Alexandria, Virginia is the perfect mix of small town charm with big city luxuries. The red, brick sidewalks lined with well preserved 18th-19th century buildings make you feel like you've stepped back in time. That is until you realize that the 18th-19th century building is now home to the local Starbucks or Chipotle! Even with the conveniences of having your favorite chain restaurants that we’ve all come to know and love, Alexandria has done an excellent job of facilitating space for plenty of local businesses as well. The busy streets are lined with boutique shops and award winning restaurants with King Street being the center of it all. And if you really feel the need to get your big city fix, you're just a short 8 mile drive to the center of Washington, D.C. We had the privilege of spending a day in this quaint little town recently and wanted to share what we think is a perfect way to make the most of your time in Alexandria.
*If you’re interested in a closer look at our time in Alexandria, check out our Alexandria Travel Vlog*
To start the day, you’ll head to St. Elmo Coffee Pub for some breakfast/coffee. There are two locations in Alexandria, but you’ll want to go to the Old Town North location. St. Elmo is a local coffee shop that brews Counter Culture Coffee and serves fresh pastries, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, quiches, and more! And if you decide to come back in the afternoon, they also have a full bar! Hence the name St. Elmo Coffee PUB.
Now that you’ve gotten your caffeine fix, we recommend heading down to the waterfront to take in the beauty of the Potomac River from one of the many parks. There are multiple parks to choose from, including Rivergate City Park, Oronoco Bay Park, Founders Park, Waterfront Park, Shipyard Park, and Ford’s Landing Park.
After a peaceful time on the waterfront, you’ll head to King Street! Many know it as the King Street Mile. It is the center of all the action in Alexandria, and is the perfect place to browse in and out of boutique and specialty shops for a few hours. If you’re looking for some great Alexandria/Virginia gifts and merchandise, check out The Old Town Shop (105 S. Union St). It’s less than a block off of King Street and the staff is super friendly and helpful! Definitely worth checking out!
All of the shopping has probably caused you to work up an appetite. Thankfully there is no shortage of excellent dining all around and along King Street. We went to Urbano 116 (116 King St) and LOVED our meals. We got the Brisket Taquitos with and Steak Nachos, and were so impressed with the flavors and quality of the ingredients. It’s making me hungry just talking about it! If you’re looking for something other than Mexican food, Vola’s Dockside Grill & Hi-Tide Lounge, Chop Shop Taco, and Wooboi Hot Chicken all came highly recommended as well.
You’re probably ready for a nap after that big lunch, but don’t give out on me just yet. There are some awesome museums in and around Alexandria that are worth checking out. The top one that we recommend (without going into D.C.) would be to take a trip down to George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. There are numerous fun ways to get to Mt. Vernon like biking or boating (or a combination of the two), but you can always drive as well. It’s a short 8 mile ride and worth the visit! If you’d rather stick around the Old Town, you can visit Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, or Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Depending on how long you spent at the museum or how many you visited, there’s a good chance that it’s time for a waterfront happy hour, and Vola’s Dockside Grill & Hi-Tide Lounge (101 N. Union St) is the perfect place for that! With seating inside and out that overlook the marina and Potomac river, it doesn’t get much better!
After watching the sunset with drink in hand, it’s time for dinner. You could always stay there at Vola’s and just extend happy hour into dinner, but if you want to explore a little more of what Alexandria has to offer, here are a few great dinner spots… Virtue Feed & Grain (106 S. Union St), The Wharf (119 King St), Hank’s Oyster Bar (1026 King St), Fish Market Restaurant (105 King St), or if you’re feeling adventurous, just take a stroll down King Street and see where your nose leads you!
We hope that this helps you make the most out of your time in Alexandria and that you enjoy it as much as we did! And if you want to see more about our time in Alexandria, be sure to check out our Alexandria Travel Vlog!