Parks at Piedmont: The Perfect Dose of Urbanization

Parks at Piedmont is a community in Gainesville, Virginia by Ryan Homes. It is located in Prince William County and is 40 miles west of Washington, D.C. The housing complexes are townhouses and condominiums. The neighborhood offers a pool and clubhouse that can be rented for private events for large parties. The community is loaded with small ponds and beautifully maintained lawns/plants. Floor plans are spacious and are great for families of all sizes.

The neighborhood is high interactive; there are local activities, covenant, neighborhood watch, communications, budget and finance, and board of director committees. The local high school is Battlefield High School, the middle school, Bull Run Middle School, and the elementary Gravely Elementary School.

The housing development is located in 6781 Hampton Bay Lane, Gainesville VA 20155.

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Protected by the First Amendment: The Newseum

The Newseum located in the heart of DC claims itself to be the most interactive museum in D.C. It is found on 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001 and is kid friendly. The newseum is a great place for younger audiences to interact with local and national headlines. It offers a balcony flaunting an excellent view of the capitol (pictured below).

View of the Capitol from the Newseum Balcony

A first Amendment Tablet made of marble is located on the front of the museum. The exhibits include a Great Hall of News, a Pulitzer Prize Photography Gallery, a 4-D film adventure theater, a Berlin Wall Gallery, a Documentary Theater, and a Sports theater. Special sites include a September (9-11) gallery of the news coverage of this landmark event and an archive of major news headlines ranging from the presidential impeachments to technological achievements.

The museum is very visitor oriented; there is even a broadcast studio that guests can report the news themselves. It features a green screen and teleprompter that guests can read off of. Options even include a weather reporting station.

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Want to Live Victoriously? Victory Lakes!

Victory Lakes is a luxury neighborhood located in Bristow, Virginia with a golf course and full time activities center. Homes in Victory Lakes are townhouse style and is great for young children and blooming families. Buildings are brand new with beautiful rich orange facades and box style windows. Many homes feature outdoor external crown molding and is very beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. A brand new elementary school is located internally inside the neighborhood.

Victory Lakes is located in Prince William County right next to Interstate 66 and Manassas. It is also geographically proximate to Route 28 and Route 29.

The activities center includes a calendar of events such as yoga classes, pottery tutorials and events, local socials, clubs, teams, and more. There are also multiple pools, ball fields, fishing lakes, and a clubhouse for those living in the neighborhood.

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Free Fun: The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is a timeless classic site that visitors and Virginians alike should frequently visit. The free museum, with the help of professional curators, has made this national exhibit a great place for historians, children, and just the general public to enjoy themselves.

The first floor presents an accomplished array of first impressions. Upon entering the museum, you will be greeted by the famous African Elephant (pictured below). Other exhibits include “Orchids- A View from the East”, The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, “African Voices”, The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, The Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology, The Fossilab, and The Sant Ocean Hall. A kid friendly place for younger visitors is the Discovery Room where museum instructors allow the public to discover history using interactive objects and hands on activities. This personal empiricism is great for learning through self-guidance and pacing.

The Second floor of the museum includes the Hope Diamond, an exhibit on Cyprus, the Butterfly House, The Carmen Lucia Ruby, The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, the Korea Gallery, the Osteology Hall of Bones, an exhibit on Reptiles and Amphibians, and the The O. Orkin Insect Zoo.

The museum is located at the intersection of 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington DC. It is open 364 days a year from 10 AM to 5:30 PM normally.


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Wild Weekend Fun! The Smithsonian National Zoo

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park is a great activity to do on the weekend for animal lovers and tourists alike. For those living in Arlington, Virginia, the zoo is a nice local place to visit due to its proximity to home. Open 364 days a year and home to 2,000 animals and over 400 different species, the National Zoo is a nice free place to visit any time of the year. The park is 163 acres and set in the center of Washington, DC.

Animals include cheetahs, elephants, anteaters, clouded leopards, gorillas, monkeys, foxes, tigers, and giant pandas. There are also bird houses with hundreds of beautifully colored and ornamented feather creatures. The park features several reptiles and amphibian houses and also has an extravagant collection of marine animals including the cow of the sea, the manatee.

Perhaps the most famous of all inhabitants of the Zoo are the giant pandas Mei Xiang and baby Tian Tian. They are housed under a Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. They will be at the Smithsonian Zoo until at least 2015 and are the focus of research regarding conservation, breeding, and preservation of these lovable furry bears.

The Zoo is located at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008 and is accessible by the Red Line Metro at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan stop. Parking is $15 for the first three hours and $20 for the next three. For more information:

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A Carefully Constructed Collection: Fairfax Corner

Magisterial Districts of Fairfax County

A cozy and modern shopping center nestled in the city of Fairfax, Fairfax corner is a great place for shoppers in Northern Virginia. Shops include Bubbles, Chicos, Ann Taylor Loft, REI, White House Black Market, Arhaus Furniture and Reveal MedSpa.

