Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Happy first day of summer for the kids!

With school wrapped up for the year, I’m turning my sights to the quickly approaching Father’s Day weekend, coming up this Sunday, June 20.

While traditional plans of brunch or dinner out is always a safe bet, I wanted to come up with some other outings that might be new to you that don’t involve food (for once).

Take a look:

  • Tidal Basin paddle boats: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. by reservation, the paddle boats accommodate up to four people per boat and are available for one-hour rentals.
  • Yards Park: If you have little kids, head over to Yards Park, open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Find a “pool” of sorts with water features, like a waterfall and fountains. Before or after, stop by one of the many places to eat — plus green space for a picnic or running around.
  • Canal Park: This is another water/splash area for little kids (open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) with nearby restaurants.
  • Lake Accotink Park: Here, find a marina and bike rentals, plus other fun activities, including a carousel, mini-golf, trails, pedal boat rentals and kayak rentals. (Open noon to 8 p.m. with the last rental at 6:30 p.m.)

Do you have something fun planned for the day? Please share with the rest of us in the comments section below!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Many of the local sports teams wrapped up their seasons this weekend, except for those continuing on to playoffs. One of the best traditions of youth sports is the end-of-the-season party where the kids get to just be kids — be loud, let the parents socialize and really just enjoy a moment of happiness.

Here in Vienna we are lucky to have a lot of great options for these gatherings. Here are several of them:

Team Meals

Remember to call the location a few days in advance and let them know you’re coming!

  • Vienna Inn is a local favorite, especially with its outdoor tent, which makes the Covid factor a little easier to manage.
  • Foster’s Grille is a great (air-conditioned!) option. They usually set up a long table for the kids with booths or tables nearby for the parents. They also have a mini arcade, which is always fun for the kids if you bring cash.
  • For cool treats, head to Dairy Queen, Rita’s, Ben & Jerry’s, or Kiln & Co.

Delivery

Many of the local fields have pavilions available for reservation through Fairfax County. For example, at Nottoway Park, there are multiple covered pavilions you can reserve after games.

If you reserve a pavilion, you can always get food delivered, like pizza, Rita’s or Ben & Jerry’s, to name a few options.

Also, don’t forget to thank your coaches. Many are parent volunteers who give up a lot of time to coach these kids.

Photo via Alyssa Ledesma/Unsplash

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

With the official start of summer upon us, many are already thinking of how to pass the hot summer days with water play.

Many of the public options were closed last year for little kids, like splash pads and spraygrounds, but it appears that won’t be the case this year. Fairfax County announced the opening of its spray parks yesterday.

If you’re looking for places to take young kids, here are some ideas:

  • Our Special Harbor (6601 Telegraph Road, Franconia): This Chesapeake Bay themed splash park has a water maze, dumping crab basket, spray fountains, misting flowers and interactive water tables. Aquatic shoes or sandals with a back strap are required for kids under 15. There’s also a carousel.
  • The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole (400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston): Here you’ll find a pool, slides, a lazy river, an area for kids with a smaller slide, covered picnic areas and chairs for lounging. This is a great option for day trips to a pool if you’re not a member of any of the local pools. We bought a family pass our first summer in Vienna when we weren’t members of a pool yet, and it was a great way to pass the summer. We have also done birthday parties here — so much fun!
  • Ocean Dunes Waterpark (6060 Wilson Blvd, Arlington): Explore multiple pools for different ages, large slides, a “sprayground” with a dumping bucket and many areas for lounging in the sun. It’s also adjacent to an 18-hole mini-golf course — another great way to pass a lazy day!
  • Volcano Island Waterpark (20015 Volcano Drive, Sterling): This is another great option with a pool, “sprayground,” slides and a dumping bucket.
  • Atlantis Waterpark (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville): Keep the kids busy with waterslides, pools, a play island with smaller slides and a huge 500-gallon dumping bucket.
  • Great Waves Waterpark (4001 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria): For the adventurous, this park includes speed slides, waterslides, a wave pool and a small kids’ zone for the younger crowd. There’s also a mini-golf course, batting cages, playground and cabanas.
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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

ViVA Vienna, the town fair, is my favorite event of the year — maybe more so this year because usually it’s unbearably hot and the forecast actually looks to be decent this coming weekend. For those that have never been, let me give you the general overview of what to expect and then I’ll add some COVID twists to your 2021 visit.

ViVa Vienna is made of rides for the kids, some for the smaller crew and some for the older crew who likes faster/higher rides, usually games (knock down the clown, pop the balloon, fishing for a duck), vendors (arts, crafts, photos, local businesses), and fair food. Think meat on a stick, turkey legs and fried everything. It’s glorious and fun. They also have shows on the town green in the amphitheater.

This year, you’ll need to buy tickets in advance. You can get a slot of time (1 hr and 50 min) for unlimited rides for the kids and yourself, or you can buy non-rider passes if you’re just going to go for fun to watch and walk around. The rider tickets are $20 and the non-rider pass is $5. You can buy as many as you want. The event is Saturday, Sunday and Monday and there are time slots for each day left.

Bring water! Bring snacks if you don’t want to buy food. The kids (and adults) get hot and hungry and that’ll kill anyone’s day.

The Vienna Singing Princesses are always a hit and are on the entertainment schedule to perform on Saturday morning. I don’t believe you need tickets for the entertainment. The Great Zucchini is on the schedule for Monday morning.

This year they have food trucks around Vienna Elementary along with some food vendors at the exit of the vendor exhibit on Caffi Field (the softball fields by the community center).

Logistics: there are recommendations by the Rotary Club for parking spots. Be careful of residential streets that may have no parking signs and try not to block driveways.

Hope you have a great time!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

As a mom of boys, a consistent and reliable barbershop seems to be hard to find. I wanted to highlight two local places to try out if you’re looking for someone new.

The one most people in Vienna know of is a long-time Vienna favorite, Andy’s Barber Shop located at 431 Maple Avenue W. #D (in the back of the plaza with Magnolia Bakery). With 9 technicians on staff, they have plenty of hours to fit your schedule. They also recently added online scheduling to avoid a crowd and keep wait times lower. They have a TV to distract young ones.

The other local one we love is Vienna Barbers on 159 Glyndon Street SE (next to The Virginian Restaurant). A smaller shop, also with a TV to distract young ones, they offer a good cut, fair price, and easy in and out.

I noticed that both places advertise that the entire staff is fully vaccinated, as I’m sure barber shops try to recover from the year.

Please remember to tip well!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Welcome to strawberry-picking season! It’s actually berry season — period — but I know strawberry picking is fun for everyone, especially when we’re all looking for ways to enjoy the changing weather. With a few asynchronous days left, plus weekends, here’s a list of some of the best places to go strawberry picking!

And remember: A lot of these will shut down if they’re over picked, so call ahead or check their social media pages for announcements. I’m also going to mention a few places that aren’t open yet but will be by the end of the month so you can explore options, especially if you’re trying to coordinate a group outing.

  • Messick’s Farm in Bealton, Virginia: Check their Facebook page for updates on the availability of U-pick. There are so many rows of strawberries, we were far away from other people. While Messick’s has their own custard and availability of treats, we drove about three miles down the road to the famous Moo Thru — an ice cream drive-thru, which was so good. (Coffee ice cream was delicious!)
  • Wegmeyer Farms in three locations in Hamilton, Aldie and Leesburg, Virginia: They have strawberry picking by appointment, which opens up the night before and fills up fast. Make sure you follow them on Facebook for the most up-to-date information. Don’t miss their donuts!
  • Hidden Gems Farms in Centreville, Virginia: This farm has summer blueberry picking this year. They also have other activities like playing with goats, plus food like donuts, bread and cheese.
  • Hollin Farms in Delaplane, Virginia: Hollin Farms will open in late May for strawberries and spring vegetables. They have a lot of other fruit throughout the year as well.
  • Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland: Reserve strawberry picking by appointment later this month. Reservations go live on Sundays and Thursdays at 5 p.m., so keep an eye out on their website! Walk-ins are welcome if there’s availability. Be sure to check their website for more details.
  • Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, Maryland: Shlagel Farms is open now for strawberry picking! They update availability on their Facebook page.
  • Swann Farms in Owings, Maryland: This farm is open for berry picking now! Check their website for updates.

If you find other places that are fun to go pick, please share in the comments below!

Photo via Oliver Hale/Unsplash

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Today marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week. To say this past year has been challenging for them is an understatement.

Each level is a new devil. Whether they teach elementary school students, middle, high school or even college — each level of education has had its own challenge this year.

I know many room moms are collecting donations to give a collective class gift for the elementary schools, but often middle and high school teachers get left behind.

If you’re looking for some ideas, here’s a short list:

  • A heartfelt note of appreciation and influence. My husband, who’s a high school teacher, has never seen the face of some of his students. He can’t make them turn their cameras on, and they chose to stay virtual. So it’s kind of hard to know if you’re having any kind of impact with literally ZERO interaction. If the teacher has made any kind of impact to your family this year, please share that with them. They may not know and I promise you an infusion of positivity and gratitude will help make everyone happier.
  • Monetary gifts. I know some sentimental gifts are great, but teachers really do love gift cards!

