Northern Virginia

Overview

Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, DC With 2.6 million residents, it is the most populous region of Virginia and the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Communities in the region form the Virginia portion of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Metropolitan Statistical Area and the larger Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. Northern Virginia is the highest-income region of Virginia, having six of the twenty highest-income counties in the nation.

Northern Virginia’s transportation infrastructure includes major airports Washington National and Dulles International, several lines of the Washington Metro subway system, the Virginia Railway Express suburban commuter rail system, transit bus services, and an extensive network of Interstate highways and expressways.

Features of the region include the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, and many companies which serve them and the federal government. The area’s attractions include various monuments and Colonial and Civil War-era sites such as Mount Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery. It is the most affluent region in the nation.

Defining “Northern Virginia”

“Northern Virginia” is more of a functional name than a rigidly defined area. Much like Virginia’s second largest region, Hampton Roads, there is no single entity which clearly defines the boundaries of the region for all purposes in a manner such as the legal boundaries of states, counties, cities and towns. For statistical purposes, the federal government defines certain portions of the area in its definition of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Presently included jurisdiction are the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, as well as the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Businesses, governments and non-profit agencies may define the area considered “Northern Virginia” differently for various purposes. Beyond the areas closest to Washington, D.C., many communities also have close economic ties, as well as important functional ones regarding transportation issues such as roads, railroads, and airports.

Under broad and varying criteria, additional jurisdictions which may be considered part of Northern Virginia (which are outside the MSA-defined area) include Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Madison, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren counties, as well as the independent cities of Fredericksburg and Winchester.

 

Attractions

The region’s large shopping malls, such as Potomac Mills and Tysons Corner Center, attract many visitors, as well as its Civil War battlefields, which include the sites of both the First and Second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas. Old Town Alexandria is known for its historic churches, townhouses, restaurants, gift shops, artist studios, and cruise boats. The waterfront and outdoor recreational amenities such as biking and running trails (the Washington and Old Dominion Rail Trail is the longest paved path in the U.S.; the Mount Vernon Trail, and trails along various stream beds are also popular), whitewater and sea kayaking, and rock climbing areas are focused along the Potomac River, but are also found at other locations in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Scenic Great Falls Park and historic Mount Vernon (which opened a new visitor center in 2006) are especially noteworthy. Woodbridge is home to two minor-league sports franchises, the Northern Virginia Royals soccer team and the Potomac Nationals baseball team.

Arlington National Cemetery is also located in the area, as is the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the National Air and Space Museum that contains exhibits that cannot be housed at the main museum in Washington due to space constraints. Many concerts and other live shows are held at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, a setting which has attracted many famous productions over the years.

[Source: Wikipedia]