25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

With American roots and European flair it’s no surprise that Alexandria, Virginia has become one of my favorite weekend getaways. Located minutes from Washington DC it feels worlds away with an independent streak inspiring the creative spirits behind the art galleries, boutiques and chef-driven restaurants that call Old Town home. Whether your looking to explore Alexandria’s revolutionary roots with your family or taking a romantic trip with your sweetheart you’re sure to love your time in this charming riverside city. Here are my recommendations for things to do in Alexandria.


25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


1.Take a stroll through Old Town’s cobblestone streets admiring the 18th and 19th century architecture.

2. Explore Civil War era medicine at the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum.


The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum-25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


3.Rent a bike from DC Bike and Roll and explore the Mount Vernon Trail

4.Start you Saturday morning like a local by picking up some farm fresh produce at the Old Town Farmer’s Market.

5. Get a good night’s sleep in style at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel and Spa.


The Kimpton Lorien Hotel and Spa-25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


6.Sip a perfectly crafted cocktail created by Todd Thrasher at PX, a modern upscale speakeasy.

7.Interact with artists as they create their masterpieces at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

The Torpedo Center Art Factory-25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


8.Peruse unique home decor and gifts at St. George’s Gallery, featuring fine handcrafted Ethiopian textiles, furniture and art.

9. Stop by the utterly adorable (and Instagrammable) Spite House. At seven feet wide this is the skinniest house in the US.

The Spite House-25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

10. Get a bit of history along with a taste of Alexandria on a tour from DC Metro Food Tours.

11.Indulge in a pair of designer kicks from Shoe Hive.

4.Visit what some consider to be the birthplace of the American Revolution at the Carlyle House.

The Carlyle House- 25 Things to Do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


13.Hear about haunted tales and folklore on a nighttime ghost tour with Alexandria Colonial Tours.

14.Unleash your inner Picasso with a class at The Art League School.

15. Enjoy a craft beer tour at Port City Brewing Company.

16. Explore Alexandria’s rich African-American heritage at the Alexandria Black History Museum.

17. Take President and Mrs. Obama’s lead and enjoy a romantic date night at Vermilion.

Vermillion- 25 Things to DO in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

18. Tour and eat at the Gadsby’s Tavern, a restored 18th century tavern that has hosted George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

19. Indulge in handmade Argentinian style gelato at Casa Rosada ( the dulce de leche is a personal faveorite).

20.Foodies will love the fabulous seven course chef’s tasting menu at the acclaimed Restaurant Eve.

21. Find the perfect gift for your four-legged canine companion at The Dog Park Boutique featuring homemade treat and unique pet accessories.

25 Things to Do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


22. Enjoy a waterside view of Washington DC’s monuments with a cruise on the Potomac Riverboat Company.

23. Enjoy live music in an intimate setting at The Birchmire.

24. Lounge over a European style brunch of crepes at Fontaine Caffe.

25 Things to Do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

25. Ride the free King Street trolley for a fun way to explore Old Town Alexandria’s attractions.

25 Things to Do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com


For the latest information about attractions and events in Alexandria check out http://www.visitalexandriava.com/


I was graciously hosted by Visit Alexandria but as always all opinions are my own.

112 Comments on “25 Things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

  1. I can’t imagine a better way to start a weekend in the DC area than a walk around Old Town’s streets and a visit to the farmer’s market. I could probably spend an entire week there and not get bored. Also, Port City Brewing Company sounds like a lot of fun – have you tried their beers?
    Dave Cole recently posted…10 Tips for Planning Long-Term Travel in AfricaMy Profile

    • Dave Port City has a fiercely loyal local following. Since it was warm out I tried their Optimal Wit, a Belgian style white ale that was quite refreshing. They have a line of IPA’s that I’ve heard good things about as well.

    • Karen, if history (and wine) are what you’re after then Virginia would be a great place to visit. Alexandria is an easy to get to as well since it sits across the Potomac River from Washington DC.

    • While touristy it would be great to say you had a beer where George Washington once did!

    • This was my first time there and I fell in love, I’ll definitely be back!

    • Well, it was still British when they began building the city. There is definitely a difference in the post revolutionary architecture.

    • It’s great for a relaxed weekend away, it was so relaxing!

    • I really loved my time in Alexandria and I’ll definitely be back!

    • Make sure to visit if you ever swing through DC, it’s an easy trip by metro or water taxi.

    • The art center was really neat and all the artists inside are very approachable.

  2. I thought for a moment when I saw the title you meant one of my favourite cities in Africa! ;D I think a lot of the US, especially places like Washington, haven’t been on the backpacker or independent traveller radar much, probably because of the higher cost in comparison to S.America and SEAsia, but I would love to visit here someday. Thanks for the highlights!
    Michael Huxley recently posted…Three Days In Kuala Lumpur.My Profile

    • There are certainly a lot more budget friendly options in the US once you get away from the major cities but a big draw with Washington is a lot of the museums and attractions are free. It’s a great walking city and much more European in style than many of the other East coast cities.

