City Desk

36 Minutes on Wiehle Avenue

pizzahut

The touted benefits of Metro's new Silver Line largely center around the new swath of Virginians who will now have access to the nation's capital through public transit. But what people are forgetting is that D.C. residents will now also have greater access to the much developed but largely unexplored suburbs of Virginia.

The last stop of the first phase of the Silver Line, which is set to open Saturday, features the rather unfamiliar name of Wiehle (pronounced "wheelie" by locals): Wiehle-Reston East. The name itself makes sense considering the Metro stop is located on Wiehle Avenue, but the avenue is foreign to many D.C. residents. A brief history of Wiehle Avenue: In 1881, Carl Adolph Max Wiehle, a German physician living in the United States, retired at 35 and moved his family to Washington, where he soon discovered the Virginia countryside. Northern Virginia’s recovery from the Civil War was slow, and land was cheap, according to the Fairfax Times.

Wiehle and Gen. William McKee Dunn partnered and purchased 6,450 acres of land in Fairfax along the railroad for $4 an acre. Dunn developed his land into what is now Dunn Loring. Wiehle, however, only sold 12 of his planned 800 residential lots and never got to see his full suburban utopia vision before he died in 1901. In 1961, Robert E. Simon purchased the land for $13 million and transformed it into what is known as Reston.

Today, Wiehle’s legacy lives on through this heavily trafficked avenue that runs through Reston, and now, half the name of the Metro stop. With a Metro stop right on it, Wiehle Avenue will surely be the next “it” spot for D.C. residents looking to meander across Virginia’s concrete and sprawling countryside. I spent a whirlwind 36 minutes on Wiehle Avenue visiting all the hotspots and can now share where to go next time you take the Silver Line to the end of Phase 1.

Extreme Sports, 4:30 p.m.

Wiehle Avenue boasts six lanes of traffic surrounded by construction cranes, parking lots, and boxy stucco buildings. While crossing the street in D.C. is a leisurely actively where pedestrians get as many as 60 seconds to cross, on Wiehle Avenue it’s an adventure sport. It seems pedestrians must push the crosswalk button if they ever want to walk and then must pay attention to when they get the green light: Once the walk sign turns on, pedestrians have just about 20 seconds to get across the wide street. All the while, cars will still be trying to make a left turn onto Wiehle Avenue, paying little attention to the sparse pedestrians. Oh, and there are no bike lanes on Wiehle Avenue.

Happy Hour, 4:35 p.m.

The food options on Wiehle Avenue are all conveniently located in one enclave (i.e. parking lot) across from the quaint Fairfax County fire station. There’s a McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, each with their own drive-through window. Upon first glance, it’s easy to mistake the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell for a combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell, but they each have their own airy restaurants, and the Taco Bell is just pushed back and not visible from Wiehle Avenue. I’d recommend dining at Taco Bell because, geographically, it’s the hidden gem of the three. And from 2 to 5 p.m. at Taco Bell, it’s Happy Hour, which gets you a drink, slushy, and loaded griller for $1 each. I ordered two drinks, a soft taco, cheesy gordita crunch, quesadilla, and nacho cheese Doritos Locos taco all for $10—a price that can’t be found at any D.C. taco food truck.

Parks and Recreation, 4:50 p.m.

After all those tacos, you’ll likely want to take a walk. Washington & Old Dominion Park—known as the skinniest park in Virginia at 100 feet wide—runs right through Wiehle Avenue. It’s a 45-mile paved trail surrounded by trees and definitely worth walking through for a few minutes. But don’t get too deep into exploration: It all looks the same after a while, and a sign at the entrance instructs park goers on how to identify ticks. Enter at your own risk.

Live Entertainment, 5:00 p.m.

While on Wiehle Avenue, make sure to listen to the sound of suburban youth culture. Every couple dozen cars on the busy avenue will yield one vehicle, manned by a youth, with its windows down and indiscernible rap music emitting from its speakers. These sounds are widely considered to be the anthem of Wiehle Avenue.

