Updated: Jan 12
Have you ever fallen in love with a city at first sight? Alexandria, Virginia was that city for me this past Spring. It makes me want to return over and over -- which is rare for me! Personally, I feel Alexandria is often overshadowed by its nearby city, Washington, DC. While many do a day trip to Alexandria, I truly think that it deserves its own trip.
FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ALX:
Alexandria is older than the U.S.A., founded in 1749
An English ship captain was Alexandria’s first official “owner.”
Alexandria is home to one of the earliest nationally designated historic districts. It was the third named historic district in the U.S in 1946.
It is considered the “Ice Cream Cone Capital of the United States.”
WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT...
Ranked one of the top 5 cities for Black women
Filled with lots of diversity: I saw lots of people of color living their best lives
Great culinary scene
Lots to do, but still a small town feel
Close proximity to DC
Rich history: both colonial & Black history
Being the micro-cation queen that I am, I only spent 5 days. However, I did a lot during that period of time. If you want to visit Alexander, Virginia for the first time (or revisit) have these spots at the very top of your itinerary!
Table of Contents:
1. Stroll Along King Street1. Stroll Along King Street
2. Self-Guided Walking Tour of Old Town2. Self-Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
3. Indulge in the Food Scene3. Indulge in the Food Scene
4. Take a Black Heritage Tour4. Take a Black Heritage Tour
5. Visit George Washington's Home in Mount Vernon5. Visit George Washington's Home in Mount Vernon
6. BONUS: Day Excursion to D.C.6. BONUS: Day Excursion to D.C.
1. Stroll along King Street
King Street is the center for Alexandria, VA. No wonder it is considered the #1 thing to do here! It is where you will find everything from local boutiques, amazing restaurants, and even fast food chains. In addition, you might be lucky to find some outdoor entertainment. This street is very picturesque, lined with brick buildings, architecture that is centuries old, and cobblestone alleys. There are awesome cute murals (included in my itinerary) along the way to take photos. Make sure to walk all the way to the waterfront --it is great for taking a moment or enjoying happy hour at one of the restaurants along the waterfront.
2. Self-Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
Because of the hundreds of years of history of Alexandria, many of Alexandria’s streets have not changed. This makes for some super cute instagrammable spots. Just walk along Queen Street, Princess Street, and Prince Street. A must stop is the Spite House, the Skinniest Historic House in America.
3. Indulge in the food scene
There are so many amazing restaurants in Alexandria that are walking distance from each other, many along King Street. During my trip, I indulged in a range from Italian to French-inspired to Black owned. For the specific restaurants I ate at, check out my ITINERARY here!
4. Take a Black Heritage tour
Alexandria has a whole lot of Black history -- everywhere you turn there are buildings that are part of not only Black history, but America’s history. Some are more obvious because there are signs telling this history. However, I highly recommend taking a guided walking tour to discover this history. Although the Black History Museum was closed while I was visiting, I would recommend exploring it and the surrounding neighborhood. Check out my itinerary for the exact tour I took!
5. Visit George Washington’s Home in Mount Vernon
Although technically not in Alexandria, this is a must-see in your trip to Alexandria so you can take a step back in American colonial and Black history. Mount Vernon is the historic home of America’s first president, George Washington, just a short drive from Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. You can get there by bus, via boat cruise, or bike/car. While there you must absolutely check out the museums exhibit, “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington's Mount Vernon;” the Slave Memorial and go on the “Then Enslaved People of Mount Vernon” tour. If you have time, I highly recommend checking out the mansion tour, Washington’s tomb, and the Education Center on George Washington’s Life. I did not get a chance to check out George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, which is 2.7 miles away -- something to consider as well!
BONUS: Day Excursion to DC
DC is literally 20 minutes away driving from Alexandria, VA so you might as well take a day trip! You can also get there by water taxi or other forms of public transportation. Georgetown is a perfect area to visit for the day. It is a charming area with Federal-style architecture, cobblestone streets, fashion and design shops, and a great culinary scene. While in Georgetown, grab some tasty cupcakes, walk along Chesapeake & Ohio (C & O) canal, shop at one of the many boutique shops and grab dinner at one of the many restaurants.
7. Get Your Alexandria, VA Itinerary
Looking to go to Alexandria, VA? Check out my 13 page itinerary that contains:
Transportation: to get to location + while there
Links and contacts to all excursions & guides
Main attractions + hidden gems
Distance one location to next, organized to maximize time
Black-owned and/or local spots
Travel planner organizer for you to take your own notes