A bar is a retail business establishment that serves alcoholic beverages, such as beer, liquor and other beverages such as mineral water and soft drinks and sell snack foods such as potato chips or peanuts, for consumption on premises. Some types of bars, such as pubs, may serve food from a restaurant menu; the term "bar" refers to the countertop and area where drinks are served. The term "bar" is derived from the metal or wooden bar, located at feet along the length of the "bar". Bars provide chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Bars that offer entertainment or live music are referred to as music bars, live venues, or nightclubs. Types of bars range from inexpensive dive bars to elegant places of entertainment accompanying restaurants for dining. Many bars have a discount period, designated a "happy hour" or discount of the day to encourage off-peak-time patronage. Bars that fill to capacity sometimes implement a cover charge or a minimum drink purchase requirement during their peak hours.
Bars may have bouncers to ensure patrons are of legal age, to eject drunk or belligerent patrons, to collect cover charges. Such bars feature entertainment, which may be a live band, comedian, or disc jockey playing recorded music. Patrons may be served by the bartender. Depending on the size of a bar and its approach, alcohol may be served at the bar by bartenders, at tables by servers, or by a combination of the two; the "back bar" is a set of shelves of bottles behind that counter. In some establishments, the back bar is elaborately decorated with woodwork, etched glass and lights. There have been many different names for public drinking spaces throughout history. In the colonial era of the United States, taverns were an important meeting place, as most other institutions were weak. During the 19th century saloons were important to the leisure time of the working class. Today when an establishment uses a different name, such as "tavern" or "saloon" or, in the United Kingdom, a "pub", the area of the establishment where the bartender pours or mixes beverages is called "the bar".
The sale and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the first half of the 20th century in several countries, including Finland, Iceland and the United States. In the United States, illegal bars during Prohibition were called "speakeasies", "blind pigs", "blind tigers". Laws in many jurisdictions prohibit minors from entering a bar. If those under legal drinking age are allowed to enter, as is the case with pubs that serve food, they are not allowed to drink. In some jurisdictions, bars cannot serve a patron, intoxicated. Cities and towns have legal restrictions on where bars may be located and on the types of alcohol they may serve to their customers; some bars may have a license to serve wine, but not hard liquor. In some jurisdictions, patrons buying alcohol must order food. In some jurisdictions, bar owners have a legal liability for the conduct of patrons. Many Islamic countries prohibit bars as well as the possession or sale of alcohol for religious reasons, while others, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, allow bars in some specific areas, but only permit non-Muslims to drink in them.
A bar's owners and managers choose the bar's name, décor, drink menu and other elements which they think will attract a certain kind of patron. However, they have only limited influence over. Thus, a bar intended for one demographic profile can become popular with another. For example, a gay or lesbian bar with a dance or disco floor might, over time, attract an heterosexual clientele. Or a blues bar may become a biker bar. A cocktail lounge is an upscale bar, located within a hotel, restaurant, or airport. A full bar serves liquor, cocktails and beer. A wine bar is a bar that focuses on wine rather than on liquor. Patrons of these bars may taste wines before deciding to buy them; some wine bars serve small plates of food or other snacks. A beer bar focuses on beer craft beer, rather than on wine or liquor. A brew pub serves craft beers. "Fern bar" is an American slang term for an preppy bar. A music bar is a bar. A dive bar referred to as a "dive", is a informal bar which may be considered by some to be disreputable.
A non-alcoholic bar is a bar. A Strip club is a bar with nude entertainers. A bar and grill is a restaurant; some persons may designate either an area of a room as a home bar. Furniture and arrangements vary from efficient to full bars. Bars categorized by the kind of entertainment they offer: Blues bars, specializing in the live blues style of music Comedy bars, specializing in stand-up comedy entertainment Dance bars, which have a dance floor where patrons dance to recorded music. If a venue has a large dance floor, focuses on dancing rather than seated drinking, hires professional DJs, it is considered to be a nightclub or discothèque rather than a bar. Karaoke bars, with nightly karaoke as entertainment Music bars. Piano bars are one example. Drag b
A ZIP Code is a postal code used by the United States Postal Service in a system it introduced in 1963. The term ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan; the basic format consists of five digits. An extended ZIP+4 code was introduced in 1983 which includes the five digits of the ZIP Code, followed by a hyphen and four additional digits that reference a more specific location; the term ZIP Code was registered as a servicemark by the U. S. Postal Service, but its registration has since expired; the early history and context of postal codes began with postal district/zone numbers. The United States Post Office Department implemented postal zones for numerous large cities in 1943. For example: The "16" was the number of the postal zone in the specific city. By the early 1960s, a more organized system was needed, non-mandatory five-digit ZIP Codes were introduced nationwide on July 1, 1963; the USPOD issued its Publication 59: Abbreviations for Use with ZIP Code on October 1, 1963, with the list of two-letter state abbreviations which are written with both letters capitalized.
