A stay in the northwest area of Fairfax County not only puts you in the midst of Northern Virginia, but it also puts you at the core of fun and adventure in the region. Uncover natural wonders, dive into intriguing history, sip on local brews, and savor global flavors that'll make your taste buds dance. Every town in this vibrant area, from Herndon and Reston to Chantilly, Centreville, and Clifton, has its own captivating stories to share - here's how to make the most of your adventure.
Escape Into Nature
For those who prefer outdoor adventures, the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park (W&OD), often called the “skinniest park in Virginia,” sits along a former historic railroad bed. Whether you're a hiker, cyclist, or jogger, this paved trail provides a scenic route through woodlands and charming towns, making it an ideal escape for fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
For family-friendly outdoor fun, Lake Fairfax Park boasts 476 acres of recreational opportunities. With an 18-acre lake at its center, it's the perfect spot for seasonal fishing, picnicking, camping, and enjoying a lazy river ride at The Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole, a seasonal on-site water park.
Nature enthusiasts can also discover the beauty of Bull Run Regional Park. Visitors and locals alike flock there in early Spring to see the woodland floors transform into carpets of Virginia bluebells begging to be seen (and photographed!).
Eat Your Way Around the World
Who said you had to hop on a plane to enjoy global cuisines? Fairfax County's culinary scene lets you savor foods and ingredients from around the world without ever leaving its borders.
For a taste of France, look no further than Mon Ami Gabi in Reston Town Center, a classic French bistro that serves up a delightful array of classic bistro fare. Here, you can savor the artistry of French cuisine with dishes like crepes and quiches, and indulge in iconic classics such as French Onion Soup, Trout Grenobloise, and the signature Steak Frites. Also, find a similar selection at Cafe Montmartre, waterfront at Lake Anne in Reston.
In Chantilly, River-Sea Chocolate Factory is a hidden gem for chocolate connoisseurs. This small-batch chocolate factory sustainably crafts single-origin chocolate bars sourced from cacao beans spanning the globe, from Vietnam and Colombia to Tanzania and Brazil. For those looking to dive even deeper into the chocolate-making process, the factory offers "make your own chocolate bar" classes and factory tours. Right next door, Odd BBQ at Ono Brewing Company merges American barbecue with a Korean twist, showcasing a fusion of flavors that is nothing short of mouthwatering.
Speaking of Korean cuisine, venture to Centreville for an authentic Korean BBQ experience. Iron Age, Honest Grill, Honey Pig, Gopchang Story, Sō Korean BBQ and countless others offer up marinated meats and delicious banchan (side dishes).
For a taste of Ethiopia, Herndon is home to Enatye Ethiopian Restaurant, where injera, flavorful stews, and communal dining create an authentic Ethiopian experience. Herndon also boasts a number of Indian restaurants, such as Kalpasi Indian Cuisine and Paradise Indian Cuisine, serving up savory curries and tandoori delights.
Sip, sip, sip your way through Fairfax County's locally poured beer and wines. Our craft beer scene boasts classic and inventive flavors, unique atmospheres, and passionate brewers. Aslin Beer Company in the heart of Downtown Herndon features a rooftop, colorful murals, and a wide beer selection with quirky names, flavors, and can art. Nearby, Juicy Brewing specializes in hazy IPAs and fruit-forward sours.
In Reston, Bike Lane Brewing caters to outdoor enthusiasts. Located along the W&OD trail, the brewery and bike shop offers a rotating selection of fresh beers, making it a perfect stop for both beer enthusiasts and adventurers. Just a short way away, Lake Anne Brew House serves up small-batch, hand-crafted beer alongside the historic Lake Anne.
