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Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

As your neighborhood expert in Fairfax County and a Florida girl who appreciates the fall season, I’m excited to guide you through the breathtaking beauty of fall foliage in our picturesque corner of Virginia.

These spots promise to be a vibrant canvas of autumn hues, with several stunning spots to witness this natural spectacle. Here are my top five places you won’t want to miss:

  1. Great Falls Park

Located along the banks of the Potomac River, Great Falls Park offers a stunning backdrop for autumn’s transformation. The trees that line the park’s trails burst into a mesmerizing palette of red, orange, and gold. For the best views, hike along the River Trail or enjoy a picnic near the overlooks. As the leaves fall, the Potomac River rapids make the experience even more captivating.

  1. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna is a hidden gem when it comes to fall foliage. This 95-acre oasis is home to a diverse collection of trees and plants that explode with color in the autumn months. Stroll through the serene gardens and admire the reflection of the vibrant leaves in the ponds. The Korean Bell Garden is particularly enchanting during this season.

  1. W&OD Trail

Fairfax County’s portion of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail offers an exceptional opportunity to experience fall foliage on a bike or on foot. Stretching over 45 miles, this former railroad route meanders through forests, farmland, and charming communities. The trail is particularly picturesque as it winds through the lush woods, making it perfect for a leisurely autumn ride or hike.

  1. Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Park is a serene escape into nature’s autumn brilliance. The 218-acre lake is surrounded by a 4.7-mile trail enveloped by hardwood trees. Rent a canoe or paddleboat for a unique perspective of the fall foliage, or simply take a leisurely stroll around the lake while enjoying the colorful scenery.

  1. Prince William Forest Park

While technically not in Fairfax County, Prince William Forest Park, located just south of the county line, is well worth the short trip. This hidden gem boasts over 15,000 acres of protected woodlands. The varied terrain and dense forests come alive with vibrant colors, and there are numerous hiking trails to explore, including the scenic South Valley Trail.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of fall, Fairfax County offers an incredible array of options for experiencing the magic of autumn. Don’t miss your chance to witness nature’s masterpiece right in our own backyard!

Explore Fairfax with Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney.

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | | | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180


1st Stage, Tysons’ premier theatre company, is proud to announce its upcoming production of The Chosen. Based on Chaim Potok’s acclaimed novel, this captivating play explores the powerful themes of friendship, faith, and the clash of two distinct worlds in post-World War II Brooklyn.

Set to grace the stage from September 28 to October 15, The Chosen promises to be a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant theatrical experience for all audiences.

A Tale of Unlikely Friendship:

The Chosen tells the story of two young Jewish boys, Reuven Malter and Daniel Saunders, whose paths cross under unusual circumstances. Despite their differing backgrounds and beliefs, an unexpected friendship blossoms, and they become inseparable. As they navigate the complexities of life, their bond is tested by their respective religious upbringings and the turbulent political landscape of the time.

An Exploration of Faith:

At its core, The Chosen delves deep into the complexities of faith. Reuven’s modern Orthodox Judaism clashes with Danny’s Hasidic upbringing, leading to questions about tradition, identity, and personal beliefs. The play provides a poignant exploration of these themes, prompting the audience to reflect on their own values and convictions.

A Journey of Self-Discovery:

As the story unfolds, audiences will witness the characters’ journeys of self-discovery and growth. The Chosen reminds us that, even in the face of adversity and differences, understanding and empathy can bridge divides and create lasting bonds.

Exceptional Talent and Production:

Under the direction of 1st Stage Artistic Director Alex Levy, 1st Stage has assembled a talented cast and crew to bring this timeless story to life. The Chosen features Sasha Olinick (previously seen in The Phlebotomist and Fly By Night), Ethan Miller (previously seen in The Last Match and Swimming with Whales), Zach Brewster-Geisz, and Jacob Pelzman-Kern. The design team includes scenic design by Nadir Bey, costume design by Rakell Foye, lighting design by William D’Eugenio, sound design and original compositions by Ethan Balis, and props design by Luke Hartwood. With meticulous attention to detail, stunning set design, and powerful performances, The Chosen promises to be a visually and emotionally immersive experience.