An earlier list in June had proposed capitalized abbreviations ranging from two to five letters. According to Publication 59, the two-letter standard was "based on a maximum 23-position line, because this has been found to be the most universally acceptable line capacity basis for major addressing systems", which would be exceeded by a long city name combined with a multi-letter state abbreviation, such as "Sacramento, Calif." along with the ZIP Code. The abbreviations have remained unchanged, with the exception of Nebraska, changed from NB to NE in 1969 at the request of the Canadian postal administration, to avoid confusion with the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Robert Moon is considered the father of the ZIP Code; the post office only credits Moon with the first three digits of the ZIP Code, which describe the sectional center facility or "sec center." An SCF is a central mail processing facility with those three digits. The fourth and fifth digits, which give a more precise locale within the SCF, were proposed by Henry Bentley Hahn Sr.
The SCF sorts mail to all post offices with those first three digits in their ZIP Codes. The mail is sorted according to the final two digits of the ZIP Code and sent to the corresponding post offices in the early morning. Sectional centers do not deliver mail and are not open to the public, most of their employees work the night shift. Mail picked up at post offices is sent to their own SCF in the afternoon, where the mail is sorted overnight. In the case of large cities, the last two digits coincide with the older postal zone number thus: In 1967, these became mandatory for second- and third-class bulk mailers, the system was soon adopted generally; the United States Post Office used a cartoon character, which it called Mr. ZIP, to promote the use of the ZIP Code, he was depicted with a legend such as "USE ZIP CODE" in the selvage of panes of postage stamps or on the covers of booklet panes of stamps. In 1971 Elmira Star-Gazette reporter Dick Baumbach found out the White House was not using a ZIP Code on its envelopes.
Herb Klein, special assistant to President Nixon, responded by saying the next printing of envelopes would include the ZIP Code. In 1983, the U. S. Postal Service introduced an expanded ZIP Code system that it called ZIP+4 called "plus-four codes", "add-on codes", or "add-ons". A ZIP+4 Code uses the basic five-digit code plus four additional digits to identify a geographic segment within the five-digit delivery area, such as a city block, a group of apartments, an individual high-volume receiver of mail, a post office box, or any other unit that could use an extra identifier to aid in efficient mail sorting and delivery. However, initial attempts to promote universal use of the new format met with public resistance and today the plus-four code is not required. In general, mail is read by a multiline optical character reader that instantly determines the correct ZIP+4 Code from the address—along with the more specific delivery point—and sprays an Intelligent Mail barcode on the face of the mail piece that corresponds to 11 digits—nine for the ZIP+4 Code and two for the delivery point.
For Post Office Boxes, the general rule is. The add-on code is one of the following: the last four digits of the box number, zero plus the last three digits of the box number, or, if the box number consists of fewer than four digits, enough zeros are attached to the front of the box number to produce a four-digit number. However, there is no uniform rule, so the ZIP+4 Code must be looked up individually for each box; the ZIP Code is translated into an Intelligent Mail barcode, printed on the mailpiece to make it easier for automated machines to sort. A barcode can be printed by the sender, it is better to let the post office put one on. In general, the post office uses OCR technology, though in some cases a human might have to read and enter the address. Customers who send bulk mail can get a discount on postage if they have printed the barcode themselves and have presorted the mai
Washington, D. C. formally the District of Columbia and referred to as Washington or D. C. is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father; as the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually; the signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U. S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U. S. Congress, the District is therefore not a part of any state; the states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria.
The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land ceded by Virginia. Washington had an estimated population of 702,455 as of July 2018, making it the 20th most populous city in the United States. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth largest, had a 2017 estimated population of 6.2 million residents. All three branches of the U. S. federal government are centered in the District: Congress and the U. S. Supreme Court. Washington is home to many national monuments, museums situated on or around the National Mall; the city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit, lobbying groups, professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, the American Red Cross.
