The Washington and Old Dominion trail, more familiar as the W&OD rolls east and west across Northern Virginia. Many of us find ourselves biking, running, walking, skating or just sitting along its edge on one of the park benches.
I’m a bicyclist; that’s my way to get outside and get some exercise. Anyone can ride this trail continuously from Mt Vernon down along the Potomac up passed Crystal City and through Arlington, Fairfax and the western suburbs to Purcellville.
I find it amazing and very reassuring that starting my ride west at the old train station in Vienna, I can pass through three communities listed as best places to live on Money’s list of America’s best small towns.
I am not sure of the conclusion one can draw but, as you ride further away from the beltway you go further up the list towards the number one spot. As we hop on our bikes and head west, the community which garners the 36th place on the nationwide list is
Oakton got its name from the local flora – thousands of oak trees surrounding the rolling hills. But we have plenty of hickory, beech, maple and tulip poplar too. This affluent unincorporated area is a logical choice for an easy commute to downtown, Washington, DC, and to area job hubs such as Tysons Corner: it’s located along both US 66 and Route 123. And the schools here are among the best in the nation. It was once whispered to me that Mobil executives called Oakton the best value around Northern Virginia. I’m proud to call Oakton home.
As we ride further west and cross under the Dulles Toll Road we enter Reston. We pass the Reston Town Center on the right. After crossing the Fairfax County Parkway we come to our next community that made the list of the best small towns in which to live: the incorporated Town of
CNN Money says the town “provides a great base to explore the many jobs in the area. Herndon sits right near the so-called Dulles Technology Corridor, where companies such as AOL, Microsoft, and Verizon are big employers.”
“Alternatively, residents can make the commute to Washington, DC, 22 miles away. The public schools here are a big draw for many: Newsweek consistently ranks Herndon High in the top 5% of the country.”
A little further along the WOD you will find a community that made it into the top ten: the historic community of
Leesburg “has seen more history than a Ken Burns film.” And even though a commute east in the morning can be full of tribulation, Leesburg offers proximity to plenty of good jobs not just in government but also in defense contracting, consulting, and technology.
The town was formed at the crossroads of two Colonial roads, now Routes 7 and 15, and is the seat of government for beautiful Loudoun County. Leesburg is located just 35 miles northwest of Washington, DC, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
These are just the communities that made Money’s list along the bike trail. There are other great communities in Northern Virginia making the list. Coming in at number 35 on Money’s small best towns to live in is
Unlike the previous communities, Montclair is located south of our nation’s capitol about 25 miles from the beltway. Montclair “offers residents plenty of commutable jobs plus lots of wide-open space. Homes surround a 108-acre man-made lake, the site of community activities such as Montclair Day in June and Fourth of July fireworks.”
About 30 miles west of Washington DC, out Route 66 is the town of
Manassas Park came in as the 56th on the list and boasts one of Virginia’s lowest unemployment rates–5%! Once known as a bedroom community, the town of Manassas Park “has grown into a tight-knit group of families with a school system that the Center for American Progress ranked this year as the most efficient in the region. Manassas Park is still a more affordable alternative to neighboring towns in Fairfax County, VA, and Montgomery County, MD.”
Each of these communities offer many opportunities and choices when it comes to housing and employment. There are other fine communities in Northern Virginia that offer superb opportunities for creating a life and home.
Did I miss a destination? What’s your favorite place in Virginia?