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11 Best Neighborhoods in Northern Virginia {To Live In or Visit}

Northern Virginia. You’re probably familiar with its high cost of living, good schools, and traffic. But there is character and charm to be found in this area. These neighborhoods have plenty to explore for visitors, and even more to love for residents.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet suburban neighborhood or a busy urban vibe, there’s something for everyone in Northern Virginia.

Here are the best.

grid image with text on top.

A note: this area has some of the most affluent counties in the country, and the cost of living is very high overall. If this is a deal-breaker for you, check out our list of the best of the best places to live in Virginia that includes more affordable areas too.

1. McLean

tan mansion with gate
Love ’em or hate ’em, this area is filled with large and expensive homes

Popular with DC commuters with families, McLean is lovely and expensive.

One of the biggest draws for McLean is its schools. As a suburb of Washington, D.C., McLean offers excellent public schools as well as dozens of private school options for families. It’s an ideal place to raise children and live a comfortable, suburban lifestyle.

Other highlights of this neighborhood include its close proximity to restaurants and shopping, beautiful parks and trails, and easy access to the rest of Northern Virginia via major highways.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood that is safe, quiet, and peaceful, McLean is the place to be.

Overall: expensive, great schools, perfect for families

2. Vienna

Vienna is located in Fairfax County, Virginia. It’s a suburb of Washington D.C. and is situated 30 minutes away from our nation’s capital, with access to public transportation (it’s as far out as you can go and still have a Metro station)

With its beautiful homes and incredible schools, Vienna is a great choice for families looking to settle down in Northern Virginia. There are plenty of parks and trails, as well as restaurants and shopping in the area, so there’s something for everyone! It has less of an exclusive suburban feel when you compare it to McLean, and has some of the best restaurants in the area.

Overall: A great choice for professionals or families who want convenient access to the city and great local atmosphere.

3. Del Ray

outdoor cafe
Del Ray is 100% character!

Del Ray is a neighborhood in Alexandria, VA that’s famous for its relaxed and charming feel.

It’s a great place to take a stroll, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy some local shopping. This neighborhood is also home to the First Friday Art Walk, which is a monthly event that features local artists and musicians.

Del Ray is also convenient to other parts of Northern Virginia, with easy access to public transportation and major highways.

Overall: A great choice for couples and retirees who want a walkable place to live with lots of character.

4. Clarendon

urban city street
Clarenton feels lively and urban

Clarendon is a great neighborhood for young professionals. It has plenty of restaurants, and the walkable nature of the town makes it easy to maintain your daily routine. Clarendon is also a convenient place to live because it’s close to Washington, D.C. You’ll find a variety of housing options in Clarendon, including single-family homes, condos, and townhomes. It’s part of Arlington County but lives like a city of its own.

Overall: If you’re looking for a lively, urban vibe to fuel your work-hard/play-hard lifestyle, Clarendon is the place to be.

5. Old Town Alexandria

brick townhomes on streett
Alexandria is gorgeous, historic, and EXPENSIVE!

Old Town Alexandria, known for it beauty and history, has been named one of the best small cities in the US by Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Southern Living Magazine, and Money Magazine.

This is a walkable area with easy access to the Metro and Routes 1 and 395. You can also find plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops in this neighborhood.

The median home value for a home here is about $855K. But if you can afford it, this is an absolutely amazing place to be. If you cant afford it, visit!

Overall: A great choice for anyone. (With deep pockets!)

6. Arlington

If you’re looking for a great place to live that’s super close to DC, Arlington County VA should be at the top of your list.

First and foremost, Arlington has excellent public schools. In addition, the median home value in Arlington is $643,300- making it a relatively affordable option when compared to other towns in the area.

Another great thing about Arlington is that it’s very walkable. You can easily get around on foot, and there are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants around every corner. You’re close to the beauty of Arlington National Cemetery and across the Potomac River from DC.

Overall: Arlington is a great choice for families or young professionals who want to be close to the action without breaking the bank.

7. Fairfax City

If you’re looking for a safe, suburban community with plenty of things to do, Fairfax City is the place for you! Ranked one of the best places to live by, this city has it all: great restaurants, coffee shops, and public schools; low crime rates; and plenty of attractions like museums, parks, zip lines and more. In addition, its Walk Score of 88 makes it easy to get around town on foot. (But downtown Fairfax is pretty small and you’ll still need a car to access the rest of the county.)

Overall: A great choice for families or young professionals who want a safe and convenient place to call home.

8. Mosaic District

The Mosaic District is a mixed-use community that still has many of the older homes from the 1940s. The condos and townhomes are priced in between $200 -$800, with single-family homes at about $500 to about $1 million.

The community is near public transportation, and you can find plenty of shopping and dining options in the area. There’s also a movie theater and an ice rink for entertainment.

Overall: A great choice for young professionals or families who want an urban feel without being right in the city.

9. Great Falls

driveway with. fence and white county. home
there’s more to great falls than the falls (although this home is unusually tucked-away)

If you’re looking for a beautiful, suburban town to live in Northern Virginia, look no further than Great Falls. The scenery is gorgeous, with plenty of opportunities for hikes and trips to the river. And the population is well off, living in multimillion-dollar estates.

Great Falls also offers excellent schools, which is one of the reasons it’s such a popular retirement community in the D.C. area. You’ll find all sorts of suburban-style restaurants here, as well as a variety of shops and businesses.

Overall: A great choice for families who want a suburban lifestyle with beautiful scenery.

10. Reston

outdoor fountain and buildings
Reston Town Center has large outdoor gathering spaces

If you want to live in a planned community that has everything you need, Reston is the place for you. This town was designed with families in mind, and you’ll find plenty of parks, trails, and playgrounds here. In addition, there are several pools, a golf course , local businesses, and even a theater for entertainment. You’re close to Reston Town Center, an outdoor shopping area with great restaurants.

The downside is that Reston is further out from Washington D.C., so you’ll need to get a car or take public transportation to easily access the city center.

Overall: A great choice for families who don’t mind being slightly farther away from the action.

11. Leesburg

downtown small town
Leesburg is charming and old fashioned, but a hike from DC

If you’re looking for the quintessential Northern Virginia small town, look no further than Leesburg in Loudoun County. With historic buildings and tree-lined streets, this city is perfect if you want a charming community with all the perks of living in the suburbs. Leesburg also has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops for entertainment, as well as great schools and low crime rates.

Overall: A perfect choice for anyone looking for a quaint small-town feel with all the amenities of modern life.

12. National Landing

If you’re looking for a place to live in Northern Virginia that’s close to D.C., but offers all the perks of suburban living, National Landing is an excellent choice. It has plenty of green spaces and parks, as well as world-class restaurants and shopping options.

As one of the fastest-growing areas in Northern Virginia, National Landing has plenty of job opportunities for young professionals. It also offers great public transit options, so you can easily get around town without a car.

Overall: A great choice for young professionals or families who want an urban feel without being right in the city.

No matter what you’re looking for, Northern Virginia neighborhoods have it Whether you want a suburban community with great schools or an urban area with plenty of things to do, there’s sure to be a neighborhood that fits your needs. So take your time, explore your options, and find the place that feels like home.