Insiders’ Tips: What are the best things about living in Clifton?

Tom McNamara

Tom McNamara Photo by Tim Peterson/The Connection

Natalie Kryza, Crosspointe-Glen Eagles Pool manager, Fairfax Station, 13 years


Natalie Kryza

“Fairfax Station is close by to a lot: Shopping is important—and there’s Fair Oaks and Tysons. Since we’re near the capital, there are a lot of concerts; WMZQ Fest and Ke$ha at Jiffy Lube Live are some of my favorites recently. But it’s not in the city so we don’t have as much traffic to deal with. As a kid, I really liked the fact that the [Lorton] prison was out here. It was creepy. It felt like the middle of nowhere at the time. I also liked being near Occoquan with the parks. My family would take a boat out, or play baseball. I go to Clifton a lot and get ice cream at Peterson’s. It’s really cute.”

Robert Jones, teacher at South County High School, Fairfax Station, 19 years


Robert Jones

“Fairfax Station is slightly removed from the DC bedlam. We have access to the amenities and museums, but we’re far enough south we can live at a slower pace, the roads aren’t packed 24/7. Because of the zoning, we don’t have the overcrowding, we really don’t have any dense housing. That really makes this—to me—one of the ideal neighborhoods. Plus with the pools, tennis courts, walking bike paths, it’s one of the nicer places to live. And South County turned out to be a great school: You’re dealing with a school that’s in the top half of the county in scoring, and the facility is unbeatable.”

Camela Speer, Workhouse Arts Center director of marketing, Lorton, 17 years


Camela Speer

“We love the access to parks—there are at least three in bike-riding distance. When we moved here, the land beside us was a 17-acre farm. But all the development has made it a much more desirable place to live: shopping centers, restaurants, commercial enterprises. And, of course, the conversion of the arts center from a prison. We were concerned about all of this land going commercial, residential. To see it get zoned as an arts center, golf course, schools, more park area, was truly brilliant on the part of Fairfax County. There’s not much of a sense of community in Lorton, but there’s starting to be.”


Riley Wyant

Riley Wyant, employee at Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot and rising junior at Robinson Secondary School, 13 years

“I like the charm of Clifton most of all. It’s just little, isolated, has a great homey atmosphere. Everyone has a positive attitude. And everyone pretty much knows everyone. It’s a great place to raise a family. When I go away to college, I’m sure I’ll be homesick, but I know I’ll have a good background from the Clifton community. Some of my favorite events in Clifton are the Caboose Twilight Run [5K and 1-mile run/walk], the Clifton Film Fest, and, the Clifton Day festival. And I like when the college kids come back—they’re all old Clifton souls.”

Tom McNamara, The Clifton General Store owner, Clifton, 27 years


Tom McNamara

“What I love about Clifton is the connection, the people, the sense of community. Everybody who lives in town is weird and eccentric. I always thought it was people’s affinities to old houses that made them eclectic. It finally dawned on me: We’re such a small town that we know each other’s eccentricities on a much more intimate basis. With that comes an emotional connection. I feel that if something bad happened to myself, there would be 200 other townspeople who would be there to help, even the ones that don’t like me.

The one event here that blows me away is Halloween. The town pretty much shuts down. We’re surrounded by five-acre estates, so for kids to go trick or treating is almost an impossibility. People started just bringing their kids to town. Now we have 600-800 kids come to our house. Everybody in town rolls out the red carpet. There’s also the haunted trail at 8-Acre Park, the Saturday before Halloween. They have ghosts and goblins and skits—the parents get dressed up too and enjoy it as much as the kids do.