Picture yourself strolling along historic brick sidewalks and cobblestone covered streets in a neighborhood where the likes of George Washington and Jim Morrison (yes, of The Doors) called home. Where you can duck into the corner chipper for the best authentic fish and chips this side of the Atlantic, or make a stop at the old fashioned ice cream shop where the servers still wear little paper hats. Your stroll would allow shopping among the various boutique small businesses that line the city's main street for everything from clothing and home decor to cigars or that perfect bottle of wine, and everything in-between. You'd have the opportunity to tour 200+ year old museum residences or a WWII Torpedo Factory turned artists' studios. When you're ready for a bite to eat prepare yourself for more delicious dining options, from the casual to very upscale, than you could likely handle over the span of several weeks. And if that doesn't leave you feeling too tired or stuffed, pop into the local speakeasy or swanky bar for a modern twist on some classic cocktails or drop in for a little raucous Irish pub life. Does any of this sound like somewhere you'd like to be?
It's not often you can find a place to visit that combines history, charm, delicious dining, picturesque areas for exploration, unique shopping, and a quaint neighborhood setting within a stones throw of a major metropolitan area, but Old Town Alexandria, Virginia has each of these qualities in spades. Call us biased, but as Old Town residents for the last decade, we know there's absolute truth to the notion that the Old Town historic district and surrounding areas absolutely have something great for everyone.
When Becky invited us to guest post here on casacaudill with a travel related entry we started to wrack our brains for a good locale to place our focus. Though we love exploring the world, we figured we could actually give all of her readers some insight on one of our absolute favorite places, our own home town of Old Town Alexandria. I mean, we love it so much we even run a blog, Old Town Home, that's largely about what a great place it is to live and visit (when we're not elbow deep in DIY)!
Over the years we've watched as our town has slowly transformed from a quaint historic district into an ideal destination to visit. And with its proximity to Washington, DC, just across the Potomac, on the Virginia side of the river, it's an appealing stop on many DC tourists' itineraries.
Getting to Old Town is actually quite easy by car, plane, or train. With three major airports within an hour drive, the easiest by far is an arrival via Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). DCA is just two metro stops from King Street Station on the Blue or Yellow line, just 5-10 minutes away by both Metro train or taxi. Alexandria is just an eight mile drive from the center of DC, and a 20-30 metro ride from most DC stations.
King Street, incidentally, happens to be that quintessential Main Street we described earlier. Centrally located and running about a mile from King Street Metro Station to the Potomac River, the sidewalks are packed with boutique shopping, dining, tourist stops, and specialty store options, along with several great hotels where you can stay while you're in town.
If you enjoy history and old homes/buildings, Alexandria has a tremendous number to offer. Designated as one of the country's very first historic districts in 1966, the city's streets are lined by a vast collection of 18th and 19th century homes that range from grand and impressive Federals...
When it comes to dining Old Town really packs in the options. There are over 100 different restaurants and locations where you can have a meal in the one mile from the metro to the river, and the variety is equally as impressive as the quantity. From classic Americana to Asian, and Irish to French, traditional pub fare to delectable seafood, the choices are far too many to list, but the options will suit the most discerning palettes and varying budgets.
Lunch: Momo Sushi, Bittersweet, or Bread & Chocolate
Happy Hour: The Fish Market or Austin Grill
Upscale Dinner: The Majestic, Columbia Firehouse, or Tasting Room
Low Key Dinner: Red Rocks, Chadwicks, Hard Times
Drinks: PX, Restaurant Eve, Grape + Bean, or Daniel O'Connell's
Dessert: Eamonn's for a deep fried Milky Way bar, Pop's Old Fashioned Ice Cream, or Alexandria Cupcake
Along the pier and Alexandria waterfront you'll find extremely talented street performers as well as the Torpedo Factory artists studios. This is absolutely worth a stop and gives you both an insight into what the city was in the 1940s, and how it's being used today as part of an overall urban revival.