A locally elected mayor and a 13‑member council have governed the District since 1973. However, Congress may overturn local laws. D. C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the District has no representation in the Senate. The District receives three electoral votes in presidential elections as permitted by the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961. Various tribes of the Algonquian-speaking Piscataway people inhabited the lands around the Potomac River when Europeans first visited the area in the early 17th century. One group known as the Nacotchtank maintained settlements around the Anacostia River within the present-day District of Columbia. Conflicts with European colonists and neighboring tribes forced the relocation of the Piscataway people, some of whom established a new settlement in 1699 near Point of Rocks, Maryland. In his Federalist No. 43, published January 23, 1788, James Madison argued that the new federal government would need authority over a national capital to provide for its own maintenance and safety.
Five years earlier, a band of unpaid soldiers besieged Congress while its members were meeting in Philadelphia. Known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, the event emphasized the need for the national government not to rely on any state for its own security. Article One, Section Eight, of the Constitution permits the establishment of a "District as may, by cession of particular states, the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States". However, the Constitution does not specify a location for the capital. In what is now known as the Compromise of 1790, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson came to an agreement that the federal government would pay each state's remaining Revolutionary War debts in exchange for establishing the new national capital in the southern United States. On July 9, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which approved the creation of a national capital on the Potomac River; the exact location was to be selected by President George Washington, who signed the bill into law on July 16.
Formed from land donated by the states of Maryland and Virginia, the initial shape of the federal district was a square measuring 10 miles on each side, totaling 100 square miles. Two pre-existing settlements were included in the territory: the port of Georgetown, founded in 1751, the city of Alexandria, founded in 1749. During 1791–92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including a free African American astronomer named Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the borders of the federal district and placed boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new federal city was constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the three commissioners overseeing the capital's construction named the city in honor of President Washington; the federal district was named Columbia, a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800. Congress passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 that organized the District and placed the entire territory under the exclusive control of the federal
Virginia the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U. S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna; the capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million. The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy.
Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. In the American Civil War, Virginia's Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy, Virginia's First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia; the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government was ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States in both 2005 and 2008, it is unique in how it treats cities and counties manages local roads, prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley. S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency. Virginia has a total area of 42,774.2 square miles, including 3,180.13 square miles of water, making it the 35th-largest state by area. Virginia is bordered by Maryland and Washington, D.
C. to the north and east. Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D. C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the Potomac River. The southern border is defined as the 36° 30′ parallel north, though surveyor error led to deviations of as much as three arcminutes; the border with Tennessee was not settled until 1893, when their dispute was brought to the U. S. Supreme Court; the Chesapeake Bay separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The bay was formed from the drowned river valleys of the James River. Many of Virginia's rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the Potomac, Rappahannock and James, which create three peninsulas in the bay; the Tidewater is a coastal plain between the fall line. It includes major estuaries of Chesapeake Bay; the Piedmont is a series of sedimentary and igneous rock-based foothills east of the mountains which were formed in the Mesozoic era. The region, known for its heavy clay soil, includes the Southwest Mountains around Charlottesville.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the Appalachian Mountains with the highest points in the state, the tallest being Mount Rogers at 5,729 feet. The Ridge and Valley region includes the Great Appalachian Valley; the region includes Massanutten Mountain. The Cumberland Plateau and the Cumberland Mountains are in the southwest corner of Virginia, south of the Allegheny Plateau. In this region, rivers flow northwest, into the Ohio River basin; the Virginia Seismic Zone has not had a history of regular earthquake activity. Earthquakes are above 4.5 in magnitude, because Virginia is located away from the edges of the North American Plate. The largest earthquake, at an estimated 5.9 magnitude, was in 1897 near Blacksburg. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia on August 2011, near Mineral. The earthquake was felt as far away as Toronto and Florida. 35 million years ago, a bolide impacted. The resulting Chesapeake Bay impact crater may explain what earthquakes and subsidence the region does experience.
