Just south of Washington, across the Potomac River, lies Alexandria. Like many cities in the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area, Alexandria is a blend of modern and historic with beautifully preserved 18th- and 19th-century architecture serving as a backdrop for vibrant 21st life. Alexandria is home to lively King Street which is lined with boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops. It’s also a historic town with Gadsby’s Tavern – which was once frequented by Founding fathers, and Carlyle House Historic Park – a restored Georgian mansion.
If you’re itching to get out of DC for a few hours Alexandria is a perfect mini getaway. From the host hotel, Alexandria is a 40-minute metro on the Red and Blue lines with a transfer from Farragut North to Farragut West. If you prefer to stay above ground, an Uber or Lyft will run about $30 per way.
If you’ve come for the history:
The great thing about Alexandria is history is alive at every turn.
For the George Washington fans, Alexandria is our nation’s first president’s hometown. 140 locations within the city boast ties to George Washington, and several small museums showcase the beginnings of America. There’s also the previously mentioned Carlyle House, which was once home to Alexandria’s founder John Carlyle, and today hosts a beautifully maintained garden and small museum depicting the French and Indian War.
Alexandria is also home to the Alexandria Black History Museum which details the city’s strong African-American leaders. This museum spans the Civil war all the way until the Civil Rights Movement and beyond with a particular focus on Alexandria’s influences on those points in history.
If you’ve come for the arts:
With such a beautiful and vibrant backdrop, is it any surprise that Alexandria has a flourishing art scene? Alexandria’s art district is nationally recognized as one of the best in the nation. At the center of this artistic culture is the world famous Torpedo Factory Art Center. It gets its unique name from its unique history. The building was erected in 1918 as a naval munitions plant which created torpedoes during World War II. In 1974 the building was converted to an art utopia and is now home to the largest number of publicly accessible artist studios in the U.S. 82 studios, seven galleries, and 160 working artists from all disciplines.
Alexandria is also home to a flourishing performing arts scene. The world-famous concert venue, the Birchmere hosts a nightly lineup of jazz, country, R&B, folk and bluegrass artists in an intimate setting. The main stage only holds 500 making every seat feel like the front row.
If you’ve come for the food:
You’ve come to the right place. Old Town Alexandria is a food lover’s paradise, and is known for its chef-driven and independently owned eateries. Particularly, King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America, is home to many of Alexandria’s favorite eateries.
There are simply too many options to list on this blog (we would be here for days, and I’m sure no one wants that), so my best recommendation for food would be to start with their menu guide which features menus from over 70 local restaurants. Some of the most popular restaurants featured in the guide include Bastille, Blackwall Hitch, Cheesetique, Columbia Firehouse, Hank’s Pasta Bar, Landini Brothers, Mason Social, Society Fair, Sonoma Cellar, Sweet Fire Donna’s, and Vermilion.