Free or Low-Cost Activities for Summer

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.

Scavenger Hunt

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.


Outdoor Movies

Cinema Del Ray

  • Saturday, July 20: “Smallfoot” (in Spanish with English subtitles)
  • Saturday, August 17: “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
  • Saturday, September 21: “Incredibles 2”

Mount Vernon Recreation Center Field, 2701 Commonwealth Ave. All are free and all start at 7 p.m.

Other Outdoor Films in the Area:

  • Four Mile Summer Movie Festival at the Four Mile Conservatory Building at 4109 Mount Vernon Ave.
  • Rosemont Reel at Beach Park, 201 Rucker Pl.

The Arts

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

The Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center is free to the public year round. The center includes an exhibit on Alexandria’s birds of prey, reference library with children’s section, greenhouse with tropical rainforest plants and live parrot, interpretive exhibits on local geology and live snakes, salamanders, turtles, toads and more! 5750 Sanger Ave., Alexandria. Open Wednesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Visit the Library

Alexandria Library

Sign up for the SummerQuest Reading Program. Enjoy free daily programs at multiple library locations across Alexandria.

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:

  • Find books your student can relate with;
  • Give them easy access to reading materials that they can choose;
  • Ask them about what they read and give them the chance to engage in conversations on the topics or story.

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).