Autumn looks good on Alexandria, where fall foliage frames historic red brick buildings, art festivals fill the streets and farmers’ markets overflow with fresh seasonal produce and handmade artisan wares. You can pedal along the Potomac River waterfront under a canopy of changing leaves, sip locally-sourced wine and craft beer or—if you dare—venture along cobblestone streets on a candlelit tour of Old Town’s haunted hotspots. With so many fall festivities, there’s no better time to paint the town than during Alexandria’s most colorful season:
1. 42nd Annual Virginia Wine Festival
Image Credit: Virginia Wine Festival
The Virginia Wine Festival is the oldest wine festival on the East Coast, coming to Old Town Alexandria for the first time in 2017. You can enjoy Virginia’s best wineries, craft exhibitors, seminars and incredible music on the Potomac River waterfront, with a special Virginia Oyster Pavilion. Tickets include a tasting glass, unlimited wine tastings (with cider, too!) access to the Oyster Pavilion and all concessions and music. You can also catch craft beer trucks for an additional cost or upgrade for the VIP pass for one-hour early admission, an exclusive VIP reserve wine tasting, and a private tent and bathrooms.
2. King Street Art Festival
Image credit: Visit Alexandria
Named one of “America’s Best Small Art Festivals,” the annual King Street Art Festival transforms Alexandria’s historic main street into a world-class outdoor art gallery filled with pieces by more than 200 artists from September 16-17, 2017. As you stroll six blocks lined with festival booths, head to the Art League’s annual Ice Cream Bowl Fundraiser, where you can scoop artisanal ice cream from bowls handmade by local artists. You can also participate in hands-on art activities at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
3. Festivals at Mount Vernon
Image credit: Mount Vernon
One of the best times to visit Mount Vernon is in the fall, not just for the foliage and weather, but also for the spectacular fall festivals. At the 21st Annual Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour , visitors learn about our Founding Father’s wine endeavors, enjoy live blues music, meet “George and Martha Washington” on the Mansion’s piazza and tour the Washingtons’ home and basement where he stored his wine. Another fall favorite is the Mount Vernon Colonial Market & Fair, where Colonial-attired artisans demonstrate 18th-century crafts and sell traditional wares such as baskets, woodcarvings, tin and ironwork, leather-workings, weavings, furniture, and more. There’s also 18th-century entertainment including music, a balloon-launch, fire-eating, puppet and magic shows and more. Finally, don’t miss out on the Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon, a family-friendly 18th-century celebration at Mount Vernon’s Pioneer Farm. You can take a wagon ride, play early American games, walk through a straw bale maze, catch 18th-century demonstrations and more.
4. 76th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour
Image Credit: TWIG
The TWIG’s 76th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour on September 23 is a chance to learn the history and see the interiors of eight unique homes in Old Town, dating from the turn of the 19th Century to the present and all within walking distance of one another. Visit a modern LEED Silver Certified energy efficient home with geothermal heating and cooling; walk through a large first floor that is a premier example of open living; see a three-story 1888 town home that was added to a historic building and now has the former facade visible in its interior; and enjoy an impressive Romanesque home with nearly 5000 square feet and a luxurious roof top deck. On tour day, exchange your tickets for the tour book and map either at the Twig Shop, 106 N. Columbus Street, or at the Alexandria Visitor Center. All proceeds benefit Inova Alexandria Hospital.
5. 22nd Annual Art on the Avenue
Image credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Art on the Avenue is a multicultural arts festival celebrating our community’s diversity through the arts in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia. The festival is held on October 7, 2017 rain or shine. Every year, over 50,000 visitors stroll down Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray between Bellefonte and Hume Avenues. People are greeted by over 300 artists (jewelers – silversmith & beaders, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, unique painters, sculptures, fabric artists), musicians (Irish, folk, rock n’ roll, country and more), and food vendors (hot dogs, BBQ, Indian, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and homemade cider donuts). Activities for children include stuff your own scarecrow, paint a pumpkin, lotus flower design and weave screen art to name a few.
6. Fall Race Season
Image credit: Flickr user Thomas Cole
Cooler weather spells race season in Alexandria, where hundreds of runners hit the streets for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, the George Washington Patriot Run and many smaller races. With scenic routes along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, through historic Old Town and across the Potomac, Alexandria is sure to inspire a PR. Not ready to race? Join one of our many running groups like Joggers and Lagers, hosted by Pacers and Port City Brewing Company, for fun runs and rewarding suds. Many Marine Corps Marathon competitors and their fans will be staying in Alexandria, conveniently located between the start/finish line in Arlington and the race expo in National Harbor.
7. Farmers’ Markets
Image credit: C. Martin for Visit Alexandria
Celebrate the fall harvest season with a visit to one of Alexandria’s five farmers’ markets, where booths brim with seasonal produce, homemade jams and jellies and freshly-baked artisan bread. Have you tried Amish cheese? How about salty empanadas or sweet apple cider doughnuts? You’ll find them and more at the markets—and can pick the perfect pumpkin while you’re at it.
8. Halloween Events
Image credit: Potomac Riverboat Co.
Celebrate the spookiest time of year in Alexandria, a city with a remarkable past whose spirits continue to haunt its streets today. Alexandria has earned its reputation as a Halloween hotspot with nearly 20 events that stretch across the month of October. Brave souls partake in spook-tacular events including late-night ghost tours along Old Town’s cobblestone streets, the Bark or Treat Halloween Canine Cruise and the dog- and family-friendly annual Del Ray Halloween Parade on October 29th for a guaranteed “ghoul” time.
9. Fall Fashion and Shopping
Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria
In the fall, shoppers stroll Old Town’s brick-lined streets in search of the perfect seasonal treat, home decor, scarf or cozy sweater at one of the city’s many independent boutiques tucked into historic row houses. It’s a shopping adventure—and it amps up with the Old Town Boutique District’s Shop & Stroll event September 21 to 24, 2017.
10. Fall Leaf Peeping
Image credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria
Fall in Alexandria is one of the best times to get outside and enjoy our city’s historic trees washed in the colors of autumn. When it comes to leaf peeping in Alexandria, you can choose your own adventure and take a stroll through Old Town, hit the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River, drive the George Washington Parkway or hit other parks in the city like Jones Point Park, Fort Ward Park and Monticello Park.
Find more information about fall events in Alexandria here.
Header image credit: C. Martin for Visit Alexandria