Thomas H Skadow, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Don’t be intimidated by Alexandria’s close proximity to Washington, D.C. (it's just about 12 miles), because it feels like a world away. There’s plenty of ways to entertain your family and friends on any given day of the week. Exploring the small city on foot, wheels, or boat is easy.
Check the weather forecast, pre-plan your routes, and get to know Alexandria like the locals do.
1) Alexandria by Foot
By far, the most user-friendly way to navigate Old Town Alexandria is block by block (the scenery is never the same twice). Walking never goes out of style, mostly because parking is difficult. Parallel parking in tight spaces and high priced parking garages are the norm, unless you walk in from neighborhood streets. Available spots are timed at two or three hours and monitored by parking enforcement.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway does run through Alexandria as Washington Street. It cuts through the heart of the city, and walkers can choose restaurants and shopping to try along the way. Don’t forget, if you want to play tourist in Alexandria, there are several self-guided walking tours throughout the city. You can check out African-American historic sites, a scavenger hunt, and Civil War walking tours.
2) Bike Alexandria
Alexandria is officially known as a Bike Friendly Community. The city continually improves access to the nearly 50 miles of on-street bike lanes, shared lanes, and bike trails. Similar to the walking self-guided tours, Alexandria offers self-guided bike tours.
Alexandria is expanding its Bikeshare program to include membership into the Capital Bikeshare, including Arlington and Montgomery County. Bikers will have access to 500 stations in the region, and trips are $2 for 30 minutes.
3) E-bikes and Scooters
Although contentious with residents and drivers, e-bikes and scooters are more popular than ever. Because of the demand surge, Alexandria allows riding but restricts riders to specific trails, so make sure you’re on the right path.
Need more Alexandria commuter tips? Check out Insider Tips for Your Alexandria, Virginia, Commute.
4) Book a Ferry Ride
Ferry rides are pretty popular with residents and tourists in Alexandria. Not only are they perfect for a July 4th fireworks and nighttime monument tour, but they’re ideal for an afternoon on the Potomac headed into Mount Vernon, Georgetown, the Wharf, and National Harbor. In the mood for a dinner cruise? There’s plenty of chances to schedule upscale dining on the water.
Sports fans love the quick trips via water taxis to the Nationals Park for a baseball game or to Audi Field to catch a major league soccer game. And if you’re the proud owner of a boating dog, then you’ll want to check out Alexandria’s canine cruises.
For more tips on what to do with your dog in Alexandria, read Pet-Friendly Services in Alexandria, VA.
City Cruises operates the majority of services in Alexandria, and their routes change with the season. Water taxi services start at $15, and site-seeing adventures range from $28 to $50. In addition, there are various ways to dine aboard, from brunch to themed dinners. These tours range from $80 to $250 per person.
VRE train from jpmueller99 from Columbus, OH, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
5) Take on the Train Systems
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), also known as the Metro, operates four stops in Alexandria.
- Braddock Road (Yellow and Blue Lines)
- Eisenhower Avenue (Yellow Line)
- King Street Old Town (Yellow and Blue Lines)
- Van Dorn Street (Blue Line)
Tourists frequently ride the Metro to hit all the right spots, like The Smithsonian museums, the National Mall, and when it’s time to go home, Reagan National Airport. The Metro also serves a large population of Alexandria residents headed into Washington, D.C., each day and connects those riding into Maryland for work.
The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) takes commuters from Alexandria (adjacent to the King Street Metrorail Station) and the suburbs of Northern Virginia into Washington, D.C., daily.
A hidden gem in Alexandria is the bustling Amtrak station adjacent to Alexandria’s King Street Metro station. Cross-country train trips are within reach up and down the East Coast. Routes to New York and Philadelphia are especially popular.
6) Ride the Bus
Because a commuter’s life can be challenging, WMATA also operates a network of buses that transports commuters to and from Metro stations each day. They also bail out commuters when trains have emergencies, run late, or detour the service.
The local bus service in Alexandria is the DASH. The Alexandria Transit Company operates a far-reaching system. Routes run from Old Town to the far corners of the city’s borders.
King Street Trolley by Macieklew, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
King Street Trolley
Not technically a bus, the free King Street Trolley takes weary Alexandria walkers up and down historic King Street to cut down on walking time and find a little respite while taking in the city’s sights. The trolley is perfect for a weekend of shopping and dining in Old Town.
Alexandria has big-city amenities for sure. Culture, dining, shopping, it’s all there, and you definitely don’t want to miss anything. You might think you need an Uber or Lyft to catch all of the sites, but save some money and try one or two of these highly accessible ways to get around Alexandria.