Alexandria, Virginia is often referred to as Old Town by all the locals. This town used to be a port, but now it is a charming vacation destination. As one of the better-preserved historical districts in the country, it is easy to see how you can learn so much history during a short visit. There are so many things to do in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Your visit to Old Town Alexandria, VA can begin with a little sightseeing. There are quite a few Alexandria, VA points of interest to add to your itinerary. Just make sure you add a few cool things to do in Alexandria, so you aren’t simply doing all the historical attractions! It’s not as easy as you think to keep your itinerary balanced, since this is considered the Alexandria historic district.
Where is Old Town Alexandria, Virginia?
Old Town Alexandria, Virginia can be found along the banks of the Potomac River. It is not too far from Washington DC. It is approximately six miles from the downtown area. However, to drive from Washington DC to Old Town Alexandria can take a little longer than you plan due to the traffic.
Best Time to Visit Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
The busiest times in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia are the months of June, July, and August. All three months offer amazing things to do in Alexandria, VA. Therefore, it is easy to see that those months are the best time to visit, as long as you don’t mind the crowds. If you want to avoid as many people as possible, then the months of April, May, September, and October might be the best option for you.
Weather in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
The winter months in Old Town Alexandria, VA bring cooler temperatures, but not as cold as you would see in other parts of the country. The cooler temperatures bring rain and sometimes snow to this area. It warms up quickly during the spring, as the rain continues to fall frequently.
The summer is quite hot in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. There is very little rain at that time of the year too, which is why it is such a popular time to visit. The fall months bring slightly cooler temperatures once again, as well as the rain.
20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
1. Walk Along the Mount Vernon Trail
The Mount Vernon Trail is more than eighteen miles long. This is one of the best things to do with family in Alexandria, because you can do as much or as little of it as you wish. Plus, as one of the free things to do in Alexandria today, you won’t need to get upset if you need to leave and return to enjoy more of the trail another day.
2. Wander Up and Down King Street
King Street is part of Alexandria’s historic district. The entire street is filled with boutiques and other shops. If you are not in the mood for a lot of shopping, you can at least learn a few tips of where to spend your time in Alexandria from the local shop owners. This is also where you will see many different street performers showing of their skills.
3. Visit the Farmer’s Market
There are four farmers’ market in Alexandria, VA. However, only one of them is located in Old Town Alexandria. The farmer’s market in Old Town Alexandria is open on Saturday mornings. It is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country, so it is a must-do in Old Town Alexandria.
4. Visit the Spite House
There is seven-foot-wide home located on Queen Street in Old Town Alexandria. It is called the Spite House. This home was constructed back in 1830 by a resident who didn’t want people spending time in the alley. It is currently the skinniest home in the US. Seeing this house is one of the unique things to do in Alexandria.
5. Visit the Carlyle House
You will find the Carlyle House directly across the street from the City Hall. This home looks as if it was taken directly from the pages of a storybook when it was constructed back in 1793. There is a fee to see the inside of the Carlyle House. However, there is no charge to walk around the gardens or relax on one of the benches. This could be one of the best things to do in Old Town Alexandria this weekend.
6. Visit the Alexandria Archaeology Museum
The Alexandria Archaeology Museum is located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. There are numerous exhibits filled with historical artifacts, as well as hands-on activities the kids will love. This is one of the many fun things to with kids in Alexandria.
7. Play at a Local Playground
There are many playgrounds in and around Old Town Alexandria, VA. They can be one of the best things to do in Alexandria with toddlers and kids. A couple Alexandria, VA playgrounds to consider include Chessie’s Big Backyard, Waynewood Park, and Potomac Yard. Each one offers lots of equipment for playing. However, most kids will love the trucks and dumping ground area over at Waynewood Park.
8. Watch the Sunrise Over at Jones Point Park
If you are an early riser, then you will love that there is something for you to do in Old Town Alexandria early in the morning. Taking a walk over to Jones Point Park to watch the sunrise will be the highlight of your day. This is one of the best things to do in Alexandria for free.
9. Explore Huntley Meadows
Huntley Meadows is one of the Alexandria, VA attractions that is tucked away in between multiple apartment complexes. If you aren’t actively looking for this outdoor space, you probably wouldn’t even know it was there. Huntley Meadows is a swampy area filled with birds, frogs, and lots of other wildlife. Your entire family can spend a couple hours exploring and looking for different creatures.
