Vienna sits in the shadow of its bigger neighbor Tysons Corner. But don’t let the town’s low profile fool you: Its cornucopia of shops, events, and restaurants make Vienna a worthwhile day-trip destination. The town was founded when the W&OD railroad established a depot here in 1859, and the little red caboose is an enduring landmark in the heart of town. Three years after the Civil War, local Black leaders opened the first public school for African American students. To learn more, visit the historic Freeman Store & Museum, a white clapboard building that operated as a general store and hotel.
“The Town of Vienna bought and restored this building in 1969, and it became the centerpiece of this community,” says Anne Stuntz, president of Historic Vienna Inc. “It was visionary because the suburbs were expanding and the town wanted to preserve places like this.” While history is cherished in Vienna, the restaurants are decidedly modern, offering diners a trip around the world. Vienna’s coffee culture is thriving, too, and while you stroll with your cup of java, keep your eye out for public art. (The colorful storm drains were painted by local students.) Whether you drive to Vienna or bike the W&OD Trail, you’ll find a vibrant, welcoming community.
1. As you walk through the Town of Vienna, stop for a treat at Lily’s Chocolate & Coffee. The aroma in this Parisian-style bakery makes forgoing a luscious bonbon or deep-fried dough ball (called lokma) virtually impossible. The Belgian waffles arrive piled high with fresh berries and hot fudge. 175 Maple Ave. E.
2. Home decor and gardening enthusiasts enjoy inspecting the treasures at Pear Tree Cottage. Inside this cute bungalow, owner Frances Brayshaw mixes old and new for a distinctive boho-chic sensibility. 130 Maple Ave. E.
3. Vienna’s Town Green is a public park and outdoor venue for concerts and celebrations, as well as a shady place for a picnic. There’s also an amphitheater, used for the Summer on the Green concert series, and a fountain honoring service members. 144 Maple Ave. E.
4. Vienna has no shortage of confections, but Cocoa Vienna stands out for the beautiful hand-dipped chocolates created in this Victorian building. With so many tempting options — think cheesecake ganache, chocolate lollipops, chocolate-covered Oreos, and frozen bananas — you’ll want to try them all. 120 Church St. NE
5. Just steps away from the W&OD trail is Greenheart Juice Bar & Café, a sunny, refreshing refuge. The state-of-the-art juice bar has a rainbow collection of fresh juices, healthy salad bowls, and protein-packed smoothies. Try the Immune Boosters, especially Sweet Tart, Dew Drop, and the signature Green Heat juice. (You can buy a shot or a bottle.) 208 Dominion Rd. NE
6. Beyond the vibe — which is welcoming and cozy — Caffe Amouri Coffee Roaster has become a hot spot for fresh-roasted, sustainable, small-batch coffees. The staff hosts classes to teach the fine art of coffee roasting and brewing to help you replicate barista-made java at home. Plan to attend Friday Club Night when a DJ spins vinyl. 107 Church St. NE
7. Bards Alley is one of the standout bookstores of Northern Virginia. On the curated shelves are books that reflect the community’s commitment to art, good food, and a love of learning. Owner Jennifer Morrow also stocks the classics and new releases for all ages and interests. 110 Church St. NW
8. Oenophiles and beer connoisseurs are always on the lookout for something special, but how to choose? The staff at the Wine Outlet enjoys directing shoppers to a vintage that will enhance their party or home-cooked meal. They also stock goodies to make your own charcuterie board at home. Cheers! 114 Church St. NW
9. Wardrobe Rescue is one of Northern Virginia’s most high-end consignment stores. The merchandise consists of luxury and upscale attire displayed by color, style, occasion, and designer. Think shoes by Prada, resort wear by Lilly Pulitzer, and Louis Vuitton wallets. 134 Church St. NW
10. Family-owned Jammin Java is one of NoVA’s premier music venues. Located in an unassuming shopping center, the space is intimate, and the shows are mostly alt-rock with occasional comedians and family entertainment. Jammin Java serves pizza by Union Pie, plus juices, craft beer, and coffee. 227 Maple Ave. E.
SAVE THE PLANET
11. At Trace – The Zero Waste Store, you’ll learn about products that lower the effects of waste on our planet, such as sustainable bamboo toothbrushes, refillable dry goods (spices, grains, and beans), and luxury body products in environmentally sound packaging. 140 Church St. NW