Coal mining takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins. Over 64 million tons of other non-fuel resources, such as slate, sand, or gravel, were mined in Virginia in 2018; the state's carbonate rock is filled with more than 4,000 caves, ten of which are open for tourism, including the popular Luray Caverns and Skyline Caverns. The climate of Virginia is humid subtropical and becomes warmer and more humid farther south and east. Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of 26 °F in January to average highs of 86 °F in July; the Atlantic Ocean has a strong effect on southeastern coastal areas of the state. Influenced by the Gulf Stream, coastal weather is subject to hurricanes, most pronouncedly near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. In spite of its position adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean the coastal areas have a significant continental influence with quite large temperature differences between summ
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 139,966, in 2016, the population was estimated to be 155,810. Located along the western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is 7 miles south of downtown Washington, D. C. Like the rest of Northern Virginia, as well as Central Maryland, modern Alexandria has been influenced by its proximity to the U. S. capital. It is populated by professionals working in the federal civil service, in the U. S. military, or for one of the many private companies which contract to provide services to the federal government. One of Alexandria's largest employers is the U. S. Department of Defense. Another is the Institute for Defense Analyses. In 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office moved to Alexandria, in 2017, so did the headquarters of the National Science Foundation; the historic center of Alexandria is known as Old Town. With its concentration of boutiques, antique shops and theaters, it is a major draw for all who live in Alexandria as well for visitors.
Like Old Town, many Alexandria neighborhoods are walkable. It is the 7th largest and highest-income independent city in Virginia. A large portion of adjacent Fairfax County south but west of the city, is named "Alexandria," but it is under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and separate from the city. In 1920, Virginia's General Assembly voted to incorporate what had been Alexandria County as Arlington County to minimize confusion. On October 21, 1669 a patent granted 6,000 acres to Robert Howsing for transporting 120 people to the Colony of Virginia; that tract would become the City of Alexandria. Virginia's comprehensive Tobacco Inspection Law of 1730 mandated that all tobacco grown in the colony must be brought to locally designated public warehouses for inspection before sale. One of the sites designated for a warehouse on the upper Potomac River was at the mouth of Hunting Creek. However, the ground proved to be unsuitable, the warehouse was built half a mile up-river, where the water was deep near the shore.
Following the 1745 settlement of the Virginia's 10 year dispute with Lord Fairfax over the western boundary of the Northern Neck Proprietary, when the Privy Council in London found in favor of Lord Fairfax's expanded claim, some of the Fairfax County gentry formed the Ohio Company of Virginia. They intended to conduct trade into the interior of America, they required a trading center near the head of navigation on the Potomac; the best location was Hunting Creek tobacco warehouse, since the deep water could accommodate sailing ships. Many local tobacco planters, wanted a new town further up Hunting Creek, away from nonproductive fields along the river. Around 1746, Captain Philip Alexander II moved to what is south of present Duke Street in Alexandria, his estate, which consisted of 500 acres, was bounded by Hunting Creek, Hooff's Run, the Potomac River, the line which would become Cameron Street. At the opening of Virginia's 1748–49 legislative session, there was a petition submitted in the House of Burgesses on November 1, 1748, that the "inhabitants of Fairfax praying that a town may be established at Hunting Creek Warehouse on Potowmack River," as Hugh West was the owner of the warehouse.
The petition was introduced by Lawrence Washington, the representative for Fairfax County and, more the son-in-law of William Fairfax and a founding member of the Ohio Company. To support the company's push for a town on the river, Lawrence's younger brother George Washington, an aspiring surveyor, made a sketch of the shoreline touting the advantages of the tobacco warehouse site. Since the river site was amidst his estate, Philip opposed the idea and favored a site at the head of Hunting Creek, it has been said that in order to avoid a predicament the petitioners offered to name the new town Alexandria, in honor of Philip's family. As a result and his cousin Captain John Alexander gave land to assist in the development of Alexandria, are thus listed as the founders; this John was the son of Robert Alexander II. On May 2, 1749, the House of Burgesses approved the river location and ordered "Mr. Washington do go up with a Message to the Council and acquaint them that this House have agreed to the Amendments titled An Act for erecting a Town at Hunting Creek Warehouse, in the County of Fairfax."
