Alexandria offers numerous ways to busy the brain this summer and avoid the summer slide. Take advantage of these free or low-cost events and programs.
Dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
The long-awaited new dinosaur exhibit is finally OPEN! Head into the District to see it during the day.
Get to know Alexandria’s Ancient Roots
Take a walk down to Alexandria’s Waterfront district by traveling through Old Town and taking in all the historic sites. You can also hope onto the free King Street Trolley for a ride.
Enjoy this free printable History of Alexandria Scavenger Hunt (PDF) – a fun way to take in 20 different sites.
Dive into Alexandria Archaeology
What happens to historic ships when they are found underground? Find out, and learn how Alexandria grew as a port in the 18th century.
Various Saturdays through September at 116 S. Quaker Lane
Ages 8-14 (children under 10 must be accompanied by a participating adult).
$15 per person, $12 for FOAA members. Buy tickets online.
Hi “Story” Time
Alexandria’s little historians (ages 3-6) are welcome to the Alexandria Black History Museum to learn more about folklore the first Saturday of the month. $3 per person.
Freedom House Museum
Learn of the slave trade in the basement of the building where slaves were once traded in Alexandria by the Franklin and Armfield firm at 1315 Duke Street. Hear first-person accounts of enslaved men and women and the details of Alexandria’s role in the harsh domestic slave trade. Suitable for ages 8+. Tours last about 45 minutes. Fridays and Saturdays 1:00pm to 5pm.
Alexandria’s Birthday Celebration
On July 13, celebrate the 270th birthday of our City at Oronoco Park with the Alexandria Symphony playing the 1812 Overture, food and beverage sales and fireworks!
Explore National History
Higgins Landing Craft from D-Day on Display
Through July 27, the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Alexandria is displaying one of Higgins boats that were used in the famous invasion of Normandy, France to commemorate D-Day. The patent and story of the inventor are also available. The boat is said to have changed the course of the war because the Allies could strike anywhere with speed and effectiveness.
Visit the Supreme Court
Visit the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments. First come, first served. If you don’t make it into the Chamber, visit the first floor and hear a 30-minute courtroom lecture that explains the work of the court and the history of it and the building.
Cinema Del Ray
Mount Vernon Recreation Center Field, 2701 Commonwealth Ave. All are free and all start at 7 p.m.
Other Outdoor Films in the Area:
Visit the Torpedo Factory
Looking for a chance to see art, meet new people and explore more than 80 artist exhibits? Visit the free Torpedo Factory. Four-legged fur friends are welcome!
The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
Enjoy free daily performances with no tickets required. Visit the website for details about the 6 p.m. upcoming performances.
Blackbeard Backstage Tours at Signature Theater
Climb onto Blackbeard’s Ship on a backstage tour led by an actor in the show. See the dressing rooms, the green room and more. Tours last 45 minutes and cost $10. June 29 and July 6 at 4 p.m.
Shakespeare Theater Company: Hamlet
This year’s Free for All is Hamlet and will run July 10-21. Most performances are at 7:30 or 8 p.m. and matinees are at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are available online beginning July 9 via a lottery. The other option is to arrive two hours early and wait in line for free tickets.
Connect with Nature
Mount Vernon Trail
Take a bike ride or a walk along the Potomac River starting in Old Town, or at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and ride, walk, blade or bike to the national monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.
Visit the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center and go for a hike
Visit the Library
Don’t forget the Three Rs this Summer: Read, Read & Read
One of the best things about summer break is that students have the time to read the books they want to read. When a novel or book isn’t assigned, it takes on a whole new level of pleasure and that benefits kids in many ways, including gaining stronger reading skills that will help them perform better during the school year.
Some tips for inspiring reluctant readers:
Each library branch in Alexandria offers SummerQuest – a program that allows students to earn points by age level for each book they read. They can also enter other contests and at the end they can cash in the points for a book.
Another library offering is the Beanstack Summer Reader Program that spans all age groups and topics, from Reptiles Alive to Discover Germany to ESL classes!
For some inspiration, here are two reading lists for kids:
Great Expectations for Middle School Students
While unassigned reading is a great benefit of summer break, our rising students in grades 6 through 8 are expected to read at least two books this summer. Get details, including a planning sheet in the project document in English (PDF) or español (PDF).