Say goodbye to 2017 and start planning for 2018! Not all vacations are created equal - and usually, it's those who plan ahead that come away with memorable and stress-free trips that are as satisfying as a sip of George Washington's Rye Whiskey. So to help you out, we've compiled a list (in no particular order) that give you a heads up about the newest attractions, exhibits, restaurants, and experiences to help you maximize your time here in Northern Virginia. Enjoy!
Step inside George Washington's boots at the new "Be Washington" first-person interactive experience at Mount Vernon starting in February where you have the chance to lead and have the fate of the country resting on your shoulders. No pressure. This new experience is located inside the Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center and will provide an experience like no other as the events of the revolutionary war and presidency come alive on our massive 6K-resolution screen.
Take a holy jaunt into DC to visit the new Museum of the Bible - DC's newest museum and one of the most technologically advanced museums in the world. And if museums are your thing you're in luck because Fairfax County is home to the Space Shuttle Discovery which is housed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. Aside from the most awesome Space Shuttle ever built, this museum is also home to the SR-71 Blackbird and other amazing air and spacecraft, an IMAX Theatre, simulator rides, special events and an airport observation tower.
Grab your growler and head to one of Fairfax County's craft breweries and get your favorite ale, stout, saison, or whatever else they're brewing up in all it's freshest glory. The newest brewery of the bunch is a family-owned and operated brewery in Chantilly Virginia with a unique tropical tasting room and self-serve beer wall. Yes, you read that right, a SELF-SERVE wall of beer. Our breweries are located throughout the county so no matter where you find yourself, there's always an open tap close by.
Watch in awe as Cirque du Soleil returns to Fairfax County and brings water inside the big top with Luzia - the show runs one month from April 13-May 13 so be sure to snatch up your tickets early if you're in the area as tickets to this amazing performance will surely be in high demand. Integrating the element of water adds a level of acrobatic complexity never-before-seen under the Big Top at Cirque du Soleil. Cyr Wheel artists perform the unprecedented feat of rolling and spinning under the rain, while an aerialist suspended from a Trapeze flies and twirls through pouring showers.
Trek to Annandale and savor some of the most delicious Korean eats hailed as the best anywhere in America - a good place to start your cuisine exploration is The Block, a 5,000 sq. ft space housing six individual food, dessert, and beverage concepts. And with The Block being only the tip of the Korean culinary iceberg, all you kimchi-lovers can rejoice because there are dozens of authentic meals awaiting you in this tiny enclave of our County that outsiders are now discovering for themselves.
Get a front row seat for a red carpet experience and attend the Washington West Film Festival in late October - this star-studded event highlights independent filmmaking at its finest and gives you a fantastic reason to visit Reston Town Center which plays host to films and director talks. Featured directors and actors from past festivals have included Christopher Lloyd, Clive Davis, Robert Duvall, Common, Bob Woodward, and Ty Burrell. So bring your camera, your questions, and an appetite for fantastic filmmaking.
Take a sunrise or sunset kayaking expedition with an expert guide on the waters of the Potomac and it's adjacent bays and waterways. Pohick Bay Regional Park and Mason Neck State Park offer these programs throughout the summer months and it's the perfect path to solitude as you glide across the quiet waters scouting for birds and other wildlife as the sun puts on a colorful show for those lucky enough to have made the trip. These are some of the most popular programs in our wonderful park system so make sure to reserve your spot in advance.
Pay homage to one of the most underrated Founding Fathers on a trip to George Mason's Gunston Hall - make sure to take a stroll through the riverside garden when you're there as the horticulturalists on staff work throughout the year to return it to its immaculately detailed original state. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights were all influenced by George Mason's political perspectives, and that in and of itself should tell you what an influence this man had on America.
Put your colonial haggling skills to the test at an authentic Virginia 18th-century market fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm - this annual event happens three times throughout the year on the third full weekends of May, July, and October and you can find anything from Colonial grog and cider to handmade soap and soldier encampments. Treat yourself by trying some of the chicken or turkey cooked over an open flame and visit the encampments surrounding the fair and talk with the soldiers to get an idea of what life was like in Virginia during this time period.
Experience a sunrise at Great Falls Park and then celebrate the day with a hike along the Potomac Heritage Trail which winds along the Potomac River. Inspiring views are available year-round at all the park's lookout platforms and even if you're here in the dead of winter, it's the perfect place to escape the confines of the indoors and get the blood flowing as you meander on the 15 miles of trails throughout the 800-acre park. Horses are welcome too on certain trails throughout the park and of course dogs are great hiking companions too - just make sure they are on a leash at all times.
Today it's an arts center that's home to over 60 resident artists across dozens of disciplines. But in 1917 it was a prison to 72 women arrested for quietly picketing the White House for the right to vote. The Workhouse Arts Center will unveil their new Lucy Burns Museum in mid-2018, honoring the suffragettes who were imprisoned there after protesting for the right to vote. The campus of The Workhouse is considered by many to be the ultimate adaptive reuse project - turning incarceration into artistic inspiration.
Like drinking your favorite adult beverage while listening to some tunes? Who doesn't?!?! So snag some lawn tickets and attend a concert at Wolf Trap - the only National Park dedicated solely to the Performing Arts in America. Summer shows at the Filene Center allow for you to bring your own food and drink (applies to lawn tickets only, although you can sit closer to the stage by getting some seats in the iconic amphitheatre) - if you can't make it for the summer shows, you can catch your favorite acts in the fall/winter at The Barns.
In July 2018 Major League Baseball celebrates it's finest players during the annual All-Star Game weekend festivities. This year America's pastime is being celebrated at Nats Park in DC, so get your tickets to the game and consider saving some of your hard earned money by booking a hotel room here and taking an easy Metro ride to the park.
Visit the only public Korean Bell Garden in the Western Hemisphere complete with an iconic 6-ton bell decorated with Korean and Virginia symbolism. The Bell Garden can be found at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and if you want to see flora and foliage at their finest at the park (although it's lovely all year round) try going in late spring when the cherry blossoms are out or in fall when the peak autumn colors provide some serious eye candy.
Learn about the history of American wine at our two award-winning wineries. You can sip wine with a side of Civil War history at The Winery at Bull Run (it's located adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park) or enjoy quaint Paradise Springs, the first winery in Fairfax County which features a 1700’s log cabin, which was renovated in 1955 by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Not trying to brag here BUT...we are Northern Virginia's king of festivals and special events. From the first weekend of May all the way through the end of August you'll find something being celebrated each and every weekend to keep you entertained and introduce you to the great communities found throughout Fairfax County. The granddaddy of them all is Celebrate Fairfax (held the second weekend in June), the largest community festival in all of Northern Virginia which has nightly concerts (this year features Good Charlotte and Sugar Ray), a mini beer festival, classic carnival rides and games, and all the best food and treats one could ever want. Check our calendar of events for the most up to date info.
Get to know some of the area's fine feathered friends by taking a birding expedition at Huntley Meadows Park (held every Monday morning in season) on the raised boardwalk and watch various birds and animals that call this hidden gem home. Other parks in the county like Burke Lake, Lake Accotink, Mason Neck State Park, and Pohick Bay Regional Park also offer awesome opportunities to see our birds strut their stuff.