Alexandria, Virginia is chock-full of so much free fun, you could spend an entire day in the Port City without spending a dime. Here’s our go-to guide for more than 50 totally free things to do in Alexandria, including local favorites.
Free Food & Drinks
Swing’s owner Mark Warmuth leads the free cupping, Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Sugar Shack Freebie of the Day: Check out the Sugar Shack Alexandria Facebook page to learn how you can score a free donut every day of the week.
Swing’s Coffee Cupping Lab: Most Fridays t 10 a.m., Swing’s Coffee Roasters offers a free coffee cupping and tasting at their Del Ray Coffee Bar and roastery.
Olio Tasting Room: Stop into Olio to sample infused olive oils with creative flavors like citrus habanero.
Tastings at La Cuisine: Most Saturdays, La Cuisine offers food tastings including ingredients sold in the shop. Stop in to sample some of the delicious recipes and enjoy special discounts.
Taste of Whole Foods Market: On Saturdays, head to the Old Town Whole Foods for a free live cooking demonstration and tasting.
Buy One, Get One Free at Dolci Gelati: Every Monday, Dolci Gelati will give a free cup of coffee to anyone who buys one first.
Free Outdoor Activities
Volleyball at Founders Park, Image Credit: R. Nowitz for Visit Alexandria
Waterfront Parks: Play volleyball at Founders Park, shoot hoops or check out the lighthouse at sunrise at Jones Point Park, or picnic at one of 8 waterfront parks in the Port City.
Mount Vernon Trail: Bike, walk or jog on the award-winning Mount Vernon Trail, which winds along the Potomac River from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Alexandria to the national monuments and memorials in Washington D.C.
Daingerfield Island: Watch sailboats on a stroll around the marina or view planes close-up as they land at Reagan National Airport.
Birdwatching at Fort Hunt: See if you can catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that tend to perch near the fort remnants at Fort Hunt.
Bocce & Ping Pong at Alexandria’s Pop Up Park: You can play bocce, ping pong and more at the park near Bastille on the corner of Pendleton and N. Fayette Streets. Just make sure to bring your own balls and paddles!
King Street: Stroll Alexandria’s historic main street and check out the twinkle-lit trees during the holidays. Local Becky G. suggests the Free King Street Trolley for a quick and easy ride to the waterfront. Stop into the independently owned boutiques on King Street for unique and free advice from storeowners.
Farmers’ Markets: Alexandria boasts four farmers’ markets, including one of the oldest in the nation in Old Town as suggested by local Pat N. The Market Square parking garage offers free parking during the Old Town market hours (7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays).
Winkler Botanical Preserve: This hike through the preserve feels like a weekend getaway with gorgeous views and chances to spot rare plants and wildlife.
Skate Park: The Schuyler Hamilton Jones Skateboard Park has a half pipe and everything else a skater could want. Check out the Dust Farm Skateboard Shop to chat with rocker Shawn Crosby and explore their free skateboard museum, too.
City Parks: There is a park around every corner in Alexandria, full of gardens, playgrounds, sculptures, athletic fields and more.
River Farm Gardens: Liz K. says “the children’s garden is magical,” and we couldn’t agree more! The farm encompasses 25 acres overlooking the Potomac River and is a beautiful stop on a bike ride to Mount Vernon.
Sunday Yoga at Lululemon: Stretch out with free yoga at Lululemon every Sunday at 10 a.m.
Free Arts & Music
An artist at work at the Torpedo Factory, Image Credit: Torpedo Factory Art Center
Torpedo Factory Art Center: The Torpedo Factory is full of free fun. Local Kara L. says it’s her favorite place to “relax with the kids, see some fun art, meet new people, and you can bring your dog, too!” You can explore over 80 open artist studios, visit the Target Gallery, attend the monthly Second Thursday event and enjoy live music from the glass harpist and other street performers outside the Torpedo Factory.
Archaeology Museum: Pammy L. says, “Our family loves the archeology museum and the rest of the Torpedo Factory!”.
Free Art Galleries: The Del Ray Artisans’ Gallery is just one of many extraordinary art galleries in Alexandria, and a favorite of local Liz M.. Check out their free First Thursday events on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray for family fun, too!
