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CNNMoney and Money magazine ranked Vienna, Virginia third on its list of the 100 best places to live in the United States. Only 16 miles or a short metro ride away from Washington, DC, Vienna is a very community-oriented town, perfect for families, has a high walkability rate, great schools and many parks, museums and historic activities.
According to the SafeWise Report, Vienna is also rated as one of the safest towns in Virginia. Early street names like Old Courthouse Road and Lawyers Road near Tysons Corner are reminders of where Vienna’s first Europeans settled.
Big Heart. Small Town.
A prominent colonial soldier and public servant named Colonel Charles Broadwater owned much of the land in the region and built his home here in 1754. When John Hunter, a native of Ayr County in Scotland, married Broadwater’s daughter, he succeeded him as the area’s principal landowner. Hunter built the first recorded house here in 1767, naming it Ayr Hill after his birthplace, Ayr, Scotland. That name was also applied to the developing community until it was changed in the 1850s when a doctor named William Hendrick settled there on the condition that the town would rename itself after his hometown, Phelps, New York, then known as Vienna.
One of the earliest armed clashes of the Civil War, the Battle of Vienna occurred here on June 17, 1861. Today, several historical markers in Vienna detail its Civil War history. In addition, in the center of town lies the well preserved Freeman House; which, in 1861, was the polling place for the secession vote and used during the war by both sides as a hospital.
Major Orrin T. Hine who settled in Vienna in 1866 owned a large amount of real estate,. When the village became an incorporated town in 1890 to improve its public schools and streets, he was elected Vienna’s first mayor. Hine was also a leading advocate of public education. In 1867, the first black public school, which also served as a Baptist church, was established in Vienna. The first white public school was built in 1872.
A View of Vienna
Annual Events in Vienna
Walk on the Hill & Green Expo is a spring garden tour in the historic district held the last Sunday afternoon in April. The annual Green Expo is part of this event as well.
The Taste of Vienna annual event is your chance to sample all of your favorite Vienna area restaurants in one location. There are also several food trucks and wine tasting spots on site that are not to be missed. The event is outdoors, rain or shine.
The annual ViVa! Vienna! Town Festival is held on Church Street during Memorial Day weekend. Festivities include arts and crafts vendors, live music, food and beverage sales, children’s entertainment, a special Memorial Day ceremony, and booths showcasing Vienna-area businesses and community service organizations.
4th of July Celebration Fireworks this year will be held on July 4th at Yeonas Park.
Oktoberfest is held the first Saturday of October. The day’s activities include food, entertainment, vendors and crafters, children’s events, and a beer garden.
The Halloween Parade is one of Vienna’s most popular community events. October’s Halloween parade is held on Maple Avenue the Wednesday evening before Halloween each year (except when Halloween falls on Thursday – in which case, the parade is held the preceding week). In addition to marching bands, floats, and other entries, children are invited to walk in the parade in their Halloween costumes.
The annual Holiday Stroll on historic Church Street is held the Monday evening after Thanksgiving. Church Street is closed to vehicular traffic between Lawyers Road and Mill Street, and visitors are invited to stroll along the street amid the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Santa Claus greets children at the Freeman House.
Places to Explore in Vienna
Children’s Theatre in the Woods is one of the main performance venues at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia. Each summer, Theatre in the Woods features family-friendly performances at 10:30 AM on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is the only national park dedicated to live entertainment. Wolf Trap National Park is an indoor/outdoor venue hosting major musical acts and theater throughout the year. During the colder months, acts are housed indoors at the Barns at Wolf Trap. From May to December, the entertainment takes over the 7,000-seat Filene Center. The Filene Center offers a combination of covered and lawn seating that is especially fun on a beautiful evening.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is a must for nature lovers. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens has 95 acres of ornamental display gardens and unique native plant collections where visitors can explore local flora and fauna among lakes, forests and meandering walking trails. Paved and natural paths guide visitors past themed gardens and ponds. Kids can play in the Children’s Garden and watch koi fish from the gazebo. There’s also a Korean Bell Garden, the only one of its kind on the east coast.
The Freeman Store and Museum and country store are at the intersection of the W&OD bike trail and Church Street. Built in 1859 for Abram Lydecker, both Confederate and Union Army troops occupied the house during the American Civil War. The house has been restored in accordance with historical records. Civil War paraphernalia are sold in a restored general store on the first floor of the house. A museum on the second floor of the house presently displays Civil War artifacts.
The Little Library is one of the oldest museums of its type in Fairfax County. This quaint building housed the Town of Fairfax’s first library, and it has been preserved to give you a glimpse of what life was like in Vienna’s historic past. The Library is a museum not a lending library but visitors may pass the time carefully reading some of the old books that have been preserved.
The acquisition and restoration of the Vienna Caboose on Church Street alongside the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, and creation of the adjacent Centennial Park, were accomplished as a community project for the town’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1990. Also located on the site is an information kiosk about the caboose and the significance of the railroad in Vienna’s history, and the Centennial time capsule, scheduled to be opened in the year 2040.
Jammin Java is one of the D.C. area’s most premiere locations for live music on the East Coast and regularly sells out concerts in their intimate space. Year after year, Pollstar Magazine recognizes the club as one of the Top 100 Venues in the world according to ticket sales, plus they have the most active children’s music concert series of any nightclub around. Be sure to check out their line-up of daytime Tot Rocks events for kids too.
Vienna Saturday Farmer’s Market is open each Saturday from May to October at the Vienna Community Center, the Vienna Farmer’s Market features fresh veggies, fruits, meat, dairy, and baked goods from over 30 local vendors.
Fun Facts For Your Next Trivia Night
1. Robert Hanssen was arrested in Vienna in 2001 for spying for the Russian intelligence service (and previously the KGB). He used dead drops inside Foxstone Park to deliver U.S. federal government secrets to his handlers, and to collect cash or diamonds in exchange. Hanssen was sentenced to 15 life terms without the possibility of parole.
2. In 1881, Howard Money founded an undertaking business; today, Money and King Funeral Home is Vienna’s oldest continuous business.
3. The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department is the oldest in Fairfax County. Fathered by Leon Freeman, it started in 1903 with a small hand-drawn chemical engine that was housed under Mr. Freeman’s porch to prevent it from freezing in cold weather.
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