In this often impersonal virtual world, there’s a place where shopkeepers greet you warmly and are happy to help in the City of Falls Church. Surrounded by charming homes, this municipality’s independent shops and restaurants are clustered around Broad Street, South Washington Street, and Park Avenue.
In the center is Mr. Brown’s Park, with its balloon mural and play area for the kids. Three historic landmarks include The Falls Church, one of the oldest churches in Virginia. A few blocks away is Tinner Hill Historic Park commemorating the town’s role in the civil rights movement. Signage explains how, in 1915, the city government voted to segregate housing and restrict land ownership for its Black citizens. The Black leaders of this thriving Falls Church community promptly formed the first rural chapter of the NAACP to advocate for equality in public education and voting rights.
Another must-see is Eden Center, which in 1984 became a shopping center and gathering space for Northern Virginia’s Vietnamese community.
1. It’s fun to peruse the vintage items on display at the Falls Church Antique Annex. This shop displays an incredible array of antiques, like turquoise jewelry, old-fashioned soldier toys, teacups commemorating British royal weddings, and crystal flutes. 250 W. Broad St.
2. This kids clothing outlet consigns high-quality merchandise like Hanna Andersson, Lilly Pulitzer, and Boden. Lemon Lane stocks a variety of sizes, along with toys, strollers, and even custom signs. 246 W. Broad St.
3. Baristas at Rare Bird Coffee take their coffee-making seriously. The team sources beans from small, sustainable growers and offers classes in latte making, roasting fundamentals, and evaluating coffee quality. If you’re looking for something great to pair with your coffee, we like the egg-white biscuit with havarti cheese and the cinnamon coffee cake. 230 W. Broad St.
4. There’s a fun combination of vintage and current clothing at New to You, owned by the stylish Christina Novak, who says the store is celebrating 30 years in this community. Behind the counter are illustrious designer bags, but there’s also well-organized, affordable designer clothing, some with tags still on. We love the candle collection, intricately patterned scarves, and fashionable jackets, but there’s always something new. 108 W. Broad St.
5. Pasta lovers will adore the homemade noodles at Thompson Italian, but they shouldn’t miss the burrata salad or olive oil cake. Owners Gabe and Katherine Thompson bill their restaurant as a “neighborhood spot,” but both gained their culinary chops at acclaimed restaurants in Manhattan. Falls Church’s own Kristen Carson Hamilton is also part of the team. 124 N. Washington St.
6. The State Theatre opened in 1936, and a multimillion-dollar restoration in the late 1990s turned it into a venue for live music and private events. The lineup includes both indoor and outdoor shows featuring rock bands, comedians, and tribute performers. Get there early if you want to snag a table or balcony seat. 220 N. Washington St.
7. Bakeshop has so many irresistible desserts to choose from: Nutella croissants, peanut butter pie, molasses cookies, red velvet cupcakes, gingerbread macarons, multiflavored layer cakes, and banana pudding. 100 E. Fairfax St.
8. The crisp crust and soft insides of the biscuits at Preservation Biscuit Company create a sublime vehicle for burgers, bacon, or barbecue. Tucked inside a buttermilk biscuit, each becomes a sandwich to remember. We like pairing our biscuits with sweet additions like homemade jam and macerated strawberries. 102 E. Fairfax St.
9. If you love trying small-batch craft beer, Audacious Aleworks should be on your radar. This neighborhood brewery and taproom operates 15 taps that rotate regularly. Free popcorn, beer brats, and custom grilled cheese sandwiches keep the party going. 110 E. Fairfax St.
10. Historic Eden Center has more than 120 clothing and jewelry stores, groceries, salons, tea shops, and restaurants. Check out Thanh Son Tofu’s unusual tofu preparations. If you’re looking for banh mi, we like Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop. 6799 Wilson Blvd.
This story originally ran in our September issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.