Although primarily a bedroom community for Washington, D.C., one major attraction is Great Falls Park which overlooks the Great Falls of the Potomac River, for which the community and the park are named. George Washington was involved with building a canal around the falls on the southwest, or Virginia, side, called the Patowmak Canal, which never became commercially viable. Remnants of the canal and of a village around the canal named Matildaville are still visible in the park. The Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad extended along Old Dominion Drive to Great Falls Park in 1906. That right of way is now Old Dominion Drive, which runs from Arlington County all the way into the park. Through most of its history, Great Falls has been a farming community. The original landowners (after King Charles II) were the Fairfax cousins - Thomas, Lord of Fairfax and his cousin, William Fairfax. The two men owned over 18,000 acres in Fairfax County, including what is now Great Falls. Most of the landowners in the area can trace their property rights back to one of the Fairfax men.
Quality of Life
Present day homesteads in Great Falls tend to spread out over an acre or more of land, two to five acres is the norm. There are no condominiums or townhouses in Great Falls. Re-Sale and new homes range in price from $500,000 to over $3.5 Million. If horseback riding is your passion, this is the place to live. There are riding trails throughout the area, including Turner Farm Equestrian Park, which is run by Fairfax County Parks Authority. The central shopping district is called the Village Green. Stores in the Village Green include the Jinny Beyer Quilt Studio, owned and operated by the world renowned quilter, Jinny Beyer. The Village Green hosts community celebrations around Easter (Spring Festival, including an Egg Hunt), Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (Tree Lighting), as well as concerts "On the Green" in the summer. There are many fine restaurants in Great Falls, including L'Auberge Chez Francois, which was rated one of Open Table Diners' 2010 Top 50 restaurants in the US.
Great Falls, National Park is naturally the main outdoor venue in Great Falls. There is always something to do at the park. Picnickers, walkers, nature lovers and tourists flock to the park all year long. Rock climbers and explorers/historians can also find plenty to do in this multi-use park. The Olympic Kayak team is known to practice in the swirling waters below the falls. The Park Service and the Kayakers recently negotiated an agreement allowing the most experienced of their ranks the opportunity to “run” the class V+ rapids at the falls. Occasionally, visitors can thrill to the sight of a kayaker and boat deliberately plunging head first over the falls.
The open spaces and tranquil lifestyle of Great Falls come with a catch. Getting in and out of the area can be time consuming depending on the time of day and direction of your commute. There are no nearby major roads, except Rt. 7, Leesburg Pike. And Route 7 merely takes you to the border of Great Falls. You'll need to turn off onto smaller two lane roads to find your way home. Primary access to Great Falls is by Rt. 193 and / or Old Dominion Drive. Both roads are two lane strips cutting through beautiful rolling countryside. If you value open spaces and want a large piece of land to call home, the drive will be worth your effort.
Ronald Reagan National Airport: < 25 miles
Washington-Dulles International Airport: < 14 miles
Baltimore-Washington International Airport: < 50 miles