Ticket Information:

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this powerful story on stage. Tickets for The Chosen are available now and can be purchased online at or by calling 703-854-1856. We encourage you to secure your seats early, as this production is expected to draw significant interest from theatre enthusiasts in the Tysons area.

Join Us for an Unforgettable Evening

1st Stage invites you to join us for an unforgettable evening of theatre that explores the universal themes of friendship, faith, and self-discovery. The Chosen promises to be a moving and thought-provoking experience that will leave a lasting impression.

We look forward to welcoming you to our theatre and sharing this remarkable production with our community. See you at 1st Stage for The Chosen!

For more information about The Chosen and 1st Stage, please visit our website or contact us at

About 1st Stage: 1st Stage is a professional theatre company in Tysons, Virginia, that serves the D.C. metropolitan area. Dedicated to providing exceptional theatrical experiences and promoting the development of diverse and unique voices in the theater, 1st Stage presents a wide range of entertaining and thought-provoking productions throughout the year.

Photos by Evin John Howell

Get ready to explore the realm of artificial intelligence in an exciting first-of-its-kind film series showcasing some of the most iconic and thought-provoking movies in the genre.

The entire series, and even this release, curated and marketed by modern artificial intelligence tools. From the visionary classic 2001: A Space Odyssey to the dystopian Blade Runner and the mind-bending The Matrix, the series promises to take audiences on a journey through the possibilities and dangers of AI.

The ShowPlace ICON AI Film Series will kick off with Stanley Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), on October 4th. The film explores the evolution of humanity and the birth of artificial intelligence, with HAL 9000 serving as both an enigma and a warning. Following that, the series moves on to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007) on October 18th. In this dystopian future, AI-powered androids known as replicants are hunted by a blade runner tasked with their destruction.

The series continues with The Matrix (1999) on November 15th, which imagines a world in which humans are trapped in a simulated reality controlled by AI. The Terminator (1984) will continue the series on November 29th. A Killer cyborg from the future hunts down a woman who holds the key to humanity’s survival.

“Tysons is the perfect place to launch this unique film series as we unveil an amazing series of films that boldly embrace the cutting-edge of AI and technology,” said the AI version of Jim Nowicki, Director, Marketing. “These visionary works offer a thrilling glimpse into the future and remind us that the impossible is now possible.”

Each film offers a unique perspective on the implications of AI, as well as technology, and its potential impact on humanity. The AI Film Series is a must-see for science fiction fans and anyone interested in exploring the fascinating and sometimes unsettling world of artificial intelligence and technology. The series will continue through the rest of year with additional titles in December with Robocop (1987), and Ex Machina (2014).

Tickets are on sale now at for the special price of $7. Don’t miss your chance to experience these classic films on the big screen and delve into the world of AI. Join us for an unforgettable cinematic journey into the future.

About Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres

With its rich 114-year legacy of innovating and enhancing the cinema experience, ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen continues to redefine state-of-the-art entertainment offering restaurant-quality food and beverage for in-theatre dining, a full bar and lounge, industry-leading consumer technologies, and fully immersive audio/visual movie presentations, including their exclusive ICONX experience. Tysons ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen at the Boro is an entertainment destination that includes all reserved heated recliners, wall-to-wall screens including two RealD Ultimate Screens, Dolby Atmos sound and all-laser projection.

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

As everyone knows, there’s a ton of new construction around Vienna and the Tysons Corner area. I’ve toured many new builds and having gone through many home building and renovation projects, here’s what I would do if I were building a house right now:

  1. Make sure you put recessed lighting in each bedroom in addition to a central light/ceiling fan.
  2. Add a screened in porch in addition to a deck/patio area. Screened in porches become a Covid “must have” for home buyers and will be a great addition when you resell the home.
  3. Smart TVs are taking over traditional cable plans, but think through if you plan to keep your cable box. If so, where are you going to house it? I’m seeing a lot of family rooms with no real place to put them, I think assuming folks will just have a smart TV. So if you want to hide all of the components, add a cabinet or you’ll need to buy a table to put the box on (or have it wired to a nearby closet).
  4. Think through storage – gyms/theaters/2nd office spaces have taken over traditional basements, but think through how much storage you really need. I happen to be one of those people who throws away or gets rid of everything, but if you’re not, where are you going to keep your holiday decorations/bins of clothes/camping equipment/etc.? One underrated way to add storage space is to have the ground below the garage excavated. Reclaim that unused space!
  5. Expect trends to change – make choices you’re going to love rather than worry about resale (except the screened in porch – keep that). Decorative walls with designs, thick island counters and thinner perimeter counters, mixed metal in bathrooms, carpet versus wood flooring, etc. Pick what you want. It’s hard to predict trends and who knows how long you’ll actually be in the house.
  6. Bonus tip: get a concrete driveway versus asphalt. There’s less maintenance on a concrete driveway and I am all about not adding 1 more thing to remember to do.

