Tysons, VA

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].

Each year I put together a list of the “must-see” holiday light displays around Vienna.

These vary in offerings from lots of inflatables to light shows choreographed to music. The list changes from year to year as some houses go dark, new ones are added and others scale back.

I took my kids on nightly drives around town to find some of these, but the majority came from the Vienna community when I asked on multiple forums for people to suggest homes. If you are part of the Vienna Virtual Community Page, Vienna Moms or Vienna VA Foodies, I’m sure you saw my post asking for nominations. In return, I promised to put together a map of the houses/streets I thought were ones you should definitely drive by.

My favorites on the map include:

  • A Very Grinchy Christmas is located at Walker Street SW/Drake Street SW.
  • Oakton Park Court is a small cul-de-sac that’s about 85% decorated with two special homes that went very Clark Griswold! They are also collecting donations to help feed the food insecure through the Vienna VA Foodies group.
  • Who doesn’t love ice skating penguins?! Head over to Antioch Circle.
  • The “peppermint house” located at Talahi Road SE/Glyndon Street SE has beautiful decorations.
  • On Hillington Court, you’ll find two homes with tons of blow-ups and decorations — plus it’s a two for one visit.
  • And of course… the Ni Family Lights.

Please make sure you check some of the notes on the points on the map for more details. Some destinations will take longer to visit, like the Ni Family Lights and The Vine Church, so plan accordingly!

If I missed any, please email me at [email protected], and I will add it to the map for others to enjoy. If you’re looking for larger scale light events, don’t forget these:

You can also find more lights to visit at FairfaxChristmasLights.com. Enjoy!

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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 holiday weekend kicks off some of the most treasured traditions around McLean and Vienna as we enter the holiday season. Even with the pandemic, the towns are finding ways to keep old traditions alive and create fun new ones.

I’m including some highlights around town, dates and places, but also pages to follow on social media to stay up to date if new ones pop up. Also, stay tuned next week for my list of must-see holiday light displays!

#WhereIsSanta Scavenger Hunt

Each Tuesday at 12 p.m., the town will announce a new clue to find Santa through December 22. Each location will qualify for an entry for a $50 Amazon gift card. Tag @TownofViennaVA and use #WhereIsSanta on social media to be entered. The clue can be found on the town website or the Facebook page.

Vienna Tinsel and Tacky Holiday Attire Contest

Categories for entry include Best Duo/Group, Best Adult, Best Kid and Best Pet! You can enter online. You must submit your application and photos by Friday, December 18, and the winners will be announced on Monday, December 21.

Zoom with Santa

This FREE event requires tickets, so you must register on the Vienna webtrac system. Many slots are already full, so sign up soon for December 9.

Light Up Vienna

This is a town-organized porch parade for decorated homes AND businesses! You must enter by December 7 and vote by December 16. Find more information on Vienna’s website.

McLean Volunteer Fire Department Santa Tracker

Santa and his elves begin their journey to visit residents TOMORROW! Follow the Facebook page for neighborhood schedules, and the website has the tracker.

McLean Gingerbread House Decorating

Order a pre-built gingerbread house with a variety of candy decorations. Share your work of art on social media with #MCCGingerbreadHouse.

Photos with Santa at MCC

Families with children ages 2 to 8 can get contactless, outdoor photos with Santa. This is also an opportunity to donate new and unwrapped toys to their Toys for Tots Campaign.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and M.D. 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].

“Throughout Vienna’s history, the Freeman Store has been a store, home, train depot, hotel, hospital, officers’ quarters, fire department and historic site — the building is on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.” — The Historic Vienna, Inc. website

The Freeman Store is an iconic stop on downtown Church Street, next to the Vienna Town Green (which is the host of many events throughout the year), next to the W&OD, the gathering spot of the annual “Church Street Stroll” and tree lighting/menorah lighting at the holidays.

You’ll find the store has some of the cutest Vienna-centric gifts like blankets, water bottles, tea towels, pillows, ornaments, notecards and more. Mostly made by local artists, these are sold by the Freeman Store to support efforts by the Historic Vienna activities and programs. In the basement, you’ll also find a used book store.

