Fun, Free and Cheap Things to Do in Northern Virginia

Food halls, farmers' markets and fairs, oh my! Check out all sorts of fun, free and cheap things to do in Northern Virginia. If you're looking for other inexpensive activities around the DMV, check out our free and cheap lists for D.C. and Maryland.

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Visit the Westover Beer Garden in Arlington to hear free live musical performances while enjoying beer selections on tap, weekly menu specials and eco-friendly meats. The beer garden posts its live music schedule online.
Michelle VanTine
The Old Lucketts Store is home to find all kinds of antiques and other vintage finds. The shop also hosts various seasonal events, including its monthly flea market and Design House, which is an interior design showcase offering everything for sale. The next one is the most popular Design House: the Lucketts Holiday Open House & Winter Market coming up Nov. 9-11, and the store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Whether it’s an animated classic like "The Lion King" or a popular blockbuster like "Guardians of the Galaxy," Northern Virginia has a free outdoor movie lineup for anyone. Check out our fall 2018 outdoor movie guide for schedules at locations ranging from Rosslyn to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center.
Workhouse Arts Center
Take a free tai chi class, visit galleries or go on the Second Saturday Art Walk at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Admission to the artist studios, galleries and museum are free. The center is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation
Stop to smell the roses at Arlington's Bon Air Park Memorial Rose Garden, which also features azaleas and ornamental tree gardens along beautiful walking paths. The park's recreational facilities include basketball courts and playgrounds, though the courts are closed due to storm damage.
Fairfax County Park Authority
Tickets for mini-golf at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County are $7 for adults on weekdays and $8 on weekends, while tickets for youth and seniors are $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends. If you don't want to spend time on the mini-golf course, the park also has a lake suitable for fishing, a carousel that costs $2 on weekdays and $3 on weekends, and reservable picnic areas.
Port City Brewing Company
For just $12, you can take a tour of Port City Brewing Company and try some of their fresh beer on tap. The visit also includes a trip to the tasting room, which houses the brewery's new and seasonal beers. Public tours are available at various times from Thursday to Sunday. See the schedule and make a reservation here.
John Houston
Plan a day trip to take a five-hour hike on the White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run trails in Shenandoah National Park. The hike includes five major waterfalls and several cascades and pools in case you're in the mood to enjoy a natural water slide.
You may have been to Mount Vernon Estate, but what about Gunston Hall? The Northern Virginia estate belonged to George Mason, author of the first draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the first in America to call for many of the individual freedoms that would later be included in the Bill of Rights. At Gunston Hall in Mason Neck, you can tour his mansion, complete with colorful rooms and parlors, and explore grounds of the former plantation, now filled with orchards and Black Heart cherry trees. The site is under construction, so discounted Adult tickets are $8, with guided tours offered between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.
Every Sunday at 12:30 p.m., a chapter of the battle gaming group Amtgard spars in a Live-Action Role Play (LARP) battle in Jones Point Park in Alexandria. If you're not down to suit up for "war," no worries. The park has playgrounds for kids, a canoe launch and two fishing piers for catching catfish, bass and eels.
Great Falls Park has 10 trails with hiking difficulty levels ranging from easy to hard. Some trails permit biking and horseback riding, and others have picnic tables available in case you need to catch your breath or have a bite.
NBC Washington
You can savor an award-winning British-style baked good without hopping on a plane. The Pasty Pure Pasty Company in Vienna is home to an award-winning Cornish pasty after a victory at the World Pasty Championships in March. Their unconventional recipe included pulled barbecue chicken, sweet potato, red pepper, sweet corn and pineapple. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Cordilia James
The Block in Annandale offers a fun and affordable food hall experience complete with Hawaiian-inspired poke, authentic Thai street food, Taiwan-inspired desserts and more.
Jodi Premack
Northern Virginia has all kinds of trails that are perfect for biking or taking a walk. The W&OD is a 45-mile route from Shirlington to Purcellville and includes a 32-mile horse trail for equestrians. Other popular trails include the Mount Vernon Trail, the Martha Custis Trail, and the Four Mile Run trail, with some of them meeting up at different points so you can plot your own route.
Gary Dize/Potomac Nationals
Attend a minor-league team to save some bucks but still get out to a ballgame. The Potomac Nationals play in Woodbridge. Promotions and special events include a Tanner Roark bobblehead and Kids Run the Bases.
Ja'Mon Jackson
Meet resident artists, visit an exhibit filled with artificial light and browse original work at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria. This free art center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except on Thursdays when it is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Nova Parks
Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton is a great place for all kinds of outdoor activities, whether it's camping, fishing or boating. The park also includes the Pirate's Cove Waterpark, with two water slides and a 500-gallon dumping water bucket. Daily tickets to the waterpark cost $8.75 per person or less.
Alan B. Frank
Eden Center in Falls Church is the place to go for authentic Vietnamese dishes and cultural events in the DMV. While there's plenty to explore for any budget, if you're looking for wallet-friendly options, go for bubble tea at spots such as Huong Binh Bakery & Deli or munch on bánh mì at Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop. You'll find more than a hundred businesses to browse. The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. You'll also find free events and seasonal festivals periodically.
Erica Jones
Alexandria offers all kinds of tours to get you excited about Old Town history. Take the Original Ghost and Graveyard Tour for a scare or a historic tour for a learning opportunity. From murals to historic breweries, there are plenty of Instagram-worthy sights to see.
Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation
Bluemont Park in Arlington is the place to go if you’re looking for somewhere to brush up on your sporting skills. The park is equipped with volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, grass fields for soccer, lacrosse or football and even a disc golf course.
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Take a ride in simulators, watch an outdoor movie and explore an eye-popping array of historic aircraft, as well as the space shuttle Discovery. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Parking is $15 before 4 p.m., but free after 4 p.m.
Erica Jones
Old Town Alexandria is the oldest continuous farmers' market in the country and runs every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon yearround. If you can’t make it to King Street, visit Crystal City, Rosslyn and Ballston for other farmers' markets that last through the fall season. Then head home to whip up an affordable DIY feast.
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