Science, 5:06 p.m.

The last stop on this Wiehle Avenue adventure is the mysterious Isaac Newton Square, which is identified as such by a large brick sign with gold lettering surrounded by manicured landscaping. But step behind the sign, and there is no square or ode to Isaac Newton, just a massive parking lot with scattered office buildings throughout. Take a walk around and see if you can figure out why this square is named after Newton. (Google yields no immediate answers.) And if you're so inclined, signs on some of the buildings indicate there is still some office space for lease.

Photo by Perry Stein

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  • That_Count

    This is great!

  • chad

    hahahah i get it, this is funny because its ironic!

  • CJ

    HAHA, stupid suburban people with their lawns, low crime rates and good public schools just trying to live the American dream.

    No Old bay donut tapas and small batch artisinal Gin-Rickeys for you!!!!

    / Puts up nose

  • longtime Reston-area resident

    Really? You expected to dine well and be entertained at the fast food places on Wiehle, or anywhere else that's an intersection with nothing but fast food places and a gas station? Wiehle was never advertised as a destination; it's a quick stop for gas and fast food.

    If you want better eats, try going perpendicular and head over to Plaza America, about a mile down Sunset Hills - better food options there, plus a Michael's where you can buy a craft kit or some yarn to entertain yourself. Another half mile or mile past that is Reston Town Center, with lots going on. Or turn right at the gas station just past Plaza America; a mile or two in that direction is the historic Lake Anne area, with a RESTON MUSEUM where you can do some research into more interesting places to go than fast food. Or go the other way across the bridge over 267 and take Sunrise Valley to the South Lakes shopping center, about a mile and a half or two miles away from the fast food area where you were.

    As for science at Isaac Newton square, that's where the ebola monkeys were. Do some homework. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reston_virus

    Geez :P

  • longtime Reston-area resident

    Oh - for recreation, SkateQuest Reston (an ice rink) is off of Sunset Hills about a block east of the Wiehle intersection. You can walk there on the W&OD or on the sidewalk. They have public skating sessions.

  • noodlez

    I THINK YOU FOUND YOUR CALLING.
    NICE WRITE UP.

  • RestonCyclist

    You didn't get past Wiehle because you don't know the secret Reston handshake.

    And we don't show it to reporters. So there.

  • I’m at RTC

    If you've come this far on the train, hop on a bus for an 8-minute ride to Reston Town Center for a plethora of shopping and dining. Looks like the buses will run every 10 minutes.

  • Scott

    I'm confused, is the author of this article trying to make a serious, social commentary or satirical statement? Either way, it's no wonder why they write for this POS rag.

  • Bryan

    While I applaud your DC elitism, I would like to note that many of the existing metro stops were likely similar prior to their Metro stop opening. I have no doubt that the McTacoHut (as we locals describe it) will be gone and replaced with yet another office building in the coming years. And where in this entire area can you NOT hear some twenty-something blaring their music out of their car? Reston is a great place to live, and now we can easily get down to DC to enjoy some of the benefits while still living in a house with parking and without rats the size of large cats.

  • Hot Zone

    You forgot to go visit the lab with all the ebola-infected monkeys!!

  • Snooty Snoot Blah Blah

    You mention no bike lane, then refer to the bike trail that is at the intersection. You mention no food options, but didn't take the trail to the town center, one of several local spots with the restaurants you were looking for. You mention you were there for 36 minutes, and only went to the taco bell. Take your fat, lazy, unimaginative whiny ass back to wherever you came from.

  • jkrew

    Reston decided that the 70's were it's favorite decade and stuck with it.

  • Derek

    I was born and raised in Reston and consider it a fantastic town. I live in the District (have for 15 years) but still have family and friends that live in Reston that I love to visit; its a great place to raise a family and loved McTacoHut in high school.

    This hipster douchebag that wrote this article (trying to be "ironic") is probably from Ohio who moved to DC 2 years ago.

