Discover American Civil War sites, historic buildings, shopping districts and a schedule of vibrant festivals at this independent city within Fairfax County.
Get ready to mix history with entertainment and recreation in the city of Fairfax. Explore Civil War heritage sites and visit architecturally impressive buildings. Shop at modern malls and attend festivals aimed at everyone from art lovers to chocolate fanatics. Fairfax sits in northern Virginia and dates back to the 1700s, when it was established by migrating farmers.
Today, the city’s beating heart is the downtown district called Old Town Fairfax. Start your visit at the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center. Browse the exhibitions that retrace the city’s history and pick up information about significant landmarks. Buy a ticket to go on a guided walking tour of the Old Town held on the second Saturday of the month from May to September. Alternatively, use the free self-guided walking tour brochure available from the visitor center.
Go to Old Town Square and check out the Old Town Hall, inaugurated in 1900 and distinguishable by its classical revival-style façade. Nearby is the early 19th-century Fairfax Courthouse, which operated as Civil War military headquarters. Learn about the activities of Main Street during the 19th and 20th centuries at Ratcliffe-Allison House.
Spend an afternoon browsing the boutiques and relaxing at the sidewalk cafés of Old Town Plaza. Dine at downtown restaurants that range from well-known chains to Asian cuisine, steakhouses and wine bars.
Time your visit to coincide with the city’s eclectic cultural events. Chocoholics will rejoice at the Chocolate Lovers Festival while book lovers will appreciate the Fall for the Book Festival. Experience Irish traditions at September’s Irish Folk Festival. Attend free music shows during the Summer Concert Series and Rock the Block.
Be sure to visit attractions outside of the city center. Follow in the footsteps of American Civil War soldiers at Historic Blenheim and Civil War Interpretive Center. See a through-the-ages exhibition of firearms at the National Firearms Museum. Enjoy shaded walks in Daniels Run Park and Van Dyck Park.
Fairfax is about a 45-minute drive from Downtown Washington D.C. Get here by taking the metro to Vienna-GMU Station and then catch a bus from there. Several free parking lots are available to those arriving by car.