Silver Line travel guide: five excursions on Metro’s new rails

July 23

Tysons Corner, Va., will at long last be reachable via Metro, on the Silver Line. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

One common refrain about the Silver Line: “I don’t work or live out there, so I won’t be using it until it goes to Dulles.” But that’s a pretty limited way to look at the five newest Metro stops. Even if Tysons and Reston are nowhere near your regular 9-to-5 routine, there are plenty of other reasons to make the trip. We’ve developed a few potential itineraries — including a bike adventure, a night out and a shopping excursion — that will entice you to pull out that SmarTrip card.


It’s just $6 to rent a boat from the dock off of Lake Anne Plaza in Reston. (Vicky Hallett/Express)

Wiehle-Reston East: Recreation Destination

Hope you brought your bike or a comfy pair of walking shoes. The final stop of the first phase of the Silver Line sits just a block away from the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, a 45-mile paved path that winds from the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington to Purcellville, Va. The most popular destination from the Metro will likely be the closest: Reston Town Center, with its 50-plus shops and 30 restaurants, is a quick 1.5-mile ride or hike away.

Instead of immediately hopping on the W&OD, try this roundabout route. It uses some of the other nature trails that snake around Reston, a planned community that was developed to emphasize recreation. Go a tad further north on Wiehle Avenue to North Shore Drive. (There’s a sidewalk if you’re afraid of riding with traffic.)

From there, you can connect with The Blue Trail, which meanders through parks, sleepy residential neighborhoods and the Hidden Creek Country Club. Although there are frequent markers — and you can download a map at reston.org — newbies can expect to get lost once or twice, particularly around the golf course. You’ll know you’re on the right track in about 2 miles when you arrive at Lake Anne Plaza. The spot was modeled after the coastal Italian village of Portofino, with a community gathering space right on the water. Grab a sweet treat from the CupCake Ladi (11412 Washington Plaza W; 703-787-6775), or linger over oeufs Benedict at Cafe Montmartre (1625 Washington Plaza; 703-904-8080). Other attractions around the ’60s-era plaza: a mod concrete playground, $6 boat rentals and a Saturday farmers market.

Carve out a few minutes to visit the Reston Museum (1639 Washington Plaza; 703- 709-7700). The free, one-room exhibit tells how planner Robert E. Simon created this new kind of suburb — named after his initials — 50 years ago. There’s a statue of him sitting on a bench outside, but you might also spy the 100-year-old chatting up the locals.

Then, make your way to The Green Trail, a paved pathway that extends west from Lake Anne. It’s a mile and a half to the heart of Reston Town Center, where you’ll find a key amenity after all of this exercise: clean, public bathrooms.

Happy Trails For another trail option, Bruce Wright of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling suggests heading south of the station toward Lake Thoreau. Take a break at Cafesano (11130 S Lakes Drive; 703-391-2100), then continue on to the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive; 703-476-9689) for more trails and educational programs. Up for even more adventure? On a mountain bike or on foot, you can cut through Lake Fairfax Park (home of a Wild West-themed children’s water park) and connect to the Difficult Run Trail. The approximately 7-mile route apparently lives up to its name, and will take you all the way to Great Falls Park. V.H.


“Bat Boy: The Musical” is one of 1st Stage Theatre’s recent productions. (1st Stage)

Spring Hill: A Night Out

Developers plan for this strip of car dealerships to transform into an arts and entertainment district, potentially anchored by a performance venue that could seat thousands. You won’t see many signs of that yet amid the parking lots of Leesburg Pike, but you can get a glimpse of the future by enjoying an evening of culture and cocktails.

From the station, head one block over to Westwood Center Drive, where you’ll find a shopping center packed with diverse dining options, including I-Thai, Bombay Tandoor and Babalu, a just-opened Mediterranean cafe and hookah bar. There’s a reason most visitors make a beeline, however, for Shamshiry (8607 Westwood Center Drive; 703-448-8883), a family-friendly Persian kabob house known for its heaping portions of flavorful rice and colorful menu descriptions (one rice dish “tastes as if imaginative honeybees created it”). Pro tip: Order half salad, half rice. You’ll still have leftovers.