Mobile Art Lab: Check out the Twitter account to see where the Mobile Art Lab will be on any given day, and join local artists on participatory art projects for people of all ages.
Stitch in Space at Fibre Space: Every Thursday, Fibre Space opens up their comfy studio for free knit and crochet help. Store owner and local knit-celebrity Danielle is usually in the lounge for free advice and good conversation.
Free Live Music: There is free live music around every corner in Alexandria, and inside restaurants like Blackwall Hitch, Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub, and more. Check out our Live Music schedule for more info.
Bluegrass Open Jam at Port City: The “Best Small Brewery in America” offers free live music on the first Sunday of every month at Bluegrass Open Jam—you can even bring your own instrument and join in.
Public Art: Alexandria’s neighborhoods are their own art galleries—check out public murals in Del Ray or sculptures like the one behind Lost Dog Cafe in the Belle Pre neighborhood.
Poetry Fence in Del Ray: On the corner of Windsor and Dewitt in Del Ray, there is a magical fence filled with poetry that captures the attention of pretty much anyone who passes by.
Little Free Libraries: You may have noticed what look like birdhouses filled with books in some Alexandria neighborhoods. Those are known as “Little Free Libraries,” where you can leave a book for someone else and take one of your own. There’s even one near the poetry fence on Windsor Avenue.
Free Annual Festivals & Parades
King Street Arts Festival, Image Credit: R. Nowitz for Visit Alexandria
Alexandria Birthday Celebration: Free cake, fireworks and music top off this annual celebration each July! Local Cathy H. says her favorie part is the performance by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra.
King Street Art Festival: In September, watch Alexandria’s historic main street transform into a world-class outdoor art gallery.
Art on the Avenue: Over 300 artists line Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray during this annual festival in October, complete with live music, food vendors, kids activities and more.
Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend: Each December, this local tradition is a can’t-miss event. Highlights include the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, the Taste of Scotland and other special events.
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights: Watch the Potomac River light up in this regionally renowned December event, as suggested by Tracy S.!
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The Ballyshaners Saint Patrick’s Day Parade includes live music, an antique car show, and a dog show all packed into one fun weekend every March.
The Spite House, Image Credit: W. Connett for Visit Alexandria
PBS’ Mercy Street Fans: Explore Visit Alexandria’s ‘Mercy Street’-Inspired self guided tour; picnic in the park at the Civil War site Fort Ward; learn about Alexandria’s African American heritage at Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial; and visit Ivy Hill Cemetery, the final resting place of Emma Green and Frank Stringfellow among others.
Historical Stroll in Old Town: check out the romantic cobblestone streetscape on Captains Row, then stop by one of the narrowest houses in the country to see the outside of the Spite House and end with a glimpse of George Washington’s Town House.
Alexandria’s Architecture: Try playing a game of architectural “I Spy” to see if you can spot some of the historic details throughout the city, explore the Art Deco architecture in Del Ray, or learn more about the history of Alexandria’s architecture.
National Inventors Hall of Fame: Learn more about some of the most creative inventors and their inventions inside the exhibit at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Christ Church: Peter R. says, “I think Christ Church in Old Town is a special place. The church is older than our country and was the parish home of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Knowledgeable docents will show you around. The old churchyard is interesting. Admission is free but donations are welcomed.”
Free For Fido
Image Credit: Shelley Castle Pet Photography
The Bone Box and Treat Stops: Local dogs know there’s fresh water and treats at practically every storefront in town. The Bone Box on Prince Street is one of the most well-known.
Doggy Happy Hour: Every Tuesday evening at Hotel Monaco, local and visiting dogs bring their owners to Doggy Happy Hour for free fun.
Dog Parks: Give your four-legged friend some exercise at one of dozens of public dog parks in Alexandria.
Canine Cruises: Dogs ride free on Potomac Riverboat Company’s Canine Cruise, but their humans do have to pay.
Dog-Friendly Shops & Patios: Many of Alexandria’s shops and restaurants with outdoor dining are dog-friendly. Check out this page for more on dog-friendly things to do in Alexandria.
Last but not least, you can stop by the Visitor Center for a free visitor guide, free wi-fi, and more information. Tell us YOUR favorite free things to do and we may feature them on the blog!
Header Image courtesy of R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria