Fairfax, VA Neighborhood Guide


We are grateful for the sponsor of this guide: The Royster Hearth Group. This Realtor Group are experts in this area. Please be sure to check out thorough details about their practice below. We are thankful for their sponsorship, which allows us to continue to bring DC Area Moms resources like this. 

What is your favorite thing about raising kids in the Fairfax area?

We have lived in Fairfax for 15 years. We love that Fairfax feels like a small town with a real neighborhood feel but has all the amenities of a big city. Fairfax is in close proximity to free, world-class museums and activities in Washington, DC, plus farms and wineries to the west.

What makes Fairfax family-friendly and unique?

All of the playgrounds, parks, green spaces, dog parks, and walking trails in Fairfax, make it very family-friendly. Also, the fantastic schools and wide variety of kid’s sports and activities.

What community events or local attractions are there?

fairfax city independence day parade
City of Fairfax’s Independence Day Parade 2018

There is always something going on in Fairfax! Some of our favorite events include, Celebrate Fairfax!, which is a cross between a county fair and a music festival. It takes place in June for three days at the Government Center in Fairfax. There are 25 acres of exhibitors, food vendors, interactive activities, carnival rides, eight concert stages, a petting zoo, and lots more. This is a ticketed event, but the prices are reasonable for a family to attend.

Each April, Fairfax City has a History Day at Historic Blenheim in Fairfax City, complete with Civil War reenactments. We also love the City of Fairfax Independence Day Parade. Every year we go to the 4th of July Parade in Downtown Fairfax. It is an old fashion parade with local high school marching bands, dance teams, and local community groups performing. Families line up along the parade route and cheer on the performers.

One of our favorite local attractions is the Old Town Fairfax City Splash Pad. Right next to the Old Town Hall in Fairfax City, there is a splash pad for children open during the summer. We love this one because it is great for younger children (the fountains do not go that high). There is plenty of seating, and at night the fountains light up. Also, the Eagle Bank Arena at George Mason University features many family-friendly shows, like Sesame Street Live, Marvel Universe, and Paw Patrol Live, as well as concerts, fine arts productions, and sports events.

old town fairfax city splash pad

Why would you recommend Fairfax to families?

There are so many reasons to recommend Fairfax to families.  We really do have amazing public schools and a great complement of private school options for those that want that.  We have easy access to public parks, playgrounds, and other outdoor activities.  Fairfax, and Northern Virginia, in general, have a pretty transient population because of the Federal government and military, but this creates an incredibly diverse population. We love that and appreciate that aspect of our area.  We all know that cost of living is higher than in some areas, but Fairfax is comprised of older established neighborhoods and newer areas that seem to respect the family suburban feel we’ve had for many years.

What nearby schools or childcare places do kids go to?

Our kids go to our local Fairfax County Public Schools, which are fantastic! We are very lucky to have wonderful public schools, as well as many private schools, daycare, and preschool options. Your personal situation will influence what the best childcare/school for you is, but there are many options.

university mall theaters in Fairfax

Where are your favorite places to shop in Fairfax?

Fairfax has every National chain store and grocery store you would need. A few of our favorite local businesses include the University Mall Theatres in Fairfax is a locally owned discount movie theatre. It is honestly the only place we go to the movies. Children’s tickets are just $4 every day, and on Tuesdays, $2. The Mosaic District is a newer shopping and dining complex that has independent shops and national retailers, restaurants, a cinema, and a central common area (Strawberry Park). During the summer, there are free family-friendly movies in the park every Sunday evening and children’s events on Tuesday mornings. Fairfax Corners is another family-friendly town center featuring shopping, dining, residential living, a movie theatre, and even a Busy Bees indoor kid’s play area.

peterson's ice cream depot in clifton, va

What are some of your favorite places to eat in Fairfax?

Fairfax is full of fantastic restaurants with a wide variety of local and international food that will please the whole family. Some of our favorite local places to eat include, Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Downtown Clifton, a few miles from Fairfax. It is locally owned and actually located at the edge of the owner’s property. My kids love coming to Peterson’s. They love the delicious ice cream and the back patio, where there are games they can play while they eat. Before or after ice cream, my kids love to play at Clifton Town Park, which is within walking distance from Peterson’s.