Normal Business Hours (non-pandemic) March through December: Wednesday to Sunday, 12-4 p.m.; January and February are by appointment only.

**Starting Thursday, November 26 through December 20, the store will be open Saturday and Sunday 12-3 p.m.

They have random online pop-up sales with contactless pickup, but you’ll need to check the website for those date announcements, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

This is a great place to find house-warming gifts or gifts for people leaving the area, holiday gifts, ornaments, or keepsakes.

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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].

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

I find it incomprehensible we’ve been battling COVID-19 for nine months! I am also coming to grips with our own personal reality that my family will be (lucky enough) to spend Thanksgiving as a foursome instead of with our usual extended family.

Looking at the silver linings, that also means that I’m trying to take advantage of that and do things unconventionally. I tried to persuade my boys to do a seafood main, but that didn’t go over like I had expected, so we’re doing a small-scale turkey dinner. We’ve also contributed dinners to two families who needed help, so don’t forget about the different options to help others this year.

But let’s talk dessert. Maybe you’re a pumpkin or pecan pie kind of person, or maybe you go for an apple crisp like me. Or maybe this year you want to go crazy and get an ice cream cake. Whatever you’re looking forward to indulging in, I’ve got some ideas for you below.

Lots of local restaurants are also doing Thanksgiving dinners to go, so check with them if you’re looking for the whole shebang.

  • My favorite apple crisp is from The Fresh Market. Hands down.
  • Pie Gourmet — Try their chocolate cream pie, but they want orders by tomorrow, November 17. They also do savory pies if sweet isn’t your thing!
  • S’mores Pie from Amphora Bakery
  • Custard from Kiln and Co
  • Chocolates from Cocoa Vienna
  • Flourless chocolate cake (gluten free!) from Bazins
  • Hot Chocolate Bombs by Whisked by Mukta. These are so fun for kids, and my husband declared this the best hot chocolate.
  • Pastries from Sweetbites in McLean
  • Anything from Best Buns! They have a few specials for Thanksgiving that require 48-hour notice, including white chocolate cheesecake, pumpkin pie and chocolate bourbon pecan pie.
  • Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookie Dough Pie from Northside Social. (Pro tip: Try their quiche or pastries for breakfast as well)
  • Vienna Farmer’s Market local Savagely Good — they have gluten-free chocolate torte and key lime pie, but my kids love their cinnamon rolls.
  • A little treat just for the kids? Try a cake pop from Vienna local Delicioso Decor.
  • Another unexpected treat: 100 percent vegan, gluten- and soy-free custom cakes from plant-based Viva Sol.

One more thing — if you know anyone over the age of 70 spending the holiday alone, Medium Rare is delivering free meals to them.

No matter how you choose to spend your Thanksgiving, from my family to yours, wishing you a healthy and happy holiday.

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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].

What a year 2020 has been — highs and lows for everyone — but our community has a need for support for those struggling to pay rent and buy food.

I often see posts about ways to help and, especially at the outset of the holidays, now is a good time to explore some options on where to put your resources should you have any to give. We have A LOT of great organizations around to help, so depending on what speaks to you, I’m offering some options below (which also looks different than in years past). 

One thing I might offer: If you’re looking for a more direct impact in your own community, call your local school and ask if any of the families need help. The front office staff should be able to find out what families are in need at this time. 

If you’re looking for a larger organization to support, check out these options:

Britepaths

In a non-pandemic year, Britepaths offers the option of adopting a family at Thanksgiving where you can bring them food to cook a Thanksgiving meal themselves. However, due to COVID-19, they can’t facilitate the direct delivery of food this year. Therefore, Britepaths is looking for gift card donations for families to go shop for food themselves. Learn more here.

Food For Others

Food For Others distributes food to more than 2,600 local families in need each week. They collect food throughout the year, but especially around Thanksgiving, they need items like cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, pie filling, gravy and canned sweet potatoes. Find out more here.

Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters (BRAWS) (Vienna)

BRAWS was started by a Vienna local, Holly Seibold, to help bring menstrual supplies, underwear and bras to local women and girls in need in the area. They work with school districts, shelters, food pantries and other community organizations. To learn how you can donate supplies and/or funds learn more here.

The Lamb Center

The Lamb Center is a day-time drop-in homeless shelter where individuals can eat, take a shower, do laundry, get housing and job counseling, see a nurse or a dentist, and more — for free. They are accepting donations of cleaning supplies, travel hygiene items, clothing and juice. Get more information here.

Additionally, Vienna’s own Social Burger provides a weekly meal to the Lamb Center, which you can also sponsor. 

SHARE of McLean 

SHARE has a Holiday Celebration, which is their biggest event of the year. They need volunteers as well as donations. You can also sign up to host a food drive to help stock their pantry, which they use to give food and gift cards to families in need. They have in-person volunteer hours, which may involve moving furniture, sorting clothing or restocking the shelves. If you want a more hands-on interaction, you can also greet and register the clients.

Women Giving Back (WGB) (Sterling)

WGB is an organization that supports women and children with the basics to get back on their feet. Please check their site to see what items they need. You can drop them off locally at First Excel Title just outside of Oakton at 3201 Jermantown Road Suite 350 in Fairfax. The store throughout the rest of the year needs clothing, accessories, shoes and kids clothes. Learn more here.

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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].

The wind and rain yesterday had me checking my drains and downspouts, but I know not everyone has a fall “to do” list for prepping their home for the winter.

I hope you’ll take into consideration some of these suggestions to get your house ready for the colder months. I’m including some of my favorite vendors below, but if you want my full list of go to people, you can download it for free here.

  • Clean your gutters! You may need to do this a few times depending on how many trees are around your home, but make sure you check that the gutters stay empty to allow rain/snow somewhere to go! My go to: Maple Leaf and Gutterman Services.
  • Check your drains, especially if you have basement stairs — the easiest way to prevent water in your basement is to keep the drains free and clear of debris! You can do this yourself. Also check gutter downspouts that they’re not blocked by leaves or other debris.
  • Have your chimney checked and cleaned. You want to have it checked for cracks to make sure the smoke doesn’t blow back into your house. I use Chimney Doctor (they give a 10% off coupon if you say a realtor referred you). If you have gas fireplace and need help, call Mike at Nova Green Energy.
  • Get rid of the leaves! Town of Vienna has leaf collection, but in case you miss your day, or just want to bag up the leaves and dispose of them, my go to is Victor’s Lawn Services (703-593-7776) or [email protected].
  • Having any issues with your appliances? Call Vienna local Master Appliance Service.
  • Winterize your hose bibs! When our temp drops below freezing, your water lines to the outdoor can freeze and then burst. Find the shut off valves and turn them off, then turn on the hose bibs outside to let all of the water drain out. Leave it like that until the weather warms up again next spring. If you know where your shut offs are, this is easy to do yourself. If you need help and need a plumber, try Hicks Plumbing, Don’t forget to bring hoses inside.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors! Make sure there are new batteries installed and if the device is more than 10 years old, replace it!
  • Have your HVAC serviced. This should be done twice a year, but you don’t want to run into an unexpected issue. I use Mannix Heating and Cooling.
  • If you’ve just moved or just bought a home, go buy a shovel now! You can get them at McLean Hardware.
  • Holiday Décor! One of my neighbors already has their white holiday lights up and it brought so much joy just seeing them! If you’re looking to have holiday lights installed, many landscaping companies will do it. You can also try Shack Shine, Wheat’s, or Christmas Illuminations.

Bonus Tip: Have a long list of general to-do items you want repaired? Change out some lights, touch up painting, or change some tile? My handyman can do it all: C&M Handyman.

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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].

One day, someday, we will all get back to “normal” schedules again.

As you plan ahead for child care needs for “school aged children” which usually means elementary school, a lot of people don’t know that some of the schools don’t have a SACC program in the building. If you have younger kids, keep in mind the dates for registration as you should get on the wait list a year before your child actually starts Kindergarten.

