Each year, two days after Thanksgiving, communities across the nation host Small Business Saturday, celebrating and supporting neighborhood businesses. In Fairfax County, however, your Small Business Saturday is super-sized with unique gifts from iconic museum shops and interesting destinations across the destination. Where else would you find freeze-dried astronaut treats, one-of-a-kind fine local art, and rare whiskey from George Washington’s distillery?
If you’re looking for something truly unique and memorable for the people on your list, Fairfax County’s small businesses have it. Whether you shop local on November 27th or some other time, the venues below will not only yield great gifts but give you something new to discover in the process!
Discover handmade art in every medium.
Image courtesy Workhouse Arts Center
Handmade items reflect the effort and care that goes into creating a unique piece of art, so they are extra meaningful to give and receive. The Workhouse Arts Center features approximately 70+ artisans working in fiber, fine art, glass, jewelry, ceramics, and other mediums. You’ll find notecards, wall-sized installations, pottery, and everything in between—all while enjoying the galleries, watching the artists work, and exploring the history of what was once the DC Workhouse and Reformatory. Bonus: Don't miss the new Lucy Burns Museum while you're visiting, which details the story of the women suffragists imprisoned at this site for picketing the White House for the right to vote!
Give a gift with history attached.
Photo courtesy Mount Vernon
For some, a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon or George Mason’s Gunston Hall is all about touring an iconic historic home. For others, it’s all about their awesome gift shops! Both have extensive collections of books and decorative items with historic flair, as well as games, jewelry, and clothing. But only Mount Vernon sells the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Official State Spirit – Rye Whiskey made from George Washington’s own recipe at his historic distillery! At $98, it’s a unique gift any whiskey drinker will treasure. You can now even order whiskey and other related items online for shipping within Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Shop at the museum.
Image courtesy Smithsonian
At a museum shop, you can spend part of your day exploring the museum and part of your day crossing items off your holiday shopping list. What could be better than that? The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center has one of the best gift shops in the museum game, igniting the imagination through astronaut-themed ties, truly “fly” clothing, space gear, decorative items, and in our pandemic-laced world, some pretty out-of-this-world face masks! Get a sneak peek or purchase from the comfort of your home at their online shop for the Museum Store. Another option? Dive into local history with a shopping/touring trip to the Fairfax Museum or the Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim with its Civil War graffiti for unique, Civil War and history-themed gift ideas.
Treat them to a taste of Fairfax County.
Image courtesy River-Sea Chocolates
Your favorite epicurean will love locally crafted foodstuffs that can only be found in Fairfax County. River-Sea Chocolates is the county’s only chocolate factory. Take a tour, sample the chocolates, and bring home an armload of gifts. (Don’t forget to learn the story of Coco the Sloth while you’re there!) Plus, for even more chocolate gift ideas, check out this list of chocolatiers in the area. For the bakers on your list, the country stores at Colvin Run Mill and Frying Pan Farm Park both offer locally-ground flours and cornmeal, as well as other locally made items. For your wine aficionado friends, a nice bottle from one of our local vineyards is always a welcome choice. You can also pop into Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, which has a location in Reston, for their popular wine or freshly made chocolates from their pastry shop!
Enjoy a stroll through one of our neighborhoods.
Photo courtesy Town of Vienna
You’ll find a variety of local boutiques, antiques and gift shops on several of the main streets throughout the county. Among the most charming is Church Street in Vienna (pictured above) and Main Street in Historic Clifton. Both are great places for lunch, historic ambiance, and some upscale holiday shopping and antiquing. (For your bookworm friends, don't miss these books from local Fairfax County authors, available at Vienna's quaint indie bookshop or take a trip over to these indie bookstores in Northern Virginia!) Another unique venue is Lake Anne Plaza. While more recent than the Colonial and Civil War roots of Vienna and Clifton, Lake Anne is historically significant for being an anchor village to one of the nation’s first planned communities.
Support your local Fairfax artisans and makers.
Image courtesy Hoagland Handmade
Everyone loves to find a couple of items that are truly unique to the destination they are traveling to. Lucky for you, Fairfax County is home to an incredible and diverse group of artisan makers – so much so that the Made in Fairfax initiative was born. The Made in Fairfax network aims to be a one-stop shop for maker businesses and those who want to support them. The Made in Fairfax directory features dozens of artisans who create a variety of products in the county like custom furniture, baked goods, jewelry, and more. This holiday season (or any time of year, really!) take “shop local” to new heights by directly supporting the makers of these gift-worthy products – created right here in Fairfax County, Virginia. Here's your 2021 Holiday Gift Guide featuring art, food, wine, textiles, and more.
Where is your favorite place to shop local in Fairfax County? Tell us in the comments below or share your unique shopping finds with us on social using #FXVA and @VisitFairfax.