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Fairfax, nicknamed Fairfax City by the locals, is the county seat of Fairfax County, in the state of Virginia. The city has roots dating back to the 1700s. It has character and an identity of its own not often found in the much newer and largely homogeneous exurban areas in Northern Virginia.

Get in[edit]

Map of Fairfax (Virginia)

The intersection of US-50 and US-29 is located within the city. The two major highways join together to form Fairfax Boulevard for approximately 2.8 miles before separating. VA-123 and VA-236 both pass through the city. VA-236 is named Main Street in the city (though it diverts onto North Street for about three blocks in Old Town Fairfax) and then becomes Little River Turnpike once the city line is crossed. In addition, I-66 is on the outskirts of the city.

The nearest Metro station is Vienna/Fairfax-GMU. This is the Western terminus of the Orange line. There are numerous CUE buses from the Metro station to various points in Fairfax. Taxis are available at the Metro station and fare to any point in Fairfax is approximately $10-15.

Get around[edit]

The downtown section of the city is 4 blocks wide by 2 blocks long. There are numerous free public parking lots and parking decks surrounding the downtown section. The city encourages visitors to park and walk. No building is more than a 5-minute walk from a free parking lot.

The local bus system in Fairfax is largely served by the CUE bus system. The buses run between George Mason University, the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU metro station, and other locations within or just outside of Fairfax. GMU students, staff and faculty with a valid ID ride free.

Fairfax boasts many shops and restaurants, along with a few hotels. Outside of the downtown section, the city is populated mainly with suburban residences. Fairfax Boulevard, which runs along the northern border of the city, is populated with strip malls.


Fairfax historic district with Courthouse

The Fairfax County Courthouse is the oldest and most historic building in Fairfax. Its design is used as a prototype for many Virginia courthouses built between 1800 and 1850. The first meeting of the Fairfax Court was held April 21, 1800. During the Civil War, the Courthouse was used by the Union forces as military headquarters which resulted in the damage or loss of several records. The original building of the Fairfax County Courthouse is now used as the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts.

One of the oldest buildings in the city is a former elementary school. Built 1873, the Fairfax Elementary School remains the oldest two-story building the city has ever seen and was built for an outrageous $2,750. This building reflects a new era of free public education in Virginia and the growth of the Fairfax area. Throughout the years, the school building was used for housing special education and adult education classes as well as a police academy training center. The historic building was renovated and, on July 4, 1992, it opened as the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center.

Fairfax City Hall

The Old Town Hall is the social and architectural cornerstone of Fairfax. Joseph Edward Willard had it built in 1900 as a gift to Fairfax. Built by Arthur Thompson, a local contractor, the classical revival style building retains much of its original woodwork. It now houses the Huddleson Library, as well as the Fairfax Art League, and can be rented for weddings, business meetings and other private and business-related special events.

The following buildings in Fairfax are on the National Register of Historical Places:

Site Year Built Address Listed
29 Diner (Tastee 29 Diner) 1947 10536 Fairfax Boulevard 1992
Blenheim circa 1855 3610 Old Lee Highway 2001
City of Fairfax Historic District Junction of VA 236 and VA 123 1987
Old Fairfax County Courthouse* (now the Juvenile Court) 1800 4000 Chain Bridge Road 1974
Old Fairfax County Jail* 1891 10475 Main Street 1981
Fairfax Public School (Old Fairfax Elementary School Annex) 1873 10209 Main Street 1992
Ratcliffe-Logan-Allison House (Earp's Ordinary) 1812 200 East Main Street 1973
*The Old Courthouse and the Old Jail lie within the county enclave within the city.


The city hosts a wide variety of annual events:

