We’ve covered the Pros and Cons of Northern Virginia before, where we shared what we love and find challenging about this region. However, it’s equally important to hear what local residents think.
Recently, I stumbled upon a Reddit thread that began with a simple yet intriguing question: “What do you love about Northern Virginia?” This thread reaffirmed some of our previous insights and brought to light some nuanced perspectives. These diverse opinions offer prospective residents a more comprehensive understanding of what life in Northern Virginia truly entails.
I’ve compiled a summary of some of the top answers below, with a bit of input from my team as well.
Ease of Travel: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
One of the standout features of Northern Virginia is its exceptional accessibility, making it a breeze for residents to explore the world or enjoy a weekend getaway.
When it comes to air travel, Northern Virginia residents are truly spoiled. You’ll find three major airports within a reasonable distance: Dulles International, Reagan National, and BWI Baltimore Washington International. These airports are gateways to virtually anywhere in the world, and the vast array of carriers ensures competitive prices.
Reagan National, located conveniently for those living closer to D.C., offers quick and affordable flights along the east coast. With just a few weeks’ notice, you can snag affordable flights to various destinations along the eastern seaboard. You have two options for international travel, making your global adventures even more accessible.
If you prefer a more relaxed mode of travel, the region also boasts excellent rail connections. Union Station in Washington, D.C., is a central hub offering numerous train services. You can easily hop on a train and travel to cities like Philadelphia, New York City, or even Boston while enjoying the comfort and scenic views of train travel. For example, the journey from Northern Virginia to Boston takes around 6.5 hours, providing a convenient option for exploring the northeast.
For those who enjoy the open road, Northern Virginia offers the advantage of being within driving distance of various exciting destinations. Whether you crave a beach getaway, a mountain retreat, or a serene lakeside escape, you can reach it within a few hours’ drive. Just an hour or two away, Baltimore offers a great day trip option for exploring the city or attending festivals.
The beautiful beaches of Chesapeake Beach, Bethany Beach, Ocean City, Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Chincoteague Island, and Virginia Beach are all within a short drive, making it easy to enjoy the sun and sand whenever you like. If you’re more inclined toward outdoor adventures, that’s always an option. Shenandoah National Park is about an hour away, while the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains can be reached in 2 to 3 hours.
Northern Virginia’s proximity to ski resorts is a significant advantage for winter sports enthusiasts. Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, is a mere two-hour drive away. It’s ideal for a day trip or evening excursion since the slopes are well-lit and open until 10 PM. Families often favor Massanutten, which is a bit farther away but highly popular. Here, you can spend the day skiing or snowboarding on numerous trails or escape the cold entirely at Massanutten’s 42,000-square-foot indoor water park.
One of the remarkable aspects of Northern Virginia is its diverse range of living arrangements, catering to the preferences and lifestyles of its residents. This region offers something for everyone, from bustling urban downtowns to serene suburban neighborhoods and even rural communities.
Arlington might be your ideal spot if you thrive in an urban environment with vibrant nightlife and various cultural offerings. Top-notch restaurants and lively entertainment options make Arlington a haven for those seeking an active urban lifestyle.
On the other end of the spectrum, Northern Virginia boasts numerous suburban areas perfect for living out of the all-American dream of a lovely home with a picket fence.
But the appeal of Northern Virginia continues beyond urban and suburban living. Options are also available for those who long for a more rural lifestyle with spacious homes and plenty of room to breathe. Some may argue that Stafford is slightly outside the traditional definition of Northern Virginia. However, we consider Northern Virginia to be Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William, and Stafford.
Education is paramount for many families when choosing a place to call home, and Northern Virginia shines in this regard. The region boasts a remarkable educational system that consistently ranks among the best in the nation.
As a real estate agent, I’ve enjoyed working with families who highly value their children’s education. I’ve witnessed firsthand the enthusiasm parents have for schools in this region.
I’m originally from New Orleans, which has questionable public schools. When my wife and I decided where to relocate, highly-rated public schools were at the top of our list. My background includes attending a magnet school for high school, which I rate at about 80/100%. However, when I look at my sons’ high school in Northern Virginia, I see it as a solid 90%. Despite its rating as “middle of the pack” by Fairfax County standards, I believe this school provides an excellent education, surpassing many other schools I have encountered.
Many feel that even average schools in Northern Virginia fare better than those in other metropolitan areas.