Make it a triple-header in Chantilly! Ono Brewing Company has carved out a distinct niche in the local craft beer scene, as Fairfax County's only Hawaiian-inspired taproom. Be transported to paradise with their refreshing fruit-infused ales to rich and complex stouts. Less than five minutes down the road, Honor Brewing Company is a veteran-owned-and-operated brewery that pays homage to those who've served in the military. Make a stop at Mustang Sally Brewing for an exceptional line-up of craft beers, including lagers, IPAs, sours, and stouts, in a large open tasting room with old-school arcade games.
Speaking of paradise, wine lovers will find a slice of it at Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton. With its picturesque vineyards and rustic tasting room, you can indulge in handcrafted Virginia wines while tucked away in nature. The Winery at Bull Run in Centreville stands on hallowed ground, adjacent to the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park - adding an element of American history to the wine-tasting experience. With its expansive vineyards and scenic outdoor spaces, as well as a new on-site Civil War Museum, this family-owned winery is a must-visit for wine lovers and history buffs alike.
Witness Living History
Fairfax County holds a treasure trove of history, spanning from foundational American history to aviation milestones to the local heritage of the region. The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is home to one of the world's largest collections of aircraft and space artifacts. From the Space Shuttle Discovery to an SR-71 Blackbird, witness the wonders of flight and space exploration up close and take a journey through the history of aviation and the cosmos.
Discover interesting local history at the Herndon Depot Museum. Housed in a restored historic train station, this museum offers a glimpse into the region's past, from its early railroad days to its growth as a thriving community and even some insight into how Herndon is tied to the infamous D-Day events. Modern-day Herndon has roots as a railroad hub, and the exhibits and artifacts on display showcase the impact of the railroad on this town's development and unique identity.
Sully Historic Site in Chantilly was completed in 1799 by Richard Bland Lee, Northern Virginia's first Representative to Congress. Thursday through Sunday you can take guided tours of the house which detail the history of the property and its owners. Or, from March through November, you can go on one of Sully's specialized Forgotten Road Tours of the outbuildings and representative slave quarter cabins and learn more about how this site is tied to the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Tap Into the Arts
Fans of the arts will want to catch a professional theater show at NextStop Theatre Company, peruse the galleries at ArtSpace Herndon, or create their own masterwork at Pinot's Palette. And the much-beloved Friday Night Live! summer series brings live music to the Herndon Town Green, thanks to the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce. In Reston, take a self-guided public art tour to see larger-than-life murals, sculptures, and more.
If you're the designated family vacation planner, one of the most challenging parts can be finding something that interests everyone. Luckily, Fairfax County boasts tons of fun family-friendly activities that are fun for all ages. Lemurs, zebras, llamas, bison, ostrich, and more cuddly creatures come alive at NOVA Wild Zoo. Get up close and personal with piglets, horses, rabbits, chickens, and more farm animals with a free visit to the historic Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon.
For no shortage of splishing, splashing fun, cool off at our local water parks. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax Park sends you tubing on the Rattlesnake River. This popular seasonal water park also features over an acre of slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and interactive play features. At the end of the season, they even have a dog day for your furry friends to cool off! Atlantis Waterpark at Bull Run Regional Park conjures the spirit of Ancient Greece, complete with mermaids, classical architecture and even Neptune himself! If that’s not cool enough for you, the water slides, waterfalls, squirters and 1100-gallon dumping bucket should do the trick at this seasonal waterpark.
During the fall season, Cox Farms brings its iconic Fall Festival to Fairfax County. Enjoy their famous hayride (around the pond, through the woods, and ending in the Enchanted Barn), five giant slides, the Cornundrum cornfield adventure, rope swings, hay tunnels and more! And in the evening, older kids will love the thrill of their Fields of Fear trail - a haunted attraction that brings to life all the creepy creatures hidden in the night.
Each of the towns in the northwest area of Fairfax County has its own stories to tell. So if you are staying in Centreville, Clifton, Chantilly, Herndon, or Reston, be sure to follow the links to learn more about each neighborhood. There is so much to do in the northwest part of the county that you’ll need as many pointers and recommendations as you can get!