Enjoy A Wealth Of Adventure — And A Worry-Free Wallet: Free Attractions In Virginia’s Cultural Region

FAIRFAX COUNTY:

  • THE SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM STEVEN F. UDVAR-HAZY CENTER

Explore the history of flight in Fairfax County. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the companion facility to Washington, DC’s National Air and Space Museum, and the perfect addition to a family visit to Virginia’s Cultural Region. Explore the enormous Boeing Aviation Hangar and James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, and experience an impressive collection featuring thousands of aviation and space artifacts — including a Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird,” a Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Discovery. Climb to the top of the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower for an incredible 360-degree view of the surrounding area, or head to the glass-contained mezzanine at the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar and experience the Center’s current restoration projects. Enjoy a selection of daily tours, educational activities perfect for any age, and a variety of lectures and events scheduled throughout the year. Admission is free with a $15 parking fee until 4pm. The parking fee does not apply to cars arriving after 4pm or local shuttles (accessible from Silver Line metro stations, Dulles International Airport, and area hotels).

ARLINGTON:

  • THE UNKNOWN SOLDIERS

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God. The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery sits at the top of a hill, silently overlooking a scenic view of Washington, DC. An acclaimed tribute to the individual soldiers and the many other undocumented American lives lost throughout World Wars I and II, the Tomb of the Unknowns is a solemn, yet striking representation of national history and American heroism. An intricate white marble sarcophagus marks the burial place of an unidentified American soldier from World War I. To the west lie the crypts of Unknowns from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, marked by white marble slabs flush with the surrounding plaza. Arlington National Cemetery Tours, Inc., provides tour bus service with weekday stops at the Ord & Weitzel walking gate to see the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, the U.S. Coast Guard Memorial, the gravesite of U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Arlington House (The Robert E. Lee Memorial). Weekend service also includes stops near Section 55 and 60 and the Sept. 11 Memorial.

ALEXANDRIA:

  • THE TORPEDO FACTORY ART CENTER

Constructed in 1918, this former naval munitions plant once created torpedoes during WWII, before its eventual conversion into a multi-purpose storage facility for congressional documents, Smithsonian dinosaur bones, and Nazi trial records. In 1974, the complex transformed, opening its doors to visitors from across the country and inviting the global community to experience art in person— and in progress. Today, Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the largest collection of publicly accessible, working artists’ studios in the nation. The Torpedo Factory is a regional landmark and the highlight of the local, creative community, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually to its scenic vantage point on the Potomac Riverfront, anchored to the cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria. With 82 artists’ studios and 6 public galleries, visitors can enjoy personal access to 165 artists, with the unique opportunity to watch them work, discuss their inspirations and creative process, and purchase original work straight from the studio. Visit three floors of diverse, individual studio spaces and experience creative expression across a range of media including ceramics, collage, fiber, glass, enamel, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. The Target Gallery, the Torpedo Factory’s contemporary exhibition space, features acclaimed work from high-caliber national and international artists on a rotating schedule.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY:

  • THE MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK

On July 21, 1861, two armies clashed for the first time on the fields overlooking Bull Run. Heavy fighting swept away any notion of a quick war. In August 1862, Union and Confederate armies converged for a second time on the plains of Manassas. The Confederates won a solid victory, bringing them to the height of their power. Manassas National Battlefield Park extends across 40 miles of hiking trails, traversing key areas of the Civil War’s first major battlefield, The Battle of Bull Run, and the equally important Second Battle of Manassas. With interactive electronic battle maps, detailed displays of Civil War memorabilia, along with professional presentations and reenactments, those seeking a true glimpse into the history of the American Civil War will find an immersive educational experience among the many significant sites and attractions found throughout the park. Journey through the battlefield on a walking or driving tour, visit the storied, gruesome grounds of the infamous Stone House, once used as a Civil War hospital, and listen for echoes of cannon fire and the resounding cry of the Civil War’s very first rebel yell.

LOUDOUN COUNTY:

  • THE WESTERN LOUDOUN ARTISTS STUDIO TOUR

This June, enjoy a weekend of inspiration, education, and one-on-one interaction with Loudoun County’s vibrant, local Arts community. The Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour presents some of the most unique, creative, and expressive talent in the region. Featuring a vast selection of 62 artists and stops at 34 locations across Loudoun County, the Tour explores a wide range of artistic media such as painting, digital art, pottery, wood, jewelry, photography, metal sculpture, wearable art, and more. Visitors will experience Loudoun’s two major art hubs; the Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center and the Round Hill Arts Center, along with rare, behind-the scenes access to local studios. Throughout the tour, artists will demonstrate their creative processes in addition to sharing artwork available for purchase. Wind through Loudoun’s scenic countryside, explore quaint, small towns, and step into the working studios of the artists and craftspeople of Virginia’s Cultural Region. The Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour is a free event, open to the public every June.

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