Autumn in Alexandria, VA means showstopping trees sweeping historic streetscapes with autumn hues, photo-ready rowhouses decked out with seasonal décor and gas lamps flickering above red brick sidewalks. Find timely artwork, sip a rainbow cider flight and more this fall—camera in hand. Mask up, put portrait mode on and get inspired with our ideas below.
1. Burst of Orange Color at Carlyle House
Image Credit: Instagram user @lhcalligraphy
Come October, historic Carlyle House’s front lawn begs for a fall foliage photoshoot, with orange-hued maples framing the mansion’s stone façade. Visit the lush backyard garden for a beautiful bonus oasis in the heart of Old Town.
With autumn colors set to peak the week of October 19, find our city-wide guide to fall foliage-viewing here.
2. Doorways Decked out with Pumpkins
Old Town’s always photogenic rowhouses are prettier than ever with pumpkins and gourds gathered around seasonal mums, vibrant doors, Halloween decorations and more. Try S. Lee Street or leave it to serendipity to see what you stumble upon.
3. Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies
Visit temporary public art installation Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies at Waterfront Park until November. Brooklyn artist Olalekan Jeyifous’ concept frames Alexandria’s Black history through the lens of the city’s industrial and merchant history from the 17th to 20th centuries. Once a prosperous port city and manufacturing hub home to one of the largest domestic slave trading firms in the country, Alexandria and its early economy were inextricably tied to the work of enslaved and free African Americans.
Photograph the artwork from all angles, with four ornate metal profiles facing the water atop a ground mural studded with merchant and manufacturing symbols. Hear more from the artist in his Forbes feature.
4. New Wythe Street “Come Together” Mural
Take a photo of Old Town’s timely “Come Together” mural, painted in July 2020 by T.C. Williams High School art students Shelby Bavin and Caroline Mitchell, on the side of Rubini Jewelers at 632 N. Washington. In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Shelby explains, “We used our voices the best way we know how: with art!” Caroline adds, “The mural stands as a symbol of unification in our community, which is incredibly important in times of uncertainty.” A twist on Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam,” the Black and White hands meet, surrounded by indigo-hued flowers, as a symbol of solidarity.
5. Cider Flight or Craft Beer
Celebrate National Cider Month in October with a photogenic flight from Lost Boy Cider, Northern Virginia’s first urban cidery. Taste your way through a rainbow color palette filled with flavors like IPA-inspired Hazy Hopped, blackberry-tinted Bramble and Thai Rope Walker, spiked with strawberry and basil. Order cans for curbside pickup or visit the socially distanced tasting room—just be sure to snap a pic before you sip. More of a beer fan? Opt for fall-themed brews from Aslin Beer Co. (known for its vibrant can art) or award-winning Port City Brewing Company.
6. Mount Vernon Trail’s Fall Foliage
The Mount Vernon Trail makes the perfect backdrop for a stroll, jog or bike ride in the riverside autumn air. Head south along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and capture a gorgeous golden hour with red, orange and yellow leaves filtering the fall lighting. Keep your viewfinder ready to snap wildlife sightings, from sun-tanning turtles and stately bald eagles.
7. Flickering Gas Lamps
As the temperature chills and the sun sets earlier, feel swept back in time by the flickering gas lamps fixed out front of historic rowhouses, remnants of the 19th-century gas lighting system. Come twilight, look for the lamps along quieter side streets off King, such as Prince Street or cobblestoned Captain’s Row.
8. Halloween Décor on Captain’s Row
Residents of cobblestoned Captain’s Row, a stop on the ever-popular Ghost & Graveyard Tour, transform their block into a Halloween haven each year. Head to the 100 block of Prince Street to capture scenes ranging from the spooky (think: skeletons scaling a brick rowhouse) to the quirky (like the Wicked Witch of the East’s ruby-slippered feet peeking out from a pumpkin patch).
Check out more Alexandria Instagram inspiration here and don’t forget to tag #visitALX for the chance to be featured.