Minutes from Washington, D.C., historic Alexandria, Virginia is bustling with energy and endless things to do, and luckily the fun doesn’t stop when the weather is less than ideal. Whether it’s a rainy day, a cold snap or a heatwave, we’ve got you covered with plenty of ways to stay out of the elements and inside soaking up Alexandria’s history, arts and culture, learning a new craft or skill, getting active, and staying cozy. Keep reading for 11 fun indoor activities in Alexandria on a rainy, cold or hot day.
Visit a Museum
Image Credit: T. Wright for Visit Alexandria
Alexandria is the third oldest locally designated historic district in the country, which means we’re a city filled with hands-on history and a rich network of museums. The best way to explore the city’s museums is with the “Key to the City” museum pass, which grants visitors access into eight historic sites plus a 40% off admission to nearby George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The pass includes access to some of Alexandria’s best museums including the “Museums on Market Square:” Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, Carlyle House, and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, all located steps from Market Square. Explore some or all of these intimate history museums or spend the day at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which is opening a new, immersive experience in February 2018, “Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead.”
Tour a Brewery
Image Credit: Mike Pak for BeerlyinFocus
When the weather isn’t cooperating, beer is always a great option. Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria’s West End was named one of the best small breweries in the U.S. At seven years old, Port City is the oldest packaging brewery in metropolitan Washington, D.C. and one of the go-to spots in Alexandria for fun. The brewery houses the tasting room, where visitors can try fresh, new and seasonal beers in flights and pints, fill their growlers, or grab beer to go. Visit Thursday through Sunday for an awesome tour of the entire brewery, and be sure to keep an eye on the event calendar for regular programs like live music on Friday nights, Beer Yoga and more.
Image Credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria
You could easily spend an entire day exploring Alexandria’s rich arts scene, so why not take advantage of the inclement weather and set out on an art adventure? The world-famous Torpedo Factory Art Center is the place to start—a former munitions factory transformed into an artistic powerhouse with three floors of artist studios and galleries. Take your time as you wander all three floors of diverse and vibrant art in every medium imaginable. Where else can you actually talk to artists as they create their work? Nearby, Principle Gallery is the go-to spot for contemporary realism in Alexandria and a must-see for art enthusiasts. Also in Old Town, The Athenaeum is a Greek Revival building built in 1851 that now serves as an art gallery, hosting exhibitions, performances, lectures and literary events.
Catch a Show
Image Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria
To catch a show in Alexandria, you can take your pick from places like The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall, which hosts the biggest names in country, folk, rock, bluegrass and jazz and was described by the Washington Post as “the best listening club in America.” Theater fans will love South Old Town’s The Little Theatre of Alexandria, the oldest award-winning theater in the D.C. Metro region, and one of the few community theaters in the country with its own building. In North Old Town, MetroStage is a professional theater with a regular rotation of fabulous plays and musicals. The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra is also a can’t-miss for world-class performances. You can also catch the latest films at AMC Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood, or Regal Cinemas at Potomac Yard north of Old Town.
Solve a Mystery
Image Credit: Escape Room Live
Escape rooms are the ultimate indoor adventure, and Old Town has two: Escape Room Live and Escape Quest. Historically themed and wonderfully immersive, Escape Room Live has rooms that are works of art, with themes involving Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Edgar Allen Poe, and more. You and a group of friends can use your wits and teamwork to uncover clues, solve a series of puzzles, and crack codes to solve the mystery and escape the room. At Escape Quest, you can choose your difficulty with themes like “The Captain’s Quarters,” a Pirates of the Caribbean-like adventure, and “The Lost Temple,” which almost makes you feel like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. The escape rooms are a fun and unique way to spend quality time with friends or family.
Image Credit: Jenny Markley for fibre space
Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill or hone an existing one, the possibilities for DIY creativity are endless in Alexandria. Local favorite fibre space expanded its thriving “yarn universe” in fall 2017 when owner Danielle Romanetti purchased a historic flatiron building, making even more space for workshops and knitting. You can stop by for classes, designer workshops, yarn tastings, movie nights and much more. At Stitch Sew Shop, you can create your own wardrobe and rent Bernina sewing machine stations by the hour, take regular classes or weekend-long mini-retreats with well-known “sew-lebrities.” AR Workshop has a similar DIY concept for home décor and gifts where you can take classes with painted wood projects, canvas pillows, wall hangings and more. Folks who love paper crafts won’t want to miss Penny Post Paper Goods opened in Old Town in 2017, which offers various workshops. For a fun twist, try one of Alexandria’s DIY spots that offers crafting and cocktails like Sip & Sew, Wine & Design and Monet Gogh Sip. Or, try the family-friendly Paint This! in Old Town for indoor fun with the kids. In Del Ray, The Clay Queen is a cozy space where all skill levels can take hands-on classes on the wheel.