If you’re thinking of building and have questions, feel free to reach out. Whether they’re financing or actual building questions, I’m happy to put my 15 years of experience to use for your benefit.


Do you remember your first museum visit? Or a time you felt inspired walking around a museum? What if you had the chance to help give someone else their best museum memory?

Well now you do!

The National Gallery of Art is recruiting for two volunteer opportunities this fall:

  • Visitor experience volunteers, who are the friendly faces behind our information desks.
  • School docents, who lead school tours for students in grades PreK-12.

All backgrounds and life experiences welcome; multilingual speakers are encouraged to apply.

Join one of several information sessions held throughout the fall to meet the team, learn more about these opportunities, and apply!

The highly anticipated new luxury condominiums at Monarch Tysons have delivered, with three spectacular new models to tour.

Residents are already enjoying these world-class residences and with exceptional privacy, serene outdoor spaces, lavish features and finishes, white-glove services, and the most luxurious amenities in Northern Virginia. You’re invited to attend an Open House event this Saturday, September 23 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Monarch, located at 7887 Jones Branch Drive, McLean VA, 22102.

Now is the time to buy at Monarch, with fewer than 12 residences remaining — all with great views!

Each residence offers abundant natural light, expansive views, chef’s kitchen, and spacious private outdoor living areas, with some featuring direct-entry elevators. From the richly lacquered cabinetry to the floor-to-ceiling windows, Monarch makes a statement at every turn.

This attention to detail extends throughout, from the spectacular grand lobby, state-of-the-art fitness center, inspiring party room, sparkling blue waters of our resort-style pool, and beautiful outdoor terrace.

Let our 24-hour concierge assist with everything from selecting a fine dining restaurant to coordinating a private party. No other condominium community in Tysons offers this level of superior service. World-class shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences are only a block away, and with the Silver Line Metro so close, residents can easily connect with everything Washington, D.C. and beyond.

Sophisticated condominiums priced from $1.57M. Ask about our rate buydown program — see Sales Manager for details.

Aging Well: The power of hope

Having a hopeful disposition brings various health benefits, including a greater likelihood of living a healthy lifestyle, according to recent research by Mather Institute.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Do you generally have an optimistic view of the future? If so, you may be reaping some hidden benefits. And if not, you still have reason to… well, hope.

“Hope is a powerful state of mind. For example, it’s been linked to better social well-being outcomes, such as life satisfaction, sense of purpose, and quality of life,” says Cate O’Brien, PhD, AVP of Mather Institute. The Institute is the research area of Mather, the organization that’s bringing The Mather, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, to Tysons in early 2024. The Institute is an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living, and successful aging service innovations.

“Our researchers partnered with Washington University in St. Louis on a study of hope and healthy behaviors,” says Dr. O’Brien. “We found that people with a hopeful disposition are more likely to practice healthy lifestyle behaviors and feel positive about the future.” Therefore, by promoting a hopeful outlook, you can actually impact multiple areas of your health.

The good news is that even if you’re not a natural optimist, it’s possible to improve that mindset. Mather Institute researchers combed through previous studies on the subject, and came up with 10 tips that have been proven to help people foster a sense of hope and stay motivated.

