The plethora of parklands and recreational activities as well as good schools helped draw Keith and Christine Williams to Potomac’s River Falls neighborhood 19 years ago. They were looking for a child-centered community to settle with their three kids, who at the time were between kindergarten and third grade.
To the southwest is C&O Canal National Historical Park, which lies just across MacArthur Boulevard. To the northeast is TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Beyond, there are multiple community parks, country clubs and golf courses.
The neighborhood also has its own community center, with tennis courts, a swimming pool, athletic fields, and a host of programs and events for kids and adults.
“The grounds of the clubhouse are always filled with teams practicing on the athletic fields, and the playgrounds are always filled with kids,” said Keith Williams, 61, president of the Civic Association of River Falls and former president of the River Falls Community Center Association, which owns and operates the pool and tennis club. “Many kids ride their bikes down to the clubhouse to meet up with their friends.”
“If you’re coming in with a young family as we did, the community center is the heart of the neighborhood,” added Williams, a retired pension actuary.
The River Falls Community Center Association and the civic association sponsor a variety of family-friendly activities and events throughout the year. Summer traditions include a Memorial Day picnic with a barbecue, egg toss and other games and a Fourth of July fun run and parade. In addition to an official Halloween party, there are informal gatherings throughout the neighborhood on Halloween, including several haunted houses.
“It is not uncommon to have more than 200 kids calling at your door on Halloween,” said Anne Killeen, an agent with Washington Fine Properties who grew up in River Falls and lives there now.
Adults have plenty of options for socializing, too, including a picnic dinner at the pool with live jazz. Volunteers with the River Falls Welcoming Committee greet new residents after they move in.
“It’s different every year, but there are usually several evening get-togethers throughout the year,” Williams said. “They really lend to the neighborhood’s cohesiveness.”
Not completely walkable: River Falls doesn’t offer easy access to public transportation, with the closest Metro station six miles away in Bethesda.
But its proximity to the Beltway — it’s less than a mile away — enables residents to commute easily by car to a variety of locations, including downtown Washington, Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Tysons Corner.
“The commute to downtown is one of best I’ve ever seen,” Williams said, who added that it typically takes roughly 30 minutes to drive downtown through traffic.
Potomac Village is the closest shopping center to River Falls, and many residents walk or ride their bikes there, Williams said.
“In the village, there’s a Giant supermarket, a Safeway, a Vie de France, two or three nice restaurants, and a wonderful seafood market,” Williams said. “If you go to Potomac Village to get a cup of coffee, you’ll almost always run into someone from River Falls while you’re there.”
Living there: The community is roughly bordered by Brickyard Road to the north and east, Stable Lane to the south, and River Falls Drive to the west.
Residents didn’t always tout the convenience of living in River Falls, according to a history of the neighborhood written by Ann Melchior, who has lived in River Falls since 2004.
In fact, residents who moved to the neighborhood when it was first developed by the Clarence W. Gosnell Co. in the 1960s “recall a feeling of isolation, with driving a necessity for shopping, entertainment, and to find friends for their young children,” Melchior wrote.
The neighborhood’s more than 500 homes were built in multiple stages over a period of four decades, according to Melchior.
These days, many of those homes don’t come cheap.
Twenty-six homes have sold in the past 12 months, including one condo for $280,000 and 25 townhouses and houses with prices ranging from $975,000 to $1.5 million.
Killeen said eight homes are currently on the market, from a small condo for $309,000 to a single-family home for $1.395 million. One house is under contract, for $1.35 million.
Most of those homes are three-to- five-bedroom Colonials sitting on lots that are a third of an acre, Killeen said.
When a home comes on the market, it usually doesn’t stay there for long.
“We still have lot of original homeowners living here, in addition to children who grew up in River Falls who come back and buy homes here,” Melchior said.
Schools: Carderock Springs Elementary, Thomas W. Pyle Middle and Walt Whitman High.
Crime: A Montgomery County police spokeswoman, Lucille Baur, says crime statistics are not available for River Falls.
“But it’s certainly fair to say that there were a very low number of crimes reported in that area in the past year,” she said. “There were certainly no major crimes, and a very minimal number of residential burglaries.”
Amy Reinink is a freelance writer.