Founders Park (Courtesy of C. Davidson for VTC)

Alexandria Riverfront Parks

Colonial history on the Potomac

Old Town Alexandria, the Metro-D.C. area’s largest preserved colonial neighborhood, is best known for its historic sites and centuries-old structures, but it’s also home to half a dozen elegant, interconnected grassy riverfront parks paralleling the Mount Vernon Trail on the west and the Potomac River on the east. The parks offer a quiet alternative to Old Town’s bustling streets and shops while still providing plenty of people-watching opportunities and up-close views of some of Old Town’s priciest real estate. Most offer little more than a few benches and landscaped greens but make for a pleasant and quiet stroll. If you’re on bike, start at Daingerfield Island on the north end of Old Town and admire the dozens of sailboats that dot the marina. If you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for sailing classes or rent a kayak to explore the Old Town riverfront by water. Those on foot may want to start their stroll at privately owned Tidelock Park (1 Canal Center Plaza) and admire the canal monument before stopping to rest or joining a volleyball game at Rivergate Park (2 Montgomery St.). Continue south to Oronoco Bay Park (100 Madison St.), probably the best-loved of Alexandria’s waterfront parks and a popular spot for concerts and live events. If you’ve brought Fido along, you may want to continue on to Founders Park (351 N. Union St.), which is best known for its dog exercise area in the northwestern corner of the park. Stop by the Torpedo Factory or dine at one of Old Town’s riverfront restaurants before continuing south to Waterfront Park (1A Prince St.), Shipyard Park (1 Wilkes St.) and Ford’s Landing (99 Franklin St.). End your leisurely walk at Windhill Park (501 S. Union St.), where you can stop for a picnic lunch, join a basketball or volleyball game or let your pooch play in the off-leash dog park. Tidelock Park on the north and Windmill Hill Park on the south are about 1 mile apart.


Founders Park (Courtesy of C. Davidson for VTC)  

Hours: Dawn to dusk
Fee: None
Size: Parks vary between 1 and 8 acres
Great for: Picnicking, people-watching, dog play areas, volleyball
Where: Old Town Alexandria  

Northern Virginia’s Best Urban Parks

(July 2015)