The area surrounding Janelia Farm Research Campus is experiencing rapid residential and economic growth. Loudoun County boasts a diverse and well-educated population, with over 25% of households speaking a language other than English and over 56% of the population holding a bachelor's degree or higher.+ The median household income ($114,200) was the highest in the country in 2010.+
Nearby residential towns include the modern development of Ashburn and, about six miles from the Janelia campus, the historic town of Leesburg, founded in 1758. CNN's Money Magazine identified Leesburg as “one of the best small towns in which to live”* and voted Loudoun County #2 in the nation as “where the jobs are.”++
The county's public school system ranks among the best in the nation. Students have access to top teachers and the latest technology and also benefit from a unique science education partnership with HHMI. The Academy of Science is a magnet program designed for gifted high school students (grades 9 - 12), and provides advanced math and science training for eligible Loudoun county residents.
Bordered by the Potomac River and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the county boasts some spectacular scenery. The region's rural charm includes small, picturesque towns and villages, as well as Civil War battlefields, elegant estates, and fine wineries. Residents have ample shopping resources nearby, with the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets just around the corner and one of the region's largest shopping malls, Tysons Corner Center, less than 20 miles away in McLean Va. Quality health care and other services are also readily available.
While it's a short trip to the many museums in Washington DC, Loudoun County residents can explore the Smithsonian Institution's extensive collection much closer to home. The Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, displays more than 80 aircraft in an immense hangar near Dulles Airport; among the historic pieces are the Enola Gay and the space shuttle Enterprise. The Smithsonian Naturalist Center in Leesburg is a unique resource for collectors, college students, and scientists as young as 10 years old, housing more than 30,000 natural history and anthropological specimens and the tools with which to explore them.
With its mountains, river, and expansive areas of green space, Loudoun County is an ideal place to play outdoors. Local recreation opportunities include the 45-mile Washington and Old Dominion Regional Park and Trail, a paved trail popular with walkers, joggers, and cyclists, and Red Rocks Wilderness Overlook, a 67-acre aviary sanctuary overlooking the Potomac. Loudoun County is considered Virginia’s horse country, and its equestrian events draw international crowds. Sixty-five miles to the west, Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains provides magnificent panoramic views, more than 500 miles of hiking trails, and plentiful opportunities for camping, fishing, and cycling. When temperatures soar in the summer, adventurers can retreat underground to the many caverns of the Shenandoah Valley.
Urban amenities are easily accessible to Loudoun County residents. Metro trains to DC leave from the West Falls Church station less than 20 miles from Janelia Farm. Local buses link the metro system to Loudoun County.
* van Noordennen, Pieter (September 2011). Best Places to Live 4. Leesburg, VA. Retrieved from:
+ U.S. Census Bureau. (June 3, 2011). Loudoun County QuickFacts from the U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from:
++ CNN Money Magazine (August 19, 2011). Where the Jobs Are 2. Loudoun County, VA. Retrieved from:
Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church are minutes away from downtown DC by car or Metrorail and offer pedestrian-friendly, multicultural neighborhoods with shopping, dining, and other services conveniently located near residential areas. A free shuttle from Arlington to the Janelia campus offers a worry-free commute. Closer to Janelia is Fairfax County, an expansive region with a population that exceeds that of seven states. Throughout Northern Virginia, attractive tree-lined neighborhoods are inhabited by residents with a strong sense of community involvement.
The Northern Virginia area is proud of its excellent public school systems and boasts other services, such as police, fire, and rescue departments, that are among the nation's finest. The area also caters to virtually any shopping need, with large centers, including Tysons Corner Center in McLean, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, and the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets..
The area is full of public parks, ranging from wide-open spaces to hidden havens picnic spots, tennis courts, soccer fields, and swing sets are usually somewhere nearby. There is also an extensive trail system, including the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail, which follows the Potomac River from Rosslyn, Va., to George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon. The Mount Vernon trail connects with the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, which passes through Northern Virginia along its 45-mile route.
