There’s a lot of reasons to love northern Virginia, or “NoVa,” which includes several cities and counties and contributes 2.6 million to the metropolitan population. The region wears its Southern heritage lightly, playing host to a variety of cultures, politics, and businesses, as well as some of the best schools in the country. Despite a bustling vibe and intense traffic, NoVa has sustained pockets of historical charm and a lush natural landscape—if you know where to look. This guide will help you understand the area’s dynamics, and figure out the right neighborhood for you.