Great Falls, Virginia

Looking for a Home? Find it Here.

The first sight of unrestrained greenery upon heading west into Virginia from Washington, D.C., is the town of Great Falls, a leafy refuge for the power players that brave the Beltway every morning. Here, twisting country lanes converge on a town center with a green, a local coffee shop, and store owners who call their customers by name.

These trees, pastures and open space—only 17 miles west of the White House—don’t come cheap. The town has a median real estate price of $1.7 million, putting it in the top 10 percent of Virginia neighborhoods. Residents include Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, political speechwriter and columnist  Peggy Noonan and political commentator Rick Santorum. One could say it’s the Beverly Hills of the D.C. metro area. But unlike the self-promotion of Rodeo Drive, this town is all about discretion.

Here, despite its roster of boldface names, people make an active effort to create a close-knit community, tied together by history and traditions in what some would describe as the often-rootless northern Virginia area. There’s a town square with a white painted gazebo right out of an Andy Hardy movie, a weekly gathering of vintage car enthusiasts and an annual Easter egg hunt with gemstones from a local jewelry store hidden in eggs for a lucky few.

Conveniently near the Capital Beltway and the George Washington Parkway, the area offers its residents easy access to Washington, D.C., and nearby communities like McLean and Tysons Corner. It’s the last community in Fairfax County that has retained its rural heritage, and many here want to keep it that way.

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Celebrate Great Falls!

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In 1649, King Charles II of England gave all the land between the Rappahanock and Potomac rivers to seven Englishmen as property. Thomas (6th Baron) Lord Fairfax inherited the property in 1719 and set aside over 12,000 acres of Great Falls for himself.

Between 1785 and 1828, The Patowmack Canal Company constructed and operated at Great Falls one of five skirting canals designed to make the Potomac River navigable to the Ohio River Valley. The town of Matildaville (chartered in 1790) served as headquarters for the Company until it went bankrupt and was turned over to the newly formed Chesapeake and Ohio Canal company in 1828.

In 1833, much of the property that is now Great Falls Park was acquired by Albert Fairfax and later sold at auction to pay debts.

In 1952 Fairfax County purchased 16 acres from The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. During this time, the villages of Dranesville, Colvin Run and Springvale merged with the Forestville community to become one. In 1959 the city of Great Falls was created.

Today in Great Falls you’ll find an abundance of single-family homes in a variety of styles and sizes with lots of land. Driving through Great Falls you will see a plethora of custom homes with Tudor, Craftsman and Modern architecture. You’ll also find a large equine community, complete with luxurious barns and plenty of riding stables. The area also has high-ranking schools, another reason it is recognized consistently by Washingtonian magazine as one of the most expensive zip codes in the state.

Its sprawling parkland with hiking and horse trails include 800-acre Great Falls Park with three falls of steep, jagged rocks flowing through the narrow Mather Gorge. Other parks are Riverbend Park, and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. Equestrians have a park all their own at Turner Farm, a former dairy farm that now offers horseback riding and jumping facilities, as well as picnic areas.

A View of Great Falls

Annual Events in Great Falls

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Movies on the Green

Join neighbors on the Great Falls Village Centre Green, on Saturday evenings in September. Blankets, chairs and picnics are all welcome for a family-friendly evening of movies under the stars!

Cars & Coffee

At Katie’s Coffee House, antique, classic, and new cars are on display. Enjoy your morning coffee with car owners, neighbors, and friends.

Concerts on the Green

Come out with your picnic baskets and chairs for entertaining evenings of live, free music on Sundays in the summertime.

4th of July Hometown Celebration, Parade & Fireworks

The day begins with the annual 5K Walk/Run through our local trails – starting and ending at the Freedom Memorial on the Library grounds. INOVA Blood Drive is held at Great Falls Volunteer Fire Department. Then attend the Little Patriot Parade at the Village Centre Green. Main Parade begins at the Great Falls Village Centre — See the floats, horses, antique cars and pets making a loop in the Main Parade. Then enjoy burgers, dogs and snow-cones along with music, field games and festivities on the Village Centre Green with your Great Falls neighbors.

Celebration of Lights featuring the Annual Tree Lighting

Santa & Mrs. Claus arrive in an antique fire truck to light the Christmas Tree then meet all children who wish to share their holiday wishes. Choruses from local schools, a petting zoo, pony rides, sing-a-longs, and a live nativity provides holiday fun for the whole family.