  • Chocolate Lovers Festival. During the first full weekend of March, the Chocolate Lover's Festival is held in the heart of Old Town Fairfax. Events include historic building open houses, children's activities, vendors selling various edible chocolate products, and even chocolate sculpture contests.
  • [dead link] Blenheim Civil War Encampment/Historic Homes Tour. Every other year in the Spring, a Civil War re-enactment camp is held at the Blenheim estate, a city-owned historical property. The encampment features military muster, drill, and firing demonstrations. Alternating with the Civil War encampment is an Historic Homes Tour of homes in the city.
  • Spotlight on the Arts. Each April, Fairfax, in cooperation with George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, and City of Fairfax schools, sponsors the Spotlight on the Arts Festival. The Festival runs for three weeks and features music, dance, theater, art, and choral concerts. Events take place at venues throughout the city and the colleges.
  • [dead link] National Trails Day. In June, a National Trails Day is held to celebrate the trails, open spaces and parks Fairfax
  • [dead link] Independence Day Celebration Parade and Evening Show. The largest hometown parade and fireworks celebration in the Washington metropolitan region is held in Fairfax. The day's events include a parade through downtown Fairfax, tours of historic buildings and local museums, an Old Fashioned Fireman's Day at the Company 3 fire station, and a live concert and fireworks display at Fairfax High School.
  • [dead link] Irish Festival. In September, a festival of Irish and Celtic song, dance, and music is held.
  • Fall for the Book Festival. Fairfax has a new regional public library building that was completed in 2008. Each fall, the Fall for the Book Festival features readings, discussions, lectures, and exhibits from nationally-recognized writers and professionals. The program is coordinated with a school-wide reading project, "All Fairfax Reads".
  • [dead link] Fall Festival. A Fall Festival is held in historic Old Town Fairfax on the second Saturday in October. This event includes more than 500 arts, crafts, and food vendors, and is usually held outdoors on the streets of the city. Attendance is about 35,000 to 45,000.
  • [dead link] The Holiday Craft Show. An annual Holiday Craft Show is held at Fairfax High School on the third Saturday and Sunday of November. The event features hundreds of craft vendors. Attendance is about 8,000 to 10,000
  • [dead link] Festival of Lights & Carols. On the first Saturday in December, the Parks and Recreation Department hosts a Festival of Lights and Carols. Activities include photos with Santa, caroling, a yule log, hot mulled cider, illumination of historic Old Town Fairfax, and the lighting of the Christmas tree.
  • [dead link] Civil War Day, 3610 Old Lee Highway (Historic Blenheim Estate), +1 703 591-0560. 10AM to 5PM. Historical talks, reenactments, music, and food. Tours of Blenheim House. $5 adults $3 children.


Tyson Corner Center and Tyson Galleria, two large shopping malls, are approximately 6 miles north of the city on Rt. 123.

  • 1 Fair Oaks Mall, 11750 Lee Jackson Highway. Anchored by Macy's, Lord & Taylor, Sears, and JCPenney. Fair Oaks Mall (Q5429881) on Wikidata Fair Oaks Mall on Wikipedia
  • Fairfax Corner, Monument Dr. & Government Center Parkway.


Fast food[edit]

  • Chipotle, 11062 Lee Hwy, +1 703 934-7099. Daily 11AM-10PM. The locally very popular semi-Mexican burrito joint. $6-8.

Casual dining[edit]

  • Pelano's Italian Food, 11184 Lee Hwy, +1 703 865-4010. Open daily at 11AM. A small family-owned Italian restaurant. $8-$16.
  • Viet House, 11216 Lee Hwy, +1 703 934-0923. M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 9AM-8PM. A small pho restaurant with two locations in Fairfax City $7-8.
    • Viet House (Second Location), 9966 Main Street, +1 703 691-0090. M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 9AM-8PM. A small pho restaurant with two locations in Fairfax City. $7-8.

Fine dining[edit]

  • Dolce Vita, 10824 Lee Hwy, +1 703 385-1530. Lunch: M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, dinner: Su-Th 5-9:30PM, F Sa 5-10:30PM. A small Italian restaurant offering traditional cuisine and an extensive wine list. The neighboring Cantina catered event venue and Dolce Veloce Ciccheti Wine Bar are owned by the same family that owns and runs Dolce Vita. $7-8.


  • Auld Shebeen, 3971 Chain Bridge Rd (At the corner of North and 123), +1 703 293-9600. 11AM-2AM daily. An Irish pub offering traditional cuisine during the day, pub games and Irish music throughout the week, and dancing and music late at night.
  • Hard Times Cafe, 4069 Chain Bridge Rd (Across from the Fairfax County Courthouse), +1 703 267-9590. A great bar for young professionals and college kids. Good, inexpensive food and drinks. Always playing sports on the TVs and Thursdays from 3-9PM domestic bottles cost $1.


Go next[edit]

Routes through Fairfax
MiddletownCentreville  W  E  ViennaWashington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.Falls Church  N  S  CentrevilleCharlottesville
WinchesterChantilly  W  E  Falls ChurchWashington, D.C.

This city travel guide to Fairfax is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.