Eateries include Potbelly, California Pizza Kitchen, Chipotle, and PF Chang’s Chinese Bistro. Fairfax Corner also has Virginia’s first Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt. The small business originated in California and has expanded to Fairfax corner. If you are looking for a delightfully tart yet sweet treat, try having a Pinkberry! The ingredients are all natural and toppings include never frozen fresh fruit (strawberries, kiwis, pineapples, bananas, mangos, blueberries, etc). Dry toppings include all natural mixed nuts, vanilla snack cookies/crackers, Captain Crunch, brownies, cheesecake bites, chocolate chips, oreos, fruity pebbles, gummy bears, mochi, and even sunflower seeds. Pinkberry is a great new type of frozen yogurt!

The clothing stores also offer a great selection of stores for more contemporary adult style. REI is a great place for those loving nature and the outdoors to enjoy themselves and there is even a AAA at the center.

Fairfax Corner is located on Route 50 and Monument Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.

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A Weekend at the Zoo without the Drive! Petland

Located on 9404-A Main Street Fairfax, Va 22031, Petland is a quaint and cozy pet store great for children and people of all ages. The store serves as a both a place to purchase and adopt puppies and kittens of all sizes. The store is also a clinic for animals to get spayed or neutered.

What makes Petland inherently different from other pet supply stores is that is specializes in puppy sales. All sorts of breeds including Border Collies, Basset Hounds, American Eskimos, Malteses, Miniature Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and Shih-Tzus from all sorts of countries world wide are for sale at Petland. Any store visitor over 18 with proper identification can reserve a play room to interact and meet the puppies before actually taking one home.

The store sells rabbits, rats, mice, fish, puppies, and chinchillas. Petland has a large variety of products ranging from pet leashes to animal medications and is a kid-friendly environment.

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Something for Everyone: Bull Run Park

Bull Run Regional Park is located in Centreville, Virginia and is a great place for family outings, group meetings, and organized events. The venue includes several great services including a water park and several hiking trails.

For those seeking a nice, quiet weekend out, Bull Run offers picnic table shelters and large grassy fields for recreations. This is great place to bring your pets who will have plenty of room to run around, or your children who will have a great time playing frisbee or tossing around a football. The park also offers several marked hiking trails that include several scenic paths through the park. Feel free to bring your horse: the park also provides several equestrian trails! Bull Run is known for it’s picturesque and aesthetically pleasing foliage and plant life.

There is also a water park known as Atlantis for children to enjoy over the summer. Similar to parks such as Splashdown, the park offers birth party hosting and has multiple pools, a water cannon, a play island with three slides, and closed/opened water slides along with swimming aquatic classes in group, private, and semi-private settings.

The park also offers several community events such as group nature walks and bird observation trails. This April, they are hosting a Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 2-8. (info online at There will be crafts, activities such as games and prizes, an egg hunt, and of course an Easter Bunny. The park is located on 7700 Bull Run Drive Centreville, VA 20121.


New and Emerging: Piney Branch Elementary School

This evening, the Prince William County School Board decided to name their newest elementary school member Piney Branch Elementary School. The school is located on Linton Hall Road in Gainesville. This school is not to be confused with Piney Branch Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Speculation before the school was named clouded the School Boarm members as several Republican committee members supported the name “Ronald Reagan Elementary School”.

The website Virginia Virtucon reports that, “Since the new elementary school on Linton Hall Road here in Prince William County is set to open in 2011, the year when celebrations are being planned for the centennial of President Ronald Reagan’s birth, I think that it is only fitting that the school be named “Ronald Reagan Elementary School.”  On Oct. 7, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) sent a letter to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell calling on state officials to “take appropriate measures” to mark the occasion of President Reagan’s birth.  In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly voted to designate Feb. 6th as Ronald Reagan Day in Virginia with only one member out of all 140 delegates and senators voting against it.  It is clear that such a honor would have bipartisan support and the legacy of Reagan’s presidency could serve as an inspiration to the students at this school.”

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Pool time Fun! Splashdown Water Park

Splashdown Water Park is a great place for recreation and fun for those living around Northern Virginia. This local water park is located in Prince William County at an official county park known as Ben Lomond Park. The park has facilities catered to a younger audience and is a great place for parents to relax.

Splashdown’s motto is “It’s like a day at the beach without the drive!” and the park lives up to this slogan. The park has 770 foot lazy river, a lap pool, activity pools, cannon ball slides, 4 story water slides, tropical twister water slides, lilly pad and log walks, and a huge sandy beach area with tons of sand. Prices are relatively low and parking is free.

The park hosts birthday parties and play date programs as well. There are cabana and life jacket rentals and the park even offers swimming lessons. Season passes and tickets are now available online. The park is located at 7500 Ben Lomond Park Drive, Manassas Virginia, 20109.

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