  • chad

    whoa now Derek.. let the record stand - her linkedin states that she has lived in DC for 2.5 years... and is perhaps from missouri. that is like, a 6 month/300 mile difference. get your facts straight

  • DMV Chick

    Wow! Really. I would never go to DC and trash it. There are good and bad places to go in DC and VA, alike. I do admit in my younger days when I was living in DC, I never thought I would live in the suburbs of VA. After having kids, and working in IT (Dulles Corridor) this is my current situation....and I'm McLoving my Hut in the suburbs!!
    As far as things to do, there's a plenty!
    As a few commentators mentioned, we have the RTC (Reston Town Center) and a few other fine dining spots and shopping areas.
    As for rap music, what's wrong with that? That's called diversity! Reston has plenty of diversity. I am sure if you hang out at Plaza America long enough you can see someone from each color of the crayon box...I love it! DC has diversity, too...I know. But I don't think it's ironic that Reston is the home to kids who drive their own cars listening to loud music....it's awesome!! I thought writers were suppose to keep an open mind. If you come back out this way Mr. Perry Stein, don't be afraid to come out to a Happy Hour with us snobs. You might see that we are actually not snobs, at all. I've meet some of the nicest people here.

  • StayWhereUAre

    Who is paying you to slander Reston? We are not here to lure you out to a greater World than you seem to be so proud of in Capital HQ. Wiehle is about to become a Metro stop along a heavily populated suburban corridor. This completes Phase 1 of a 2-phase project linking the DC metropolitan area to (and just beyond) Dulles Airport using rail (no autos necessary). It never occurred to us that we needed to "sell" jaded "YOU" on the "rush" you can get sharing your leisure time with us. Stay where you are from now on, write about where YOU live! You ignorance will be our bliss!

  • TakomaNick

    This is great trolling. The suburbanites are freaking out.

  • Anna

    I'm 31 and I live in Reston. It's a gem, and some of the reasons I moved here are its bike-friendly trails and support of local businesses/restaurants. The writer does not accurately share all that is available to bikers in the vicinity of the new Metro station. Sounds like he rode his bike one block in one direction and then turned back around. This article is disappointing - the worst kind of journalism is the kind that is biased and negative.

  • TC

    This article is moronic and not funny.

  • Alan

    Actually, to both Chad and Derek, this girl is from Florida according to her Facebook page. So, yes Derek, you were right on with you assessment. This swamp trash has only lived in DC for a couple of years and apparently now thinks she's hot stuff. Too hot to even do any research on the town she writes about. I'm very familiar with the Wiehle-Reston East stop since I work right by there. There is far more there than what she is selectively reporting on. I can understand that she was distracted by cheap fast food being that she's Floridian, but had she only known there was an Olive Garden right down the road (one of Florida's largest contributions to American cuisine), she might have found something that interests her a little more.

  • caitlin

    You forgot to mention that if you walk a couple minutes on the W&OD trail towards RTC, there is a community of homeless men called "Tent City." They're super friendly and love to pose in pictures with tourists.

  • LG

    I'm obviously biased because I grew up in Reston and think it's a great place, but I find this article off-putting. The writer - in a strained and not very effective attempt at humor - is obviously going out of his/her way to portray Reston in an unappealing light. But for what reason? Maybe there's a double layer of irony going on here...perhaps the author is not lampooning Reston, but is lampooning the very idea of a snobbish, unimaginative journalist wandering around a commuter lot and critiquing fast food restaurants. Is the writer secretly a Reston fan, who is actually poking fun at City Paper journalists? That would seem to be the only reasonable explanation for this article.

  • Wow, you suck

    The best part of this article is the comments section. Also, great investigative journalism, douche nozzle.

  • wtf_bro

    So since you didn't include it

    TLDR ; "Not a bad metro station. There's even a Taco bell!"

  • Susan

    Yea! Us Restonians have successfully made our town appear unappealing to urban visitors. More green space for us!

    I did appreciate the reminder that we actually have a Pizza Hut in Reston...I pass it everyday on my way to interesting Reston destinations, but haven't been into any of those fine eating establishments since the 1980s.

