Why Is Alexandria Worth Visiting?
When you think of Virginia, you probably think of the country’s founding fathers, the beaches, and the mountains – but consider adding a bustling city to that list. There are plenty of things to do in Alexandria, VA. It’s a charming destination that offers a fascinating view into the past, with its tree-lined streets and historical landmarks.
The port city in Northern Virginia was once home to Washington, Jefferson and other notable politicians. Today, it features a rich mix of old and new: historic buildings stand side by side with trendy restaurants and chic boutiques.
Alexandria’s history is evident in its architecture, especially in the Old Town area – here you’ll find cobblestone streets and 18th-century homes. If you’re looking for something more modern to explore, though, don’t worry; there are plenty of contemporary attractions too!
Things to Do in Alexandria, VA – The Old Town
Downtown Alexandria is a vibrant neighborhood where you can eat and drink at the many restaurants and bars, shop at its small businesses, enjoy the arts & events, and stay in one of the many hotels. What are some things to do in Alexandria, VA downtown?
The Old Town Alexandria Waterfront is located right on the Potomac River and is surrounded by a beautiful park with walking trails, picnic tables, benches and other areas to hang out. There are also several seasonal events including street festivals, concerts and a Farmer’s Market.
The Old Town area is full of historic buildings from Colonial times. There are numerous museums and landmarks nearby, like:
- Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum;
- Carlyle House Historic Park;
- Gadsby’s Tavern Museum;
- Spite House Alexandria;
- Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum.
To make the most of your visit, pop into the Alexandria Visitor Center (Ramsay House) to pick up a map and get more information about things to do in Alexandria, VA. You could also go on an Alexandria Colonial Tour to see some of the most important historical sites.
Art Centers and Galleries in Alexandria Old Town
If you’re interested in the arts, Alexandria is the place for you. There are several art galleries and centers to explore, such as:
- The Torpedo Factory Art Center;
- The Athenaeum;
- The Principle Gallery.
There’s also The Birchmere and Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center if you’re looking for things to do in Alexandria, VA that involve live music. Make sure to check out the event calendar in advance to see what’s happening during your stay.
Touring the George Washington Masonic National Memorial
As the tallest structure in Alexandria, Virginia, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial is impossible to miss. The building itself is striking, but it’s what’s inside that makes for a really fascinating visit.
The Memorial contains an extensive collection of memorabilia from George Washington’s life and his connection to the Freemasons, including many personal items like his dentures and a replica of his Bible.
One of its most impressive features is a huge bronze statue of Washington. Weighing over two tons and standing more than 22 feet tall, this breathtaking sculpture depicts Washington standing in full Masonic regalia – truly a sight to behold. Another highlight is the rooftop observation deck, which offers unobstructed views of the Potomac River and Washington, DC.
Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something fun to do, visiting this national treasure is a great way to make some unforgettable memories. If you’re interested in the life of the Founding Father and first President of the United States, you may also want to drive south to visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Other Things to Do in Alexandria, VA
Alexandria’s King Street will take you back in time with its 18th and 19th-century architecture. You can take the King Street Trolley to see it all. On the other hand, the Del Ray neighborhood is a more modern area with hip restaurants and shops. Potomac Yard is a great place to go for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
If you’re looking for things to do in Alexandria, VA with kids, consider spending an afternoon in the Chinquapin Park, which features a recreation center, an aquatics facility, and community gardens. There’s also the Fort Ward Park, home to the Fort Ward Museum, and the Windmill Hill Park with a playground.
South of the Alexandria Historical District, you’ll find Jones Point Park, with the historic Jones Point Lighthouse. The park also offers a great view of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. For more scenic views, you could join a sightseeing cruise or water taxi on the Potomac River.
Places to Visit Near Alexandria
The city is home to many shops, restaurants and historic sites. No matter how long you stay, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Alexandria, VA. But sometimes a day trip can be just as much fun. If you have time to spend the day in another location, check out some of these unique places to visit near Alexandria.
Located just 15 miles from Alexandria, Mount Vernon is one of Virginia’s most famous historic attractions. The estate was once home to George Washington and his family. Tour the mansion and learn about life at Mount Vernon during Washington’s lifetime, stroll through the gardens and scenic trails, and admire the view from the piazza overlooking the Potomac River.
Kids will love the petting zoo and children’s interpretive center. Other highlights include a blacksmith shop, spinning house and distillery. Visitors can also tour the Pioneer Farm area to learn about 18th century farm life in Virginia. You can get to Mount Vernon following the Mount Vernon Trail.
Huntley Meadows Park
Huntley Meadows Park is the largest park in Alexandria, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It has something for everyone to enjoy. The park is home to over 1,500 acres of woodland and wetlands, where you’ll find plenty of nature trails and educational programs. Huntley Meadows also has outstanding boating opportunities on its lakes, along with picnic areas and even an educational farm!
Lake Accotink Park
Lake Accotink Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts in Springfield, near Alexandria. The park has a large lake where visitors can rent paddle boats or kayaks, or cast a fishing line off the pier. In addition to boating, Lake Accotink offers plenty of hiking trails, picnic facilities, and even an amusement park that’s open during the summer months.
Enjoy Your Trip to Alexandria, VA, However Long It Is!
To sum it up, there are lots of things to do in Alexandria, VA. From exploring the Old Town to visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon, you’ll have a full week of activities, if you wish. Or, enjoy a day trip, including the places that appeal to you the most. Whatever your trip will look like, we wish you a pleasant stay!
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