Farmer’s Market

Produce and products from local farmers, craftspeople, and vendors. 778 Walker Road Parking Lot, Next to Wells Fargo Bank; There is a parking lot next to the Wells Fargo Bank.

Halloween Spooktacular

The Spooktacular provides younger children with a central, convenient place in Great Falls to have fun “trick or treating”. Great Falls vendors offer candy around the Village Green. Pets, on leashes, are welcome to join in the Pet Parade — dressed up in a favorite costume.

Great Falls Events

Places to Explore in Great Falls

  • Colvin Run Mill is in Great Falls, Virginia. Built c. 1811, Colvin Run Mill is the sole surviving operational 19th-century water-powered mill in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and its restored mechanism is a nationally significant example of automated technologies pioneered in milling and later adopted across American industry. Down the gravel path of the park is the miller’s house, home to the families who ran the mill. In 1883, Addison Millard moved his family here when he bought the old mill. Addison, his wife Emma, and some of their 20 children lived there. When Addison died, the family stayed and operated the mill until 1934. In the mid-1930s the mill was abandoned, and highway development caused it to be cut off from any near-by water source. The mill was later acquired by the Fairfax County Park Authority, repaired, and made open to the public.

  • The Great Falls Grange Hall and Forestville School are two historic buildings that served as a Grange meeting hall and as a school located in Great Falls, Fairfax County, Virginia. The Forestville School was built in 1889 as a one-room school, and expanded in 1911 with the appendage of the Floris School. It is an “L”-shaped wood-frame structure covered in weatherboards and topped by a standing-seam metal cross-gable roof. After closing as a school in 1922, it served as a residence and then as the Great Falls Post Office from 1959 until 1982. The Great Falls Grange Hall was built in 1929, and is a 1 1/2-story brick building with a gable front. It features a front porch supported by concrete pillars in the American Craftsman style. Both buildings are owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

  • The Turner Farm is a former dairy farm is open for general riding. It has almost 40 acres of open fields enclosed by perimeter fencing. Features include a novice-level, cross-country course with water, ditch and bank complexes, a round pen, a large (200’ x 300’) multi-purpose outdoor arena with all-weather footing, stadium jumps and dressage markers. The observatory has an Orientation Room used for educational programs. An Observation Room includes three telescopes with room for a fourth as private funding becomes available. The observatory features a retractable roof that rolls over the top of a fixed roof that covers the Orientation Room.

  • The Old Brogue is a fixture in Great Falls—and for good reason. The ambiance is real old Irish pub. Casual hangout offers lots of beer, Irish grub & live music, plus seasonal outdoor patios. Be sure to order the Irish whiskey cake. If you don’t have enough room, share it with someone.

  •  L’Auberge Chez Francois is an elegant restaurant serving classic French dishes in a farmhouse setting & on a garden patio. Voted Open Table’s Top 100 Nationwide and Open Table’s #1 restaurant in the DC metropolitan area for “Most Romantic”, “Best French”, and “Best Overall”. They have earned the coveted AAA Four Diamond and named “100 Very Best Restaurants” by Washingtonian Magazine for over 25 years.

  • The Arts of Great Falls is a community supported, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  We have an art school that offers classes for adults and children of all skill levels, we offer studio space for artists to work and display, and provide art events and activities to the community.

  • Great Falls Park offers many great things to do outdoors such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and more! Situated on 800 acres (3.65 km2) along the banks of the Potomac River in northern Fairfax County, the park is a disconnected but integral part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The Great Falls of the Potomac River are near the northern boundary of the park, as are the remains of the Patowmack Canal, the first canal in the United States that used locks to raise and lower boats. If you are interested in planning a visit, be sure to current conditions to stay up-to-date with the latest information.

Plaque commemorating the naming of the Mather Gorge of the Potomac River

Fun Fact For Your Next Trivia Night

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1. The Great Falls waterfall that flows into Mather Gorge is named for the first National Parks Service director, Stephen T. Mather.

2. In the early 1900s, an amusement park was operated at the site of Great Falls Park.

3. From 1947-1952 Potomac Edison Power Company (PEPCO) became the sole owner of about 800 acres of the area.

Photo: Famartin/Wikipedia

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