A "Public Vendue" was advertised for July, the county surveyor laid out street lanes and town lots. The auction was conducted on July 13–14, 1749. Upon establishment, the town founders called the new town "Belhaven", believed to be in honor of a Scottish patriot, John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton, the Northern Neck tobacco trade being dominated by Scots; the name Belhaven was used in official lotteries to raise money for a Church and Market House, but it was never approved by the legislature and fell out of favor in the mid-1750s. The town of Alexandria did not become incorporated until 1779. In 1755, General Edward Braddock organized his fatal expedition against Fort Duquesne at Carlyle House in Alexandria. In April 1755, the governors of Virginia, the provinces of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York met to determine upon concerted action against the French in America. In March 1785, commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met in Alexandria to discuss the commercial relations of the two states, finishing their business at Mount Vernon.
The Mount Vernon Conference concluded o
A restaurant, or an eatery, is a business which prepares and serves food and drinks to customers in exchange for money. Meals are served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants offer take-out and food delivery services, some offer only take-out and delivery. Restaurants vary in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast food restaurants and cafeterias to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments. In Western countries, most mid- to high-range restaurants serve alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine; some restaurants serve all the major meals, such as breakfast and dinner. Other restaurants may only serve a single meal or they may serve two meals; the word derives from the French verb "restaurer" and, being the present participle of the verb, it means "that which restores". The term restaurant was defined in 1507 as a "restorative beverage", in correspondence in 1521 to mean "that which restores the strength, a fortifying food or remedy".
The first use of the word to refer to a public venue where one can order food is believed to be in the 18th century. In 1765, a French chef by the name of A. Boulanger established a business selling soups and other "restaurants". Additionally, while not the first establishment where one could order food, or soups, it is thought to be the first to offer a menu of available choices The "first real restaurant" is considered to have been "La Grande Taverne de Londres" in Paris, founded by Antoine Beauviliers in either 1782 or 1786. According to Brillat-Savarin, this was "the first to combine the four essentials of an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar, superior cooking". In 1802 the term was applied to an establishment where restorative foods, such as bouillon, a meat broth, were served. Restaurants are distinguished in many different ways; the primary factors are the food itself. Beyond this, restaurants may differentiate themselves on factors including speed, location, service, or novelty themes.
Restaurants range from inexpensive and informal lunching or dining places catering to people working nearby, with modest food served in simple settings at low prices, to expensive establishments serving refined food and fine wines in a formal setting. In the former case, customers wear casual clothing. In the latter case, depending on culture and local traditions, customers might wear semi-casual, semi-formal or formal wear. At mid- to high-priced restaurants, customers sit at tables, their orders are taken by a waiter, who brings the food when it is ready. After eating, the customers pay the bill. In some restaurants, such as workplace cafeterias, there are no waiters. Another restaurant approach which uses few waiters is the buffet restaurant. Customers serve food onto their own plates and pay at the end of the meal. Buffet restaurants still have waiters to serve drinks and alcoholic beverages. Fast food restaurants are considered a restaurant; the travelling public has long been catered for with ship's messes and railway restaurant cars which are, in effect, travelling restaurants.
Many railways, the world over cater for the needs of travellers by providing railway refreshment rooms, a form of restaurant, at railway stations. In the 2000s, a number of travelling restaurants designed for tourists, have been created; these can be found on trams, buses, etc. A restaurant's proprietor is called a restaurateur, this derives from the French verb restaurer, meaning "to restore". Professional cooks are called chefs, with there being various finer distinctions. Most restaurants will have various waiting staff to serve food and alcoholic drinks, including busboys who remove used dishes and cutlery. In finer restaurants, this may include a host or hostess, a maître d'hôtel to welcome customers and to seat them, a sommelier or wine waiter to help patrons select wines. A new route to becoming a restauranter, rather than working one's way up through the stages, is to operate a food truck. Once a sufficient following has been obtained, a permanent restaurant site can be opened; this trend has become common in the UK and the US.
