If you enjoy rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, then, the affluent Northern Virginia suburb of McLean is the place for you.
The inside-the-Beltway community, located just minutes from Washington, D.C., has been such an exclusive enclave of movers and shakers from the world of politics, business and sports that it has its own Wikipedia “List of People from McLean, Virginia” page despite an estimated population of just over 50,000 residents.
People watching runs the gamut from bumping into former Vice President Dick Cheney ordering a skinny latte at Starbucks to spotting retired 4-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell at a Hallmark Store.
In McLean you can find billionaires swapping homes such as when NHL Washington Capitals/NBA Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis traded his McLean home for NEXTEL founder Chris Rogers’ Maryland estate.
Leonsis departed but two of his star athletes bought into McLean as Caps winger Alex Ovechkin purchased a five-bedroom Colonial for $4.3 million in 2012 and last year Wizards guard Bradley Beal, fresh off a record $128 million deal, snapped up a $3.2 million French Provincial-style mansion.
Even the homes in McLean have their own pedigree. Merrywood, for example, was the childhood home of Jacqueline Kennedy and later owned by billionaire businessmen Steve Case, the co-founder and former CEO of America Online. Kennedy moved to the Georgian brick mansion when her mother married Standard Oil heir Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr.
She wasn’t the only Kennedy connection to McLean as the late Robert F. Kennedy and wife Ethel made the six acre Hickory Hill estate a destination for parties where newsman John Lennon mingled with the likes of Judy Garland and Rudolf Nureyev.
The big estates off Chain Bridge Road are home to many of the famous and no estate was bigger than that of AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey. He owned The Falls, estimated at $40 million, which included a 60,000-square foot castle valued at $33 million plus an $11.5 million 23,000-square foot home and a $2 million guest house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Current and former residents with McLean connections run from the high-minded, like Supreme Court justices Anthony Kennedy, to the realm of reality television, like Mary Amons, The Real Housewives of DC star who said “I don’t make money, I spend money”.
There are so many politicians living in McLean that you could field a softball team with nothing but former Senators.
And don’t forget the Governors as McLean is not only home to former Virginia governor Chuck Robb – who married LBJ’s daughter Lynda Bird Johnson in a White House ceremony — but current governor Terry McAuliffe lives in McLean where his kids attend the prestigious private Potomac School.
McLean’s public and private schools over the years have turned out such standouts as eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto, and screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine Michael Arndt.