EXPLORE NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Everyone resolves to travel more in the New Year and Northern Virginia is one of the best places to explore. From the country’s oldest towns to the majestic views of nature and from great restaurants to historical parks, it surely is a great option for travelers.
Here are the awesome destinations for businesses, solitude, spirituality, or sociability.
Alexandria is an independent city in the United States Commonwealth of Virginia. A lively mix of historic homes, taverns, restaurants, and shops, Alexandria seems to exist in two or three centuries at once. Founded in 1749 by Scottish merchants eager to capitalize on the booming tobacco trade, Alexandria first emerged as one of the most important ports in Colonial America. The city dwarfed Georgetown—Washington's oldest neighborhood—in the days before the Revolution, and until the Civil War had one of the country's largest slave markets. Alexandria is linked to many significant events and personages of the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War periods. George Washington had a town house and attended church here, though he lived a few miles south in Mount Vernon, and members of the Lee family of Revolutionary and Civil War fame lived here as well.
Arlington has evolved since the end of World War I from a farming community into one of sprawling homes, large-scale retailing, and office buildings small to colossal. Connected to Washington by four bridges and three subway lines, the county is vital to the capital, providing office space to the federal government and housing to its employees. First the War Department, then Department of Defense and all military service headquarters were moved to the Pentagon, then numerous other government offices and bureaus moved to Arlington and nearby Virginia communities like Langley (home of the CIA) as they required larger quarters than were available in Washington. This trend continues. For the visitor, Arlington offers somber reflection at the nation's cemetery, a plethora of dining and lodging options, and easy access to the attractions of Washington.
Located in western Fairfax County, Chantilly is home to Dulles International Airport as well as the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate troops clashed here in the Battle of Chantilly.
Great Falls Park
Great Falls, a favorite getaway spot for Virginians and D.C. residents alike, is where the Potomac River builds up speed and crashes over steep rocks into the Mather Gorge.
Set near the shores of the Potomac south of Mount Vernon, George Mason's 18th century mansion celebrates the life and work of one of the nation's founding fathers.
Leesburg is one of the oldest towns in Northern Virginia. In an early sign of changing allegiances, "George Town" changed its name to Leesburg in 1758 to honor Virginia's illustrious Lee family. When the British burned Washington during the War of 1812, many government records, including originals of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, went to Leesburg for safekeeping at the homes of Sheriff John Littlejohn and Clerk of Court Charles Binns. Today, the town's numerous fine Georgian and Federal buildings house offices, shops, restaurants, and homes. There are a number of wineries within a short drive of downtown.
The county seat of Prince William County (though officially an independent city), Manassas was considered a strategic crossroads during the Civil War, which is why two key Confederate-won battles were fought on these grounds. Now the battlefield remains the top reason to visit.
Attractive boutiques and restaurants line U.S. 50, the main street of this charming country town. Now a hub of Loudoun County's wine and horse culture, this region is rich with history. The area around here was surveyed by George Washington in 1763, when it was known as Chinn's Crossroads. It was considered strategic because of its location midway on the Winchester–Alexandria route (roughly what is now U.S. 50). Today, many of Middleburg's homes include horse farms, and the town is known for its steeplechases and fox hunts in spring and fall. It's a good base for exploring the area's booming wine scene, though roads out to the vineyards are often unpaved and narrow.
Set on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River, George Washington's plantation estate is one of the most visited sites in Northern Virginia.
Centered around two major shopping centers, Tysons Corner has become a highly developed commercial area of office buildings, hotels, and an expanding array of restaurants.
This tiny community, just northwest of Tysons Corner, is best known as home to the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Set on the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers, suburban Woodbridge is home to many Washington commuters. It's also a destination for bargain shoppers, boasting one of the state's largest outlet malls.
Our guide to Woodlawn gives you expert recommendations on the best attractions, restaurants, hotels, and more.