21 Great Things To Do In Northern Virginia

great things to do in Northern Virginia

Looking for great things to do in Northern Virginia?

Growing up a Navy Commander’s daughter, I have seen a lot of places over the years but one thing is for certain, Northern Virginia is a great place to live. One of the things I love about living here are all the great things to do in and around Northern Virginia! Seriously, there is always something fun and interesting going. Whether you are looking for culture, action, adventure, nightlife, or history, Northern Virginia truly has it all! Certainly a visit to Washington D.C is always an option but Northern Virginia is has kept its own character and often you will find a blend of colonial history mixed with chic shops, upscale dining, and historical gems. Northern Virginia also features a number of urban mixed-use walkable neighborhoods featuring funky coffee bars, craft breweries, fast-casual dining, and cosmopolitan shopping. Further, day trips to area wineries, mountains, parks, and other landmarks are equally popular. So, without further ado, below are 21 of the most iconic and popular things to do in Northern Virginia. And be on the lookout for future blog posts featuring more niche local favorites!

21 Great Things To Do In Northern Virginia

Air Force Memorial

This stunning memorial features three memorial stainless steel spires ranging from 201 feet to 270 feet high designed to replicate the soaring contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision ‘bomb burst’ maneuver. Located in Arlington Virginia, this visually iconic landmark honors the United States Air Force and its heritage organizations.

Algonkian Regional Park

Featuring 838 scenic acres of outdoor adventures, locals enjoy picnics, hiking trails, the Volcano Island Waterpark, an 18-hole golf course, and boating on the picturesque Potomac River. Located in Sterling Virginia, the park also offers riverfront vacation cottages, miniature golf, and plenty of fun in the sun.

Arlington National Cemetery

The most iconic cemetery in America, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for many of our America’s greatest heroes including some 300,000 veterans. Spanning 624 acres, the cemetery includes the Tomb of the Unknowns, former presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, some 360 recipients of the Medal of Honor, and numerous five-star officers.

Bull Run Regional Park

Offering 1,500 acres of natural space, locals enjoy large picnic areas, campgrounds, cottages, historic hiking trails, disc golf, and more. Located in Centreville, Bull Run also features waterslides at Atlantis Waterpark and numerous annual events including cross country races, food and drink festivals, cultural festivals and more.

Birchmere Music Hall

Considered a legendary music hall, the reputation of the Birchmere is renowned. This famous music hall is known for booking performers in the rock, blues, bluegrass, country, folk, and jazz genres. Several well-known bands have recorded live albums from the Birchmere including The Johnson Mountain Boys, The Four Bitchin’ Babes, Riders in the Sky, and Dave Matthews Band.

Carlyle House Historic Park

Located in Old Town Alexandria, this eighteenth-century historic house museum is one of the nation’s finest examples of Georgian residential architecture. It is architecturally unique as the only stone 18th-century Palladian Revival style residence in Alexandria.

Frying Pan Farm Park

Located in Fairfax and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of the most popular features of Frying Pan Farm Park is Kidwell Farm. Kidwell Farm recreates a 1930s farm and still has many animals including cows and horses. Fun fact, for many years turkeys pardoned in the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation were sent to live at Frying Pan Farm Park.

George Washington Masonic Memorial 

Located in Alexandria and rich in interesting history, this memorial is a Masonic building dedicated to the memory of George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Mason. The tower is constructed after the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt and is a National Historic Landmark for its impressive architecture.

Great Falls National Park

A popular attraction located in Fairfax County, Great Falls is a sight to behold. The combination of the dropping and narrowing of the Potomac River as it passes over jagged rocks create a dramatic series of stunning waterfalls and rapids. Great Falls National Park also features numerous hiking trails, a visitor center, and plenty of beautiful views.

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Located in Prince William County, Manassas National Battlefield Park preserves the site of two major American Civil War battles: the First Battle of Bull Run and the Second Battle of Bull Run. Today the National Battlefield Park offers the opportunity to explore the historic terrain of the Civil War.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

A gem of Vienna, visitors enjoy 95 acres of gorgeous ornamental display gardens and unique native plant collections among lakes, forests and meandering walking trails. Known for its majestic views, the main attractions include of the Piedmont hills, the Korean Bell Garden, and the restored 18th Century log cabin.

Morven Park

Known as the “Central Park” of Loudoun County, Morven Park is a 1,000-acre historic estate and horse park in Leesburg. Visitors can explore the grounds of the Morven Park Mansion, the Winmill Carriage Museum, formal boxwood gardens, and enjoy miles of hiking and riding trails.

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Located in Triangle, Virginia near MCB Quantico, the National Museum of the Marine Corps is the historical museum of the United States Marine Corps. Situated on a 135-acre site, the Museum’s impressive design evokes the image of the flag-raisers of Iwo Jima. Visitors enjoy outstanding interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, immersive sights and sounds of Marines in action, and much more.

National Inventors Hall of Fame & Museum

Another interesting Alexandria gem, The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) recognizes individual engineers and inventors who hold a U.S. patent of highly significant technology. The center is dedicated to “honoring the people responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible.”

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Located in Chantilly, this is the companion facility to the National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall. Visitors can marvel at the large hangars displaying thousands of aviation and space artifacts, the Airbus IMAX® theater, the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, and much more.

The Pentagon

Located in Arlington, the Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. Shaped like a pentagon to symbolize the U.S. military and leadership, visitors can enjoy an inside tour illustrating the history of the four branches of the military and the opportunity to see the indoor memorial near the Sept. 11 crash site and the Sept. 11 Memorial chapel, as well as the Hall of Heroes, and more.

The Workhouse Arts Center

Set on 55 acres of land in Lorton this property used to be the historic D.C. Workhouse and Reformatory.  Today, the Workhouse is home to the area’s best professional and emerging artists and is a nationally recognized visual and performing arts center. Guests can enjoy impressive exhibitions, arts education, visits with artists, and even a tour of the prison museum.

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Located in Old Town Alexandria on the banks of the Potomac River, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is a naval munitions factory that was converted into an art center. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of including painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture in over artists’ studios.

US Marine Corps War Memorial

Located in Arlington, The United States Marine Corps War Memorial is a national memorial representing this nation’s gratitude to Marines and those who have fought beside them. The memorial design was inspired by the iconic 1945 photograph of six Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens

Located in Fairfax County, Mount Vernon was the plantation of George Washington. Visitors can tour the 18th-century plantation, the beautiful gardens and grounds, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, and the Museum and Education Center which houses a comprehensive collection of Mount Vernon artifacts.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

One of the most popular music venues in Virginia, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is situated in a uniquely majestic outdoor setting. Architecturally stunning, the Filene Center is a great place to catch a summer concert while the 117-acre park offers amenities including hiking trails, picnic areas, and sledding. Also enjoy year-round programming at The Barns at Wolf Trap and the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods.

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