The City of Fairfax is an independent city within the confines of Fairfax County, in the state of Virginia. Although politically independent of the surrounding county, the City is nevertheless the county seat. The city has roots dating back to the 1700's. It has character and an identity of its own not often found in the much newer and largely homogeneous exurban areas in Northern Virginia.
The intersection of US-50 and US-29 is located within the city. The two major highways join together to form Fairfax Boulevard for approximately 2.8 miles before separating. VA-123 and VA-236 both pass through the city. VA-236 is named Main Street in the city (though it diverts onto North Street for about three blocks in Old Town Fairfax) and then becomes Little River Turnpike once the city line is crossed. In addition, I-66 is located on the outskirts of the city.
The downtown section of the City is 4 blocks wide by 2 blocks long. There are numerous free public parking lots and parking decks surrounding the downtown section. The City encourages visitors to park and walk. No building is more than a 5-minute walk from a free parking lot.
The local bus system in the City of Fairfax is largely served by the CUE bus system, The Cue Bus The buses run between George Mason University, the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU metro station, and other locations within or just outside of the City of Fairfax. GMU students, staff and faculty with a valid ID ride free.
The City of Fairfax boasts many shops and restaurants, along with a few hotels. Outside of the downtown section, the City is populated mainly with suburban residences. Fairfax Boulevard, which runs along the northern border of the City, is populated with strip malls.
The Fairfax County Courthouse is the oldest and most historic building in Fairfax. Its design is used as a prototype for many Virginia courthouses built between 1800 and 1850. The first meeting of the Fairfax Court was held April 21, 1800. During the Civil War the Courthouse was used by the union forces as military headquarters which resulted in the damage or loss of several records. The original building of the Fairfax County Courthouse is now used as the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts.
One of the oldest buildings in the city is what used to be an elementary school. In 1873, the Fairfax Elementary School remains the oldest two story building the city has ever seen and was built for an outrageous $2,750. This building reflects a new era of free public education in Virginia and the growth of the Fairfax area. Throughout the years the school building was used for housing special education and adult education classes as well as a police academy training center. On July 4th, 1992 however the building was renovated and opened as the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center.
The Old Town Hall is the social and architectural cornerstone of Fairfax; Joseph Edward Willard had it built in 1900 as a gift to Fairfax. It now houses the Hussleson Library, the Fairfax Art League, and can be rented out for weddings as well as business meetings.
The following buildings in the City of Fairfax are on the National Register of Historical Places:
|| Year Built
| 29 Diner (Tastee 29 Diner)
|| 10536 Fairfax Boulevard
|| circa 1855
|| 3610 Old Lee Highway
| City of Fairfax Historic District
|| Junction of VA 236 and VA 123
| Old Fairfax County Courthouse* (now the Juvenile Court)
|| 4000 Chain Bridge Road
| Old Fairfax County Jail*
|| 10475 Main Street
| Fairfax Public School (Old Fairfax Elementary School Annex)
|| 10209 Main Street
| Ratcliffe-Logan-Allison House (Earp's Ordinary)
|| 200 East Main Street
| *The Old Courthouse and the Old Jail lie within the county enclave within the City.
The City hosts a wide variety of annual events:
- Chocolate Lovers Festival, . Around the time of Valentine's day, a Chocolate Lover's Festival is held in the heart of Old Town Fairfax. Events have included craft shows, historic building open houses, children's activities, collections of vendors selling various edible chocolate products, and even chocolate sculpture contests.
- Blenheim Civil War Encampment/Historic Homes Tour, . Every other year in the Spring, a Civil War re-enactment camp is held at the Blenheim estate, a city-owned historical property. The encampment features military muster, drill, and firing demonstrations. Alternating with the Civil War encampment is an Historic Homes Tour of homes in the city.
- Spotlight on the Arts, . Each April, the City of Fairfax, in cooperation with George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, and City of Fairfax schools, sponsors the Spotlight on the Arts Festival. The Festival runs for three weeks and features music, dance, theater, art, and choral concerts. Events take place at venues throughout the city and the colleges.
- National Trails Day, . In June, a National Trails Day is held to celebrate the trails, open spaces and parks in the City of Fairfax
- Independence Day Celebration Parade and Evening Show, . The largest hometown parade and fireworks celebration in the Washington metropolitan region is held in the City of Fairfax. The day's events include a parade through downtown Fairfax, tours of historic buildings and local museums, an Old Fashioned Fireman's Day at the Company 3 fire station, and a live concert and fireworks display at Fairfax High School.
- Irish Festival, . In September, a festival of Irish and Celtic song, dance, and music is held.
- Fall for the Book Festival, . The City of Fairfax has a new regional public library building that was completed in 2008. Each fall, the Fall for the Book Festival features readings, discussions, lectures, and exhibits from nationally-recognized writers and professionals. The program is coordinated with a school-wide reading project, "All Fairfax Reads".
- Fall Festival, . A Fall Festival is held in historic downtown Fairfax on the second Saturday in October. This event includes more than 500 arts, crafts, and food vendors, and is usually held outdoors on the streets of the City. Attendance is about 35,000 to 45,000.
- The Holiday Craft Show, . An annual Holiday Craft Show is held at Fairfax High School on the third Saturday and Sunday of November. The event features hundreds of craft vendors. Attendance is about 8,000 to 10,000
- Festival of Lights & Carols, . In December, the Parks Department holds a Festival of Lights and Carols. Activities include photos with Santa, caroling, a yule log, hot mulled cider, illumination of historic downtown Fairfax, and the lighting of the City tree.
Beginning in June 2005, Old Town Fairfax has undergone an extensive redevelopment.Old Town Fairfax Redevelopment Project Timeline The redevelopment added a new Fairfax City Regional Library, over 45,000sqft of retail and restaurant space, over 70,000sqft of office condominiums, and 85 upscale residential condominium units.Old Town Village Redevelopment
Tyson Corner Center and Tyson Galleria, two large shopping malls, are located approximately 6 miles north of the City on Rt. 123.
- The Auld Shebeen Irish Pub and Restaurant - A lively Irish Bar with good food and service
- Hard Times Cafe, 4069 Chain Bridge Rd (Across from the Fairfax County Courthouse), ☎ (703) 267-9590, . A great bar for young professionals and college kids. Good, inexpensive food and drinks. Always playing sports on the TVs and Thursdays from 3-9 is dollar domestic bottles.
- Best Western Fairfax, 3535 Chain Bridge Rd, ☎ 703-591-5500.
- Candlewood Suites, 11400 Random Hills Road, +1 703 359-4490, .
- Courtyard Fairfax Fair Oaks, 11220 Lee Jackson Highway (Rte. 50), +1 703 273-6161, Toll-free: +1 800 392-8709, Fax: +1 703 273-3505, .
- Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks, 11787 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, +1 703 352-2525, Fax: +1 703 352-4471, .
- Marriott Courtyard Fairfax Fair Oaks, 11220 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway (Rte. 50), ☎ 703-273-6161, .
- Residence Inn Fair Lakes Fairfax, 12815 Fair Lakes Parkway, +1 703 266-4900, Toll-free: +1 800 392-8990, Fax: +1 703 266-8600, .