10. Walk Along the Duke Street Black History Trail
There are seven stops along the Duke Street Black History Trail. It is one of the best things to do around Alexandria, VA. Your walk will begin at the Edmonson Sisters sculpture. From there, you will see the Bruin Slave Jail, Freedom House Museum, L’Ouverture Hospital, Alfred Street Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, and the African American Heritage Park.
11. Explore the Torpedo Factory Art Center
Since you will be in this building to see the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, you might as well stick around to see the eighty plus studios used by artists. There are also seven galleries and two workshops to spend time in. Each artist creates something different. Therefore, plan on seeing everything from ceramics and jewelry to printmaking and paintings.
12. Take a Stroll Along Captain’s Row
Captain’s Row is a quaint cobblestone street that is located at the 100 block of Prince Street. This is one of the most romantic things to do in Alexandria, so you may want to consider having someone watch your kids during your stroll. If you can’t, bring them along and still soak in the romantic vibes!
13. Take a Ride on the Big Ferris Wheel
There are plenty of things to do near Alexandria, VA. Heading over to the National Harbor in Maryland is one of them. Once you get there, you can take a ride on the big Ferris wheel to see the sights within the harbor, as well as some views of DC and parts of Virginia.
14. Take a Self-Guided Historic Walking Tour of Old Town
There are two self-guided historic walking tour routes of Old Town. Each route will have you stopping at between six and eight historical sites and attractions. These are both fun family things to do in Alexandria, because you can be outside and moving around.
15. Check Out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House is one of the attractions near Old Town Alexandria. This house was constructed back in 1940. While parts of the house are considered modern, there are quite a few intricate details.
16. See the Painted Ladies of Alexandria
The Painted Ladies of Alexandria can be found over on the 500 block of South Fairfax Street. They are the East Coast’s version of the ones you can see in San Francisco. The colors of the painted ladies go from turquoise to tangerine. They all have steep gables and quite the ornate accents.
17. Stop by the Wilkes Street Tunnel
The Wilkes Street Tunnel has two entrances. It is a former railroad tunnel that is almost completely covered by growing ivy. Yet, you can still peer inside to see how things may have looked when it was in used back in the middle of the 19th century.
18. Visit the Historic Cemeteries
There are a couple historic cemeteries in Old Town Alexandria and the surrounding area. Ivy Hill Cemetery can be found in the Rosemont neighborhood. It has tombstones from the early 1800s. Over on South Washington Street, you will find the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial. This is where approximately eighteen hundred African American men and women, as well as children were buried back during the Civil War.
19. Explore River Farm
There are twenty-five acres to explore over at River Farm. It is one of the biggest Alexandria, VA tourist attractions for families. You can explore as much of the acreage as you wish, whether you are interested in the gardens or simply the gorgeous views of the Potomac River. During your visit, you may see a wedding being held. This is a popular wedding destination, so it can happen any time you choose to visit.
20. Explore the Art in Old Town
There is plenty of art to see in Old Town. Seeing it all is considered some of the best things to do in Old Town. The easiest way to see it all is by doing the Old Town Art Walk. However, if that doesn’t fit your plans, you can easily spread your art sightings out. You will find temporary art pieces in Waterfront Park. Tide Lock Park offers sculptures amongst all the waterfalls and pools. There are also murals scattered throughout Old Town for you to see.
Expert Tips for Traveling to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
You must know a couple things before traveling to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Here are a couple of our favorite tips:
Spend Time on King Street – King Street seems to be where a lot of the action is at in Old Town Alexandria. If you are ever looking for activities in Alexandria, VA, this is the area to be in! You will find so many things to do in this Alexandria, VA Old Town. Maybe even too many for the time you will be spending there!
Take a Ride on the Old Time Trolley – You can easily walk up and down King Street when you are visiting Old Town Alexandria. However, why walk when you can ride the Old Time Trolley for free! This is one of the best free things to do in Alexandria!
Plan a Couple Extra Days for Your Old Town Alexandria Vacation – You may think a couple days is enough for exploring Old Town Alexandria, VA. However, we have talked to so many people over the years who have said they wished they would have stayed even longer. With so many fun things to do in Alexandria, VA, you will be very happy you decided to stay a little longer than you originally wanted to!
These are the twenty free, or nearly free, things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. You will never need to wonder what to do in Old Town Alexandria for a visit, because you already have so many options. Some of them are considered the best things to do in Old Town Alexandria, while others are simply the Alexandria, VA tourist attractions you personally don’t want to miss.