Northern Virginia is home to several unique arts venues. Wolf Trap, a national park for the performing arts located on 100 acres of farmland in Vienna, Va, presents dance, music, and theater performances. During the summer, many of these are staged in its majestic outdoor Filene Center, where audience members can picnic on the lawn during the performance. A separate Theatre-in-the-Woods hosts puppet shows, storytelling, and other children's performances. Wolf Trap's educational program includes the preschool Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, an internship program for college students, and master classes in dance, musical theater, opera, folk, jazz, pop, and classical music. The Torpedo Factory Art Center, on the waterfront in Alexandria, houses six galleries and 84 working studios where visitors can watch painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelry makers, and other artists at work. The Torpedo Factory also offers art classes for children and adults.
Whether you choose to live in Washington DC or just visit occasionally, the city is easily navigable on foot or on the five lines of the city’s Metrorail system, which extends into the surrounding suburbs and is recognized as one of the country's cleanest and most efficient public transit systems. In Washington DC, you can pay tribute to the great leaders and events of the country's past at magnificent monuments and memorials; stroll past stately embassies; immerse yourself in politics; or attend the diverse festivals and events that take place year-round, ranging from the International Film Festival and the DC Caribbean Carnival to the Cherry Blossom Festival and Independence Day festivities on the National Mall.
Washington DC thrives on its diversity, and each of its many neighborhoods offers distinct shopping, dining, and nightlife. Enjoy innovative, four-star restaurants in the downtown area, or explore other areas to sample authentic ethnic cuisine—Ethiopian, Salvadoran, and Lebanese are just a few of the offerings. Bars, cafes, and other nightspots are equally diverse. Shop at well-known and specialty stores in the bustling Georgetown area or the hip boutiques along U Street. Sample fresh produce and discover treasures from local artists at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. Visit the eclectic Kramerbooks in the Dupont Circle area, as much a community gathering place as a store, or attend a lively reading or discussion at another popular independent bookstore, Politics and Prose.
With more theater seats than any city except New York, Washington DC is an excellent place to see a show. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts overlooks the Potomac River in Georgetown and presents music, dance, and theater from some of the greatest artists around the world. It is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Ballet, and the Washington Opera and features free performances daily on its Millennium Stage. Its Imagination Celebration presents theater, dance, music, puppetry, and opera for children and their families. The Smithsonian's Discovery Theater also presents more than a dozen shows for children each season featuring puppets, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes. Arena Stage, the Studio Theatre, and the Shakespeare Theatre are among the other prominent venues for performing arts in Washington DC.
From textiles to espionage, few topics worth learning about cannot be found in one of Washington's many museums. The 19 local museums of the Smithsonian Institution could take years to explore thoroughly but are only the beginning. The city is also home to myriad independent museums, including a wide range of art galleries, the International Spy Museum, and the National Academy of Sciences' new Marian Koshland Science Museum. Guests of the National Zoo, set within Rock Creek National Park, can visits thousands of animals of nearly 400 different species; the most popular are the two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang.
With a multitude of local sports teams, Washingtonians can catch a game any time of year. The Verizon Center in downtown DC is home to Washington's two basketball teams, the Wizards and the Mystics, as well as its hockey team, the Capitals. Football fans watch the Washington Redskins in action at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. D.C. United hits the soccer field at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. During baseball season, you can see the National’s take bat at their new park in southeast D.C. or take a quick drive to Baltimore for an Orioles game.
On days when watching someone else run, hit, or tackle is not enough, the monuments provide an inspiring backdrop for the volleyball and ultimate frisbee games that can usually be found on the National Mall. For more solitary pursuits, more than 50 miles of trails wind through the District for running, hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. Or rent a canoe or kayak and enjoy a unique vantage point on the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Arlington Cemetery, and other sights along the Potomac River.
Universities in Washington DC are an integral part of the area's dynamic research community. Major universities include Georgetown, George Washington, American, and Howard.