The day assigned for you to call is based on the alphabet. Check the website for details. Also one thing to note is that not all of the schools start at the same time. For example, the “tardy” bell at Vienna Elementary is 8:45 a.m. while the Louise Archer “tardy” bell isn’t until 9:15 a.m. You can register for before care and/or after care based on your needs.

My company made this handy chart for reference when exploring schools around town:

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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 the fall sports wrap up and the weather turns cold, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to dread the cold days inside with nowhere to go and nothing to do due to COVID-19. So, I’ve been looking around for activities that I’d feel comfortable taking my kids to as something to look forward to.

I’ve found it takes very little to get them excited these days. If you’re like me, take a look at this list and see what makes you feel comfortable venturing out!

The Ni Family Lights: 2528 Drexel Street, Vienna
Now through October 31, 6:30-9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. (hours vary on weekends)
A 28 minute light show set to 8 songs!

House of Terror and Trunk or Treat: Old Firehouse in McLean
Saturday, October 24, 6-9 p.m.
Best for kids age 10 or over.

Haunted Mini Golf: Upton Hill in Arlington
October 28-October 31, 4-8 p.m.
Buy one adult round, get one kids round free. Children in costumes receive a spooky treat!

Haunted Trail and Festival: The Salamander Resort
October 28-October 31, 6:30-9 p.m.
A haunted 0.6 mile trail for kids ages 4- 12, plus food and other activities.

Halloween Drive-Up Movie Night: Tysons II
Friday, October 30
6 p.m. — Car trick or treating
6:45 p.m. — Scooby-Doo Stage Fright
8:45 p.m. — Beetlejuice
Proceeds benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Spooktacular Science Show: Veteran Amphitheater in Fairfax
Saturday, October 31, 1:30-2:15 p.m.

Drive-by Pumpkin Patch: Fairfax High School
October 31, 6-9 p.m.
Drive through to look at various carved pumpkins on display. Also accepting donations for A Place to Stand (cereal, granola bars, oatmeal, crackers, PB&J, dried beans, rice and pasta).

I have a poll for you, because who doesn’t love to give their opinion? When house hunting in the fall/winter, do holiday decorations (Halloween blow ups for example) deter you from looking at the house?

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Music Schools Around Tysons

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].

We all look for opportunities for our kids to expose them to new things outside of school. Some of the popular ones around Northern Virginia is sports, Karate/Tae Kwon Do, crafts, or music.

Luckily for us, there are a number of opportunities to expose your children to making music. I’m listing some of my favorite organizations below, which are offering both in person programs as well as online. In “normal” times, they also offer after school programs.

Vienna

Vienna Jammers — 314 Dominion Road NE, Vienna

Originally created in 2005-2006 by Vienna Elementary music teacher, Dave Reynolds. Jammers are a group of kids between the ages of 8 and 17 that play percussion instruments like the marimbas, hand drums, trash cans and steel pans. Practices range from 1-2 times per week and include performances like the Vienna Halloween Parade, Viva Vienna, the “Big Jam” in May, and typically an overnight trip for a performance for the older kids.

Typically, Vienna Jammers holds a “mini camp” in the fall and winter as an introduction to the group, which also makes them eligible for the Summer Experience Camp which is the audition for 2nd and 3rd grade for entry into Jammers. There are several different “colors” which dictates the level of commitment: Green and White (2-6 grade), Black (5-6 grade), Red (2-4 grade) and Steel/Platinum (7 grade +). For more information on the Jammers organization, visit their website.

School of Rock — 111 Center Street S., Vienna

The School of Rock offers lessons in guitar, drum, singing, bass guitar, keyboard and piano. They also offer a program in songwriting. They have in person and online classes for kids as young as 3, along with adult programs. Weekly schedules include a private lesson along with a group rehearsal. You’ll often see these kids in the parking lot giving performances nowadays. They also perform at many of the Vienna town events like Oktoberfest, Viva Vienna and Taste of Vienna. Learn more about their programs here.

