Falls Church, Virginia refers to both a historic Northern Virginia city, and a larger suburban area that is part of Fairfax County, which also includes its own Fairfax City and some other suburbs. The entire region, highly accessible by Washington DC Metro buses and trains, is full of amusing activities popular with visitors and long-time residents alike.
Falls Church VA bills itself as “the little city,” and indeed, while there are a city’s worth of attractions in this just over two square mile area, it retains its small town feel with locally owned shops and open community areas.
Things to do in Falls Church, VA
Whether you visit for a day, or spend the weekend, you will never run out of things to do in Falls Church, VA. There are shopping centers and food halls, parks and farm houses, plus great coffee, and yes, even a church.
The people who live in Falls Church will proudly tell you that their town has been named one of the best small towns in America. Soon, you will find out why this little part of the United states bisected by Leesburg Pike is one of our favorite places to lazily explore on any given morning too.
Cherry Hill Park and Farmhouse
In the center of Falls Church City, wander through a unique little park full of tall pine trees that features a large playground, a barn that opens for special events, and the Cherry Hill Farmhouse. This beautiful historic home is kept in mint Victorian-era condition, and offers tours of its antiques as well as special tea services. And right across the street is the city’s Mary Riley Stiles Library, with a large kids section worth a visit for families.
This new(er) and highly walkable shopping center feels like a small town with its quaint little side streets, large grassy area and fountains to play in, plus entertaining features like giant chairs and chessboards. A deluxe theater sits at the center of an ever-expanding array of shopping and dining options, from the most popular national brands to quirky local shops.
And if you love unusual shopping finds, don’t miss Unique Thrift Store down the street, a giant second-hand emporium of everything vintage, value, beautiful and bizarre.
Enter this Vietnamese-American shopping center through an iconic archway to sample some of the best tastes and goods the area has to offer. We love diving into the delis and pho shops that local connoisseurs rave about (including the Song Que Deli, which was featured on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations). You can also grab one-of-a-kind gift, jewelry and poke through the grocery stores.
Check local calendars for special events here, like the Moon Festival and the annual Miss Vietnam.
Tysons Corner Center
This shopping emporium is the first and largest enclosed, climate-controlled mall in the metropolitan area, and the 10th largest in the country. Its upscale, recently renovated four-story floorspace is connected to the Metro and features giant cornerstone stores including a Barnes & Noble, Macy’s and Nordstroms, along with nearly 300 specialty stores.
There is also a 16-screen movie theater, two food courts, plenty of outdoor seating and entertaining areas including a skating rink. With frequent special events and rotating kiosks, it is easy to get lost all day window-shopping through the maze of shops.
Across the street from the massive mall is its more subdued and high-end sister mall, the Galleria. In addition to the generous selection of department and specialty stores, this shopping destination caters to a luxury crowd, including valets and shopping concierges, day spas and gourmet dining. This is definitely the place to go in the area for a “treat yourself” day or a special night out.
Clare and Don’s Beach Shack
This local mainstay is a beachfront tiki bar plopped in the middle of the city, with plenty of room to spread out. It features two indoor dining areas, a bar, patio seating and an outdoor garden area. Locals love this spot for its friendly, laid-back surfer vibes, very affordable beverages, and live music and karaoke.
Right next door to Clare and Don’s sits another city legend—built as a movie theater in 1936 and retaining the old cinema-style matinee, the State was converted to a performing arts venue in the 1980s.
No matter when you visit, something will be going on here. It’s a favorite for big-name performers who want to do a small, intimate show, as well as local and underground groups and many highly entertaining cover bands. Anyone with 80s nostalgia should try to catch a performance by The Legwarmers.
A wealth of coffee shops
Northern Virginia takes its coffee culture seriously. Caffeine fanatics should make sure their Falls Church visit includes trips to:
- Northside Social, the newest location of a popular, multi-level café and wine bar.
- Kindred Café, a hip spot with character that proudly displays its love for old music and new local art.
- Caffe Amouri, a cozy art-lined café space with a clear dedication to community, good service and sustainability.
- Rare Bird Coffee Roasters, a great location downtown where shoppers can stop for light fare and delicious in-house roasted coffee.
West Broad Street
You can get a great taste of the little city feeling by starting at the intersection with S. Washington St., and taking a leisurely stroll down Broad St., often considered the “downtown” of Falls Church. You might find yourself stopping frequently, with a multitude of cozy pubs and taverns, offbeat little specialty shops, cafés and outdoor seating areas with beautiful murals.
The Falls Church
No visit to Falls Church is complete without taking a peek at its namesake. The original parish of this historical meeting place was founded in 1730, and the current building dates from 1769, which makes it one of the oldest structures in town.
The church claims George Washington and George Mason as former vestrymen. Falls Church is still an active Episcopalian church offering inclusive services and docent tours. You can also wander around the beautiful historic churchyard on a sunny afternoon (or, if you don’t mind a few ghosts, by moonlight!).
