Local Atmosphere

Location
Fairfax, VA
Undergrads
16,265
Tuition (in-state)
$27,764 ($9,620)
Admission Difficulty
Average
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Reviews

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4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Mason offers bus systems that can take you around the area to places such as the mall, town plazas, metro station, etc so there is never nothing you can't do here.

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5 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: The Fairfax area is great. Although, its a very quiet and peaceful there is always something to do. You can take the metro to DC if you want to party or go to clubs/bars. There is almost everything you need in this suburban area. Fair Oaks mall is also at the most 7 minutes from GMU and is a great mall.

3 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: I live off campus and the parking situation at Mason is notoriously poor. It doesn't help that 2 weeks of April every year a large portion of the one of the big lots is taken up by Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus.

3 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Being close to Washington DC means to a of amazing museums and pubs and attractions. But no one I know has time to take the train into the city, and traffic is so bad, you'd have to be crazy to drive. But the suburbs offer some good dining and shopping, even though it's so expensive no college student could really partake.

4 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: It's located near D.C. Anything you want to do, you can find a place to do it.

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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Emily Sharrer
Hometown
Harrisonburg, Va.
Major
Communication
View all previous student authors

As evidenced by the astounding number of local museums and historical sites and the tiny number of bars and clubs in Fairfax, it’s easy to see that the city is still catching up with its newer, younger George Mason University neighbors. As the University is fairly new—it was established as its own university in 1979—the city is not as student-focused as other small-college towns but it still offers a lot to do in the way of sight-seeing and parks and restaurants.

Students feel that the main local attractions like Gunston Hall and Mount Vernon are great and fun to visit, but seeing them once is enough. After that, it’s pretty hard to find fun things to do every single weekend in the city of Fairfax. That’s why going into D.C. or even Old Town Alexandria are a popular options among students, as opposed to staying on campus during the weekends. In D.C. there are several other universities including Marymount University, Georgetown, George Washington University, and American University. Despite the short distance between the D.C. schools and Mason, there is little interaction between Mason and other universities. The best advice: Don’t get worn out trying to visit all the local attractions in one weekend; instead, spread out the visits to keep entertained for longer. There are more than enough shopping locations, historical sites and restaurants in close proximity to Mason to keep students entertained nearly every single weekend if they choose to go off-campus exploring.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Tyson's Corner is Virginia's largest office market with 25.7 million square feet of office space.
  2. Fairfax County has more people than any other county in Virginia.
  3. The county is also the richest county in the nation, boasting a median houshold income of around $100,000.
  4. The oldest settlements in Fairfax County, which was formed in 1742, are located on the Potomac River and include George Washington's home, Mount Vernon and George Mason's home, Gunston Hall.
  5. The first Confederate officer to die was John Quincy Marr, who was killed in Fairfax in 1861.
  6. During the Civil War, the originial Fairfax County Courthouse, which is the oldest building in Fairfax, was used as a headquarters for union soldiers.
  7. In 1989 the Ebola Reston virus was discovered in a laboratory in Reston, Va. The story is chronicled in the book The Hot Zone.
Notable Natives
  • Dave Grohl - member of Nirvana, Foo Fighters
  • George Mason
  • George Washington
  • Mia Hamm
  • Lauren Graham - actress, "Gilmore Girls"
  • Jason Sudeikis - actor, "Saturday Night Live"
  • Lorenzo Odone - the film Lorenzo's Oil is based on him
  • Cho Seung-hui
  • Robert Hanssen - spy who sold secrets to Russia
Local Slang
  • Bunny Man Bridge: A one-lane bridge in Clifton, Va., that is said to be haunted by a man in a bunny suit
  • The Mixing Bowl: The interchange where Interstates 95, 395 and 495 come together-avoid the mixing bowl at all costs!
  • The Shack: A telephone booth with a lot of graffiti that sits in front of the Chantilly HIgh School soccer field
Points of Interest
  • American Indian Museum
  • Claude Moore Colonial Farm
  • Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism
  • Fairfax Museum
  • Fairfax Station Railroad Museum
  • Franconia Museum
  • Freeman House Museum
  • Frying Pan Farm Park
  • George Mason University Center for the Arts
  • George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
  • Gum Springs Historical Society and Museum
  • Gunston Hall
  • Historic Herndon Depot Museum
  • Jammin Java
  • Laurel Grove School
  • Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington
  • National Firearms Museum
  • Old Town Hall Fairfax
  • Patriot Center
  • Reston Museum
  • Smithonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
  • The State Theatre
  • Sully Historic Site
  • Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts
  • Woodlawn Estate
Shopping Centers
  • Fair Oaks Mall
  • Fairfax Corner
  • Fairfax Square
  • Reston Town Center
  • Springfield Mall
  • Tysons Corner
  • Tysons Galleria
Movie Theaters
AMC Theatres Hoffman Center 22
206 Swamp Fox Rd.
Alexandria
(888) 262-4386
Movie Theaters
AMC Theatres Tyson's Corner 16
7850 Tyson's Corner Ctr.
McLean
(888) 262-4386
Movie Theaters
Cinema Arts Theater
9650 Main St.
Fairfax
(703) 978-6991
Movie Theaters
Fairfax Corner 14: Cinema De Lux
11900 Palace Way
Fairfax Corner, Fairfax
(703) 502-4060
Movie Theaters
H & T Sound Dynamics
4094 Majestic Ln., #225
Fairfax
(703) 930-9808
Movie Theaters
Lee Highway Multiplex Cinemas
8223 Lee Hwy.
Fairfax
(703) 502-4060
Movie Theaters
Regal Fairfax Towne Center 10
12110 Fairfax Towne Ctr.
Fairfax
(703) 591-1020
Movie Theaters
United Artist Theatres Fairfax Town Center
4110 W. Ox Rd.
Fairfax
(703) 591-1020
Movie Theaters
University Mall Theater
10659 Braddock Rd
Fairfax
(703) 273-7111
Movie Theaters
Wortham Imax Theater
11900 Palace Way
Fairfax
(713) 639-4629
Major Sports Teams
  • DC United: Major League Soccer
  • Washington Capitals: NHL
  • Washington Nationals: MLB
  • Washington Redskins: NFL
  • Washington Wizards: NBA
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Baltimore: MD: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Richmond: VA: 2 hours
  • Washington, D.C.: : 30 minutes

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 181 responses

Very poor
Excellent
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 176 responses

  • 0% Painfully remote.
  • 35% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 6% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 18% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 41% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 175 responses

  • 19% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 33% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 49% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 174 responses

  • 13% No way.
  • 51% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 37% Totally.

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