For Janelia scientists, the most convenient Maryland locations will be in Frederick and Montgomery Counties. Frederick County comprises historic towns set amongst wineries, Civil War battlefields, and scenic farmland, whereas Montgomery County is an eclectic conglomeration of communities ranging from those in its urban southern portion to the rolling farmland further west.
The southern portion of Montgomery County includes the cities of Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Chevy Chase (home to HHMI headquarters). Residents in these areas enjoy a little less traffic and more space than life in the city center without sacrificing cultural benefits, such as excellent ethnic cuisine and art-house theaters. Washington's Metrorail system extends into these communities, making it easy to venture downtown without traffic and parking hassles. Those who prefer more rural surroundings may enjoy the rolling hills and farmland of Frederick and Poolesville or the sprawling estates of Potomac. To avoid Washington's notorious Beltway traffic, commuters from these areas can reach Virginia by crossing the Potomac on the historic White's Ferry.
Montgomery County has an extensive 34,000-acre park system, providing plenty of green space for picnicking, tennis games, and youth and adult sports leagues. Walkers, joggers, cyclists, and equestrians can explore the system's nearly 200 miles of trails. In the spring, Brookside Gardens, a 50-acre public display garden in the Wheaton area, is a marvelous place to view the region's spectacular cherry blossoms and azaleas, and as the weather turns colder, two ice rinks provide lessons and open skating for all ages. The 26-acre Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Frederick County offers up-close encounters with bears, alligators, and tortoises; children and adults can also explore the interactive exhibits of the National Wildlife Visitor Center and search for beavers, bald eagles, and wild turkeys from the trails of the Patuxent Research Refuge in neighboring Prince George's County.
A popular hiking and biking trail, the C&O Canal Towpath passes through the area as it follows the route of the Potomac River for 184 miles, all the way from Cumberland, Md., to downtown Washington, DC. A local highlight along the route is Great Falls National Park, where the river cascades through a breathtaking series of waterfalls, dropping 76 feet in less than one mile. Adventure seekers can kayak the falls or climb the cliffs, while those preferring to remain on solid ground can scramble over the Billy Goat Trail or explore the historic Patowmack Canal, whose construction began in 1785 under the direction of George Washington. The Catoctin Mountains are a recreational highlight in Frederick County, with opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, and fly-fishing, and nearby Sugarloaf Mountain is another popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking.
For those looking to express their artistic side, Glen Echo Park is a cultural, educational, and recreational center that hosts classes and performances for adults and children. The center's children's courses range from tie-dye to rock guitar, and its Adventure Theater presents fables, fairy tales, and musicals for children ages four and above. Adults can dabble in glassblowing and puppetry or attend the park's regular social dances. In Silver Spring, the American Film Institute's Silver Theater lets movie lovers view everything from Charlie Chaplin classics to modern foreign films in a refurbished historic auditorium. A stroll through the historic streets of downtown Frederick might include live entertainment and visits to its many art galleries, amidst an abundance of shopping and dining opportunities.
Like the rest of the DC area, suburban Maryland has a thriving research community. The largest research center in the area, with more than 18,000 employees, is located in Bethesda at the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health. The National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world, is also located on the NIH campus. The Food and Drug Administration is headquartered just north of Bethesda in Rockville, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is located in Gaithersburg. The Johns Hopkins University and the Carnegie Institution in Baltimore are also nearby.
With the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Coast beaches all nearby, a few hours of driving can transport you to what feels like a different world. For more urban adventures, it's a short trip to Baltimore to explore the harbor or the National Aquarium, and Philadelphia and New York can both be reached in a few hours by car or train.
Janelia is just eight miles from Dulles International Airport, served by 15 major domestic airlines, eight regional airlines, and 20 major international airlines, making the campus easily accessible to visiting scientists. Two other regional airports, Ronald Reagan Washington National and Baltimore-Washington International, are also nearby. Amtrak's Union Station in Washington, DC, makes most Eastern cities easily accessible by rail as well.