A chef's table is a table located in the kitchen of a restaurant, reserved for VIPs and special guests. Patrons may be served a themed tasting menu served by the head chef. Restaurants can charge a higher flat fee; because of the demand on the kitchen's facilities, chef's tables are only available during off-peak times. In China, food catering establishments that may be described as restaurants have been known since the 11th century in Kaifeng, China's capital during the first half of the Song dynasty. Growing out of the tea houses and taverns that catered to travellers, Kaifeng's restaurants blossomed into an industry catering to locals as well as people from ot
Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park
The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is a linear regional park in Northern Virginia. The park's primary feature is the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail, an asphalt-surfaced paved rail trail that runs through densely populated urban and suburban communities as well as through rural areas. Most of the trail travels on top of the rail bed of the former Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which closed in 1968. Although the park is 44.8 miles long, it is only about 100 feet wide. The rail trail is 10 feet wide through much of its length and is suitable for walking, running and roller skating. A crushed bluestone surfaced bridle path travels near the paved trail in the park's most westerly 32 miles. NOVA Parks maintains the park and its trails. NOVA Parks keeps most of the parkland surrounding the trails in a natural state; the park authority has placed alongside the paved trail a series of mile markers and a number of interpretative exhibits that describe the historic and natural features of the park.
The headquarters office of the park is near the east side of the trail at Smith's Switch Road in Ashburn. A park rest stop is adjacent to the trail near the park's headquarters; the W&OD Trail begins in the Nauck neighborhood near the Shirlington section of Arlington County, close to the boundary between the County and the City of Alexandria. The trail ends in Purcellville in western Loudoun County, its route parallels the routes of the Potomac River and Virginia State Route 7. The trail connects at its origin to the paved Four Mile Run Trail, which travels eastward through Arlington along a stream embankment to meet the Mount Vernon Trail at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, near the Potomac River; the start of the trail is accessible from the Shirlington exit of Interstate 395. The trail parallels the more curving and hilly Four Mile Run Trail throughout its route in Arlington. Although they coincide in several locations, the two trails travel on opposite sides of the Run. There are no restrooms and few water fountains alongside the W&OD Trail in the County.
Restrooms and additional water fountains are available near ball fields and picnic areas along the Four Mile Run Trail. The W&OD trailhead is at the intersection of South Four Mile Run Drive; the trail starts in the Atlantic Coastal Plain at the trail's lowest elevation: 141 feet above sea level. The trail climbs 195 feet in 5.9 miles while traveling northwest through Arlington County. While in Arlington, the trail ascends through the Atlantic Seaboard fall line while climbing upstream in the valley of Four Mile Run; the trail crosses the Run seven times in the valley on bridges whose abutments were constructed before the Civil War by the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad, a predecessor of the W&OD Railroad. After crossing Columbia Pike, the trail enters a steeply-sloped woodland that covers both sides of the valley. Near the end of the woodland, the trail intersects the Bluemont Junction Trail, a paved rail trail that travels to Ballston on the bed of a former W&OD Railroad branch that once ran to Rosslyn and Georgetown.
0.6 miles past that intersection, the W&OD Trail meets the Custis Trail, which travels along Interstate 66 between East Falls Church and Rosslyn and which provides access to Washington, D. C. After joining at their intersection, the W&OD and Custis Trails share the same path as they travel northwest near an I-66 soundwall for most of their remaining courses in Arlington. After crossing North Sycamore Street, the W&OD Trail passes the East Falls Church station on Washington Metro's Orange and Silver Lines. After leaving the fall line, the W&OD Trail enters the Piedmont plateau region near the west corner of the County; the trail continues to climb in the Piedmont while traveling northwest through the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County. The trail reaches an elevation of 450 feet at its crossing of I-66 in Fairfax County; when it reaches this point, the trail has risen 309 feet while traveling 8.4 miles. After crossing over I-495 on a trail bridge and passing Dunn Loring, the trail begins a long descent as it travels through Vienna.
After leaving Vienna, the trail continues to descend until it reaches Difficult Run, where its elevation of 240 feet is only about 100 feet higher than is the elevation at the trail's origin. After the trail crosses Difficult Run, it ascends and descends between additional streams as it travels further northwest in the Piedmont through or near Reston, Sterling and Leesburg. While traveling through Reston, the trail crosses Wiehle Avenue 0.3 miles northeast of the Wiehle–Reston East station on Washington Metro's Silver Line. When crossing Tuscarora Creek in Leesburg, the trail's elevation of 273 feet is 63 feet lower than the highest elevation that it reached in Arlington. After crossing that stream, the trail climbs 337 feet northwest in 6.3 miles to reach its highest elevation while traveling on a bridge carrying VA Route 9 over VA Route 7 near the saddle point of Clarks Gap in Catoctin Mountain. 0.3 miles before this crossing, the trail travels under an old stone arch that forme