Fairfax County, Virginia

History of Fairfax County

Fairfax County was originally formed in 1742, when Virginia was still a colony under British dominion. The area that would become Fairfax County had previously been home to an indigenous society called the Doeg, but these inhabitants were driven northward into Maryland by British colonists.

Several prominent Virginia colonists settled into Fairfax county, due to the nearby Potomac River. The most famous resident of this time was George Washington, whose family built the Mount Vernon estate in Fairfax County beginning around 1734.

Fairfax County was the site of many important battles during the American Civil War. The First and Second Battles of Bull Run were fought at the border of Fairfax County, as was the Battle of Chantilly.

As the federal government of the United States grew during the years leading up to and following the Second World War, Fairfax County rapidly developed into a suburban community. The increase in the government-driven economy — as well as a technological boom — led to a quickly-growing population.

Today, Fairfax County is an economically and socially important suburb of Washington, D.C. It is home to many government institutions, as well as many vital industries and large businesses.

Geography and Finance

Fairfax County spans a total of 406 square miles, and is bounded to the north and southeast by the Potomac River. Fairfax County lies across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. and several counties of Maryland, including Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Charles counties. Fairfax County is also bordered by Arlington County, Loudoun County and Prince William County in Virginia.

As of the most recent census estimate, Fairfax County has a population of 1,150,795. The population of Fairfax County is growing, having risen by 6.4% between April, 2010 and July, 2018. There is an active real estate market in Fairfax County — in the last 12 months, there have been 20,679 homes listed or sold in Fairfax County.

The median family income in Fairfax County is $117,515, as recorded by the U.S. Census between 2013 and 2017. The median home value, as recorded in those same years, is $534,800. The median listing price in Fairfax County between 2013 and 2017 was $616,750, while the median sale price was $508,200.

Popular Fairfax County Neighborhoods


Although the city of Fairfax is not technically part of Fairfax County, it comprises a large area in the center of the county. Most residents of Fairfax own their homes, rather than renting. Fairfax has a highly-rated public school system.


Located in the southern part of Fairfax County, Springfield is a major business center of the D.C. Metropolitan area. Springfield offers easy access to urban conveniences of Washington, D.C. without sacrificing beautiful green spaces and suburban privacy.


Reston, originally founded in 1964, is currently the most populous part of Fairfax County. Reston was designed to revolutionize land use and residential development space in suburban America. Reston is connected to the rest of the D.C. Metro by the Silver Line, which stops at the Wiehle-Reston East station.

Tysons Corner

Tysons Corner is a commercial heart of Fairfax County, offering convenient urban living. Tysons Corner has been lauded for its excellent shopping and dining options, as well as its connection to the D.C. Metro via the Silver Line.  This neighborhood is experiencing rapid expansion, and is expected to become the downtown core of Fairfax County.


McLean is a luxury neighborhood in Fairfax County, located between the Potomac River and Vienna, VA. The Silver Line offers service to McLean, connecting the region to the larger Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. McLean is home to many diplomats and government officials due to its proximity to the capital.


Fairfax County contains 282 primary and secondary schools, located in various neighborhoods. One popular, highly-rated school is Cooper Middle School. Cooper Middle School was assigned a rating of 10 by GreatSchools, a non-profit which specializes in providing comparative grades of primary and secondary schools. This score was assigned based on a comprehensive assessment of the school’s average test scores, as well as metrics which grade academic improvement among students. At the most recent count, 766 students attended Cooper Middle School.

Fun & Leisure

Popular things to do in Fairfax County

Visitors and residents of Fairfax County have recommended the following experiences and attractions in the area:

  • Great Falls Park:
    Located just 15 miles away from D.C., Great Falls Park spans 800 beautiful acres. The most striking feature is the series of steep, jagged rocks that give Great Falls Park its name. In addition to kayaking and hiking, visitors can view presentations on the history of Great Falls, the Potomac River, and George Washington.
  • Mount Vernon:
    George Washington’s famous estate, Mount Vernon, is one of the most popular attractions for both visitors and residents of Fairfax County. Mount Vernon offers a “living history” experience — visitors can get a personal look at day-to-day life on an 18th century plantation.
  • Bull Run Regional Park:
    Bull Run Regional Park comprises 1,500 acres of beautiful natural spaces and entertainment facilities. Popular activities at Bull Run include enjoying the Atlantis Waterpark, hiking one of the many different nature trails, and camping in one of the rustic cabins.
  • Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: (National Air and Space Museum Annex)
    Located in Chantilly, VA, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a companion to the National Air and Space Museum. The Udvar-Hazy Center is home to some of the larger aeronautical artifacts, including the first supersonic airliner, the world’s fastest jet-powered aircraft, and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
  • Cox Farms:
    Cox Farms is a seasonal attraction located in Centreville, VA, open to the public during the summer and autumn. Cox Farms is beloved by residents and visitors for their feature-filled fall festival.

Food & Drinks in Fairfax County

  • Afghan Bistro
    This popular restaurant, located in Springfield, VA, offers a host of authentic Afghani food. The eatery is highly praised for its wide selection of tender meat, as well as many vegetarian and vegan options.
  • The Winery at Bull Run
    The Winery at Bull Run is a working-farm vineyard which aims to pay tribute to the agricultural history of Fairfax County. The Winery at Bull Run is also the closest winery to Washington, D.C., so you can easily make a day trip to try one of their award-winning wines.
  • Barcelona Wine Bar
    Located in Reston, VA, Barcelona Wine Bar is a tapas bar inspired by Spanish culture. The tapas bar features an ever-changing menu focused on traditional Mediterranean flavors, and hosts one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the United States.
  • Plaka Grill 
    With locations in Vienna and Falls Church, Plaka Grill aims to bring authentic Greek cuisine to Northern Virginia. Residents and visitors alike have praised the gyros, in particular.
  • Coastal Flats
    Located in the Tyson’s Corner Center, Coastal Flats is a popular spot for seafood and American fare in Fairfax County. Coastal Flats offers fresh seafood as well as high-quality beef and chicken dishes. This restaurant has been praised for its vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Highlighted Attraction: Tysons Corner Center

Tysons Corner Center first opened in 1968, becoming one of the first fully enclosed malls in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Tysons Corner Center is the largest shopping mall in Virginia.

There are over 300 stores in Tysons Corner Center, including several notable institutions. Tysons Corner Center saw the opening of the East Coast’s first Nordstrom and the world’s first Apple Store. There are currently plans to further expand the mall, adding residential and community structures, as well as a central hotel.


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