Keri Shull’s Neighborhood Spotlight: Reston
Reston has the distinction of being the first modern post-war planned community in the United States. Its plethora of housing styles, modern day conveniences, and outdoor attractions set it apart from other Northern Virginia neighborhoods . Reston has been ranked one of the best places to live in America by CNNMoney Magazine for several years now for its high median income, valuable housing market, low unemployment rate, and excellent schools. Reston is made up of five different villages which all encompass a range of housing options, lakes, shopping centers, open parkland, and walking trails. The founder of Reston envisioned this community to be a realization of the American Dream, and he took great care to make it a place where people could live and work indefinitely. Reston is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Dulles Airport and only 20 miles outside of Washington D.C. It’s bordered by Great Falls to the north, Vienna to east, Fairfax to the south, and Ashburn to the west. Residents can get around by car by use of Dulles Toll Road, Reston Parkway, and Fairfax County Parkway, or catch the Silver line Metro at the Wiehle-Reston East station.
History of Reston
Like much of Northern Virginia in the 1880s, the 7,000 acres of land now known as Reston once belonged to Lord Fairfax and was called “Sunset Hills.” After Lord Fairfax’s death, his sons sold the land to A. Smith Bowman who used it for farmland and built a bourbon distillery which operated until 1987. In 1961, Robert E. Simon — a real estate entrepreneur — used funds from the sale of Carnegie Hall to purchase all of the land except for the distillery. Simon envisioned a planned community with a full range of housing styles that would be affordable to a wide variety of people no matter their income or age. Simon named the planned community Reston after his own initials, and wanted the neighborhood to be a place where people could live, work, and play all in one community. Simon was very specific that Reston should offer the widest choice of opportunities for leisure time with a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities, as well as an environment for privacy. Lastly, Reston should be beautiful — both naturally and structurally. Over the next few decades, Simon’s visions came to life, and Reston flourished into the popular, successful community we know and love today.
Housing in Reston
True to its founder’s vision, Reston offers a wide variety of housing options for any type of home buyer at any stage in their life. First-time home buyers, move-up buyers, and downsizers can all find the right home in Reston. Reston’s real estate market is unique because it is an eclectic blend of multi-unit and single-family housing nestled between many commercial centers. There are cluster townhomes, luxury condos, duplexes, large estates, and traditional single-family homes spread out all over the community. There is also a unique mix of architectural styles ranging from Tudor to Colonial, Cape Cod to Craftsman, and art-deco to neoclassical. Many homes in Reston are known for having a contemporary edge, and some are even built to integrate nature. Over 55 miles of walking paths wind throughout Reston to ensure that nearly all homes are within a short walk of a shopping center, and connected to each other. Most homes are nestled by woods of oak, maple, pine, and sycamore trees, and many homes are even lakefront.
Entertainment in Reston
One of the best things about Reston is that it offers a variety of things to do to suit any lifestyle. Reston Town Center is the community’s central hotspot and draws in visitors from all over the D.C. metro region. This outdoor mall offers a variety of dining options and shops, hosts outdoor concerts, and features an ice-skating rink and a state-of-the-art movie theater. Restaurants vary from fast-food to five-star establishments, and community staples like grocery stores, banks, coffee shops, and gyms can be found all over the community. There are multiple centers for the arts, two art galleries, and one museum in Reston, proof that the community offers a little bit of everything when it comes to entertainment and recreation.
Reston is also well known for its abundance of parks and recreational facilities with over 13,000 acres of open park land, 49 tennis courts, 15 outdoor swimming pools, four lakes, and two golf courses. The Walker Nature Education Center provides different educational and recreational programs that are especially kid-friendly. There is even a 30-acre zoo in Reston on the northeast edge of the community that features zebras, camels, bison, and alligators among many others. Reston’s convenient location makes it easy for residents to get out and explore other neighboring areas, but they seldom have to leave — everything they need is all in one place.
Local Community in Reston
The local community in Reston is a direct reflection of its founder’s visions. About a third of all Reston residents live and work in the neighborhood, and they enjoy a high quality life that is unique to this community. Local residents regularly comes together in a variety of ways to preserve Simon’s guiding principles. The Reston Community Center is a big part of the community and hosts various educational, recreational, and cultural events. There is a local theatre group, a choral group, and an orchestra that put on shows and performances throughout the year. Reston also hosts several family-friendly annual events like the Day-After Thanksgiving Parade, Relay for Life, and Reston Festival. There are local farmers markets spring, summer, and fall, and the community hosts local charity events that are usually themed around nature and conservation efforts. Many residents feel tied to the Reston community because of the unique lifestyle it fosters, and many end up staying a lifetime.