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During the 18th century, the area now known as Reston was owned by Lord Fairfax. In the 1880s, C.A. Wiehle bought the land which was later sold to A. Smith Bowman. He constructed a bourbon distillery on the site, while the rest of the area was farmland. In 1961, Robert E. Simon (who put the RES in Reston from his initials) bought most of this land, except for the area which held the distillery, to create Virginia’s first planned residential community, a place where people could live their whole lives without the need for long commutes.
Officially founded in 1964, Reston was influenced by the Garden City movement that emphasized planned, self-contained communities that intermingled green space, residential neighborhoods, and commercial development. The intent of Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, was to build a town that would revolutionize post–World War II concepts of land use and residential/corporate development in suburban America. In 2018, Reston was ranked as the Best Place to Live in Virginia by Money magazine for its expanses of parks, lakes, golf courses, and bridle paths as well as the numerous shopping and dining opportunities in Reston Town Center.
Live, Work, Play.
Robert E. Simon officially launched Reston on April 10, 1964 (his 50th birthday) and named the community using his initials. He laid out seven “guiding principles” that would stress quality of life and serve as the foundation for its future development. His goal was for Restonians to live, work, and play in their own community, with common grounds and scenic beauty shared equally regardless of income level, thereby building a stronger sense of community ties.
Robert E. Simon’s seven principles are:
- The town should provide a variety of leisure opportunities, including a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities as well as an environment for privacy;
- Residents would be able to remain in the community throughout their lives, with a range of housing meeting a variety of needs and incomes;
- The focal point of all planning would be on the importance and dignity of the individual and would take precedence for large-scale concepts;
- Reston residents would be able to live and work in the same community;
- Commercial, cultural, and recreational facilities would be available to residents immediately, not years later;
- Beauty, both structural and natural, is a necessity and should be fostered; and
- Reston should be a financial success.
Simon envisioned Reston as a model for clustered residential development, also known as conservation development, which puts a premium on the preservation of open space, landscapes, and wildlife habitats. Indeed, Reston was the first 20th-century private community in the U.S. to explicitly incorporate natural preservation in its planning.
Reston is very nice for active people who want a diverse and interesting setting in a somewhat suburban area. It has the positives of city living (everything close together, lots of events) with less traffic and while being more quiet than a real city. Reston has a little of everything. Many public pools, hundreds of miles of trails, and a highly educated, diverse community with tons of shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to raise a family with many indoor and outdoor activities, allowing residents to get involved year round.
A View of Reston
Annual Reston Events
The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival is one of the top 5 outdoor art festivals in the country with a long standing reputation for showcasing high-quality hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind artwork in a dynamic outdoor setting that draws an affluent and knowledgeable clientele. This unique event is presented at Reston Town Center and attracts approximately 30,000 patrons annually from the Washington DC metro area and beyond.
The Taste of Reston is the largest outdoor food festival in the area and has been voted “Northern Virginia’s Best Food Festival” by Virginia Living magazine for the past six years. The Taste of Reston takes place at Reston Town Center and showcases two days of restaurants and community vendors, four stages of live entertainment, the Family Fun Zone! and our Wine ‘n Dine area.
Now in their 37th year, Reston Triathlon is an Olympic Distance Triathlon. SWIM 1.5 km: in Reston’s Lake Audubon BIKE 40 km: three laps on moderately hilly roadways in Reston. The first two laps are identical. The third lap changes course and finishes at South Lakes high school. RUN 10 km: on shaded Reston pathways, starting and ending at the South Lakes high school stadium.
Don’t miss the Reston Multicultural Festival! You will get to enjoy all different music, entertainment, dress, food, and cultural treasures from all over the world!! Everyone is encouraged to dress in attire from their own cultural roots at this free outdoor event at Lake Anne Plaza.
The Pumpkin 5k and Kids’ Dash is held at Reston Town Center, participants are encouraged to début their Halloween costumes and join in the fun with the whole family!
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Reston Holiday Parade is a Macy’s-esque extravaganza featuring gigantic balloons, marching bands, dancers, characters, performers, community groups, and dignitaries! Plus, you’ll also witness the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus as they ride the half-mile-long parade route in a horse-drawn carriage! Reston Town Center hosts the annual Reston Holiday Parade which is a full day of community, charity and cheer, including photos with Santa, tree lighting, a sing-along and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Photo: Charlotte Geary
Places to Explore in Reston
The Reston Historic Trust & Museum preserves the past, informs the present, and influences the future of Reston through exhibits, events, and programs. Their goal is to engage the public in an exploration of community history by annually hosting the Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta, Reston Home Tour, and Founder’s Day.
If you’re in the mood to explore nature, check out the Walker Nature Center, which provides bird walks, wildlife counts and classes and a variety of programs for both adults and children. The nature center itself sits on 72 acres of woodland property with a full mile of loop trails. You can dine al fresco at the park, as it offers picnic tables and a pavilion.
The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole captures the excitement of the Old West’s Gold Rush with attractions tailored for all ages. This family water park offers more than an acre of slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and an interactive water playground. Careen off covered wagons, float on wild animals and dash through showers tipped from water-filled ore carts. The activity pool is encircled by Rattlesnake River, a 725 foot lazy river you can enjoy a relaxing float as the current gently nudges you along.
Lake Fairfax Park is a park in Reston, Virginia, owned and maintained by the Fairfax County Park Authority. Contained within the park is the 18-acre Lake Fairfax. The park also offers a carousel, fishing, kayaking, boating and bird watching. For longer stays, there are picnic areas, campgrounds and hiking trails.
Roer’s Zoofari is a family zoo located in Reston, Virginia, that covers 30 acres and contains a petting barn and allows visitors to go on safari wagon rides around the park. It contains lambs, camels, monkeys, zebras, bisons, ducks, goats, horses, buffalos, and a giraffe. Interactive exhibits like animal feeding and pony rides make this compact zoo kid-friendly.
Reston Town Center is designed with open avenues and wide sidewalks. It is built around Fountain Square, a medium-sized open area between the surrounding shops. The main landmark in Fountain Square is Mercury Fountain, designed by Saint Clair Cemin. The Pavilion doubles as a covered open-air ice rink during the winter and as a concert and event venue throughout the rest of the year. Reston Town Center’s “downtown” area is home to world-class businesses, leading retail destinations, and a wide range of exciting dining options. In addition, Reston Town Center has a 13-screen cinema and a Hyatt Regency hotel. Offering vibrant experiences for a broad and diverse community, from boutique fashion to dynamic fitness to engaging events- day in and day out, Reston Town Center is a dynamic urban destination in an impressive suburb of Washington DC.
Consistently awarded the Best in NOVA, the Reston Farmers Market thrives every Saturday with a huge selection of local fruits, veggies, baked goods, flowers, meats/seafood and dairy products. Inside, you’ll find handmade jewelry, arts and crafts. Established in 1998 and still going strong. Important to note: No dogs allowed per ordinance.
Fun Fact For Your Next Trivia Night
Reston is lucky to possess this unique artifact from a monumental period in history. The Bundeswehr—German Armed Forces—proudly displays the four-foot wide Berlin Wall fragment just outside the main doors of its Command Headquarters on Sunrise Valley Drive. They acquired the fragment of the wall to commemorate the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.
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