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For Stress-free Holiday Shopping, Find a Park

Want to find great gifts at affordable prices with no wait in line? Park Authority shops offer something for everyone, and there's no fighting
for a parking space!

Frying Pan Farm Park Country Store

Frying Pan Farm Park Country Store

Toys and books with a farm or outdoor theme are always available at this cozy shop located on Fairfax County's working farm of the 1930s.Frying Pan Farm Park Country Store            Trucks, stuffed animals, puzzles and gardening and birdhouse kits for children are popular items. Books about the farm and the Civil War are also available, along with gardening tools, planters, gloves and other supplies as well as souvenir T-shirts and mugs. The Frying Pan Farm Park Country Store is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday, 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Green Spring Gardens

Green Spring Gardens and Historic House Gift Shops

Green thumbs, history and tea buffs will delight in a wide array of books, garden décor, tools, gloves, tea pots, tea accessories, teas, handcrafted holiday merchandise, greens and bows at Green Spring GardensGreen Spring Gardens            Horticultural Center and Historic House gift shops. Both shops also feature gifts for children including storybooks, games, T-shirts, toys and other treasures with gardening or nature themes. Special, seasonal features include handmade holiday merchandise crafted by local artisans and Green Spring Gardens volunteers. The site's gardening workshops, lectures, formal tea and tasting events also make nice gifts, and reservations can be purchased with a Park Authority gift card. The Horticulture Center shop is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 12-4:30 p.m. The Historic House shop is open Wednesday-Sunday, 12-4:30 p.m.

Laurel Hill Golf Club

Laurel Hill Golf Club Pro Shop

Laurel Hill Golf Club

In this shop, you'll find everything you need to outfit a golfer for a day. You'll find the latest in men's and women's golf apparel, shoes, bags and balls as well as golf gloves, tees and sunglasses. Other gift ideas include divot tools, ball markers and hats. Custom club fitting is also offered, and full sets of clubs can be special ordered. Check out the "19th hole" gift items including glassware, decanters and corkscrews made by local artisans. The shop is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Twin Lakes Golf Course Pro Shop

Twin Lakes Golf Course

Golfers and non-golfers will find plenty to like at the Twin Lakes pro shop. A wide array of colorful men's and women's sportswear is available along with fashionable sports socks, golf shoes, hats and sunglasses. Accessories include golf tees, balls, gloves, divot tools, ball markers, towels, umbrellas, golf bags and four-wheel push carts. Custom club fitting is available, and individual and full sets of clubs can be special ordered. The shop is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Gift Cards

Fairfax County Park Authority Gift Cards

One gift that's sure to please every person on your list is a Park Authority gift card. Recipients can use it to purchase merchandise in Park Authority RECenters, nature centers and historic sites, and gift cards can be purchased at any of those locations. Gift cards specifically for the golfer on your list are available at any Park Authority golf course and can be used to buy golf rounds or merchandise at the golf course.

Laurel Hill Golf Club

Holiday Gifts Stay Under Wraps with Children's Holiday Shopping

Give your children the power to plan their own gift-giving strategy by signing them up for Children's Holiday Shopping at the Frying Pan Farm Park on Dec. 3. Children arrive with their list, and volunteers help them check it twice as they select holiday surprises for the whole family while parents wait in the schoolhouse. All gifts are wrapped, ensuring no holiday surprise is spoiled before gift-giving time, and children get to experience for themselves why it is indeed better to give than to receive. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes and search keyword Children's Holiday Shopping to make a free shopping reservation, or call the park at (703) 437-9101. Walk-ins are also welcome on a first come, first served basis. For more details, see the ad in the Events section.

From the Big Dipper to galaxies far, far away, the new roll-top observatory at Turner Farm gives you the power to see the night sky in a whole new realm. The observatory features a retractable roof that allows you to gaze at the stars from the classroom through three powerful, permanently mounted telescopes.

Telescope           "When I saw Andromeda through that telescope with that 10-inch lens, it took me half an hour to get from one end [of the constellation] to the other," said Charles Olin, a founding member of the Analemma Society, during the observatory's grand opening celebration in October. The observatory location in Great Falls, Va. is one of the darkest in Fairfax County, which gives you the clearest views of constellations, planets and other scientific wonders of the universe.