  • sunny

    Take it easy on her gang, she's new here. :)

    Silverline's main purpose is to connect metro to an International airport. She will look back 5-10 years to start to understand how things develop and be part of history. Build it, they will come.

  • Eileen

    You ass. Of course it's convienent to make fun of the burbs from your oh so safe condo in dc. I'm sure you moved into the city as soon as it was safe right along with all of the other yuppies that frequent the 14th st and H st corridors. Yes reston is the suburbs and so what. It's a beautiful place to live and visit just like arlington and Alexandria. I was raised in this area and have seen dc change over the past 30 years and you couldn't pay me to live there. But I guess it's fitting for an ironic, shitty, uneducated, elitist writer.

  • MarkNearRFK

    While I agree that the piece had snarky undertones,
    it appears that several writers ignored that the writer and most explorers from DC will arrive there by Metro itself and therefore won't have a car to go a couple miles down any road to get to more interesting sites. Some seemed to assume the the writer was a cyclist because she mentioned the lack of bike lanes. She talked more about the pedestrian crossing time. A bike trail that has access points every mile or so is not a bike lane allowing crossing at every block. I myself am interested in exploring the station locales and appreciate the input from the writer and reasonable respondents.

  • Chris

    Tip for the authors' next trip outside her two mile existence. Google + Maps. You never have to leave.

  • Tbonebullets

    Best article ever. And the comments are even BETTER! Keep 'em coming, Burbos.

  • Ginger

    I've lived in Reston for 5 yrs and I thought this article was hilarious. Having lived in the actual urban centers of DC and Chicago before, and thinking that Reston was seriously way out in boonieville before I moved here to lessen my commute time, I agree that there is absolutely nothing around Wiehle Ave that can't be found elsewhere and this without a doubt includes the inexplicably lauded "Reston Town Center." C'mon people, there are Ann Taylors, Banana Republics, Paneras, Chipotles, hamburger joints, and frozen yogurt shops everywhere. RTC is supremely dull and there's no reason to go there if you have some place else to shop and eat. I'm not buying into the false excitement of the opening of the Silver Line. I completely agree, nothing out here in Reston that you can't find in DC. No reason to come out here unless you live here, unless it's just for kicks. I don't plan on taking the Silver Line anytime soon. It will take forever and a day to get into the city on it and I have no reason to go to Tysons. I used to have a favorite kabob place over on Rt 7, but all the construction traffic for the annoying Silver Line drove me away from that area and it's definitely not worth paying over $6 to take Metro there to get a $6 kabob and go home. Yay Silver Line.

  • Webjunkyy

    Ha, Robert e simon's plan worked! He hid an entire community of over 7000 businesses and 65,000 residents behind the trees, pathways, parklands and lakes. Good job Bob! Let's keep our secret a secret.

  • YodaSyrup

    "Reston is a great place to live, and now we can easily get down to DC to enjoy some of the benefits while still living in a house with parking and without rats the size of large cats."

    I couldn't have said it better. And yes, there's nothing really to see near the Wiehle station if you are on foot - but that's pretty much the point of the Silver Line and why it was funded - to bring FUTURE residential and commercial development to the corridor.

  • Chris

    I like to get my snarky Reston stories at Restonian.org. Those are actually written well, have some semblance of wit, and they actually have a point.

  • restonite

    Oh you laugh and snark, but you will move here within the next 5 years, Perry Stein.

    Bow to your destiny of leafy burb, reproduction of the next gen, and restrictive HOA covenants.

    Can't believe you went to Isaac Newton Square and didn't mention the ebola monkeys. Tsk!

  • restonite

    p.s. looking forward to your series on swpl things to do at green line stops.

  • RestonCyclist

    #29 -- Mark near RFK. Reston does indeed have some great trails, paved and natural that connect with the W&OD. Sometimes I think that should be our motto for cyclists, "we are so much more than the W&OD." Reston Association has Pedestrian & Bicycle Committee which has developed routes for people who are truly in search of a nice bike ride (family rides as well as the various trails), not just a publishable snark story. reston.org

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