Things to Do

How to Spend an Artful Afternoon in Reston

Paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and kebabs? You’ll find that and more on this day trip to Reston.

Every spring, the streets of Reston Town Center are closed to traffic for three days to host more than 200 artists and thousands of attendees at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, a free event (though a donation of $5 per adult is encouraged). This year, it’s May 16 through 18. Arrive early to score parking.

Though you can find just about every art form—from photography to furniture to ceramics, jewelry, and glass—a few exhibitors merit special mention. Trent Manning’s macabre yet whimsical take on children’s toys and dolls makes for some of the show’s most interesting sculptures. If jewelry is your thing, don’t miss Christy Klug, whose bold cuffs, rings, and necklaces are crafted from oxidized silver, rubber, and vitreous enamel and are not for the meek. Black-and-white-photography fans will enjoy Chris Coffey’s moody landscapes.

Take a snack break at Pitango Gelato (11942 Democracy Dr.; 703-606-9906), which offers the rich Italian treat in unusual flavors like black tea and cardamom. If you’re lucky, you might catch a festival street performer while enjoying your gelato.

If you still need to rest, check out the Chill Out Tent in Reston Town Square Park. You can relax in the shade while the kids are occupied with face painting or, in the nearby Children’s Art Tent, free art projects.

Hungry? While Reston Town Center has many restaurants, the festival means long waits. Instead, drive a few minutes for some of the most authentic Middle Eastern kebabs in Northern Virginia. Reston Kabob (11844 Sunrise Valley Dr.; 703-390-9070) is the very definition of a dive, but it’s a local favorite for its huge, inexpensive portions of deliciously spiced lamb, chicken, and beef (not to mention the bread, baked in a clay oven). One gyro is enough to feed two. Be sure to taste the addictive sour-cream- and vinegar-based sauces.

This article appears in the May 2014 issue of Washingtonian.