The center of the Internet
About 35 miles west of Washington, D.C., on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, is the suburban community of Ashburn. Until the past 20 years or so, Ashburn has been known mostly for its farms and large homes where the wealthy doctors, lawyers, and politicians have come to settle. For football fans, Ashburn is known as the official headquarters of the Washington Redskins. More recently, Ashburn has become known as “Data Center Alley.” More than 70% of all Internet traffic passes through data centers in Ashburn, making it the central hub of the Internet. As of 2017, several new data centers are in construction throughout the community.
Ashburn was originally called Farmwell because it was the site of the 1,200-acre Farmwell Plantation in the 19th century. Part of the Farmwell Plantation was later purchased by a wealthy Quaker lawyer and named Ashburn Farm. Today, the main road passing through Ashburn is called Ashburn Farm Parkway west of Ashburn Road, and Farmwell Road east of Ashburn Road.
Ashburn is separated into several communities. To the northwest is Belmont, which is the most affluent part of town and home to the Belmont Golf Course and Belmont Manor. To the northeast is One Loudoun, which bills itself as Ashburn’s new downtown. Ashburn Village and the surrounding neighborhoods form the heart of the town, which consists of mostly residential areas and a few shopping areas. The Dulles Greenway toll road passes through the Broadlands section, where development is underway in preparation for Ashburn Station, the future final stop of the Silver Line of the Metro train system. Finally, to the far south is Brambleton, which is a newer development of housing and shopping.
There are many popular outdoor activities in Ashburn. Golfers can play at the Brambleton Golf Course, the exclusive Belmont Country Club, or the more casual Topgolf facility. Bicyclists can take the W&OD Trail, which is the paved-over remnants of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad that runs from Arlington, through Ashburn, and ends in Purcellville—about 45 miles. Numerous parks and walking trails are peppered throughout the town, showcasing forests, lakes, and local wildlife. Deer, foxes and blue herons are common sights along the trails.
When the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activities, visitors can enjoy movies at Alamo Cinema Drafthouse in One Loudoun, AMC Starplex Cinemas in Broadlands, or Regal Cinemas in Brambleton. All three theaters are new and provide modern, comfortable viewing experiences. The two local breweries are Old Ox Brewery and Lost Rhino Brewery—both of which have full restaurants for sampling beer with food. Ashburn Ice House is an indoor ice skating rink that operates year-round. Silver Eagle Group is a local favorite shooting range.
There is a variety of excellent choices for dining. Ford’s Fish Shack is a local favorite, serving a multitude of seafood options including their ever-popular fish tacos. Carolina Brothers sits at the heart of Ashburn and offers Carolina-style barbecue. For upscale dining, Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm, Matchbox, and Cooper’s Hawk Winery are good choices. For ethnic dining, there are many options: Passion Fin (Japanese), Sense of Thai (Thai), Pind (Indian), Yen’s Cafe (Taiwanese), Opa! Mezze Grill (Greek), Uncle Julio’s (Mexican), Nando’s (South African), Moby Dick House of Kabob (Iranian), Bertucci’s (Italian), Good Fortune (Chinese), Pho Bistro (Vietnamese), and Finnegan’s (Irish).
Ashburn is only 10 miles from Dulles International Airport and is conveniently located at the end of the Dulles Toll Road, making it an ideal location for people who want to be near the nation’s capital, yet stay in a calmer more peaceful suburban environment at the fringes of rural Virginia.