Keri Shull’s Neighborhood Spotlight: Great Falls
In western Fairfax County along the Potomac River, the beautiful, rural community known as Great Falls offers gorgeous scenery, large homes, and lots of land. Great Falls was once ranked the “top earning town” in the nation by CNNMoney and recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, proof that the area is by far one of the most affluent neighborhoods in all of Northern Virginia. The neighborhood is a gem for those who love nature, wildlife, and other outdoor activities, but it’s not too far from city-like amenities and the area’s most popular urban centers. Mclean , Falls Church , Arlington , and Washington D.C. are all east of Great Falls with Vienna to the south and Ashburn to the west. Residents can conveniently travel in and out of these areas from Great Falls in 20 to 40 minutes (depending on traffic) by use of Route 7, Georgetown Pike, and I-495. Currently, the Silver line’s Wiehle-Reston East Metro station is the closest station to Great Falls, a 15 minute drive by car. Many families choose to live in Great Falls to get away from the hustle and bustle of the district to raise children in a safe, community-focused neighborhood.
- History of Great Falls
- Housing in Great Falls
- Entertainment in Great Falls
- Local Community in Great Falls
History of Great Falls
Great Falls originated as a collection of different towns and villages settled by farmers, slaves, and indentured servants in the late 18th century and early 19th century. The land — some 18,000 acres of it — once belonged to Lord Fairfax and his cousin, but it was granted out to farmers in bits and pieces over a period of time. The towns of Dranesville, Springvale, Forestville, and Matildaville were eventually merged into the community now known as Great Falls in 1959 after Forestville’s fire department suggested it along with the name change in 1945. For the rest of the 20th century, Great Falls protected its open expanses of land and remained a quiet, safe town to raise a family. Not much has changed since then except for the price point of homes. Great Falls has evolved into much more than just a farm town; it is now a prestigious, high-end community with one of the most coveted zip codes in the country.
Housing in Great Falls
The housing stock in Great Falls is rather limited when compared to other Northern Virginia neighborhoods. Traditional single-family homes dominate the area. There are no condominiums or townhomes in Great Falls, and most homes sit on at least two acres of land. New construction homes with spacious open floor plans and luxury features are the most popular type of home available in Great Falls with the average home price falling between $500,000 and $3.5 million! Homes along the riverfront and on park land may list as high as $5 million. There are many large horse farms in Great Falls and hundreds of sprawling acres of pristine fields and farmland. If you love the rolling countryside, value open spaces, and want a sizable chunk of land to call home in Northern Virginia, Great Falls is the perfect neighborhood for you.
Entertainment in Great Falls
Great Falls is known for its premier outdoor attractions. The 800 acre Great Falls Park draws in visitors from all over Virginia. It has been a major outdoor attraction in the community for several decades among fishers, boaters, hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and families looking to enjoy nature. The Riverbed Park and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve are also popular with residents and out-of-towners alike. Turner Farm Equestrian Park — with its plethora of trails — is a hit with horseback riders, and there are a handful of golf courses nearby to satisfy even the most ardent golfer.
Great Falls also has a number of fine restaurants and shops considering its relatively small size. L’Auberge Chez Francois — a cozy country French establishment — is the community’s most famous restaurant and draws in visitors from all over the D.C. metro region. The small strip mall, Great Falls Village Centre, contains several different eateries, pubs, and local businesses. Residents can also find amenities such as coffee shops, grocery stores, and banks all around the neighborhood in smaller shopping centers. There is not much of a nightlife to speak of in Great Falls apart from a few places hosting live music, but residents enjoy traveling into the capital to catch a Broadway show, tour an art gallery, or attend a fundraiser gala.
Local Community in Great Falls
The Great Falls community is home to about 15,000 people. For a neighborhood that's been accused of being “rootless,” its residents have forged a close-knit community that actively campaigns to keep Great Falls free from major development. Most residents are families with children, retirees, or empty nesters who appreciate the acres of open land and don’t want to see it change. Great Falls has a passionate equestrian community that enjoys all of the parks and trails available to them in this rural neighborhood, as well as the large lots of land for horse farms. Every resident in Great Falls makes well above the average median income and can afford to keep the community exclusive to people like former CIA director Stansfield Turner and members of the Saudi royal family. The area has great public and private schools, and the community hosts a number of family-oriented events, some celebrating age-old town traditions. There are summer concerts, holiday parades, farmers markets, and more that make Great Falls a sought after neighborhood and a place to live well.