Northern Virginia may have a different history than the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. Still, what it lacks in tradition, it more than makes up for in enthusiasm and innovation when it comes to winemaking. With an explosion in the local wine business, Northern Virginia has become a hub for local enthusiasts.
The sheer number of wineries and breweries in Northern Virginia is staggering. These delightful establishments are dotted throughout the region, often in picturesque settings. These wineries offer a wide range of experiences, from wine tastings to tours of the vineyards, providing visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of wine.
Many offer unique experiences that make the visit truly unforgettable. From polo matches and kayaking expeditions to distinct wine-tasting pairings and even horseback rides through the vineyards, there’s always something special happening.
Diversity in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia is a shining example of diversity, where people from all corners of the globe come together to create a harmonious and multicultural community. This region’s rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds is a source of pride and a defining characteristic of life here.
In Northern Virginia, you’re surrounded by individuals from diverse ethnicities and racial backgrounds. This diversity is not just a statistic but a vibrant reality that shapes the region’s culture and daily life. From your neighbors to colleagues and friends, you’ll find people representing cities from across the country and nations worldwide.
Northern Virginia’s schools and neighborhoods are like a small world in themselves. Here, people from various cultures live and interact every day.
Throughout the year, Northern Virginia hosts various cultural festivals, events, and celebrations that allow residents to share their heritage and traditions with the broader community. These events showcase the beauty of diversity and provide opportunities for residents to come together and learn from one another.
Northern Virginia boasts an impressive array of green spaces. The region is crisscrossed with an extensive network of walking paths and bike trails. These trails wind through picturesque landscapes, offering the perfect setting for strolls, invigorating jogs, and challenging bike rides. The well-maintained trails provide easy access to nature, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of life without traveling far.
Northern Virginia’s park systems are a testament to the region’s commitment to preserving natural beauty. Thousands of acres of parks cater to various interests. You’ll find nature reserves, picnic areas, and playgrounds for family outings. For the fitness-conscious, there are public golf courses, marinas for kayaking and canoes, tennis courts, and much more.
Unlike many major cities where commuters endure the daily grind of traveling into the city amidst heavy traffic, Northern Virginia offers a refreshing alternative. This region has successfully designed its suburban cities to cater to both living and working needs. It’s not a situation where you live in the suburbs and then trek to D.C. for work. The region is home to multiple employment centers, including Reston, Tysons, Crystal City, and Chantilly, each hosting a variety of industries and companies. This dispersion of job opportunities allows residents to work closer to home, reducing both commuting time and stress.
Suburban areas rarely boast robust public transportation, but Northern Virginia is an exception. The region’s public transit options extend well beyond the urban core, making it convenient for suburban residents to access transportation services without the need to drive into the city. It’s nice to have nearby bus stops with regular buses that will take you to your destination.
One of the great advantages of the public transit system in Northern Virginia is its weekend accessibility. On weekends, the Metrorail system offers free parking, which, along with off-peak rates of just a couple bucks, is enough incentive to encourage frequent trips to the city.
This accessibility encourages residents to take advantage of all that Washington, D.C., offers, from cultural attractions and museums to vibrant neighborhoods and events.
Things to Do
Washington, D.C., certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to things to do. The Smithsonian museums and the Smithsonian National Zoo are always free, offering a wealth of options, whether your interests lie in modern art, history, or science. The city is steeped in history, with numerous monuments and guided tours.
The Kennedy Center hosts events nearly every night, and you’ll also find national tours of musicals, plays, dance performances, and operas. Live shows extend beyond the Kennedy Center, with venues like the National Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Arena Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre, and Keegan Theatre.
Music enthusiasts will be delighted by the number of venues offering live performances, from the Capital One Arena in D.C. to Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow. There are countless smaller venues throughout the region, ensuring that no matter your taste or the popularity of your favorite act, there’s a good chance they’ll be performing nearby.
Being close to a major city also means you can meet authors at book signings in local bookstores like Politics and Prose. Additionally, you might meet your favorite minor celebrity after attending a talk at a local university.
The list of things to do in Northern Virginia is extensive, and there’s no reason to ever be bored here.
Northern Virginia offers a remarkable blend of vibrant communities, natural beauty, diverse culture, and abundant opportunities for both work and play. Northern Virginia has it all, whether you’re seeking a convenient commute, a diverse and welcoming neighborhood, access to world-class cultural attractions, or a chance to connect with nature.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your home-buying journey, click the Perfect Home Questionnaire, and let’s schedule a Zoom consultation. We’ll talk through your questions and help you prepare for the exciting road ahead.