Summer Camps in Northern Virginia

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

You know what’s even more cut throat than daycare registration in Northern Virginia? Summer camp registration. Watch out parents, those registrations start EARLY and they fill up fast.

McLean Registration —  McLean has already released the 2019 camp catalog. Registration for McLean residents starts February 4, and everyone else can register starting February 11. My son did the McLean Camp for 3 year-olds last year, where they bring in entertainment and have water play on site.

Fairfax County Registration — Begins on February 7. You can search the available camps on the Partakes website. They will upload a full camp guide soon.

Town of Vienna — Summer Camp registration starts in early April for town residents, and usually the week after for everyone else. They have a variety of camps offered, so it’s great if you have a random week to fill in, or maybe just want a few hours in the morning before the pool opens.

Personally, my son did the “Learn to Ride a Bike Camp” and it was great for him. He went from training wheels to riding on his own in 3-4 days. They also did an art and lego class which was good, especially for a one day drop off if your kids are close in age. You’ll be able to find the camp options here in a few weeks.

Below is a list of private schools who offer camp options that run all summer if you want more continuity:

Northern Virginia complied a list of the best summer camps of 2017 here!


Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

Happy Snow Day!

You know what stir-crazy parents and kids need on a day where we got almost a foot of snow? To get out! If you’re lucky enough to live on a sloped lot or on a street with a good angle, happy sledding.

For those of you looking to find a good place to go sledding, here’s my list of the best places to go sledding in Vienna and McLean:


  • There’s a small hill at Meadow Lane Park on the baseball field. It’s small enough for little kids who might be scared, but enough to give them some speed.
  • Westbriar Elementary School (behind the school).
  • Cunningham Park Elementary — has a big hill that’s great for picking up speed.
  • Wolftrap (the theatre) — there’s 2 places at Wolfrap, the “Bowl” and the “Big Hill.”
  • Marshall Road Elementary — in the back there’s a small hill.


  • Westgate Park — there’s a hill behind the 2nd baseball field.
  • Lemon Road Elementary — has a large hill.
  • Franklin Sherman Elementary School

McLean can be hilly in areas, so some of the best sledding is likely right in your neighborhood. Don’t forget to watch out for cars if you’re on a road. Stay safe!

If you’re looking for some other ideas on playing in the snow, one mom hack that I found is to mix cold water with food coloring and put it in a squeeze bottle. I call it “snow paint.” My kids love it!

Happy Sledding!


New Resident Guide to McLean

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

(Updated on 1/8/19) Even to newcomers, McLean is best known for the businesses that are based in town. However, there are many hidden gems and things to do around town as well.

If you’re new to McLean, consider this your guide. As always, drop a comment below if I missed anything!

Technically, Tysons Corner itself falls within McLean’s two zip codes, 22101 and 22102. Most of McLean is made up of single family homes and townhomes, but there are some condo and apartments buildings as well. The town is rather small and most retail can be found in “Downtown McLean” or the Tysons Corner area.

Events and Classes

Stay up to date with special events, educational classes or performances by signing up for the Community Center newsletter or searching the online portal for offerings. You can also check out the Old Firehouse, which is now the “Teen Center” of McLean.

Sign up for the Partakes Online emails from the Park Authority of Fairfax County. They’ll notify you of events (Celebrate Fairfax4th of July Parade, etc.) along with camps and class sign ups.

There are also local businesses that offer camps, classes, events and other things depending on your interests.

Be sure to add these annual McLean events to your calendar — McLean Day, McLean 5K, McLean Winterfest, McLean Farmers Market and more.

Kids and Parenting

If your kids are into sports, you can check out the McLean Youth Sports Programs (basketball, fencing, field hockey, flag football, football, lacrosse, rugby, squash, track & field, volleyball and wrestling). There’s also McLean Little League for baseball and softball. The McLean Youth Soccer program is also another option!

If you’re looking for a swim team, you’ll have to check out one of the local McLean Pools such as McLean Swim & Tennis, Tuckahoe Rec Club, Chesterbrook Swim & Tennis, Highlands Swim & Tennis, Langley Swim & Tennis or Kent Gardens Rec Club. Some homes are located within an HOA that has a pool (like Hamlet Swim & Tennis Club).

