Fairfax is a fascinating small city in Virginia with a unique local culture. The population of 22,000 people enjoys a very high median annual income, and has one of the highest percentages of sole proprietor business owners in the country. The combination of a college town and a well-to-do entrepreneurial haven makes Fairfax an extremely attractive place to live. Fairfax is also a well-preserved historic town, with a number of locations on the National Register of Historic Places, including the original courthouse and jail. In addition to all the other factors that make Fairfax an appealing place to live, the presences of George Mason University to the immediate south of the city also draws many to Fairfax. Founded in 1957, GMU is now the largest research university in the state.
Fairfax is a town with a fraction of the rental properties that most similarly sized cities have. The vacancy rate is so low, that the only real advice is to start looking the minute you find out that you're moving to Fairfax. If you start contacting prospective landlords as soon as possible, you may find a rental situation that will work for you, but any tardiness and you'll find all the available suites scooped up before your eyes.
With high rent and low vacancy, it can be very difficult to convince a Fairfax landlord to rent to just anyone. One of two things will be key: you either need a pre-existing relationship with a landlord, or you need to be able to prove through credit reports, proof of income and references that you are the absolute best tenant for the apartment.
Fairfax is small, and navigating without a vehicle should provide no serious difficulty. If you're a student at the university, it is even easier. The Cue Bus system is free to ride for students of GMU, and connects the university to a handful of hubs within Fairfax. If you happen to have a car, you will know every street in the city within a month of moving to town.
If you're just looking to grab a quick drink and some decent food, the Hard Times Café is a popular student hangout. For the culturally inclined, the old elementary school has been turned into a museum and visitor center that is a great place to visit as a newcomer to Fairfax. A number of other buildings in town have been declared historic sites and are worth touring. For a small city, there are a huge number of festivals and events held in Fairfax, including the popular Chocolate Lovers Festival in March.
Even if you're not a gun enthusiast, you may find the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax quite interesting. The history of our nation is quite intertwined with the history of modern firearms, and the museum provides a unique perspective on that history. If you want to focus on local history instead of military, then visit the Fairfax museum. Just outside of Fairfax proper you can find some of the most amazing attractions in the country. For example, in Chantilly you will find the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Also nearby are several George Washington-related historic sites, including Mount Vernon. This museum is filled with exhibits and displays that allow visitors to learn a bit more about the man who stood at the center of the founding of the country.
With a stunning view of the lake and reliably delicious food, Artie’s has been a standby in Fairfax for more than 25 years. If you're in the mood for meat, and lots of it, then head to Texas de Brazil Churrascaria. The lamb and beef get consistently high praise from reviewers. Fairfax is also home to a fair number of modern restaurants that are great examples of the newest trends in dining. Gypsy Soul is a wonderful place to get a very modern American dining experience. Specializing in French and Moroccan food, Le Mediterranean Bistro is one of the best seafood establishments in the city. The scallops are particularly famous.
The Auld Shebeen is not to be missed, especially if you enjoy socializing with a slightly younger crowd. This charming Irish pub is very popular with students, and features live music frequently. For a friendly, fun experience visit Patriot’s Pub and Grill. Trivia nights and regular karaoke keep this place from ever getting too serious. If you like to watch the game while you enjoy a beer, then Prime Time Sports Bar & Grill is where you're going to want to go. They have ample big-screens well positioned throughout the bar so you can always keep up with the action.
The Cinema Arts Theatres presents a good blend of first-run movies alongside independent and art films that Fairfax residents would otherwise likely miss out on. The Fairfax Station Railroad Museum is a small but fascinating look into Civil War and railway history. Fairfax also has a thriving arts community. The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra is a well-regarded professional orchestra. The Hub Theatre is a professional theatre company that focuses on modern theatre and new play development. There are also several art galleries within the city. The Epicure Café & Gallery is a great place to go and get a bite to eat and a drink while admiring the work of some local artists.
Chocolate lovers from all over this part of the country flock to Fairfax each February for the Chocolate Lovers Festival. This three-day extravaganza celebrates all things chocolate. In 2015, the Fall Festival enters it's 38th anniversary in Fairfax. Taking place in October of each year, this festival celebrates the harvest with the best in fall foods, an artisan market, and a wide range of entertainment. Fairfax also has an annual event that takes place during the holiday season. The Festival of Lights and Carols takes place near the beginning of December each year. The festival runs all day, and in addition to the great performances, one of the highlights is always the visit from Santa.
Shopping in Fairfax is largely focussed around two malls. The smaller mall is known as the Fair City Mall. This mall includes some basic stores and services as well as a smattering of restaurants. The larger mall in the area is known as Fair Oaks. This is a much larger establishment, and is home to many high-end retailers including Apple, J. Crew, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s. If you're not enthused about the mall shopping experience, then you should try just walking the downtown area of Fairfax. Here, you'll find lots of independent retailers and many stores and restaurants that are owned locally.
George Mason University is the major institute of higher education in Fairfax. As such, it is also the most important athletics organization. The George Mason Patriots are a Division I NCAA competitor, and going to a game in baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports is a very popular activity with Fairfax residents. Between the men and women’s teams, the Patriots compete in 22 different sports. The most important sport at the school is basketball, and the team plays out of the Patriot Center. Although the Patriots are not traditionally a program that produces a lot of professional athletes, two MLB players have come out of the program, including pitcher Shawn Camp.
Visiting the State House in South Caroline is something everyone should do once. It is a very historic, well preserved state house that gives a great glimpse into the past and present of the state’s government. To get another perspective on the State’s history, visit the South Caroline Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. The museum does an excellent job of giving insight into some of the people that played a role in the Civil War, instead of only focussing on the larger, national events. The South Carolina Military Museum offers an overview of the complete history of the military, from it's inception up until the present day.