Walk off some of your meal by returning to Spring Hill, and hang a left. Just a few minutes up the road, you’ll arrive at a sprawling warehouse complex that’s home to 1st Stage Theatre (1524 Spring Hill Road; 703-854-1856). The intimate 100-seat venue can be tricky to find; director Eileen Mandell recommends looking for the Dogtopia day care center, and then following the chain-link fence. The reward? Wide, cushioned seats and ambitious productions — last season’s lineup included “Bat Boy: The Musical.” This weekend, 1st Stage hosts “The Actual Dance,” a moving one-man show about the writer’s experience with his wife’s breast cancer.

After the curtain call, take the set of stairs leading down into the parking lot and then keep going left. The theater shares a back wall with Iris Lounge (1524 Spring Hill Road; 703-760-9000), the Tysons area’s only nightclub. Patrons — mostly in their 30s and up — swirl around a swanky billiards room, a cigar bar and, of course, a dance floor. On Fridays and Saturdays, women don’t pay the $10 cover until after 11 p.m. Party responsibly, and the 10-minute walk back to the Metro is totally doable, even in heels.

Later & Now Want to stay out all night? Both the Wal-Mart and 24 Hour Fitness in Tysons West (1500 Cornerside Blvd.) are open 24 hours a day. Spring Hill is the most bike-accessible of the four Tysons stations, says FABB’s Wright. The group has mapped out multiple safe routes from Spring Hill to various destinations in the region, such as Wolf Trap and downtown Vienna. V.H.


At Super Chicken, $7 buys a quarter of juicy, charcoal-broiled Peruvian-style chicken and two sides. (Holley Simmons/Express)

Greensboro: Bargains Galore

If you’re looking to save a few greenbacks, look no further than the Greensboro Metro station. The stop puts you smack dab in a cluster of big-box bargain stores and affordable dining options.

The station’s eastern exit spills you into Tysons Square (8359 Leesburg Pike), which includes Marshalls, HomeGoods and Pier 1 Imports. For a cheap bite, stop by Food Corner Kabob House (8315-B Leesburg Pike; 703-893-2333), where $9.95 gets you the shami (spiced meat patties) or chicken kabob lunch special. How about an even cheaper bite? Super Chicken, where just under $7 buys a quarter of juicy, charcoal-broiled Peruvian-style chicken and two sides, such as rice, beans or yucca fries (8357-A Leesburg Pike; 703-288-1665).

Just a hop to the north is the Pike 7 Plaza (8350 Leesburg Pike), where more shopping and dining awaits, including a T.J.Maxx, DSW, a Ranger Surplus store offering discounted outdoor gear and Thai Pilin, where most lunchtime dishes clock in under $10 (8385 Leesburg Pike; 703-556-9191). Head back to the Greensboro station and use the pedestrian bridge to cross over Leesburg Pike.

Stop by Men’s Wearhouse (8342 Leesburg Pike; 703-748-0826) or the Big Screen Store (8344 Leesburg Pike; 703-506-0171), which offers more than 40 varieties of Samsung TVs. A big-screen television isn’t exactly Metro-friendly, so bring some friends.

Still Hungry? For a cheap snack, walk north on Leesburg Pike via the sidewalk and turn right onto SAIC Drive. Follow the street to Solutions Drive and you’ll spot a fleet of food trucks that may include Pho Wheels, California Sliders, Atip (primarily shawarma, falafel and hummus), The Wagon (American and Mediterranean classics like steak and cheese and gyro) and Tortuga (Mexican sandwiches). Some of the trucks exceed D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ length limit, so they may be unfamiliar to city folk. H.S.


