How One Couple is Exploring Every Street in Arlington
Arlington has hundreds of miles of streets. And one Arlington couple is walking one street at a time. Learn how Eileen and Allen started this journey and get advice on how you can start exploring Arlington neighborhoods.
“How many miles are there to walk in Arlington?” is a question that recently landed in WalkArlington’s inbox. Arlington maintains hundreds of miles of roadway, 94 miles of trails, and nearly 49 miles of multi-use trails, but the exact answer remains elusive.
But what we really wanted to know is why Eileen, an Arlington resident, asked such an interesting question and here’s what we learned—Eileen and her husband, Allen, are walking every street in Arlington! So of course, we had to find out how they are making this happen.
Meet Eileen (and Allen)
Eileen is a native Arlingtonian, and Allen moved to Arlington in 2nd grade. They bought their house in Arlington and raised their two sons, Kevin and Alex, in this community. Like many in the area, Eileen works for the federal government and enjoys her easy commute to Foggy Bottom.
How Did You Get Started Walking in Arlington?
Once our sons went off to college, we found ourselves with a bit more time after work to exercise. My husband Allen gets bored walking the same route around our house each night. I thought that a challenge of walking all the streets in Arlington would encourage him to walk, and we could talk about our experiences growing up in different parts of the County. We had a difficult time finding a map to record our route. Finally, my son, Alex, found a map and had it enlarged for me as a birthday present. I mounted it on a poster board, got a highlighter, and we were ready to go.
How Do You Plan Your Routes?
At first, it was easy to walk different streets near our house. I like to walk in daylight so that I can see the neighborhoods. I was in a temporary office space in Rosslyn last year and that was a great opportunity for me to walk the Rosslyn streets. I even walked home from my Rosslyn office one evening. That was a fun challenge and took almost 2 hours, but I loved watching the sunset as I walked home.
We plan our routes around other things we need to do, like walking near a store, the library, or a restaurant. We look at the map, take a picture of the area we will walk, and then when we come home immediately highlight the streets that we have walked. The one part that is difficult to see from the map are the hills. Now that cooler weather is here, we plan to walk some of the big hills and Arlington Cemetery.
What Have You Learned about Arlington from Your Journeys?
We have learned so much about Arlington from our walks. I love walking all of the alleys. I never knew Arlington has so many alleys. When you‘re driving, you miss the small details. I also enjoy looking at the older neighborhoods and trying to imagine what Arlington was like through the years. History comes alive as you walk past many of the homes in Arlington. We try to guess when they were built, what was going on in the area when they were built, and admire the many new additions.
Describe Your Favorite Walking Moment(s).
We both really enjoyed finding Glencarlyn library and the wonderful garden. What a great surprise! All of our walks around the County have provided a glimpse of beautiful flowers and fun holiday decorations.
During another walk when it was raining, we had a friendly cat follow us on the journey. She kept running under parked cars for cover from the rain, but she continued to follow us.
What Would Make Walking in Arlington Even Better?
I’ve noticed that people are much friendlier when we’re walking in residential areas and when walking near busy commercial areas, everyone is connected to headphones and has no interest in a friendly smile or simple hello. I’d love for people to unplug more, and enjoy the sounds surrounding them on their walks.
What Tip Would You Offer Someone Who Wants to Explore their Neighborhood?
From my walks throughout Arlington, I have a much deeper appreciation for the different neighborhoods. Each one has something unique and very special. I recommend everyone pick an Arlington neighborhood on the other side of the County and go explore. You will have a new appreciation of our wonderful County.