Old Town, Alexandria, VA

Alexandria is one of the East coast’s best preserved colonial cities.  Its historic architecture, walkable street grid, wide selection of restaurants and bars, and accessible riverfront all make this city a great place to spend a few hours.

King Street Alexandria

King Street Alexandria

Itinerary

For those DC-based travel junkies not feeling up to traveling very far, Alexandria is a great option for a short-term travel fix. You can take the metro there (which oddly drops you off nowhere near tourist sites of Old Town) or drive the 20 minutes south from DC. If you get there early enough, like I did on this particular Sunday morning, there’s parking everywhere, too.

My first destination was Founders Park, a football-field sized lawn on the city’s Potomac waterfront. The views of the river, almost a mile-wide here, are fantastic. Ollie enjoyed being off leash, playing with the other dogs in the park. But he started biting at the neck of a black lab three times his size, so I had to pull him away and leash him up.

Founders Park alexandria VA virginia

Founders Park

We then walked along the piers south of the Founders Park to Torpedo Factory Art Center, a former torpedo and munitions factory turned art center with studios and galleries.

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge

Potomac River, Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge (I-95)

Flush with a $10 gift card I got at my office Christmas party, I walked into a Starbucks and ordered a white chocolate mocha, rather than my usual coffee. Yes, I am living the high life. I ended up chucking it not even halfway through; it was too sweet.

I like having a car on these trips because I have a weird hangup about tying Ollie up when I go inside a store. I have this fear that he is going to get stolen, that he is going to get loose due to incorrect knot tying, or that he is going to bark at or bite a kid.  I prefer him to be in my car nearby (with the windows and sunroof partially open of course), patiently waiting for my return while he naps on the floor near my gas pedal.

alexandria virginia

Alexandria City Hall

King Street alexandria virginia

Shops on King Street

The brick buildings of King Street and the overall street layout reminded me of Fredericksburg, Virginia, which I visited the month prior and blogged about here. Both cities are on a riverfront, were founded around the same time period, and have similar architecture and street grid.

Old Town has everything you’d need in terms of shopping. The city puts out a monthly tourist guide with a directory of shops, indicating which are pet-friendly. Unfortunately most of the shops were still closed, as it was early Sunday morning, so I could not test out the pet-friendliess of these places.

I can’t say I really did that much on my morning here–it was just a nice relaxing start to the day, and I got to see another nice town around DC that I hadn’t been to in quite a while.

On the way back I stumbled upon the Potomac neighborhood of Alexandria. Also called Del Ray, Potomac used to be its own unincorporated city, but was annexed by Alexandria in the 1930s. This neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has a cool main street with a lot of restaurants and shops.

Restaurants

Mama Reacers, Potomac:  Soul food place on Mount Vernon Street in Potomac. Sitting outside on the patio, I filled up on an excellent breakfast of eggs, sausage, grits and a biscuit while Ollie patiently waited under the table for scraps. Yes, I am a bad dog owner.

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Kevin is based in Washington, DC and writes about his travel adventures in the Mid-Atlantic region and around the world. Through entertaining writing and eye-catching photography, he aims to provide readers with useful information as they plan their next trips.

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