Benjamin Banneker/ Isaac Crossman Parks
Falls Church is full of small neighborhood parks, but perhaps the most spacious and best for families is this combination of parks along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.
With the Four Mile Run waterway to hike along, plus soccer fields and basketball courts, picnic tables, a dedicated dog park and a currently expanding playground, this pleasant wooded space will keep everyone entertained for an afternoon.
Falls Church Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday morning, the parking lot in front of City Hall turns into a town festival, with dozens of tents offering not only produce but organic meats, pastries, pickles, drinks, preserves, handcrafts, and vendors of every kind. Enjoy live musicians and an abundance of community spirit as you browse everything the little city has to offer.
Antiquing and Thrift Shopping
Among those who quest for deals on unique merchandise and overlooked gems, Falls Church is known as a wonderful place to go antiquing. The Antique Annex has long been known for its vast selection of heirloom pieces, while Clock Tower Thrift Shop, New to You and several other second-hand shops around town offer singular clothing and goods at affordable prices.
Jefferson Park & Golf Course
Scenic Jefferson Park is perfect for the traveler who wants to get a few rounds of golf in without the hassle of getting access to a club. It offers a beautiful nine-hole course, plus a beloved mini-golf course for the family, and popular basketball and tennis courts for the other sports enthusiasts in your group.
This storied commercial area straddles Arlington Blvd (with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two shopping centers), featuring destinations for lovers of cuisine, crafting, clothing and offbeat household goods. A one-stop center for anything a traveler might need.
Just down the road from Seven Corners is another historic junction that takes its name from the famous circus family that called it home. It is notable for the historic markers that tell the tale of its role in the Civil War, as well as a collection of department stores and wide variety of restaurant choices.
Falls Church is an ideal spot for lovers of craft beer, with many breweries in the area that appeal to a wide variety of tastes and are happy to show tourists around.
Caboose Commons and and Settle Down Easy Brewing are within Falls Church, while a quick Metro ride or Uber gets you to Bike Lane Brewing, Aslin Beer Company and Lake Anne Brew House.
Camping and Watersports
While the little city feels fairly urban, it only takes a drive of a few miles to reach pristine campgrounds alongside scenic lakes or tributaries of the Potomac. Burke Lake, Fountainhead and Mason Neck parks are among those that provide camping areas as well as hiking, fishing, kayaking, paddle boards, and other curated outdoor activities that beginners and experienced outdoorsmen alike can enjoy.
Old Town Fairfax, VA
The neighbor city to Falls Church is Fairfax City, and the downtown area incorporates a historic feel—an old town square and courthouse—with modern shops and eateries. After catching a show at the EagleBank Arena or Performing Arts Center on George Mason University campus, you can stop at The Auld Shebeen for some Irish fare—and, depending on the night, possibly trivia and karaoke.
Fair City Mall
This Fairfax shopping center offers a lot, from several health and beauty shops to fast casual food from around the world, and a collection of discount clothing shops comparable to many outlet malls.
But possibly the most special offering is Cinema Arts Theatre, an independent movie theater that screens indie and art films alongside blockbusters at value prices, and often hosts special events for the community.
If you’re feeling artsy on your trip and want to take home something of your own design, ARTMELLOW is a beautiful studio where talented instructors provide courses of of varying lengths, and a camp for artistic children in training.
For one-time parties and other special events, you can rent the whole studio and create art on canvas, pottery or clothing. Another great space for a group activity is Clay Café, which specializes in pottery painting and glazing; take home your masterpiece the same day!
Finally, Muse Paint Bar in Mosaic offers studio space tailored for a slightly older crowd, with a sophisticated menu to snack on while you create, and wine & paint events that are always a hit.
A picture-perfect, all-American bowling alley that has been a Northern Virginia institution since 1958, this kid-friendly entertainment center has retained its classic atmosphere while expanding throughout the Southeast and updating with arcade games and cosmic bowling. The venue is experienced at hosting all kinds of celebrations, from children’s parties to some friends having a night out.
Roundtree Park/Holmes Run
This long corridor of interconnected park lands offers plenty of open fields, thickly wooded spaces and stream-side trails, but the real draw for many is the large, covered, reservable picnic and barbecue shelter. With several sports fields, a playground and restrooms nearby, this is a favorite spot for weekend parties and family get-togethers.
This unassuming shop houses a vast array of musical instruments, equipment and sheet music. Whether you’re into cool-looking electric guitars, finely crafted violins or you’re just in the market for a penny slide-whistle, the approachable and knowledgeable staff are happy to show you around. And even if you’re not a diehard musician, everyone will get a chuckle out of the mural on the side of the building.
Pimmit Run Stream Valley Park
For anyone who wants to do some serious hiking or biking, this is your best bet for momentarily forgetting you’re in a metropolitan area, and instead feeling like you’re in the midst of some vast untouched forest. With streams to cross, significant but manageable hills to climb, and plenty of wildlife year-round, the Pimmit Run trails are designed for real nature lovers.