Nestled on the southern banks of the Potomac River, the Old Town of Alexandria, Virginia is a vibrant destination within striking distance of Washington, D.C, but a world away. The narrow cobblestone lanes of the Old Town are preserved historical treasures (George Washington once lived here!) now packed with top chef-owned restaurants, designer brands, boutique galleries, and a laid back atmosphere that will have you never wanting to leave.
Alexandria, Virginia - Amazing Places To Visit In Old Town
We’ve compiled a small list of what to see and do in Alexandria’s Old Town - your home away from home in Washington, D.C. Whether you’re spending a weekend with family or in town for a wedding, Alexandria should be on your list of amazing places to visit!
Waterfront Alexandria Attractions
The banks of the Potomac River are one of the most popular destinations in Alexandria. The several mile-stretch is packed with exciting things to do, from harbor cruises to running trails, dog parks, al fresco dining spots, and a lively nightlife. The city continues to expand the waterfront so expect new hotels, restaurants, and more to pop up within the next few years. Archaeologists are included in the waterfront projects, since every new construction in Alexandria finds new and interesting artifacts. Most recently, the construction for the new Hotel Indigo uncovered a ship sunk in the mudflats. John Carlyle’s 18th century warehouse remains were also uncovered within the last few years. All of these are now undergoing restoration and the city expects to showcase them soon.
Staying in DC and don’t want to brave the metro or traffic to get to Alexandria, Virginia? Catch one of the local water taxis, a la Venice, and pull up to the Old Town docks a mere thirty minutes later. The ride, which offers panoramic views of both DC and Alexandria, is an easy way to arrive. You can also use them to go from Alexandria into the National Mall or Monuments. In Alexandria and keen to catch a baseball game? One of the water taxis, affectionately known as the Baseball Boat, will drop you at Nats Stadium.
The Old Town Lanes - Things to Do in Alexandria
Alexandria’s lanes are a veritable walking history lesson. The many historic houses still retain their original facades and many retain the original interiors, which you’ll see at any of the nine historical museums in Alexandria. In Museum Square, you can visit Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the Carlyle House, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. Both Gadsby’s and the Carlyle House were popular meeting places during the 18th century for revolutionary figures, politicians, and more. They often host reenactments when visitors can speak with George Washington, James Madison, or John Carlyle about various 19th century “current” events. Open for 140 years, through the Civil War into the Great Depression, the apothecary was one of the oldest running businesses - and the oldest running pharmacy - in the US; it is where patrons would have come to get herbs, opiates, and other en vogue treatments.
Just across from the museums, the square plays host to the oldest farmers market in the country. Every Saturday morning, the square fills with farmers from the surrounding area selling produce, homemade jams, honeys, charcuterie, and more. Savour this old tradition: pick up a coffee from a local shop vendor, a flaky pastry from a baker’s stall, and browse to your heart’s content.
No matter what Alexandria attractions you choose to visit during your vacation you are bound to have a great trip. There are so many things to do in Alexandria, so all that's left to do now is pack your bags!