U.S. News & World Report just released their annual list of the top 25 healthiest American communities this week, and two area spots made the cut.
Falls Church came in at #3, Loudoun County was #6 and Fairfax County was listed as #21 on the report, in which more than a dozen experts in population health and well-being shared their thoughts in an online survey comparing how around 3,000 U.S. counties and their equivalents fared in 84 metrics across 10 health and health-related categories.
“Our community’s access to elite healthcare, our diverse employer base and our world-renowned education system all help make this area a great place to live, work and visit and certainly contribute to our residents’ quality of life,” says Barry Biggar, president and CEO of Visit Fairfax.
“Loudoun is the perfect mix of the technology that we need to run our everyday lives–70% of the world’s internet traffic comes through our data centers–to what makes life enjoyable: countless miles of trails, farms, farmers markets and CSAs as well as restaurants committed to supporting local agriculture,” adds Visit Loudoun president and CEO Beth Erickson. “But it’s when you leave technology behind that the fun starts. We have vibrant towns and historic villages, a booming craft beverage scene, art, music and a great sense of community–all assets that encourage residents and visitors alike to stay active and explore.”
Data on population health, equity, education, economy, housing, food and nutrition, environment, public safety, community vitality and infrastructure was collected and analyzed by U.S. News in collaboration with the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES), with county-level data collected from the CDC, U.S. Census Bureau and other validated sources.
“We have hundreds of miles of serene hiking trails, thousands of acres of parkland, one-of-a-kind attractions and spacious historic sites, and a high concentration of locally sourced, high quality dining to support the area’s $3 billion tourism economy,” Biggar adds. “This all adds up to our [area] being able to provide endless opportunities for people to live their best lives, whether they are visiting or exploring their own hometown.”
Here are some things to enjoy in each area:
- Test your endurance on 347 miles of bike paths (the distance from Leesburg to Cleveland, Ohio) and 85 miles of hiking trails including the popular Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
- Visit a National Park Service site like the Appalachian Trail, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
- Tote home some home-grown products from farmers markets and CSAs like Paige’s Pit Stop, Great Country Farms, Georges Mill Farm and Locksley Farmstead.
- Take comfort in the area’s world-class health services, including the first sensory-friendly children’s emergency room in the Washington, DC area, launched in 2017 at Inova Loudoun Hospital.
- Explore 14 parks to walk, run, bike and play including Big Chimneys Park, Cavalier Trail Park and Berman Park.
- Stroll through the Farmers Market every Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.
- Grab some pho or banh mi at the Eden Center, the nation’s premiere Vietnamese shopping and dining experience.
- Hiking opportunities include walking along Mather Gorge’s dramatic cliff tops and watching the roar of the falls cascade over the rocky terrain at Great Falls Park.
- You can rent a kayak and paddle the serene waters at Pohick Bay or Mason Neck State Park, or become one with nature (and amazing wildlife/birding opportunities) at places like Huntley Meadows Park.
- If you’re craving those antioxidants, load up on Omega-3s at one of the two stunning historical vineyards in the county.
- Work your brain by consuming the vast array of historical resources available in the area, with a trip back to colonial times at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, or to the military aircraft of World War I and II at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, or to the fight for women’s voting equality at the Workhouse Arts Center’s Lucy Burns Museum.
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