premier Tourist Destination

Rosslyn VA

Ok fine, so it’s actually just where all of the tourists book all of their hotel rooms.

I’m feeling a tad bit jealous of all of the stunning travel photography and vibrant portraits of everyday life in exotic places that I’ve been seeing in the blogosphere lately.  It’s enough to make living in America feel downright boring.

I wish we were in India already, but we’re not.  A fact made very evident by the giant pile of shirts I ironed last night and the fact that no one, besides me, has dusted my furniture in months.

So, to pass the time, I thought I’d share my own little travelogue of sorts from our current home away from home away from home: Rosslyn.

Rosslyn VA

Yes, Rosslyn.  That little 1970’s hodgepodge of weirdly Art Deco-y skyscrapers that sits on the other side of Key Bridge from Georgetown.  That little corner of Arlington County where you can find a dry cleaners, a mediocre deli and a Starbucks every 50 feet but, much to my dismay, not one darn ice cream shop.

But you know what?  Who cares?  We might not have the great shopping of ritzy Georgetown or the great restaurant scene of yuppie Clarendon.  We don’t have two cupcake bakeries within 3 blocks of one another and sure this place turns into a ghost town come Friday at 5pm; but Rosslyn is totally worth a stop on any Washington D.C. itinerary.

There are some renowned travel writing traditions that will try to tell you what to do with 36 hours such fabulous destinations as Paris, Istanbul, or Madison, Wisconsin.  Very similarly, I give you…

36 Minutes in Rosslyn (A scintillating travelogue about the biggest neighborhood that no one actually lives in)

00:00-03:00: Going Up

Rosslyn Escalator

D.C. Metro folklore tells us that the Rosslyn Metro Escalator is the 2nd longest in the entire world.  Folks, this is just plain not true.  Sadly, the escalator is not even long enough to rate a Wikipedia entry.  It’s just your average, everyday, really, really long “omg are we really still riding this thing, I think I’m coming down with vertigo” escalator.  The ride from platform to mezzanine will take you nearly 3 minutes or 1/12 of your entire 36 minute tour of Rosslyn.  Ponder that thought as you ride up to street level.  Or you could just do what everyone else does and check your iPhone.

05:00-15:00 Dim Sum (Or China-lite)

CVS China Garden

China Garden Dim Sum isn’t good, but it’s not bad and it’s kind of the only Dim Sum that exists between Rocklville, Maryland and 7 Corners in Virginia.  Are you considering a move to China?  Hang out in the CVS below the restaurant for a bit of cultural immersion.  It’s where all of the Chinese tour buses stop to let everyone out for snacks and a little bit of American drugstore retail therapy.  I always get a little nostalgic as I listen to the grandmothers discuss which pairs of flip-flops to buy.

16:00-17:30 Why Visit the National Mall When you Can See it From Rosslyn?

View of Monuments from Freedom Park

In all honesty, Freedom Park is really cool.  It’s a sky-line-style park that connects several of the nicest and ugliest skyscrapers in Rosslyn.  There’s some neat art up there, it’s a great spot for a lunch-hour picnic, it has a nice view of the National Mall, and someone put some serious effort into the gardening with beautiful plants from all across America.  Hey, why visit the Mall or the Botanical Gardens when you can beat the crowds in Rosslyn?

Freedom Spectrum Art at Freedom Park

18:00  Where to Find Every Single Office Worker Bee in Rosslyn at 3pm on a Monday

Rosslyn VA

Are you thirsty?  In need of a coffee break?  Rosslyn boasts a Starbucks density that rivals New York City.  My personal favorite is the store with the patio stuck between Oak Street and Clarendon Blvd.  It’s not even on a real city block, it’s just this tiny little caffeinated oasis surrounded on all sides by traffic.  The truly amazing thing though is how they managed to invent the internet next door without any help from Starbucks at all…

Rosslyn VA

21:00 You’re Reading this Post Because of Rosslyn

Not just because things are slow enough around here for me to justify spending several hours writing a tour guide for Rosslyn, but also because Rosslyn invented the internet.    Ok, technically some techy government/military people invented the internet.  But in Rosslyn.  Across from the Starbucks.  But before there was Starbucks.  Can you believe the internet is that old?

Who says you need monuments to commemorate important history!  A modest sign post in the middle of a pedestrian walkway works too.

Rosslyn VA


19:00 The Only Church/Gas Station in the Entire Country (that I know of)

Church and gas station in Rosslyn

It’s not everyday you can tell someone to meet you at the church on top of the gas station or the gas station underneath the church, but you can do it in Rosslyn!  Noteable?  Obviously.  Interesting?  I’m not actually sure…

Rosslyn VA


20:00 The Most Famous Parking Garage in America

Rosslyn VA

Unbelievably enough, the world’s most famous parking garage is actually just across the street from the world’s only church-on-top-of-a-gas-station.

Why is this car park so famous?  Heard of Watergate?  Have you at least watched All the President’s Men?  This is the garage where Woodward and Bernstein used to meet with their most important Watergate source, Deep Throat.   Seriously, how cool is that?  You can just walk on in there and hang out behind parked cars pretending you’re a sneaky, undercover source.  Or not.  That would be kind of weird and could possibly get you kicked out of Rosslyn/America all together–which would be really sad.  (Fun fact: Chris and I used to park Chris’ car in the Deep Throat garage back in the day…wait that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?)

Rosslyn VA

25:00-36:00 The Best Strip Mall Ever

Pho 79 & Ray's Hell Strip Mall

Rays Hell burgers?  Pho 79?  What can I say?  I save the best for last.

I don’t know how to tell you to choose between the nation’s best hamburger and Arlington’s most renowned Pho joint, so I’m not going to.  You should probably just have both.  You can always walk up and down the Rosslyn escalator to work it all off afterwards.

Now if only there was something besides overpriced frozen yogurt around Rosslyn for dessert…

A few more Rosslyn photos:

Dancers in Rosslyn

No idea why this statue exists, but I really, really, really won’t miss it in New Delhi.

Rosslyn VA


13 thoughts on “Rosslyn: America’s Real Premier Tourist Destination

  1. This made me laugh, HARD. 🙂 Thanks for brightening my day. I’m sure glad we picked Crystal City over Rosslyn – now my decision is validated!

    • True true but, for the purposes of this piece I sort of considered Iwo Jima and Arlington Cemetery destinations unto themselves, separate from the business district of Rosslyn. You are correct though! I love that memorial!

  2. Hhaha, too funny! We love staying at the Palomar but have not having anywhere to go nearby except for Cosi. We always walk across the bridge for dinner and cupcakes…. =P

    • I miss Pho 79 too…and I just ate it a week ago. Luckily my hubs said that when he and his family were stationed there back in New Delhi in the 90’s, one of the spouses taught the Club kitchen how to make it and so it was served every Friday. Here’s hoping that 20 years later it’s still on the menu!

    • Oooh I can imagine exactly how yucky that brown murky water must be. Hope the packing for your big trip around Asia is going well! If you stop in New Delhi at all, be sure to look us up! We’ll be there from mid-August onwards!

  3. Pingback: Notable in 2012 | Hot Pot

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