The new observatory is the result of a collaboration between the Park Authority and the Analemma Society, which began in 2007. The million-dollar facility was funded in part by the 2008 and 2012 park bonds, telecommunication funds, Mastenbrook grants and private donations from Jean and Ric Edelman through the Fairfax County Park Foundation.

Astronomy classes at Observatory Park at Turner Farm are now being offered. To learn more about the classes and for the story behind the telescopes, turn to the Nature and Science section.

To learn more about public star-gazing events, visit the Analemma Society website: analemma.org.

If you're like many people, you'll resolve to be fit
in the New Year, or maybe you'll resolve to shape up
for spring break, or for swimsuit season or for a special occasion. Setting your personal fitness goals is a great step in the right direction. Working with a personal trainer helps keep you motivated and accountable to effectively attain those goals more quickly than you would on your own.

Personal Training           Stephanie Collins started working out once a week with a certified personal trainer at Oak Marr RECenter last March for a very simple reason. "I wanted to slim down for a trip to the beach and I didn't feel motivated," said the Vienna, Va. mother of two. "I felt like I was in a rut and wanted someone to set me in the right direction, to make sure I was using correct form and to keep me motivated." Now, thanks to the help of certified personal trainer Cindy Ford, Collins says she's achieved goals that may have seemed out of reach for her before she started training just eight months ago.

"I ran in my son's elementary school 5K race, and Cindy trained me through that," Collins said. With stoked confidence, Collins set her next goal – to run in a 10- mile race. "I asked Cindy, 'Am I crazy to think I can do this?'" With the help of her personal trainer, Collins declared 'mission accomplished' when she crossed the Army 10-Miler finish line in October.

Personal Training           "One of the biggest benefits of personal training is building confidence to achieve your goals," said Ford, who is both a certified personal trainer and fitness class instructor at Oak Marr RECenter. "It's about listening to the client, assessing whether their goals are realistic and giving them the guidance and the confidence to attain those goals."

As a result of personal training, Collins says she is stronger, has greater endurance and remains motivated to stick with the program. "I wasn't good at doing it alone, and Cindy keeps me honest," she said. She also appreciates having access to a service in Park Authority RECenters that she once thought was out of reach to her. "I had been a member of other [commercial] gyms. Personal training was financially unattainable to me there, and I wasn't getting what I needed from classes," she said. "The fitness classes here [at RECenters] are good and personal training is affordable. This is just right for me."

Expend some energy with pedal power on the new pump track at Lake Fairfax Park! The facility located near the soccer fields opened in October to the delight of bike enthusiasts of all ages.

A pump track is a small looping bicycle trail system that riders navigate by pumping with their arms and legs rather than pedaling. It can be ridden by cyclists of all skill levels, and almost any bicycle will work. All you really need is a bike with knobby tires and a safety helmet. It's a great workout and lots of fun!

There's still time for you to take your wheels for a spin before the pump track closes for the winter on Dec. 15. If you can't make it by then, don't worry. It will open again April 1, 2017.

The pump track was developed and funded by the non-profit Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE, Inc.), with significant contributions from The Bike Lane and support from the Fairfax County Park Foundation.

Fifty-Plus

Whether you're an empty nester, an active senior or both, the Park Authority's new 50+ web portal connects you with programs tailored just for you! The site directly connects you with a wide variety of programs for older adults including fitness and wellness, arts and learning, gardening and nature, recreation, concerts and festivals, golf and more. Visit Fifty-Plus to connect, engage and play!

"Hey, that color matches my mom's bike helmet," exclaimed 3-year-old Orson Matheson of Falls Church, Va., as he excitedly gazed at the shiny new bike he won in the Park Authority's Discovery Trail Map – Presidential Edition drawing. Matheson, 10-year-old Maya Raza of Springfield, Va. and 10-year-old Luke Ewell of Washington, D.C. were declared the winners after their names were selected in the drawing in September, and each received a new bicycle and safety helmet donated by Spokes, Etc. in October. A total of 657 children were entered in the drawing after visiting at least eight of 12 featured Fairfax County parks this past summer. All children who visited at least eight sites received a prize pack full of tickets to park amusements such as mini golf, boat rides, carousel and train rides and camping valued at $93. The Discovery Trail Map summer children's activity was co-sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Foundation.

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