About the Prince William County, Virginia Area
Home to about 360,000 people, Prince William County has a thriving local economy, considerable rural beauty, and a superb standard of living. Local schools are excellent, providing employees with the highly skilled workforce that keeps Loudoun so prosperous, and ample parks, cultural, and sporting, facilities give residents plenty to do on their days off.
Prince William County has large towns like Manassas, pretty smaller towns and an ample scattering of villages, and the Quantico Marine Corps Base is in the southern part of the county. Washington D.C. is close enough to commute to work and local transport is sophisticated.
Location– Part of Northern Virginia, Prince William County is immediately southwest of Fairfax County and Washington D.C. and south of Loudoun County. Fauquier County lies directly west of Prince William, and Stafford County south. The Potomac River borders Prince William to the east.
Geography/Terrain -Encompassing about 350 square miles, Prince William is an interesting county geographically, with varied terrain. Flat coastal plains meet the Potomac River in the east; running west these gradually rise to the Piedmont Plateau in the center of the county and the rolling foothills of Bull Run Mountain further west. Bull Run sits on the boundary of Prince William and Fauquier counties and ranges to a height of 1,280 feet above sea level, the county’s highest point.
The Occoquan River runs between Prince William and Fairfax counties, joining the Potomac on the county’s eastern border; the Occoquan has a tributary running west/east across Prince William County. Manassas Lake provides further recreational opportunities.
Federal land accounts for about 18.8% of Prince William County and this includes Quantico Marine Corps Base, Manassas National Battlefield Park and Prince William Forest Park, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge.
Primary urban communities include Gainesville, Bristow, and Haymarket in the northern region and Dale City, Lakeridge, Manassas Park, Manassas City and South Oaks in the southern.
Distance to 3 closest major cities -Washington D.C. is about 35 miles northeast of Manassas, and Dale City is about 11 miles away. Philadelphia PA is about 180 miles northeast.
Jobs –With sophisticated infrastructure and one of the fastest job markets in the nation, Prince William County makes full use of its proximity to Washington D.C. and enjoys a flourishing local economy. The County provides a supportive climate for new and relocating businesses, and the local workforce is highly educated and skilled; well-suited to the booming technology industry and long standing government, commercial, financial, manufacturing, and transport industries here.
Much of the major business in Prince William County is concentrated along the I-95 and I-66 corridors that run west/east across the county into D.C, and high-tech firms in particular are on the rise.
While the highest percentage of the county workforce is employed in the military service (about 42.5%), followed by the government (about 24%), and public administration (about 13%) sectors. Many others find work in trade (about 14%), construction (about 8.9%), manufacturing 4.7%), transportation (5.6%), information and communication (5.1%), or finance, insurance and real estate (about 5.7%). About 4.3% of the local workforce is self-employed. The average commute time in Prince William County is about 40 minutes.
The George Mason University-Prince William (with its National Center for Biodefense) is a major employer, as are the two Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) campuses in the county.
Housing– There is a high demand for housing in Prince William County, where prices are comparatively lower than those in neighboring Fairfax and Loudoun counties. This is due in part to the longer average commute time to D.C. from Prince William, but it is also because much of the more recent housing construction is of the affordable kind.
Buyers will find a great deal of choice here, from single-family homes, to townhouses and condominiums; golf communities to lakeside or retirement communities. Several military bases have closed in the Washington area recently and many employees are relocating to Quantico, which has given rise to a great deal of new construction near the base.
Prince William County has a history of European settlement dating back to the seventeen-hundreds and many colonial, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century homes are available, alongside more contemporary homes. Many historic areas have been beautifully maintained and colonial homes are often sensitively renovated.
The average price of a home in Prince William County is about $425,000, and the median price of home is lower, about $385,500. In Manassas (the county seat,) you can expect to pay anywhere from $139,900 to $3,200,000. The average list price is $459,499 and the median $425,000.
Personal property tax is set at $3.70 per $100 of assessed value.
Parks/Sports/Recreation/Golf –With 2 national, 42 local, and 4 regional parks and 1 state park, 2 rivers, ample ponds and a large lake, Prince William County has plenty of wild space for hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, camping, and playing sports; boating, swimming, and fishing. Towns have ample ball fields and courts, pools, skateboarding rinks, and fitness centers, and the Prince William County Park Authority coordinates a wide range of classes and recreational events, including an excellent Summer Camp program for children.
There are 3 water parks in the county, and 2 outdoor ice-skating rinks, and several public marinas grant boat access to the Potomac and Occoquan rivers and their reservoirs. While there are several excellent aquatics centers in the county, the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center is worth a particular mention; recreational facilities are state of the art and the pool is Olympic-sized. The G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium is home to Potomac Nationals, the Carolina league affiliate of the Washington Nationals Baseball Team.
The Manassas National Battlefield Park is one of the best in Prince William County. Just north of Manassas, the park was the site of two historic Civil War battles. The Henry Hill Visitor Center at the park has informative exhibits on the First Battle of Manassas, and shows an excellent film on the war. Visitors can camp and hike in the surrounding wilderness. The 508-acre Leesylvania State Park is another historic spot. Birthplace of “Light Horse” Harry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, this 500 acre state park on the banks of the Potomac River has a state-of-the-art boat launch, 6 miles of hiking trails that explore the Lee family plantation ruins, and sandy beaches. Bass fishing is enjoyed in season. Another National Park, the Prince William Forest Park, is the largest in Prince William County, covering 17,000 acres along the Quantico watershed. This is an exciting wilderness to go camping, with streams, ponds, waterfalls, and over 35 miles of scenic hiking trails to explore.
Locust Shade in Triangle is one of the county’s best equipped regional parks, with camping and hiking on land and boating and swimming in the water. An outdoor amphitheatre hosts performing arts and there is both golf and mini-golf at the park. Other excellent regional parks include Veteran’s Memorial Park in Woodbridge, Ben Lomond Regional Park in Manassas, Signal Hill Park in Manassas Park, and the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge.
Prince William County has some of the best golf in Virginia and has been chosen to host the prestigious Presidents Cup four times in recent years (lastly in 2005). The County’s 12 courses make the most of the county’s picturesque terrain; many are located on the banks of Lake Manassas or the Occoquan and Potomac rivers, or are found in the foothills of Bull Run Mountain. Recognized by Golf Digest and GolfWeek to be one of the nation’s best courses, Stonewall Golf Club on the banks of Lake Manassas, is worth a special mention. The Old Hickory course near Leesburg is the newest in the county. Designed by Tim Freeland, it features rolling terrain and wide fairways cut through mature hardwoods.
Special Attractions/Events– Prince William County has many historic, cultural and sporting attractions. Parks like the Manassas National Battlefield Park, museums like the Henry Hill Visitor Center at the park, and places like the Old Mine Ranch in Dumfries honor local history.
The Center for the Arts in Manassas is home to a thriving local arts, theater, music and dance scene with performances, exhibitions and classes all year round, and the Manassas School of Dance is another standout facility (the Woodbridge Academy of Dance is also an excellent school). The
lauded Prince William Symphony Orchestra is a superb professional orchestra and the Prince William Art Society supports local fine arts. The Prince William County Arts Council stands behind the county’s thriving arts scene and provides a number of supportive grants. The only interactive science centre in the wider Washington D.C. area, the Belmont Bay Science Center is another county attraction.
Sporting draws include the G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium, home to Potomac Nationals, and the Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas. D.C.’s closest NASCAR destination, Old Dominion hosts Dragstrip excitement on Friday nights and NASCAR action on Saturday nights.
Selling luxury products at discount prices, the Potomac Mills Mall is a popular local shopping spot and one of the top 10 most visited tourist sites in Virginia.
County residents get together to celebrate seasonal festivals and local historical events, and to enjoy a shared sense of community. Farmer’s Markets occur throughout the county from May through October, and the Fall Jubilee in October is a popular event. June sees the Railway Festival and December has Merry Old Town Weekends. The Occoquan Arts and Crafts festivals each fall and spring bring hundreds of visitors to the county and the Prince William County Fair is another popular event.
Interesting Facts/Historic Buildings and Places– First established in 1731, Prince William County was named for the second son of King George II, the then king of England. Originally about 2,000 square miles in area, the county was reduced over the next twenty years as the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier and Loudoun were carved from it. Much of the county’s early history is chronicled in the Weems-Botts Museum in Dumfries.
Known for its Civil War history, the county has several interesting commemorative sites. Historic Liberia House in Manassas served as a general’s headquarters during the war and President Abraham Lincoln was hosted there. The Manassas National Battlefield Park marks the site of the first major battle of the war (along with a second some years later) and sees about a million visitors a year. There is an excellent museum at the site; the Manassas Museum is another informative facility. The manor house at the Ben Lomond Historic Site was a hospital during the war; this lovely spot now has one of the largest collections of old roses in the world. Signal Hill and Mayfield Fort still stand near Manassas; these earthen forts were sites of important battles.
The Railroad Depot in Manassas (built in 1911 and still functioning) has interesting exhibits on the history of the railroad in the region and pretty historic Occoquan (on the bank of the Occoquan River) has the county’s first automated grist mill.
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