Within eyesight of Washington, DC, on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria’s storied setting belies a cosmopolitan scene – a haven for foodies, boutique-seekers, and art and history lovers. Walkable and with a free hybrid trolley, countless hidden gems are tucked into a beautifully preserved 18th- and 19th-century architectural landscape.
Duck into a finely appointed café for a glass of wine and share some artisan cheese and the local chef/owner’s special dish. Pack a picnic for a bike ride on the waterfront trail as the sun brightens the river to a vibrant blue and the Washington Monument and Capitol building appear stately on the horizon.
As one of America’s Top ArtPlaces 2013, Alexandria is heralded as a community with a “backbone of creative culture . . . exceptionally successful at combining art, artists and venues for creativity and expression with independent businesses, retail shops and restaurants, and a walkable lifestyle to make vibrant neighborhoods.”
Nearly 80% of the restaurants and retailers in Alexandria’s King Street corridor are independently owned, reflecting a thriving creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Find fine boutiques like The Hour, offering mid-century glamour with vintage glass and barware, and Bishop Boutique for women’s shoes. The Wall Street Journal praises, “The King Street area has some of the best stores and galleries in the [DC] region.”
Alexandria’s buzzing culinary scene includes several restaurants by the award-winning chef Cathal Armstrong, including Virtue Feed & Grain, named a Top 50 Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2012. The Obamas have made Alexandria their place for date night, celebrating their anniversary at Restaurant Eve and Valentine’s Day at Vermilion. Sample the latest craft beers of Port City Brewing Company at local eateries or visit the site where the beer is made. Create your own culinary itinerary or let a food tour lead the way.
Find inspiration at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a former munitions factory transformed into an arts powerhouse with 82 studios and six galleries, or the Athenaeum, a fine arts gallery in an historic bank building with monthly live music. A richly diverse music scene features the world-famous music hall the Birchmere, hosting the biggest names in country, folk and rock, and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, hailed by the Washington Post.
For those enchanted by the past, intimate historic sites like the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and Carlyle House are beautiful examples of the city’s dedication to historic preservation.
Visitors return for the city’s uncontrived feel and cosmopolitan amenities. Leave your car behind and arrive from Washington Reagan National Airport, just a few miles away, or Alexandria’s Amtrak station. Make a jaunt into Washington, DC, by Metro, bike or boat ride, and look forward to your relaxing return to Alexandria.