Tysons Corner Center: a place you will never again have to find parking. (Tysons Corner Center)

Tysons Corner: Mall Aboard

You receive no points for knowing that Tysons Corner is a retail hub. (Are two Macy’s across the street from each other really necessary?) But those who aren’t keen on shopping shouldn’t overlook the recreational treasures that abound at Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center, not to mention the flourishing gourmet food scene.

To get to Tysons Galleria — the glitzier of the two mall options — exit on the north side of the station and turn left onto Tysons Boulevard. Make your next left onto Galleria Drive, where to your right sits the future home of Founding Farmers (slated to open in the fall) and to the left is the Lerner Town Square (8025 Galleria Drive). The 10-acre lot hosts occasional events, including the upcoming Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival on Sept. 20. Pass the Tysons Galleria parking garage (which you’ll never have to wrestle with again) and make a right on to International Drive. There you’ll see the pearly gates of Tysons Galleria.

Bypass the Gucci and Mulberry stores and go straight to the Ritz-Carlton, where you’ll find Jose Andres’ America Eats Tavern (1700 Tysons Blvd.; 703-744-3999). (To access America Eats directly, keep heading north up Tysons Boulevard from the Metro station and turn left into the Ritz-Carlton lobby and go to the fourth floor.) Though the restaurant specializes in New World cuisine, the decor is light on garish Americana: Subtle winks include water in mason jars and “We the People of the United States” written above the open kitchen.

Once sated, head back toward the Tysons Corner station and cross the pedestrian bridge, which empties you onto the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road). The $600 million project, debuting on July 24, is a 1.5 acre mixed-use space that sits 32 feet above street level. The elevated plaza is also accessible from an escalator from within the mall. It plays host to a grassy park, a 1,000-square-foot playground, a weekly concert series through August and Saturday movie screenings.

Continue via a walkway to the Tysons Corner Center mall. There, Tysons Fit Club offers free yoga classes and health workshops. The L.L.Bean store leads frequent excursions, among them stand-up paddle boarding ($20) and moonlight kayak tours ($49, prices include equipment rental), plus free in-store clinics on knot tying and map reading. REI offers year-round programming that includes outdoor photography classes ($65, $85 for non-members) and overnight backpacking in the Shenandoah ($250, $270 non-members).

Big Primpin’ For a fresh cut, color or wax, stop into Salon Bleu (on level three of Tysons Galleria), which was chosen by Elle as one of the top 50 salons in the country (703-448-1300). At Sassoon Salon, on level one of Tysons Galleria (703-448-9884), new clients get 20 percent off a cut and color when they present their Metro card now through Nov. 1. H.S.


Lost Dog Cafe’s beer list has around 200 choices. This might make McLean more interesting. (Lost Dog Cafe)

McLean: Um … Beer?

Unless you’re an employee (or a corporate spy), you’re probably not going to want to wander around the campuses of Capital One, Northrop Grumman or the MITRE Corporation. That’s pretty much all there is around the McLean stop, the furthest east of the new stations. It’s a full 2 miles from downtown McLean — a trip that’s possible, but not entirely pleasant, by bike. And although a nearby nature area will be spruced up soon, “there isn’t a lot there now, just overgrown underbrush,” says Navid Roshan-Afshar, who runs the blog thetysonscorner.com. So we have one suggestion for you: Start walking down Colshire Drive, and in less than 10 minutes you can be ordering an IPA at the Lost Dog Cafe (1690A Anderson Road; 703-356-5678). The outpost of the local chain boasts a wall mural depicting the history of Tysons Corner in dog cartoons, as well as a lengthy menu of specialty sandwiches and gourmet pizzas. Wash your meal down with enough beer — their list has around 200 choices — and maybe McLean won’t seem so boring after all. V.H.

More Silver Line-related coverage from Express:

It’s never too early to start complaining about the Silver Line — in song!

Silver Where?: What riders know about Metro’s newest line

New landscape is planned for Tysons Corner to make it more friendly to walking, cycling

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read
Next Story
Samantha Dean · July 22