Alexandria is nationally known for its historic houses and museums, but a lesser known claim-to-fame has been hiding in the shadows and streets of these buildings for centuries: some of the biggest trees in the country and commonwealth of Virginia. Our city is home to over 100 champion or notable trees. With foliage expected to peak in mid-October 2021, we’ve compiled an introductory guide to larger-than-life leaf peeping in Alexandria. Whether you’re looking for an all-out “tree-o-caching” adventure or a simple scenic drive along the Potomac, there are extraordinary options for everyone to enjoy the fall foliage.

Alexandria Leaf Peeping Guide VAImage Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

Tree-O-Caching in Alexandria’s Parks

Those looking to make a day of leaf peeping are in luck, with several parks conveniently dispersed throughout the city, each one full of unique and multicolored trees ideal for fall foliage. Bring the dog and a picnic, just don’t forget the camera!

Fort Ward Park

Fort Ward Foliage Fall Leaf Peeping AlexandriaImage Credit: Christopher Connell, flickr user cvconnell

West Enders will find Fort Ward Park full of almost a dozen notable trees, including at least six “State Champions”, or the biggest tree of their species in all of Virginia.

Monticello Park

Image Credit: Mehul Antani, flickr user mehul.antani

Folks in the Del Ray neighborhood can find the largest witch-hazel in the city nearby at Monticello Park. It’s hard to miss witch-hazel once its leaves transform into a vibrant, sun-like yellow each fall. Monticello Park is a small, quiet space ideal for bird-watching among the hues of fall.

Jones Point Park

Jones Point Foliage Alexandria VAImage Credit: Reed Wiedower, flickr user rwiedower

Waterfront leaf-peeping is optimal at Jones Point Park, home to the largest silver maple in the city. Maple trees are perhaps the most famous of fall, transforming into a kaleidoscope of fiery orange-yellow. Other highlights at Jones Point Park include a notable sycamore tree and two other “city champions”.

Alexandria National Cemetery

Fall_Alexandria_Cemetery_CREDIT_M_Enriquez_for_Visit_Alexandria_3_720x480_72_RGBImage Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Near Old Town, fall enthusiasts will find the largest dwarf hackberry tree in the entire country at Alexandria National Cemetery. In addition to this national champion, the cemetery is also home to several state champions and a notable sweetgum, whose star-shaped leaves pop into a deep orange come autumn.

Fall Foliage On-The-Go: Driving, Biking and Walking

Scenic Fall Drive

Image Credit: flickr user Tim Evanson

If you prefer to cover more ground and enjoy the colors of fall from the car, look no further than the George Washington Memorial Parkway, named an “All-American Road in the National Scenic Byways Program” by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The parkway is easily accessed from downtown Alexandria and winds along the Potomac under canopies of beautiful trees all the way to Mount Vernon. Stop at one of many viewpoints on the parkway and enjoy a picnic, or explore one of almost 30 sites dedicated to George Washington’s life along the way.

Stroll Under the Foliage

Mount Vernon Trail Fall FoliageImage Credit: Jenn Wurzbacher, flickr user MozzingtonDC

Active leaf-peepers in Alexandria won’t be able to resist the award-winning Mount Vernon Trail. Dotted with spectacular trees and shrubs, the Mount Vernon Trail is a must-do activity for locals and visitors alike. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to bike or walk the trail and take in the fresh air and foliage. Along your way, stop for stunning photo ops of the leafy landscape and see if you recognize any tree species from our Alexandria leaf peeping infographic above.

No matter how, or where, you enjoy the foliage this weekend, post a picture of your favorite tree using #visitALX.

For more information on fall in Alexandria, click here.

Header image credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria

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