Thank you to all of our teachers for their effort this year!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Coming up, we have Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7), end-of-year gifts for staff and teachers, and there are always house-warming gifts or birthdays.

If you need ANYTHING custom made, Lauren Brownlee, the owner of Holly + Clove is your girl. A Vienna native, she’s a solo entrepreneur, woman-owned business and creative magician.

My background is in statistics and economics, so my brain doesn’t work the way hers does. I recently came up with a concept I wanted to get made for my husband’s birthday — a “house divided” shirt with his long-time favorite Eagles and my youngest son’s oppositional favorite, the Patriots. All I did was tell Lauren what I wanted, and she created the entire thing. I didn’t even pick the shirt color because I just don’t work that way.

She’s made custom wood signs for people, lots of apparel, tumblers, blankets, koozies — literally anything you can dream up, she can make it.

Find her on Instagram at @HollyandClove, on Facebook at Facebook.com/HollyandClove or on her website, HollyandClove.com.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

If you’ve been reading these for a while, many of you know I’m a Vienna-based Realtor® and mom, and I’m also married to a public school educator. My perspective of schools around the area is influenced by so many different factors.

I have a lot of homebuyers right now who don’t have kids (yet) and are going strictly off school ratings when deciding where they should live. However, school ratings are not the be-all and end-all of how to pick a school system for a child.

Here’s what I wish I had known before I had kids, before I moved to Vienna, and before I bought a house tied to a school.

You have no idea what raising kids will be like until you have them. Will both parents work? Will one stay home? Will one job be flexible enough to drop off/pick up? For example…

  • School hours vary by individual school. Some elementary schools start at 8:30 and others start at 9:15. Will you need before and/or after-school care? Not every school has that on site (it’s called SACC). For instance, Louise Archer buses kids to Flint Hill ES or Vienna ES. Marshall Road has a long waitlist, and some kids get bussed to the rec center.
  • Maybe you don’t need full-time after-school care, but an extra day or two a week for the kid(s) to stay late at school to socialize won’t hurt. Did you know some schools bring in awesome organizations to run after-school activities? Some others don’t.

Do you have a set idea of what kind of education you want your child to have?

Here’s an example: Not every school offers a second language. (This one really blows my mind.) Wolftrap offers Mandarin. Colvin Run, Cunningham Park, Flint Hill, Franklin Sherman, Haycock, Churchill Road all do, too. Kent Gardens offers French. Archer and Vienna Elementary? No second language at all.

What about the gifted and talented program? Do you know what the Advanced Academic Program is?

In the second grade, all of the students take a standardized test, along with an application to the AAP program (which is really the gifted and talented program). Many of the kids who get in will go, which will make the home school classes smaller. For others, they may choose to stay at their home school because some have a level IV center on site. (Cunningham Park, Chesterbrook, Franklin Sherman, Marshall Road, Wolftrap, etc.) Otherwise, you’re really relying on the “Gifted Education Teacher” at the school to give advanced opportunities to your child.

What is the school community like?

This one is hard because I don’t think many people talk about the social dynamics in the parent scene at schools. Is it cliquey? Is there a large engagement with the PTA? Are there opportunities to meet other parents?

I have found even at a small elementary school, the best opportunity to meet other parents is at the playground after school. If you’re a working parent and can’t do that, you’re toast. The next best thing is through sports (VYI, VLL, etc.), but they don’t always group the kids by school, so you’re not guaranteed to be on a team with your neighborhood school kids. Ask around on this one. Check the PTA social pages for engagement.

As a Realtor® there’s only so much I can share about schools, demographics, etc. so some of this you do have to research on your own. But if you’re thinking of moving and have specific questions, please know you can always email me at [email protected].

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

This past weekend was the opening day for Vienna Little League. It’s a reminder of some normalcy, some fun for the kids, and it was just a really beautiful weekend to enjoy it… until I got home Saturday evening after watching two games (both of my kids play).

My 6-year-old had eyes swollen to the size of the baseballs he just threw. Lucky for all of us, there’s Dr. Karen Kaufman. I see her as well because my son inherited his affliction from me.

Dr. Kaufman is a local Vienna mom, a veteran, female entrepreneur and all-around very kind human. She’s also a fantastic doctor.

My first consult with her lasted two hours because we talked about everything so she had a full picture of what kind of care I needed. Since when does a doctor do that?

If it’s time you stopped ignoring your allergies — or to stop suffering from them year after year — go see her. She’s located in Vienna at 8320 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 310.

You’ll probably see me there with a swollen-eyed child this week.

Learn more about Dr. Kaufman on her website.

(Photo via Karen Kaufman DO, Allergist Immunologist/Facebook)
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