The south county areas of Springfield, Lorton, Clifton, Fairfax and Fairfax Station are fortunate to have a wide variety of outdoor and indoor places to enjoy for exercise, nature, and history. Here are some of our favorite fun, beautiful, historic, quirky, or practical places for newcomers to explore and experience.
Workhouse Arts Center/Love Sign (8489 Workhouse Way, Lorton)
The Workhouse provides a focal point for local artists and an interesting historic venue for events. On any given weekend there, one might find Hawaiian dancers, mermaids, or Kendo swordsmen. One of 200 iconic “Love” signs located throughout the Commonwealth is also located in the quad. These are an outgrowth of the very successful tourism campaign “Virginia is for Lovers,” recognized by Forbes as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time. The first appearance in “Modern Bride”, March 1969; people travel from afar to collect photos with “Love” sign background, each has a unique setting and stylizing.
Laurel Hill Park Lantern (Central Green, 8780 Lorton Rd, Lorton)
Constructed by incarcerated people at Lorton Prison using native quartz, cement and wrought iron, providing a quirky welcome to park visitors by day and an eerie glow at night.
Barrel Bridge (Laurel Hill Park, 8780 Lorton Rd, Lorton)
Historic brick and masonry arched bridge built in 1946 recently replaced by a new bridge for area vehicular traffic, the bridge still supports park entry. Adjacent to the historic Barrett House, the bridge was constructed by people incarcerated at the prison using local materials made in the prison brickyard. Arched bridge construction is one of the oldest and most durable structural forms; this the only one of its kind in Virginia. Open for foot traffic under the bridge, where walkers are urged to try its echo effect.
Historic Blenheim (3610 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax)
This brick farmhouse in Greek Revival style and its property became an encampment for Union soldiers during the American Civil War; the house was used as part of a reserve Union hospital system. The house, and the Civil War Interpretive Center next door, are part of the Northern Virgiinia Civil War Graffiti Trail, providing a glimpse of the lives of Union and Confederate soldiers as their armies swept through the area leaving written messages behind.
Lucy Burns Museum (9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton)
Chronicles the women and events leading to suffrage over 102 years ago through period photos and graphics. Learn of 18th and 19th century activism in the atmosphere of the restored workhouse where women activists were imprisoned, ill-treated, and force fed for “blocking the sidewalk” in history’s first demonstration in front of the White House.
Laurel Hill Golf Club/Giles Run Disc Golf Course (8701 Laurel Crest Dr / 8409 Lorton Rd, Lorton)
Dramatic elevation changes help to place this 280 acre Golf Club course, situated on former prison ground, among the top 100 public courses in the Mid-Atlantic region. “Golf Advisor” describes the greens as “fast and undulating,” and “best conditions of any public course in the area”. The “Professional Disc Golf Association” calls the disc golf’s 53 acre, 18-hole course “challenging and intense.” Through an active area club, disc golfers frequently join for pair or tournament play and volunteers maintain the fairways.
Farmers’ Markets - Annandale/Burke/Lorton (8100 Braddock Rd, Annandale/ 5671 Roberts Pkwy,Burke/ 8990 Lorton Station Rd, Lorton)
Three area markets are among ten operating under the Fairfax County Park Authority, providing access to fresh, locally grown food. All produce/products are vendor farm-raised or made from scratch. Lorton Market, open May 1- Nov. 20, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., includes growers Linda Vista Farm, Little Green Farm, Kuhn Orchards and Ochoa Produce.
I-95 Fairfax County Recycling & Disposal Center (9850 Furnace Rd, Lorton)
One of two major County landfill/transfer and recycling centers which accept residential waste, including cardboard moving boxes, household hazardous waste, and computer and other electronics e-waste during scheduled days and hours. Useful for newcomers with moving debris to discard, or who find transported objects don’t work in their new residence.
Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Rd, Fairfax Station)
Park encompasses 888 acres, with a 218 acre freshwater reservoir, and 4.7 mile hiking trail. The park is very popular for walking, with or without a canine companion; picnicking, camping, boating, and fishing. Park amenities include mini-golf, disc golf, golf driving range, ice cream parlor, and a charming mini-train and carousel.
Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail
Over 40 miles of paved and packed trails connect Fairfax County from one end to the other — an amazing feat for a highly populated area. Named for former Board of Supervisors Chairman, and now Congressman, Gerry Connolly, who championed the trail. The multi-use trail begins in Great Falls National Park at the Potomac River and ends in the quaint river-side village of Occoquan, which takes its name from its river. Maps are available in 10 sections for trails through various levels and types of surroundings, from natural to suburban. The trail is popular for many forms of recreation, including biking, hiking, and dog walking.
Go Ape (7550 Reservation Dr, Springfield)
An aerial high rope and zip-lines course located at South Run Recreation Center with multiple skill courses allowing visitors to chose their level of difficulty. Popular with all age groups, for its twenty obstacles with cargo nets, rope bridges, and two zip-lines, which suspend adventurers in the tree canopy 40-50 feet above ground within a harness and easy to use safety system.