Just outside of D.C. on the Potomac River, Alexandria offers visitors a chance to escape to the great outdoors without leaving town. AAA named Alexandria one of the “Ten Most Walkable Cities” in the country, but if a walk isn’t enough exercise, hiking and biking trails wind along the waterfront with breathtaking views of the Potomac River, with plenty of parks, nature trails, and specialty activities like golf, sailing, basketball, volleyball, yoga, birding and more. Whether you’re in town for the weekend or live in the D.C. region, keep reading for a roundup of some of the best activities for outdoor enthusiasts in Alexandria.
Mount Vernon Trail
Image Credit: C. Davidson for Visit Alexandria
Alexandria’s Mount Vernon Trail beckons runners, walkers and cyclists with 18 miles of waterfront vistas, loads of green space and an easily accessible route that runs all the way from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate up to Washington, D.C. through Old Town Alexandria. Along the trail in Alexandria are some of the best spots in the region for birdwatching, including bald eagles often found near Jones Point Park and Belle Haven Park in South Old Town. Pro tip: check out a bike from Bike and Roll or the nearby Capital Bikeshare stations and pedal along the Potomac via this treasure of a trail.
Image Credit: Evan Michio for the City of Alexandria
Alexandria boasts eight waterfront parks, each with ample green space and gorgeous views. Locals flock to Founders Park, with an unfenced dog run, a volleyball court and lots of open space for play. Jones Point Park, part of the National Park Service, is home to the last riverine lighthouse in Virginia and one of the original boundary stones for Washington, DC. It’s also a favorite fishing spot in Alexandria, includes part of the Mount Vernon Trail with additional trail networks, and has multiple basketball courts and green space for group activities.
Nature Parks and Trails
Image Credit: Evan Michio for the City of Alexandria
Alexandria is also home to an impressive number of nature parks, preservation areas and trail networks dispersed throughout the city. Dora Kelley Nature Park is a 50-acre wildlife preserve with prime birding along nature trails and water features. Nearby, The Winkler Botanical Preserve is one of the best spots in the region to scope out native plant and flower species, and it also has a trail network through small waterfalls and a pond. Also in the West End, Ben Brenman Park has open playing fields, paths, a playground and a pond that are all great for families and kids. The Holmes Run Trail is a paved scenic path that stretches 5.2 miles from Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood through the West End over streams and through the woods.
Washington Sailing Marina
Image Credit: Flickr user Isaac Wedin
If you’re looking to get out on the water, the Washington Sailing Marina on Daingerfield Island is the place to go. They not only offer traditional boat rentals and lessons with sailboats, kayaks and canoes, but also regular events like stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga on the Potomac. Imagine getting into downward dog on a SUP on the river with views of the Washington, D.C. monuments and planes landing. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Plus, you can refuel at Triple Craft, opened in 2017 serving specialty burgers, beers and shakes.
Cameron Run Regional Park
Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Families and groups looking for outdoor activities in Alexandria don’t want to miss Cameron Run Regional Park on Eisenhower Avenue. It’s filled with endless fun including the Great Waves Waterpark, batting cages, miniature golf, picnic areas and more spread out over 26 acres of outdoor adventure.
Topgolf was named one of the top innovators of 2016 for reinvigorating the game of golf, and if you haven’t already been it’s a can’t-miss in the D.C. region. Topgolf brings out your inner kid with two 18-hole miniature golf courses and a modern driving range with micro-chipped balls, special light-up targets and games, and a lounge-style play area with drinks and food service. Topgolf is a one-of-a-kind experience and incredibly fun with a group of friends.
Sportrock Climbing Center
Image Credit: Sportrock Facebook Page
Chances are, if you know anyone in Northern Virginia who loves to climb, they’ve spent some time at Sportrock Climbing Center. The massive climbing gym has 57 rope stations with endless space and routes to climb, an extensive bouldering area and plenty of instruction for beginners to help get you started. They also offer classes like yoga, pilates, weight training and more. Never been climbing before? Sportrock is the place to go. It’s fun without being intimidating and is an offbeat idea for a date or an adventure with friends.
Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria
If you’re looking to meet likeminded active people in Alexandria, your best bet is with Port City Brewing Company and Pacers Running Store. Port City hosts regular events like Beer Yoga, Pedals and Pints bike rides and Joggers and Lagers runs with Pacers. Pacers also hosts morning and evening social runs throughout the week, all perfect ways to get active and social at the same time.
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