You can also find a gym and pool at McLean Health and Racquet or McLean Sport & Health. Another option is to check out the Spring Hill Rec Center.

McLean has a Project for the Arts (MPA) to help showcase local artists. There is a performance center called 1st Stage with ongoing performances and special events.

You can also join the McLean Moms Club which organizes playgroups, outings and events.

My favorite playgrounds in McLean are the McLean Central Park (located next to the library), and Clemyjontri Park which even has a carousel! There’s also an awesome hiking option at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve.

Also, don’t miss Child’s Play for your toy and gift needs.

You can sign up for OurKids.com, which is a weekly email roundup to find out about local events


If you’re looking for something new, you can check out the Northern Virginia Magazine top restaurants or Washingtonian top restaurants.

My favorite local coffee spots are the Star Nut Gourmet, Greenberry’s and Republik Coffee Bar.

Local restaurants to check out in Downtown McLean include Rocco’s Italian, J. Gilbert’s, Greek Taverna, Kazan, Madison Deli, McLean Family Restaurant, Assaggi OsteriaDal Grano, Tachibana Sushi, and Tama Sushi while you can indulge in dessert at Sweetbites, Fluffy Thoughts Cakes or Danielle’s Desserts.

There are many good options at Tyson’s Corner I and II for dining options. I’d try Eddie V’s, Earl’s, Lebanese Taverna or Café Deluxe.


There is no specific off leash dog park in McLean, but you’ll find other places where your canine pals are welcome. Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is often full of happy dogs.

Don’t forget to register your dog through Fairfax County.

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New Vienna Resident Guide

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

If you’re thinking of moving to the Vienna area, or maybe you’ve recently relocated, you might not know the ins and outs of the town. It’s easy to fall back on big chains when you don’t know where to start, so please use this guide to get to know the town of Vienna.

Actually, let’s start with defining that there exists a subsection of the Town of Vienna — any address that has a SE, SW, NW, NE at the end of the street is part of the Town of Vienna AND Fairfax County. Any other Vienna address is part of Fairfax County only.

The homes that fall under the Town of Vienna have their own Government, including a town mayor, code, trash, police department, water service and they pay an extra Town of Vienna real estate tax on top of their Fairfax County taxes to fund the Town.

Perks of living within the town: early registration for Town of Vienna camps and events, and trash service (including the popular leaf vacuum collection). You don’t need to live specifically within the Town limits to use the Community Center, attend events, or sign up for classes (town residents just get priority sign up).

Now that we’ve defined the difference, let’s get to the good stuff. Vienna has a small town feel, despite the growing traffic concerns and larger developments on the horizon. Knowing where to go and what to do will help you enjoy what the town has to offer:

Events and Classes

Make sure you pencil into your calendar the annual events put on: Halloween Parade, Viva Vienna, Kids Adventure Race, 4th of July fireworks and so many more.

You can sign up for classes (both kids and adults) through the Town of Vienna website. You can browse by age, type of class, etc.

Sign up for the Partakes Online emails from the Park Authority of Fairfax County. They’ll notify you of events (Celebrate Fairfax, 4th of July Parade, etc) along with camps and class sign ups.

Browse the Jammin Java calendar for concerts (adults and kids)

There are also local businesses that offer camps, classes, events etc depending on your interests.

Kids & Parenting

Looking for new “mom friends,” resources to find a nanny or babysitter, doctors, etc. Join Vienna Moms.

Sign your kids up for sports, keeping in mind registration starts early! Vienna Youth (basketball, cheerleading, football, lacrosse, rugby, track, volleyball and wrestling), baseball, soccer, softball,

Find indoor play spaces to takes your kids

When the weather gets warmer, you can explore the playgrounds all over Vienna. Top favorites are Meadow Lane Park (also known as the toy graveyard), Glyndon Park, Peterson Lane Park and Northside Park (bring carrots to leave for the deer — a favorite activity my kids loved).

