northern virginiaSure, Washington DC offers plenty of great things to do. It’s a city like no other…millions of tourists from all over the world agree. For a day trip or weekend, guidebooks will provide you–and all those tourists–with an endless list of activities. What if you’d like something less crowded?

But before you start the drive into the Capital, consider the rich history of Fairfax County. You may be surprised to learn what’s close and convenient. In Northern Virginia, everything you need is practically right out your door.

1. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center:  Located on Washington Dulles International Airport property, this is the “twin” of theSmithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Housed in two giant hangars, you can see the space shuttle Discovery, a Concorde, and a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. An IMAX Theater offers films on space and aircraft. The 194-foot Observation Tower gives you a 360 degree view of the airport and surrounding area. Admission is free; parking is $15.

2.  American history owes a great deal to Fairfax County. Three important sites played important roles, and are worth a visit:    1) George Washington’s Mount Vernon offers a chance to learn about The Father of Our Country, and how wealthy farmers lived in the 18th century. The mansion, grounds, and outbuildings are open to visitors. You may be surprised to know that Washington was in the whiskey business! In fact, it was one of the most profitable ventures at Mount Vernon. Admission is $17 for adults, ages 12 and over.    2) Sully Historic Site was built in 1794 by Richard Bland Lee. Mr. Lee was Northern Virginia’s first Congressman…and Robert E. Lee’s uncle. On the National Register for Historic Places, Sully Plantation still has its original outbuildings, along with representative slave quar ter and gardens. Guided tours highlight the early 19th century life of the Richard Bland Lee family, tenant farmers and enslaved African Americans. Admission is $7 for adults.    3) Manassas National Battlefield Park, although not in Fairfax County, is an easy 21 mile drive from Vienna, VA. The site of the Confederate victory in the Civil War’s first serious battle on July 21, 1861, the 5,000 acre site has been maintained by the National Park Service. An interesting note: The battle had been expected. Because a swift Union victory was anticipated, politicians and citizens from Washington DC went to the scene with picnics, unaware of the ghastly battle they would be witnessing. Admission is $3 per day for adults over 16.

3. After your fill of history, how about a return to modern times? Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, VA, with two levels, is Northern Virginia’s largest enclosed shopping mall. With over 200 stores, restaurants, and specialty shops, it’s easy to spend time in a relaxing way. A short drive away is Fairfax Corner, with over 60 more fine stores and dining options!

4. When you’re ready to get outdoors again, head to Great Falls National Park for a day of recreation. Click here to see all the activities in the park, from hiking to fishing to climbing. Located on the Potomac River, Gorgeous views of the three falls are short 2-10 minute walks from the Visitor Center. The Patowmack Canal, one of the first canals in the nation, is also here.

5.  Northern Virginia offers a beautiful setting for entertainment at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Vienna, VA. The Filene Center offers over 90 spectacular outdoor performances from late May to early September. Year-round, at The Barns, the schedule is packed with artists from all over the world, spanning the full range of cultural interests. As America’s National Park for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap is committed to providing entertainment and art for all audiences.

Are you interested in learning more about life and education in Northern Virginia?  Please contact us, and we will tell you more!



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