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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Free things to do in Alexandria, Va.

It's often hard to find affordable things to do, especially if you live in a popular tourist region. There are some exceptions though. Fortunately, for those living in and around the Washington D.C. area, there are lots of free things to do.

The City of Alexandria is one such location where there are lots of fun things to do that won't cost you a cent. The D.C. Metro area is a wonderful place explore, and Old Town is in my top 10 places that I love to visit again and again.

Take a Walking Tour

 

While there are paid tours available in Alexandria with historians and other professionals leading groups to highlighted landmarks, if your budget is limited or you do not want to pay for a tour, there is nothing to stop you from touring the city on your own. If you stop by the Ramsey House, you can pick up maps, brochures and other useful information to help you plot out your tour (also free). There are a lot of neat things to see in Old Town Alexandria, and most of it is in pretty close proximity if you want to tour the city blocks by foot.

Walking through Old Town, there are many things to see. For instance, you could pass many notable residencies of historical figures. Here is Robert E. Lee's Boyhood home

 
The historic Princess Street

 

Torpedo Factory Art Center


The Torpedo Factory Art Center has a fascinating history and is a great place to wander around. Formerly a real torpedo factory, the building now houses 82 art studies, 6 art galleries, an art school and the Alexandria Archeology Museum.
As you walk through the building you can view artists at work, talk to artists, and learn about the history of the building (there are actual torpedoes stationed in various parts of the building). The Archeology Museum also has free admission. The museum is located on the 3rd floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, you can learn more about them on their website.


Wander the Waterfront Along the Potomac


After you've seen the Torpedo Factory Art Center, if you go out one of the back entrances you are right on the waterfront. It's fun to watch the boats, birds, people and performances. Many entertainers use this platform to sing, do magic tricks, balloon animals and more. A pleasant place to sit and spend a few minutes, or a few hours.  

Christ Church


Christ Church has been a long standing and active Parish in Alexandria. Dating back to 1767, this Church has over 2,000 parishioners and is a thriving congregation. George Washington used to regularly attend services as did Robert E. Lee. There is strong spiritual and early American history tied into Christ Church. Christ Church is open to the public and docents regularly provide free tours. If you are spending time in Alexandria, the Church is a must-see. The inside of the Church has been restored to the way it looked in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Fort Ward Museum


This museum also offers free admission to visitors. Fort Ward is said to be the best preserved Union Fort. The fort was built to protect Washington D.C. during the Civil War. There are usually events going on and, of course, the ongoing exhibits. If you visit their website you can learn more about what you can see in Fort Ward. I haven't actually been here yet, but is on my list of things I want to see.

The Old Presbyterian Meeting House


Another place I have yet to see, the Old Presbyterian House is located at 321 South Fairfax Street, and open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. The church is still an active congregation and also a historic landmark. Built in 1775, the Meeting House I've heard is a nice place to visit. Additionally, the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier rests on the grounds.

Alexandria National Cemetery


This cemetery is the resting ground for over 3,500 Civil War Soldiers. President Lincoln established and dedicated 12 locations to serve as military burial grounds and the Alexandria National Cemetery is one of them. The cemetery is located at 1450 Wilkes Street.

King Street Trolley


Alexandria has an old style trolley which operates up and down King Street, which is pretty much the center of most Old Town activity. The trolley is open to anyone to ride for free and is a great way to travel King St., as pretty much everything you'd want to see is located in the proximity this road. It runs from the Potomac Waterfront (where the Torpedo Factory is located) up to the King Street Metrorail Station. The route is about 1.5 miles and charges no admission. See website for current hours, looks like these have recently changed.


There are actually a number of free things to do in Alexandria. If you want to learn more, check out Alexandria's website and you can discover all the other terrific places you can visit in the city for free. (In addition, there are a number of great museums that only cost a few dollars admission).

Related posts: Take a step back in Old Town Alexandria

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