Join a pool: Vienna Woods Swim & Tennis, Vienna Aquatic Club, Dunn Loring Swim Club, Cardinal Hill Swim & Racquet Club or Westwood Country Club.

Take a bike ride or walk/run on the W&OD Trail.

Sign up for OurKids.com, which is a weekly email roundup to find out about local events

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

I asked the Vienna Moms group for an idea they’d like me to explore. No surprise at holiday time, I was tasked with finding opportunities for volunteering, especially kid-friendly options.

While there are no shortage of deserving and worthwhile causes, I did focus on events that welcome kids. There are many, many great organizations that’ll help match you with a cause you find worthwhile. I’ve included links to those below if none from my list fit your needs.

Power Pack Program (P3) — Food for Others and BritePaths

Did you know that there are many kids in our area will have little to nothing to eat over the weekend? The Power Pack allows elementary aged students to bring home a pack of food to eat.

The pack contains 2 items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus 2 snacks and 2 drinks. You can help by creating these using ZipLock bags at home or by organizing a larger group drive (the preschool my kids go to have done this and it was a huge success).

You can donate the bags to their Merrifield warehouse Monday through Friday from 2-5 p.m. (call 703-207-9173 first to confirm a delivery time). You can also download their food drive kit here.

Capital Area Food Bank

Sign up for a 3 hour time slot to help sort and pack donations. Ages 12 to 17 are welcome to volunteer with an adult.

They have a location in Downtown D.C. or Lorton, both with volunteer opportunities. They also have a marketplace opportunity (outdoor). Search their opportunity calendar to find what fits your time.

The Nature Conservancy

Not a Holiday related opportunity, but a good one for the family to remember. The Fairfax County Watershed Cleanup helps keep trash and debris out of waterways that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

There are many locations, registration opens March 1 and the events occur in April starting at 9 a.m.

The Scott’s Run Nature Preserve spring cleaning in McLean is April 13. A full list and details can be found here.

Fairfax County Animal Shelter

To volunteer here, you must be 18 years old and able to lift 20 pounds. If you’d like to help with dogs, cats and other small animals, sign up for volunteer opportunities when they need help. Those opportunities can be found by checking their Facebook page for announcements.

If you’re looking for other opportunities, try one of these websites:

Wishing you a very Happy Holiday season!


Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

It’s cold. The days get darker, earlier. The kids are off from school and daycare and you’re about to go stir crazy!

Oh wait, maybe that’s just me.

If you’re in the same boat, let’s talk about indoor play. There are so many places around the DMV area that offer indoor options for kids of all ages, sizes and interests. The list below are some of my favorites within a 25 minute drive (or so) from Tysons.

Make sure you check their individual websites for hours (some require reservations), height or age restrictions and costs. Many offer coffee or snacks and free wifi if you want to squeeze in some work, others offer drop-off play hours and some require a caregiver to stay at all times.

As always, if you have suggestions for other places, drop a note in the comments! Let’s show some support to our local business owners along with some of the larger chains. Listed in no particular order:

  • Nook (Mosaic District) — Ages 0-5, brand new, basic play without over stimulants. My kids loved the ball pit (my 4-year old jumped into it with reckless abandon a good dozen times). Cost is $20 a day per child (free parent admission) while siblings under 3m are free.
  • One Upon A Dream (Vienna) — An open play space with various themed areas, free wifi, snack bar and drop-off options as well as camp options. $10 per child & $10 per adult, $5 second parent while under 9m is free. Price is for 2.5 hours of play.
  • Mobu Kids (Falls Church) — Recently reopened, brand new play space for the under 5 crew. Soft play surfaces, open play and drop-off options. $13 per day.
  • Diamond Heroes Batting Cages (Mosaic) — You can “rent” a batting cage lane online in 30-minute increments. Will require someone to feed a ball into the machine but it’s a great option for your baseball enthusiast who is itching for spring! $40 per half hour or $60 for 1 hour.
  • Oak Marr Rec Center (Oakton) — Indoor pool open swim (check calendar availability).
  • Spring Hill Rec Center (McLean) — Indoor pool with open swim option.
  • Flight (Springfield) — Trampoline park with open jump hours, including toddler jump. Pro tip, reserve online ahead of time and sign the waiver to avoid waiting in a long line.
  • Town of Vienna Community Center (Vienna) — Indoor basketball courts free for use. You can bring a ball of your own or borrow one. Check the schedule.