  1. Set goals for yourself. Goals could be short-term (e.g., aiming to walk for 20 minutes every day) or long-term (e.g., learning a foreign language).
  2. Start slow. Make sure that the goals you set are attainable (e.g., eating a healthy diet or getting enough sleep).
  3. Break up goals into smaller goals to make them more manageable. For example, if your goal is to walk for 45 minutes every day, start with a 30-minute walk, three times a week and build your endurance.
  4. Keep realistic expectations about your goals and be creative. If bad weather interferes with your weekly lunch with a friend, enjoy a “virtual” lunch together over a video call.
  5. Develop a purpose in life. You can volunteer at your local food pantry, participate in a fundraiser, tutor school-aged children, or collect or distribute items of clothing.
  6. Nurture your hobbies. Pursue your passion, be it gardening, baking, writing, traveling, or scrapbooking.
  7. Challenge yourself. Complete a crossword or Sudoku puzzle.
  8. Try new things. Learn new skills such as playing a musical instrument or try out a new restaurant every month.
  9. Engage in social activities. Try to socialize regularly with friends and family. You can also join a book club or gardening club, video chat with grandchildren, or find a walking partner.
  10. Practice reflection. Meditating every day or maintaining a daily gratitude journal are some great ways to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, appreciate life, and think positively about the future.

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in early 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.


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

Can you smell the cider donuts and hot chocolate?

Maybe that’s me dreaming of New England Falls where I grew up, but there are tons of Fall Festivals in Northern Virginia if you’re looking to fill that fall fun void! Make sure you check the dates and times carefully as some are one weekend only while others run through October.

Cox Farms — Centreville, VA
September 16-17, September 23-November 7

Live music, cow milking, farm chores, hayride, tunnels, slides, swings, corn maze, goats, cider, donuts and their market! This is my favorite event all year and I actually hold my client appreciation event here in the fall. You really can’t beat a day in cooler weather walking around their farm!

Fun Tunnel at Cox Farms (Photo via Cox Farms Facebook)

Falls Church Festival — Falls Church, VA
September 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Fall Festival includes their “Taste of Falls Church” plus a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, local crafters, and organizations.

Mosaic Fall Festival — Fairfax, VA
September 23-24, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Performances by the Vienna Singing Princesses, Tea with Mrs. B, School of Rock, Tiny Dances, Patrick Alban and Noche Latino, plus others! Lots of vendors, kid activities, and more.

Great County Farms — Bluemont, VA
October 1-31

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival featuring pick your own pumpkins (also apples), wagon rides, pig races, Dino shows, Marshmallow roasting, cider pressing, live music, 5-acre play area, donuts and their market. Adult pro tip: Bluemont Vineyard and Dirt Farm Brewing are across the street and the views can NOT be beat.

Oktoberfest — Vienna, VA
Saturday, October 7, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Held on Historic Church Street by the red caboose, the event features live music, games, kids activities, German auto show, lots of food and drinks. I’ll be at the beer garden checking IDs at Noon. If you come by — please say hi!

City of Fairfax Fall Festival — Fairfax, VA
Saturday, October 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The event includes over 400 vendors, children’s activities, 3 stages of music and entertainment, and carnival rides. There’s a beer garden and an “after fest” concert at 530pm.

Halloween on the Green — Vienna, VA
Saturday, October 14, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

A free event with family fun on the town green, which features crafts, games, storytelling, moon bounces, treats and a decorate your own pumpkin activity.

Reston Farm Fall Fest — Reston, VA
September 23 through October 29 (weekends only) 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Moon bounces, games, train ride, petting zoo, face painting, balloons and food.

Town of Vienna Halloween Parade — Vienna, VA
October 25, 7 p.m.

A fabulous tradition that runs along Maple Avenue from Branch to Center Street. The parade starts at 7 p.m. and I’ll post my annual tips for attending in October.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival — Germantown, MD
September 23-October 29, hours vary based on day

Admission includes hayrides, jump pad, corn maze, giant slides and more. There’s also food available like cider, donuts, kettle corn and more. You can pick your own pumpkins, do a pumpkin cannon, face painting and pony rides. They suggest making a reservation as they sell out.

Pumpkin Village at Leesburg Animal Park — Leesburg, VA
Open everyday now through November 5

Festival activities include wagon rides, giant slides, zip line, moon bounce, corn bin, hay maze, pony rides, animals, moon bounce pillow and more.


Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

As a mom of three little ones (twins included), I understand the challenges of finding the perfect family-friendly restaurants in Fairfax County.

Dining out with kids can sometimes feel like a daunting task, but fear not! I’ve put together a list of our top five favorite spots that we visit frequently, where we consistently enjoy wonderful experiences. From Tex-Mex to fresh seafood and even upscale dining, these restaurants have something for every family.

  1. Urbano is a gem in Mosaic District, offering a delightful blend of Mexican and Latin flavors. This family-friendly restaurant provides an upbeat atmosphere that parents and kids alike can appreciate. Their menu features a variety of dishes, including mouthwatering tacos, flavorful burritos, kid’s fresca drinks (that are a huge hit in our family), and fresh guacamole. Urbano is an excellent choice for a family night out.
  2. Chuy’s is a must visit for those craving Tex-Mex cuisine in a lively and colorful setting. Located in Fairfax County, this restaurant goes the extra mile to make families feel welcome. Kids receive coloring sheets and crayons to keep them entertained while you browse the extensive menu. From scrumptious tacos to cheesy enchiladas, Chuy’s has something for everyone. Don’t forget to try their famous creamy jalapeño dip — it’s a hit with the whole family!
  3. Fish Taco offers a delightful fusion of fresh seafood and Mexican flavors right here in Fairfax County. This family-friendly spot in Tysons boasts a relaxed and casual ambiance, making it perfect for parents with kids in tow. Their menu includes mouthwatering fish tacos, shrimp burritos, and delectable house-made guacamole. The little ones are not forgotten, as they offer a kid’s menu with smaller portions for the younger members of the family.
  4. Coastal Flats (and all of the Great American Restaurants): The Great American Restaurants group is renowned for providing exceptional dining experiences for families in Fairfax County. Coastal Flats, a part of this esteemed group, stands out for its warm and welcoming atmosphere and delectable American cuisine. Known for their fresh seafood dishes, tender steaks, and signature flatbreads, this restaurant offers a diverse menu to cater to every palate. With an extensive kid’s menu featuring classics like mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken tenders, Coastal Flats is the ideal destination for family gatherings or a night out with the little ones.
  5. For a slightly more upscale yet family-friendly dining experience, Seasons 52 in Fairfax County is an excellent choice. This restaurant offers a seasonal menu with fresh ingredients and healthier options. What sets Seasons 52 apart is their commitment to providing balanced meals for children. The kid’s menu features items like grilled chicken, mini-indulgence desserts, and fresh fruit — all served in kid-sized portions. The elegant and comfortable setting makes it a great option for special family occasions or a night out with the whole family.

Enjoy making family memories and eating so much yumminess!

Explore Fairfax with Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney.

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | | | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180


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

One of the best things about living in Vienna is the ample opportunity to get outside. We have lots of walking trails, playgrounds, creeks, and fields to enjoy. Especially as the weather starts to get better, there are many ways to enjoy the outdoors!

My Favorite: Wildwood Park

A short walking path right off the W&OD trail, there are shallow waters where some kids jump in, some fishing (although I’ve heard of things being caught here, I haven’t had that success myself!), rock skipping, rock climbing, and deer spotting. This little piece of heaven was one of the trails that saved my sanity during Covid. My family would walk along the path regularly.

Other Great Paths

Woltrap, Wolftrails, Foxstone Park, Northside Park, Eudora Park, Meadowlark, Tamarack, Sun Valley, Peterson Lane Park (connects to a playground), and Nottoway Park. Many of these connect to the W&OD trail as well, so easy to go explore new ones if you want to drive there to begin with.


The town has several great playgrounds to choose from, some with pavilions available to rent for parties as well. Depending on the age and activity you’re looking for will help determine which playground area you pick from. For example: Meadow Lane Park is great for toddlers with a sandbox, play structure, and swings, but for older kids there’s also tennis courts and a basketball court. Same with Glyndon Park (add in pickleball here!). 

I’m going to give a shout out to for her updated 2023 best playgrounds post, which lists playgrounds all over Northern Virginia.

Don’t forget Vienna also has a community garden located behind the blacktop of Vienna Elementary, along with another one near Nottoway Park. This is a great opportunity to expose kids to gardening even if you don’t want to have one yourself. There’s also a Free Little Library located there if you want to sit on a bench and enjoy a book. 

There are many open fields too if you want to go throw or kick a ball. There are fields by the Community Center when not in use by softball, baseball or football (Caffi Fields and Waters), Meadowlane Park, Nottoway Park, Wolftrails Park,Dunn Loring Park, and all of the elementary schools when school is not in session. 

We really do have so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the greenery. Do you have a favorite park? If so, share why!

Photo via Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

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