Are you looking for the best photo locations in Northern Virginia? The good news is there are many beautiful spots! As a family and couples photographer, I’ve been to many of them over the years. Here’s a list of my most requested spots in Northern Virginia.
1. Old Town Alexandria
2. Manassas Battlefield National Park
3. Virginia State Arboretum in Boyce
4. Bon Air Rose Garden Park in Arlington
5. Great Marsh Estate* in Bealeton
6. Jones Point Park & Lighthouse in Alexandria
7. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna*
8. Great Falls Park in McLean*
9. Oatlands Historic House & Gardens in Leesburg*
10. Airlie* in Warrenton
Scroll down to learn more about each location!
*These locations may require a permit or special permission! I’ll walk you through the process.
Old Town Alexandria is a classic spot for photos. In fact, it’s one of my most requested locations! It’s beautiful in all seasons, and there are many unique spots to choose from. This allows you to create a session that’s completely custom for your family. It’s also perfect if you want a mix of city and nature. The Old Town neighborhoods give you charming city backdrops, while nearby parks give you plenty of greenery and space to play.
Favorite spots include the cobblestone roads, charming row houses, waterfront parks and piers, the town square, and more. I’ll help you narrow it down to your top spots so we can make the most of your photos. See a few of my favorite spots below! Bonus: no permit required.
If you’re hoping for an open field, Manassas National Battlefield Park might be the perfect spot for you. With so much land available, we can really customize your session to match your vision. Looking for an open field at the top of a hill? We’ll likely meet at the Visitor’s Center! There’s also a cool Stone Bridge, the Stone House, trails, and many other fields that are stunning during golden hour.
No permit is required at this time as these are considered personal photos. Learn more about taking your photos at Manassas National Battlefield Park in my portrait guide here.
This one is a little further into Virginia, but it’s a top spot for a reason. It beautifully combines plenty of nature with unique architecture, giving you even more variety in your photos. It also offers plenty of room for the kids to run around! As of now, they do not require a permit and have lots of parking available.
Thinking of a garden location? The adorable Bon Air Rose Garden Park in Arlington, Virginia offers plenty of greenery. If you’re hoping for roses, they are at their peak bloom at the end of May through June. They often fade by early July. There’s also a parking lot on-site, which is a huge bonus especially in Arlington! No permit is required at this time.
Great Marsh Estate is located in Baeleton, Virginia, and remains one of my all-time favorite spots. This renowned Georgian mansion is located on over 121 acres of lawn and woodland. I’m not sure which parts I love better – the stunning columns, majestic mansion, or the sun-drenched fields. It’s an hour drive from DC and close to the town of Warrenton.
As of now a $150 permit is required, but it’s worth it if you love the architecture and privacy. We even opted to take our own engagement photos here!
Jones Point Park is located just south of Old Town Alexandria on the Potomac River. It includes a lighthouse built in 1855, trails through the woods, an open field, and waterfront views.
Parking is available on-site and a permit is not required.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is as beautiful as it sounds. Featuring 95 acres of gardens, native plant collections, and woodland trails, there are many spots for your portraits. The flowers are particularly pretty in the spring!
The gardens require a $50 permit reserved in advance, along with a $6 per person admission fee. They limit the number of sessions per day, so we’ll need to schedule this in advance to make sure they have an opening on your portrait date.
Great Falls Park is a nature location that’s always a beautiful backdrop! You can also see the rapids of the Potomac River. There are overlooks we can capture these at, just keep in mind we may need to wait our turn as tourists and photographers alike enjoy the view! There are also many trails and trees we can use for photos.
This location is always very busy, so a weekday is the best choice. Even then prepare for crowds and potential long lines getting into the park. An entrance fee is required ($20 per vehicle), and this location falls under the National Park Service’s required photography permit. Cell phone service is often not available once you enter the park, so we will coordinate our meet-up location before the session to ensure we can find each other.
If you’re looking for a beautiful blend of architecture, gardens, and mountain views, Oatlands Historic House & Gardens might be for you. Nestled in Leesburg, Virginia, it offers all of the above and more!
They do require a permit, but it’s easy to get it! It’s $125 for a day shoot. See those details here.
The first set of photos below were taken during our own anniversary photos! Photos by Molly Lichten Photography
The following set of photos I took during By Brittany Branson‘s beautiful brand session!
Tucked into Virginia’s countryside, Airlie is a magical choice for a portrait session. Capture your memories in front of the Spanish Steps, in the formal gardens, or throughout their impeccable grounds.
As of now, the permit fee is $150. You can view their details here!
Looking for more photo locations in Northern Virginia? Check out the top photo locations in nearby DC here!