    • Gadsby’s Tavern is neat to stroll through but be sure to visit the independent cafes and restaurants in Old Town for some really great food.

  3. I lived in DC for a summer several years ago, and had a job canvassing. My route included Alexandria, and this is nothing like I remember it. 🙂 Ditto Dave’s question about the brewpub: any really standouts among their selection?
    Bob R recently posted…Mannequin Monday 3 and 4My Profile

    • Alexandria, especially the waterfront has been going through a revitalization. At Port City Brewing Co I enjoyed their Optimal Wit, a light and refreshing Belgian white ale. They’ve won awards for their lineup of IPAs though.

    • Definitely! It’s an easy day trip either my water taxi or metro.

    • With so much to do in DC it can be hard to leave but if you want some history and charm without the crowds Alexandria makes for a great day!

    • The small size of Alexandria lets you explore a lot of things in a day or two without feeling too rushed and the Federalist style architecture makes for a very charming atmosphere.

  4. This makes feel guilty that I haven’t made the trip to Old Town in a while. Thanks for inspiring me to go back one of these days!

  5. Great list! I always loved wandering around Old Town Alexandria when I lived in Arlington. Such a quaint neighborhood! My favorite thing to do (and my dog’s) was the doggy happy hour at Hotel Monaco. So much fun!
    Amy recently posted…Monday moment of Zen: Venice, ItalyMy Profile

  6. Brilliant article! There are so many places in the USA that I need to explore, this looks like a wonderful place to soak up some culture

    • The guys at DC Metro Food Tours are awesome, I’d definitely take another one of their tours.

  7. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only been to big American cities and not old historic towns. This sounds very me though! So much to do and see. I love markets and centuries old architecture. I need to do more travel to places like this when I’m in the States. Great ideas and lovely photos
    Kate recently posted…Barcelona: First Day Round UpMy Profile

    • Visiting big cities in the US is certainly easier than seeking out the smaller towns due to public transportation but Alexandria is an easy metro ride or water taxi from DC.

    • Alexandria and Old Town is about 10-15 minutes away over the Potomac River from DC, so it’s super convenient! Plus, Reagan National Airport is in Alexandria, meaning you won’t have to travel very far to visit.

    • This was my first time to Alexandria but it definitely won’t be my last.

    • It’s an easy day or afternoon trip from DC and definitely worth a look!

  8. Looks excellent, I will definitely do all 25 if I ever get there! Thanks for the list 🙂
    Laura recently posted…HomeMy Profile

    • Likewise with Europe. The blogging community really helps you to uncover some hidden gems.

    • Washington is one of my favorite cities in the US aand Alexandria makes for a great day trip.

    • I absolutely love the Federalist style architectures and the cobblestone streets, its such a charming town and a great place to wander around.

  9. Looks like Alexandria exudes romance and art. A friend of mine moved there and told me about it, but I never gave visiting it much thought…not until I saw this post. There really is tons more to do than I imagined, and I am especially fond of the artistic side.
    Rashad Pharaon recently posted…Visiting Cholon Through The Lens Of A LoverMy Profile

    • You’ll find pockets of creativity throughout the city, there really is a great artistic community here.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, I’m glad you enjoy my blog 🙂

  10. There is so much variety of this things to do! I do love a good wander down old streets, and sampling foods at quaint places. Looks like a relaxing and enjoyable place to spend a weekend.
    Rachel recently posted…The Tower On The HillMy Profile

    • Those are two of my favorite things to do anywhere I travel to. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by! The charm of Alexandria compliments the grandiousity of DC quite well.

    • The Old Town is so charming and the residents take great pride in maintaining its historic feel.

  11. What would you recommend doing on a cool Sunday in Jan. around the Alexandria area?

  12. I love Old Town as well, but I was wondering is there a place that would be good for a single person to visit to where they can meet others?

    • Old Town is lined with bars and restaurants that are very singles friendly.

  13. Birchmere’s in Del Ray, not Old Town (not really even a walkable distance from Old Town unless you consider DCA to be walkable)

  14. A colleague of mine raves about Washington DC so I’m planning on going there. I’m glad Alexandria is close as you’ve convinced me to visit. Great post…

    • Alexandria is one of my favorite weekend cities, you’ll love it there!

  15. I wish I had visited this place when I was in DC 3 years ago! The Spite House looks especially interesting, and totally agree about the Instagrammable part!

  16. One of my best friends from home moved to Alexandria last year (her husband works for Air Force One) and we’re really hoping to get to visit her in the spring. She lives in one of these lovely, huge townhouses and I’ve always adored that area. Bookmarking your list for then!

  17. We used to live in Alexandria years ago. I have warmest memories about this beautiful town. Looking through this list reminded me how much I miss it. Fontaine Caffe used to be our every Sunday brunch place – great vibes pared with great French inspired cuisine. After that, spending the rest of the day at Torpedo Factory was another favorite pastime. There are so many different artists there that every visit led to some delightful discovery.

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