Where We Live | South Riding in Loudoun County, Va.

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A quarter-century after its first homes were built, the Loudoun County community of South Riding, Va., appears within reach of its vision to be the most desired place to live and raise a family in Northern Virginia. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

South Riding has an ambitious vision: to be the most desired place to live and raise a family in Northern Virginia.

A quarter-century after its first homes were built, the picturesque Loudoun County community appears within reach of that vision. Schools, swimming pools and athletic fields are strategically placed among streets lined with flowering trees and color-coordinated homes, many of which have front porches and white picket fences.

South Riding was the first large development in the fast-growing part of Loudoun County south of Route 50. Trafalgar, the initial developer, started construction on farmland in 1995 before Toll Brothers took over and built out the project over two decades.

Although South Riding is family-oriented, there are homes for everyone, said Michael Rush, a real estate professional with Long and Foster who has been selling homes there for 20 years.

The 6,336 residential units are “a mix of all different styles of homes, in all different price ranges,” Rush said. “You have condos, smaller townhouses, larger townhouses; you have smaller singles, medium-size singles, and then you have the larger estate-size homes as well.”

Although amenities lagged behind as the community was being developed, they have now caught up “100 percent,” Rush said. South Riding Proprietary, the community association, oversees four outdoor pools and a kiddie water park, as well as tennis courts, parks, playgrounds, fishing piers and other recreational facilities.

South Riding also benefits from county facilities such as a public safety center and the massive Dulles South Recreation and Community Center, which has swimming pools, fitness centers, a climbing wall and a senior center. A county library branch is also nearby.

“We have things that we didn’t have five years ago that make it more possible to live, work and play in your community,” said Kevin Turner, who has lived in South Riding since 2000.

Several residents said South Riding’s full calendar of special events (many postponed until after the coronavirus outbreak) sets it apart from other communities.

“It’s what we’re famous for,” said Wendy Taylor, manager of the community association. “Part of the philosophy many years ago was that there was nothing out here. So we were trying to create the community and build the memories to make it the feeling of a small town.”

Typically, among the most popular events is Celebrate South Riding, an annual weekend event in June featuring carnival rides, food vendors and music. Other events usually include a summer outdoor music series, fireworks on July 3, and programs for people of all ages, such as comedy nights, bingo, adult proms, antique fairs and community yard sales. There are usually at least two events every week of the summer, Taylor said.

When Gary Smith moved to South Riding from Florida in 2004, he and his family rented a townhouse there for a year before buying another, where they still live.

“The people that I worked with were singing the praises of South Riding — how great the schools were and how great the community was,” he said. “We checked it out and immediately fell in love with it.”

Smith has two college-age daughters who grew up in South Riding, and another in kindergarten.

“I thought my kids were through Loudoun County schools, and then we started over,” Smith said. “But I’m glad to start over here with my youngest. If you want to raise a family, this is the place to do it.”

Living there: South Riding is roughly bordered by Route 50 to the north; Braddock Road to the south; Planting Field Drive, the communities of Bridle Ridge and Blue Spring Farm and the Fairfax County line to the east; and the community of Avonlea and streets feeding into Riding Center Drive to the west. The smaller neighborhoods of South Village, Cedar Hunt and North Riding, which fall within the boundaries, are not part of the South Riding homeowners association. Association fees are generally less than $100 a month. The HOA provides trash and recycling services and maintains the recreational facilities and private streets. Loudoun Water provides water and sewer service.

There were 253 home sales in South Riding over the past year, according to Rush, ranging from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $280,000 to a single-family home with four bedrooms and five bathrooms for $830,000. The average sale price was $575,000.

There are five homes on the market, ranging from a townhouse with three bedrooms and four bathrooms for $450,000 to a single-family home with four bedrooms and five bathrooms for $719,000.

Schools: Arcola, Buffalo Trail, Cardinal Ridge, Goshen Post, Hutchison Farm, Little River and Pinebrook elementary; J. Michael Lunsford and Mercer middle; Willard intermediate; and John Champe and Freedom high.

Transit: Loudoun County Transit buses provide weekday service to the District and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station from the East Gate shopping center, less than a mile east of South Riding. Route 50 is the main thoroughfare.