Harmonia School of Music & Art — 204-F Mill Street NE, Vienna

Harmonia offers music programs in voice, guitar, woodwinds, brass, piano, violin, viola and cello. They also have a theater option, summer camp and online options. The programs offered include private and group classes. Find more information here.

Vienna Academy of Music and Arts — 2561 Chain Bridge Road, Vienna

VAMA offers private lessons in piano, flute, guitar, trumpet and voice, along with music for babies and toddlers. They’re currently offering online classes as well. Find more information here.

McLean

Bach to Rock — 6649A Old Dominion Drive, McLean (Balducci’s Plaza)

Bach to Rock offers classes in guitar, piano, drums, voice, DJ, violin, trumpet as well as their Beat Refinery DJ School which offers mixing, scratching and music production. Their programs include individual lessons, group classes, parties and camps. You can find more information here.

McLean School of Music — 6723 Whittier Avenue, Suite L-5, McLean

McLean School of Music offers classes in piano, violin, viola, cello, voice and singing, guitar, bass, ukulele, clarinet, saxophone, euphonium, baritone, tuba, trumpet and trombone. Currently offering online classes, they provide private lessons and offer 3 recitals per year. Find more information here.

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Fall Festivals Near Tysons

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 list will look different from last year’s list, where we were blissfully unaware of overcrowding and social distancing.

Lucky for us, if you’re still looking for that Fall Festival feeling, some of the great farms around us are still trying to pull something together for everyone to enjoy. If you go to any of these places, please report back! You can comment below or DM me on Instagram (@LauraSchwartzRealtor).

Cox Farms — Centreville, Virginia
September 25 — November 2, Hours Vary, Close Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday
Instead of piling into their hayride, this year they’re offering a self-driven hayride through the fields. Don’t worry — that treacherous puddle we all drive through is only 2 inches deep. Must buy tickets in advance. At the end, there’s an opportunity to get out of the car and takes pictures, do curbside pickup for food/pumpkins at their market.

Great County Farms — Bluemont, Virginia
September 28 — October 31
Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival featuring pick your own pumpkins (also apples), wagon rides, marshmallow roasting, cider pressing, live music, 5-acre play area, donuts and their market.

Pumpkin Village at Leesburg Animal Park — Leesburg, Virginia
September 19 — November 3, Closed on Mondays
Festival activities scavenger hunt, animal barn, live performers, and treats. Purchase tickets online in advance.

Reston Farm Fall Fest — Reston, Virginia
Friday, Saturday and Sunday — now through November 1
Weekends feature a pumpkin moon bounces, moon bounce slides, corn maze moon bounce, train rides, farm animals, balloon artist, face painter and caricature portrait artist! Buy tickets online.

City of Fairfax Fall Festival — Open Virtually Only
Month of October
The festival will be virtual for the entire month of October. No details currently provided, but check the website for more information.

Whitehall Farms — Fairfax, Virginia
Weekends through October 31
Wagon rides, nature trails, lawn games, animals and fields of pumpkins. Bonus: their menu is prepared by local favorite The Fermented Pig. Make sure you buy tickets online.

Wayside Farm — Berryville, Virginia
Fridays — Mondays, through November 1
Amazing Corn Maze (that reads: Wayside Farm Fun Thanks Our Everyday Heroes), pig races, pumpkin patch, farm animals, slides, play area, jumping pillows and more. Buy tickets online.

Don’t Forget

Town of Vienna has Halloween in a Bag available for purchase. Each bag includes: 2 pie size pumpkins, 2 cape kits, pumpkin decorating kits, pumpkin scoop, various Halloween theme toys, candy, activity packet and more. Buy online here.

Vienna Halloween Parade this year is now coming to you! The floats will drive through the Town on October 31 starting at 10 a.m. Read more here.

McLean Fall Scavenger Hunt — Offered through the McLean Community Center through December 7. The hunt includes 75 challenges both indoors and outdoors, such as take specific photos, geocaching, or completing specific tasks. For teams of 4-10.

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