Visit Old Town Alexandria and you find cobblestone streets, independent shops–and all the perks of a much larger city. It’s easy to get here and easy to get around: with a Metro stop and Amtrak station, the free King Street Trolley, Capital Bikeshare stations, and a water taxi to the National Mall, all roads (and rails, and rivers, and bikes and buses) lead to Alexandria.
But let’s say you need to park in Alexandria. In any city, parking can be an…adventure, and although Old Town is pretty enough that making the block a few times is not that unpleasant, we’ve got a few parking tips to make things easier for your next day trip or dinner date on King Street.
- City-owned garages: cheap and worry-free
If parallel parking isn’t your jam (it’s definitely not mine), there are 16 public parking garages on or near King Street. There are also six city-owned garages in Old Town. Tip: the city garages are generally cheaper than the privately-owned decks, e.g., Market Square Garage is only $4 all day on Saturdays and Sundays and $4 all evening on weekdays after 5 p.m. Another great thing about parking lots and garages? You can leave your car all day if you want, unlike metered parking. Even better, you can use apps and websites like ParkMe for real-time maps that tell you where spaces are available and for how much.
The city-owned garages and lots:
Market Square Garage | 108 North Fairfax Street
Courthouse Square Garage | 111 South Pitt Street
Thompson’s Alley Garage | 10 Thompson’s Alley
N Union Street Garage | 220 North Union Street
South Henry Street Lot | 112 South Henry Street
Cameron / St. Asaph Street Lot | 210 North St. Asaph Street
- Lower King: hidden lots
Here’s a parking secret: there’s a cluster of public parking garages near Lower King Street and Alexandria’s waterfront. The city-owned garage at 10 Thompson’s Alley is $5 after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and tucked away down the alley is another hidden garage at 220 N. Union Street. In fact, the Union Street garage offers such a fantastic view of the Potomac, I’d pay to picnic on the roof!
- Metered parking: free on Sundays
Image credit: Erich Wagner for the Alexandria Times
In spite of my parallel parking woes, I’ve parked on King Street more than once and emerged unscathed. On King Street and on the blocks just off King, you can pay for two-hour metered parking by credit card, coins or by phone using the Pango app or a toll-free number. (Also of note, the King Street Metro parking lot offers short-term metered parking on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.) Here’s a little-known fact: you can move your car and park in another metered spot as long as your ticket hasn’t expired. Oh, and street parking in Old Town is free on Sundays, after 9 p.m. on weekdays and on state holidays.
- Off King Street: park in a postcard
Real talk: maybe you can’t get on-street parking directly in front of your favorite shop or restaurant. You can cry about it, OR you can go two blocks north or south of King Street for free two- and three-hour spaces (that’s north of Cameron St. and south of Duke St.). Plus you get to stroll past some of Old Town’s postcard-perfect historic homes!
- After-hours lots: evenings and weekends, free or cheap
Occasionally a for-customers-only parking lot at a restaurant or bank opens up to the public after business hours. One convenient example is HB Parking across from Bilbo Baggins restaurant near the intersection of Cameron and Lee streets, with a $5 flat rate after 5 p.m. on weekdays and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Just make sure you check all signage before you park in any business lot!
- Valet parking: perfect for date night
Image credit: Cameron Davidson for Visit Alexandria
You’re hungry, you’re meeting a hot date for dinner—why worry about parking when someone else can do it for you? If you’re willing to shell out a few extra bucks, some restaurants and hotels offer valet parking so you can skip the search and enjoy curbside service. (The Fish Market and Landini Brothers provide valet parking on Friday and Saturday evenings for only $5!)
These are tips for Old Town parking, but Alexandria’s nearby Del Ray neighborhood also offers great dining options—and all street parking is free! Check out local favorites like Cheesetique, the Dairy Godmother and the Del Ray Farmers Market, held year-round on Saturday mornings.
For maps and additional information about parking in Alexandria, click here.
Header image: R Kennedy for Visit Alexandria