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The land on which Reston sits was initially owned by Lord Fairfax during the 18th century. C.A. Wiehle (for whom Wiehle Avenue is named) bought the land later in the 1880s. He died after construction of several buildings. His sons did not share his vision, and sold the land to A. Smith Bowman, who built a bourbon distillery on the site while maintaining a farm on most of the area, a 7,300-acre tract. An office retail development and a road are named for him. In 1961, Robert E. Simon bought most of the land, except for 60 acres on which the Bowman distillery continued to operate until 1987.
Reston was the first post-war community in the U.S. to use clustered townhouse development, a strategy that allows for the preservation of open space along with higher density. Reston was also the first 20th-century private community in the U.S. to incorporate natural preservation in its planning (Greenbelt was a publicly-supported community)
Restonians can avail themselves of the many cultural activities in Washington, D.C., by driving 20 miles into the city or taking buses to connect to a Metro train. Two upscale shopping centers are located nearby in Tysons Corner, as well as the shops located throughout Reston and nearby Herndon.
Two miles from Reston on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) is the Colvin Run Mill, operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. It is a working 1811 gristmill that won a first-place restoration award from the American Institute of Architects in 1973. The miller’s house, barn, and historic post office/gift shop provide visitors with a glimpse of nineteenth century rural Virginia life. Daily public tours are offered. A few miles to the west along the same road there is the historic 1820 Dranesville Tavern, also operated by the park authority and rented out for weddings, parties, and corporate functions.
Also in Reston is the 476-acre Lake Fairfax Park, operated by the county. It features boat rentals from a new marina, a large outdoor pool complex called “The Water Mine,” overnight campground facilities, picnic areas, and fireworks on Independence Day.
The Reston Zoo is located on the northeast edge of the community.It has 30 acres dedicated to family-friendly animal interaction with wagon rides and feeding stations. The animals include zebras, antelope, bison, ostrich, alligators, camels, goats, a reptile house, and waterfowl.
Reston has an assortment of pools, which are dedicated for recreational use in the summer, located near man-made freshwater lakes. An indoor poor is open year-round in the Reston Community Center. The Reston Association Nature Center provides services such as nature walks, charity events, and conservation efforts.
Two golf courses are located in Reston, one public and one private.Each neighborhood has its own public swimming pool, a total of 15, and there are many tennis courts located near Lake Anne.