No matter your vacationer type or when you visit, Alexandria has all you need for the picture-perfect retreat, even if you already live in NoVA.
Since its founding in 1749, Alexandria has been a Northern Virginia gem. Travel + Leisure this summer ranked it No. 9 on its list of the best U.S. cities. Architecture enthusiasts and shopaholics both flock to the historic King Street. And no matter the season, there’s always something to do on the Potomac River waterfront, from an outdoor dinner to a holiday-themed boat parade.
Hit the ground running by visiting the Carlyle House Historic Park and Torpedo Factory Art Center. Or take it slow with a day of self-care at a spa. Keep reading for recommendations on how to plan your Alexandria staycation at your own speed.
WHERE TO STAY
Luxury and leisure are the name of the game at Lorien Hotel & Spa. This hotel has several different suites, some of which boast separate living rooms and outdoor terraces. Treat yourself to a massage or facial at Alexandria’s only full-service hotel spa. Curb your hunger at Brabo Brasserie, the hotel’s restaurant that serves breakfast, brunch, and dinner. 1600 King St.
This hotel is located just steps away from King Street’s restaurants and shops. After a long day of activity, relax in one of Morrison House’s spacious rooms or Italian marble bathrooms. And you don’t have to leave the property to indulge in a meal. The Study at Morrison House, named one of Northern Virginia Magazine’s best Alexandria restaurants, is a Mesoamerican-style spot that offers regionally sourced dishes. 116 S. Alfred St.
Head to Matt and Tony’s for delectable breakfast classics and president-approved rye bread. John F. Kennedy called it the best he’d ever eaten and had loaves delivered to the White House. Start your day off with an order of chicken and waffles, cornflake crusted French toast, or masa pancakes. Pair your food with a brunch cocktail, like a bacon bloody Mary or beermosa (four flavors). 1501 Mt. Vernon Ave.
This restaurant brings a modern flair to the cuisine of Yunnan, a province in southwest China. Order the six-dish bento box, which comes with pickled cucumbers, wood ear and mint salad, lǎonǎi potatoes, and cheesecake custard. You also have the choice of one bao bun or jiaozi dumpling and one mixian noodle dish, a Yunnan classic known for its fluffy texture and flavorful broth. 814 N. Fairfax St.
If you’re searching for a meal with a riverfront view, look no further than this modern American spot. Named one of Northern Virginia Magazine’s top Alexandria restaurants, Ada’s On the River features wood-fired and custom-aged steaks, including a 60-day-aged rib-eye and indulgent wagyu. Or enjoy one of the restaurant’s seafood entrées, including swordfish and seared scallops. 3 Pioneer Mill Wy.
This Argentine gelato will satisfy your sweet treat craving. Casa Rosada serves a variety of tasty, unconventional flavors, including arroz con leche, gingerbread, and sweet corn. This shop offers alfajores, traditional Argentine shortbread cookies stuffed with dulce de leche and covered in coconut flakes. And Casa Rosada has your pup covered with Hungry Henry’s Dog Gelato, a dairy-free treat made from a pumpkin gelato base. 111 S. Payne St.
This beauty boutique is the perfect place to stock up on your makeup and skincare essentials. Shop your favorite premier brands, including Kiehl’s, Laura Mercier, Mario Badescu, and Dermalogica. You’ll also find high-end hair products from Klorane and Oribe. 1000 King St.
This independent bookstore sells a variety of best-selling novels, clothing, and art. Here you will also find classic works by authors of African descent. Harambee means “working together” in Swahili, so the shop’s products focus on community education through literature and art. 1132 Prince St.
This store specializes in modern jewelry that can complement any outfit. Browse a collection of fine rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. Designs range from polished and simple to elegant and bejeweled. Permanent bracelets, which come in gold and silver, are sold here. 205 King St.
This 18th century property is a must-stop for history and architecture fanatics. British merchant John Carlyle purchased the land in 1749 and built a mansion, which is now a stunning example of Georgian residential architecture. Take a tour to learn about Carlyle’s life and the beginnings of Alexandria, and enjoy the solitude of the house’s manicured gardens. 121 N. Fairfax St., $7 for ages 18 and over, $3 for ages 6–17, free for ages 5 and under
Don’t miss the chance to visit one of the country’s oldest farmers markets from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. George Washington’s Mount Vernon produce used to be sold at this market. Today, you can visit the market for a selection of local baked goods, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Vendors also sell handmade items, including soaps, jewelry, and art. 301 King St., free
Located inside an old munitions plant, this art center has 71 artist studios under one roof, one of the largest in America. Watch artists create paintings, ceramics, and stained glass, and stop in to purchase their work. Make sure to visit the Target Gallery‘s current exhibition, which rotates regularly. 105 N. Union St., free
September 30–October 1, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Named one of the top 100 art shows by Sunshine Artist magazine, this outdoor art festival is a great opportunity to support makers from across the country. You’ll find a variety of media, from sculptures to prints to paintings. 300 John Carlyle St., free
Get into the jolly spirit with Alexandria’s annual waterfront event. Grab a spot along the Potomac River and watch over 50 elaborately decorated boats coast by. There will be events throughout the day, including a holiday soiree, craft activities, and a pop-up beer garden. Old Town Alexandria waterfront, free
April 20, 2024
For nearly a century, Historic Garden Week has celebrated Virginia’s gardens and architecture. Five private homes and gardens in Old Town Alexandria will be open to the public. Celebrate spring with a stroll through these blossoming flower beds and beautiful historic sites. Ticket prices TBD
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