Coyote Grill is locally owned and operated by a Fairfax, Virginia native serving Southwestern-style food in a family-friendly environment. They have a reasonably priced menu with kid’s options and friendly staff. This restaurant is great for a family meal or a Mom’s night out. For a date night, we love the Great American Restaurants. They have 11 restaurants in Northern Virginia. Each restaurant has its own character and menu, all family-friendly, and reasonably priced, and they all serve the Ozzie rolls, which are delicious.

Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, VA, just a few miles from Fairfax, is a family-friendly winery that we love. You can bring a picnic to the lawn area and purchase wine to bring out to your table. There is space for the kids to bring a soccer ball or build a fort in the woods.

Brian Liu Photography

What places make Fairfax feel kid-friendly?

Fairfax County Parks System offers a full array of classes for babies through adults. They also offer summer camps for kids at multiple locations. There are nine Recreation Centers throughout Fairfax County, that have leisure pools, fitness centers, indoor recreation space, playgrounds, one has an ice rink, and several have mini golf courses! During the summer, several of the Fairfax parks have a Free Arts in the Parks Children’s Entertainment Series. In the Fairfax Area, we have two fantastic nature centers: Hidden Oaks and Hidden Pond Nature Centers. They have free indoor exhibit areas with live animals and hands-on activities, as well as playgrounds and nature trails. Both nature centers offer kids’ classes, camps, and family activities.

The Fairfax County Public Library System, in addition to an impressive collection of books; the libraries also provides free events/classes for ages 0-99 at 23 branches across the county. The Old Town Hall in Fairfax has year-long kids programs on Mondays, called Funday Monday, these are free performances and programs from 1030-1130am. Old Town Square in Fairfax has a summer Kids Korner with free events and programs on Saturdays from 1030-1130am. There are also family-friendly concerts and events in Old Town Square throughout the year. Listed above are free or lower-cost kid-friendly activities and many other options.

What advice would you give to families who are new to Fairfax?

Get out and explore Fairfax. Visit the parks and playgrounds in your area. A few of our favorite playgrounds are Providence Park, Ratcliffe Park, Van Dyck Park, Stafford Drive Park, Oak View Elementary School Playground, and Lakeside Park. Join one of the local moms’ groups. If you have school-aged kids, sign them up for one of the Rec League sports teams.

clifton town park

If someone was visiting Fairfax for one day, what would you recommend they do?

If you are visiting on a Saturday during the summer, I would recommend going to the Burke Farmers Market and picking up some fresh goodies for a picnic. Then go to Clifton Town Park for a picnic and play; there is a playground, open grass field, and basketball court. After lunch, walk over to Peterson’s Ice Cream, a family-owned ice cream shop, for some sweet treats. If you are still up for some fun, head over to Paradise Springs Winery, just a few miles away. The lawn area has plenty of room for kids to play and build forts in the woods, while the parents sip some wine.

Brian Liu Photography

Expert, experienced Realtor Group for Fairfax, VA:

The Royster Hearth Group – Your Local Real Estate Team in Northern Virginia

HEARTH /härTH/ noun 1: HOME, especially when seen as a place of comfort and love.
Home is more than a place with a roof over our heads. It is a place of comfort, love, warmth, rest, and security – “HEARTH”.  The Royster Hearth Group is a dedicated team in Northern Virginia to help you reach that place. Their mission statement is simple: Serve Our Neighbors, Not Ourselves. Whether you’re buying or selling, or just weighing your options, The Royster Hearth Group will love to talk to you! Tim Royster, Team Lead of the Royster Hearth Group, is a U.S. Army Veteran. Contact Tim at [email protected] or 571-275-0871. Look at their website at www.roysterhearthgroup.com, and be sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram too.

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Jane was born and raised in Wilmington, DE. She met her husband 20 years ago and settled in Fairfax, VA in 2004. Jane is an only child turned big family mom of 10 kids ages 15 to newborn. They are the family next door just supersized. Jane considers herself an expert in free and low cost family friendly activities in Fairfax County and DC. Jane has battled Hypermesis Gravidarum (HG) in 7 pregnancies and Postpartum Depression last year, she is an advocate for awareness and support of HG and PPD moms. Likes: a good cup of Earl Grey tea, working out or walking with friends, exploring new parks and activities with her family, and reading travel websites. Follow Jane on IG at @10busybeesfamily or FB at @10busybees.