Enjoy an inspiring and inexpensive excursion in Alexandria. Take in riverside views, sip a locally roasted cold brew, stumble upon stunning sculptures and more. Bring a face covering and create memories (and miniscule dents in your wallet) with these city-wide tiny itineraries.

1. Soak up Gorgeous Riverside Scenes and a Scoop of Gelato

Start with a relaxing jaunt to Jones Point Park’s riverine lighthouse, scouting out D.C.’s 1700s-era Southern boundary marker laid by famed African American astronomer Benjamin Banneker, or simply meditating on the peaceful shoreline. Then, walk north toward the center of Old Town to explore Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies at Waterfront Park (until November) before treating yourself to a scoop of gelato or a hot-and-cold affogato two blocks up at Dolci Gelati.

2. Find Ethiopian Coffee and Photo Spots in South Old Town

Pick up a cup of locally roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee at Abyssinia Market & Coffee House to fuel a photoshoot at Wilkes Tunnel, or bring more delights from Abyssinia for a picnic at Windmill Hill Park. End with a picturesque stroll along cobblestoned Captain’s Row at the 100 block of Prince Street.

3. Savor Sweets and Street Art in Del Ray

Swing by St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub for a melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon roll and a latte, then take a self-guided mural tour around Mount Vernon Avenue. While you’re strolling, scout out Great Gatsby-era details with our Del Ray art deco guide. Sweet tooth unsatiated? End at Dairy Godmother for crave-worthy frozen custard.

4. See Wildlife and Sip Port City Beer in the West End

Begin your West End adventure with a sacred escape at the 80-acre Virginia Theological Seminary, full of quiet corners for contemplation. Visit the Welcome Center for a self-guided tour map. Then, head to tucked-away Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail meandering along streams, wooded hills and freshwater marshland, plus a paved bike trail connecting Sanger Avenue and Van Dorn Street. Keep binoculars handy to spot Cooper’s hawks, belted kingfishers and barred owls. Post bird-watching, pick up a beer from Port City Brewing Company to savor at home or at a reserved outdoor table.

5. Explore Black History and Brainstorm Your Next Big Idea in Carlyle

Start at the Edmonson Sisters Sculpture, bronze work artist Erik Blome’s tribute to Mary and Emily Edmonson. Born into slavery, Mary and Emily attempted escape as teens in April 1848 aboard the schooner Pearl. The sisters were captured and held in bondage at Alexandria’s Bruin “Negro Jail” until their father purchased their freedom with help from the family of Harriet Beecher Stowe. The sisters later became vocal abolitionists alongside Frederick Douglass. Learn more about the Edmonson sisters on the Courageous Journey: Alexandria’s Black History Driving Tour.

Then, head deeper into the buzzing, innovative Carlyle neighborhood to the Dulany Gardens outside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with fountains and sculptural fixtures to inspire your next great idea. End with a vibrant cocktail from Tequila & Taco or share a flight at Lost Boy Cider.

6. Find Jaw-Dropping Sculptures and Satisfying Bites in Old Town North

Start at Tide Lock Park at 1 Canal Center Plaza, home to the “Promenade Classique,” a neoclassical sculpture by French artists Anne and Patrick Poirier. Amidst waterfalls and pools, discover marble eyes, a jaw fountain and an obelisk doubling as a miniature Washington Monument. Wander riverside along Oronoco Bay Park, making your way westward again past Gables Old Town North to see the 2019-installed public art. Inspired by the historical shipping canal that once occupied the site, sculptor Tom Fruin created an 18-foot-tall glass mosaic sculpture of steel, acrylic and lights called Plinth. Hungry? Head to Haute Dogs & Fries for a lobster roll or a tater tot snack, or grab a bagel from Chewish Deli. Craving a sugar-spiked pick-me-up? Sip a colorful bubble tea with homemade boba at Yagút St.


Find more free things to do outside here.

Header images credits, left to right: Instagram users @blessthefoodblog, @adam_brockett and @sharpandsoundstyle

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