Worth The Drive:

  • Cub Run Leisure Pool (Chantilly) — Indoor pool with small play structure, slides, big water slides, whirlpool and a hot tub. Pro tip, make sure you call ahead and verify the pool is open. We got there one day to find out the pool was closed that day for an “accident”.
  • Chibis Indoor Playground (Ashburn) — Great for the under 4 crowd, huge play structure to climb, bounce house, cars to ride, kitchen, trains, etc. They have a snack and coffee bar. $8-10 per child depending on mobility.
  • Kid Junction (Chantilly) — Another great play space for the under 5 crew with indoor slides, toddler area, arcade and a cafe. $8 for kids under 2 and $11 for kids 2-9.
  • Zava Zone (Sterling) — Indoor area better for the older crowd (5+) that includes high ropes course, trampolines, zip line, low ropes course, pole walk and more. $20 for 1 hour, $34 for 2 hours, etc. Pro tip, reserve your space online and sign the waiver online as well.

Also, don’t forget about old favorites like Chuck E. Cheese in Fairfax, Dave & Busters in Springfield or bowling (there’s one in Falls Church or Fairfax). You can sign up at Bowl America for their Kids Blast Pass which lets kids bowl up to 2 games per day for free (online this says summer only, but you may want to call them for info).


Winter Break Camps Around Tysons

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

Winter break for Fairfax County starts after school on Friday, December 21 and students don’t go back until January 7!

That’s a long time with nothing to do, except a holiday if you celebrate. If you’re looking for camps for your kids over winter break, please read this list of suggestions. If you have an option I might have missed, please comment below and let our readers know.

Day Camps

Adrenaline Dance Studio 6 Options for full day or half day camp, ages 3-14.

Stemtree — Grades K-6 is one group, and then Grade 7 and up is another. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

MyGym of McLean — Camp is for 3-9 year olds, hours are 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Enshin Karate — Day camp from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

TigerDen of McLean

Once Upon A Dream — Ages 3-10, Each day has a theme, offering all day option (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) or half day (9 a.m. to Noon, or 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.)

The Old Firehouse Center in McLean — Offers daily trips for 5th through 9th graders. Examples include Dave & Busters, Zava Zone, Indoor Go Karting and more.

The TEA Center — Preschool through 8th grade, 6:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

I’m also going to share my sanity saving local tip:

Sign up for Our-Kids.com. They send a weekly email with all of the activities for the upcoming week so you don’t have to scour the internet for something to do. It’s neatly packaged by location (DC, VA, or MD), by day, and time. Red Tricycle does something similar.

Looking for some more options? Try Fairfax County Winter Camp or the Town of Vienna also has some camps.

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

If you’re like me, you love the magic of holiday light displays but don’t have the motivation to do it yourself. We love driving our kids around to look at the amazing light shows people put together. Some even have their own radio station to coordinate lights and music!

It’s still early in the season, so some more houses might make the list later this month. Here are some early favorites:


10203 Lawyers Road — Lawyers is a busy road, so you’ll have to drive slowly by because there’s nowhere to pull over, unless you go to the street across from the house (Galloping Way).

117 Hickory Circle SW — This display is set to music (instructions are posted in the front of the house on the cul-de-sac or at the back in the shopping center). Make sure you see both sides of the house. Follow their Facebook Page for details. The show runs 5:30-10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 5:30-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

117 Kingsley Road SE  This location is blow up heaven! They have so many favorites on display including Disney characters, Santa in a sleigh being pulled by his reindeer suspended mid-air above their roof and more. Plenty of street parking so you can easily take a walk by the house.

1801 Beulah Road — This house has an amazing front yard that is completely decked out, including a mailbox for “Letters to Santa!” I’m not sure where those letters go, but this Christmas décor is stunning! There’s a pull off and a street across from it (Chestnut Farm Drive) if you want to pull over to take it all in.

2438 Cedar Lane  Beautiful and abundant light display, including a dancing tree of lights. No music from what I could tell, but beautiful.

2528 Drexel Street  The Ni Family Light show is one of the hits of Vienna. There’s plenty of street parking to pull over and watch. They have a playlist that accompanies the choreographed light show. They’re doing a repeat show of 2017 before they launch the 2018 playlist. The show runs 5-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 5-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Honorable Mention The Vine Church (2501 Gallows Road) The Ni Family also helps with this light show, which has over 10,000 pixels (it’s huge!)


7815 Birnam Wood Drive  The show runs 7-9:30 p.m. on weekdays, 6-11 p.m. on weekends. Completely covered in lights, even the lawn has light displays and blow ups.

6530 Heather Brook Court — Show runs from 5 p.m. to midnight daily. There is a start button and a radio station to listen to music while watching the light show. The display includes lights and tons of blow ups.

Remember, don’t go on the lawns! Stay on the sidewalk or the street and enjoy the display safely.

Are there any homes that were missed? Any other neighborhoods in the area worth a visit? If so, leave a comment with details.


December Events Around Tysons

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

Monday, November 26, 6 p.m.: Church St Holiday Stroll

Santa arrives on his firetruck at 6:15 p.m. to greet children by the Freeman Store and Museum and will help the mayor light the holiday tree and menorah at 6:20 p.m. There will be music and marshmallow roasting stations.

Thursday, November 29, 7 p.m.: Tiny Tots Holiday Concert

The James Madison High School band program presents a seasonal music concert on Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m., along with a Thursday 7 p.m. concert. Tickets require advance purchase at $9/person. The concert takes place at JMS at 2500 James Madison Drive, Vienna.

Friday, November 30, 5 p.m.: Mosaic District Holiday Tree Lighting

Mosaic district welcomes Santa on his firetruck, the Vienna Singing Princesses, Chasing Autumn Trio and a screening of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, all surrounding a 7 p.m. Tree lighting ceremony.

Saturday, December 1-2, 9 a.m.: The Enchanted Forest by the Junior League of Northern Virginia

Hosted both Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m., the Junior League of Northern Virginia hosts the Enchanted Forest at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel. Events include visits from Santa, crafts, live entertainment like the Great Zucchini and more. Tickets required.

Saturday, December 1, 8 a.m.: McLean Reindog Parade

Hosted by the McLean Chamber of Commerce – dress your dog up and walk in a parade for prizes! Santa on the firetruck will visit, along with donuts, hot chocolate and entertainment. Register here. Admission is 2 cans of dog food to donate to a local animal shelter.

Saturday, December 1, 4 p.m.: Wolftrap Holiday Sing-A-Long

A FREE holiday sing-a-long concert starting at 4 p.m. Wolf Trap will be collecting new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots at the entrance. Admission is free and so is parking. If you bring a candle, you can join in the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional.

Sunday, December 2, 8 a.m.: 2018 Santa Breakfast at Tysons

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

As I sat here this weekend trying to come up with a traditional Thanksgiving meal for my vegetarian in-laws, a 4-year old who will only eat the rolls with butter and a small gathering of 2 families, the fantasy of going out for Thanksgiving slowly become a loud battle cry.

Did you know that nearly 20 million people dine out or cater their holiday meal? You’re not alone!

So if this weekend of meal prepping stressed you out or the idea of fighting your way through Whole Foods is giving you shingles, here’s a list of my favorite local places who might still have reservations or who might still take orders for take out:



  • Assaggi — Special Thanksgiving day menu
  • Barrel & Bushel
  • Eddie V’s — Thanksgiving day menu
  • J’Gilberts — Prix-fixe 3-course menu, regular dinner and prix-fixe menus too
  • Wildfire — Full family style meal plus carryout, also a portion of each meal goes to Food for Others
  • Ritz Carlton — To-go meals (orders due Monday 11/19 at 5 p.m.) or brunch available

Looking for Catering?

Other Local Favorites

Whether you’re eating out, cooking at home, traveling or avoiding your mother-in-law, may you be surrounded by loved ones, laughter and happiness on your Thanksgiving day. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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