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.

Waterfront Parks

Jones Point Lighthouse, City of Alexandria. Photo by Evan Michio
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

City of Alexandria
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.

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.

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.

Social Activities

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.

For more on outdoor activities in Alexandria, click here.

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