The Best 10 Reasons to Visit Old Town Alexandria, VA

Updated January 4, 2023.

Want to know my favorite city in the world? It’s Alexandria, Virginia! That’s right. I’ve lived in the D.C. area for 15 years, traveled all over the world, and I still love Alexandria’s Old Town the best of all. Maybe it’s the cobblestones, maybe it’s the beauty… Here are my top 10 reasons you should visit because I think you’ll love it, too!

10. For the Boutique Shopping

I am admittedly not a shopper, but even I could get lost for an afternoon perusing the boutique shops in Old Town. Whether you’re in the market for a real book from a real bookstore, dresses on-trend, Christmas decor, or high-end consignment, you’ll find shops you love in Alexandria!

Old Town has some of the cutest boutiques anywhere around!
Check out my feature on Redfin! 11 Unique Things to Do in Alexandria

9. For the Proximity to D.C.

If staying in Washington, D.C., Alexandria is an easy day trip! You can take the yellow or blue metro lines, use the Capital Bike Share program via the Mount Vernon Trail, or drive here. It’s only a few miles away, but it’s a totally different world once you get there. Plan a day trip (or even half a day trip!) while you’re in the D.C. area.

Just a quick metro ride, bike ride, or walk away via the Mount Vernon Trail!
Find more on my Washington, D.C. Page!

8. For the Waterfront

Y’all, this waterfront is the stuff of dreams. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and just steps away from everything you’ll want to see and do! You can stroll here sipping on a coffee or eating your ice cream, take a date here, or simply join in with the yogis one morning! Alexandria’s waterfront is not as bustling or crowded as many other cities’ waterfront areas, thanks to much of it being landfill that came in long after Alexandria’s founding in 1749. And the area has been revitalized in recent years to make it even more beautiful!

Old Town Waterfront at Founders’ Park
Read on: 5 of My Favorite Things in Alexandria, VA

7. For the Tiny Houses

The two narrowest houses in the United States are located in Old Town! They are called “Spite Houses” because they were built out of spite, especially the little blue one below! Look how cute it is! I actually lived across the street from this house for two years and loved to tell people “I have the best view in the world of the tiniest house in America!”

Tiny Houses are too fun!
More here: The Best Things to Do in Old Town

6. For the Incredible Cuisine

No, really, Alexandria, Virginia, has the best food in the D.C. area! I will win the debate on this. Not only will you find the best cupcakes here (you’d never guess they’re organic), you’ll find food from all over the world. Caphe Bahn Mi will blow your mind with their authentic Vietnamese fare, the Pita House will give you culinary wanderlust with their Lebanese dishes, Taverna Cretekou will wow you with their Greek food, and Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream will definitely make you scream for more!

Pop’s has the best ice cream!
Keep eating: The Best Restaurants in Old Town

5. For the Charm

When I think of Old Town, I think of charm. Charming historic homes, charming local museums, charming family-owned restaurants, charming cobblestones, charming walks… You get the idea! It’s artsy, historic, hipster, old-fashioned—it’s really the whole package. We love Old Town!

Best explored with friends!
Fuel your walk: Where to Find the Best Coffee in Old Town

4. For the Seasons

Alexandria is an old city, especially by American standards, and that means mature trees, centuries-old gardens, and a waterfront. Everything about it is scenic! The changing seasons are very distinctive in Old Town: cherry blossoms and colorful blooms in spring, vibrant greenery in summer, leaves of every color in the fall, and usually a big snow or two in the winter!

Carlyle House in the Fall
More here: Tips for Traveling in Fall

3. For the Mount Vernon Trail

Runners, bring your running shoes! The Mount Vernon Trail runs 18 miles from Mount Vernon Estate to Georgetown in D.C., and that includes beautiful Alexandria, VA. Even if you’re not a runner, you’ll love walking along the trail as well. To the south you’ll find historic Jones Point Lighthouse and some of the original D.C./Virginia border marking stones, and to the north you’ll find Gravelly Point where you can watch the planes take off and land at DCA!

The trail goes right past DCA!
Ride all the way to Mount Vernon: Your Ultimate Guide to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate

2. For the Ties to George Washington

He may not have been born here, but George Washington did consider Alexandria his home town! He owned several properties and did a lot of business here. He often ate at Gadsby’s Tavern, sold products from his land at Mount Vernon at the market in Market Square, and when he came to town for lengthier visits, he and Martha stayed at their home on Cameron Street!

George Washington’s Townhouse
More here: Presidents’ Homes within a Day’s Drive of D.C.

1. For the All-American History!

From the museums to the cobblestone streets, from the churches to the architecture, Old Town is positively steeped in American history! Even the history hater on your trip will find something to marvel at here. Alexandria’s history reflects American history since before America was her own country. General Braddock and his men wrecked the Carlyle House during the French and Indian War, it was the first captured Confederate city during the Civil War, and important documents from the Nuremberg Trials were stored at the secure facilities at the Torpedo Factory after World War II!

The Torpedo Factory
Want more about Alexandria?
Check out my post about D.C. for History Lovers!

For so much more, check out my United States Page!

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2 responses to “The Best 10 Reasons to Visit Old Town Alexandria, VA”

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