PLEASE NOTE! This post is OLD! It refers to the government shutdown of January, 2019. 


Alexandria, VA— Within eyesight of Washington, D.C., on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria, Virginia, invites overnight visitors and federal government employees to enjoy a free Key to the City museum pass during the federal government shutdown. While some major D.C. attractions like the Smithsonian museums are closed, Alexandria is open for business with more than a dozen museums and attractions open to the public, including historic sites, the Torpedo Factory Art Center and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The Key to the City (a $44 value) includes admission to 9 historic sites and a coupon for 40% off admission to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is open daily with free admission.

Overnight visitors and local federal government workers can pick up their free Key to the City museum pass at the Alexandria Visitor Center. Visitors should show their hotel room key and federal workers should show their employee ID for one free pass. The Alexandria Visitor Center is located at 221 King Street and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information about the Visitor Center, call 703-838-5005. Visitors should check individual museum hours before visiting, as hours of operation vary depending on the season and the site, with some museums closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

A number of Alexandria businesses are offering special deals for federal government workers during the shutdown, including:

  • Free learn-to-knit classes at fibre space (daily during shutdown)
  • Free metalworking workshops at Wearever Jewelry (Jan. 3 & 5)
  • Free buffet lunch at Diya Indian Cuisine (weekdays through Jan. 11)
  • Free pulled pork sandwich at Pork Barrel BBQ (weekdays during shutdown)
  • Discount at Escape Room Live with promo code DCOPEN (through Jan. 10)

Museums and attractions open to the public include (check individual hours of operation):

  • Alexandria Archaeology Museum
  • Alexandria Black History Museum
  • Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum
  • Carlyle House Historic Park
  • Friendship Firehouse Museum
  • Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site
  • Freedom House Museum
  • Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
  • George Washington National Masonic Memorial
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon
  • Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame
  • Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
  • Torpedo Factory Art Center

Visitors and locals are invited to explore Alexandria’s neighborhoods, including Old Town, the city’s nationally designated historic district, and enjoy more than a dozen historic sites and attractions, waterfront parks, daily events, and shopping and dining at more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques lining bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. Minutes from D.C., Alexandria is easily accessible via the King St-Old Town Metrorail station on the Yellow and Blue Lines. The free King Street Trolley runs between the King St-Old Town Metrorail station and Potomac River waterfront with frequent stops for hopping on and off to enjoy all that Old Town has to offer. 

Visitors can also enjoy a relaxing Alexandria getaway and enjoy some of the best hotel rates of the year with the Winter Weekend Getaway Hotel Package running through March 17, 2019.  

Visit to learn about: 

  • Key to the City museum pass offer
  • Special deals for federal workers
  • Historic sites and attractions to visit
  • 50 free things to do
  • Events happening now
  • Restaurant and shopping guides

Named the #1 Best Value U.S. Travel Destination 2018 by Money magazine, a Top 5 Best Small City in the U.S. 2018 by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and one of the South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 by Southern Living, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked in to 18th– and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy. Learn more at