Image Credit: Sportrock Climbing Center Facebook Page
If you want to get your exercise in for the day, but the weather disagrees, there are plenty of ways to stay active in the Port City. Sportrock Climbing Center is another fun and unique way to stay active with all ages and skill levels, with 57 rope stations and endless space and routes to climb, as well as an extensive bouldering area and instruction to help you get started. They also offer classes like yoga, Pilates, weight training and more. Bowl America is a classic bowling alley and a family-friendly spot to get active. Topgolf is fun for everyone, whether you’re a pro golfer or a little kid. It’s also a great way to feel like you’re outside while being protected from the elements. At the one-of-a-kind driving range, you can hit micro-chipped balls to special light-up targets in a lounge-style play area with drinks and food service. If you’re a yogi, try something new with Beer Yoga at Port City Brewing Company, or take a class at one of Alexandria’s many yoga studios like Mind the Mat, Radiance Yoga, and more. There are also specialized wellness boutiques scattered across the city including Pilates ProWorks, Sand and Steel Fitness, Ascend Cycle, Studio Barre and more. Check each studio’s list of classes to see what’s available each day.
Image Credit: Frolick Dogs Facebook Page
One of the hardest things as a dog owner is figuring out how to exercise your pup on days when it’s too hot, cold or rainy to go outside. Luckily, in dog-friendly Alexandria you can head to Wag & Brew, opened in winter 2017 in Alexandria’s West End. Your pup can get luxury services while you enjoy the coffee, beer and wine bar along with free Wi-Fi. There’s an indoor gym where dogs can play and learn agility, and a doggy daycare, too. Also in the West End, Frolick Dogs Gym is like a playground for dogs, filled with open space, obstacles, toys and more. You can take classes or purchase a day pass to the exercise facilities.
Get Cozy with Coffee
Image Credit: Misha’s Coffee
Alexandria’s cobblestone streets and brick-lined sidewalks are the ideal backdrop for cozying up with a book and a drink on a dreary day. Head to a coffee shop like Swings Coffee or St. Elmo’s in Del Ray, Java Loco in the West End, or Misha’s, Killer ESP or Dolci Gelati in Old Town. They are the perfect spots to get comfortable with that book you’ve been dying to read. Grab a warm coffee or tea in the cooler months or an iced drink in the warmer months and you’ll have the perfect setup for a cozy and productive day.
Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Image Credit: Sugar House Day Spa & Salon
You deserve it. Pretty much any spa treatment you could imagine exists in Alexandria, all you have to do is choose. Fountains Day Spa in South Old Town has been one of the top day spas in Virginia for over 25 years, offering treatments like hot stone massage, couples treatments, facials, reflexology, and more. They also have great seasonal specials listed on their website. Sugar House Day Spa & Salon in Old town is set in a beautifully restored early 19th century home and was once part of a sugar refinery. Sugar House offers massage therapy, nails, skin care, hair, Medi-spa, and more. Your Life Energy Holistic Center offers more holistic services including energy therapies, yoga, equilibrium, massage and more. Cualtzin Salon, Salon deZen and Stylists at North are also fabulous hair salons in Alexandria where you can treat yourself to some pampering.
Linger Over Brunch
Image Credit: Vola’s Dockside Grill
Brunch at one of Alexandria’s lauded eateries during your indoor adventure is a must. If you’ve spent the day exploring the Torpedo Factory, Vola’s Dockside Grill is the best spot for brunch, accessible via a covered walkway. Vola’s offers Potomac River views, specialty cocktails and delectable seafood and southern fare. Tucked away in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, Del Ray Café is like a home away from home, including outdoor dining options on a screened porch. It’s a cozy setting with French bistro fare, and it’s a peanut-free restaurant for friends and families with food allergies. Laporta’s in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood is a fun option, offering live jazz from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Chadwicks in Old Town is a local staple for brunch, serving classic American fare for brunch Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re looking for seafood, try Hank’s Oyster Bar for an unbeatable brunch with quality cocktails and oysters every way imaginable. You can find even more of our favorite brunch options in Alexandria here.
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Header Image Credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria