Old Town Alexandria, Virginia – Charming Even in December

with 23 Comments

Walking just off King Street, we came across an Asian man rolling a legless round table down the sidewalk. It was a lovely honey oak and he saw me admiring it. He asked if we wanted to buy it and I said, “but it has no legs.” He quipped, “Buy the table top and I’ll throw the legs in for free.”

Thus began a lovely day in friendly, historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. After the previous day’s tour at the Holocaust Museum & Memorial, it was good to cross the Potomac River and walk on the sunny streets of this charming city.

Things to know and places to go:

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

This almost Federalist-style home is a mere eight miles away and definitely on a must-do list for springtime. There’s even a service that rents bikes to cycle to Mount Vernon and enjoy a boat cruise back. Make sure to reserve your spot well in advance and expect the cruise to take 1.5 hours. Don’t worry if you aren’t a cyclist, there’s a cruise that will take you there and back again.

Chart House Restaurant

Lunch at the Chart House, located steps away from the Torpedo Factory Art Center, was a delight. This is a chain restaurant that acts like a family-owned affair. Opt for the Cream of Crab Soup and you won’t go away hungry.

Harbor & Chart House Restaurant
Harbor & Chart House Restaurant

Landini Brothers

Dining at this Tuscany-inspired restaurant was a foodie’s win. Agnolotti alla Fiorentina (homemade pasta filled with spinach, ricotta & Parmesan) as well as Linguine alla Pescatora (an array of fish in a white wine sauce) is enough to send you straight back to Italy—just by shutting your eyes and savoring.

Free King Street Trolley

The Trolley runs daily from 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 p.m. with extended hours on the weekend. As we rounded the corner from our hotel onto King Street, I’d have happily boarded to escape the soaring winds. We soldiered on and in another block it had died to a reasonable gust. The trolley stops every two blocks so folks can hop on/hop off at will.

A great joy in turning the corner and coming upon King is being assaulted with the beauty of fairy lights in ALL the trees from one end of the street to the other! Whoever on the town council thought that up: Brilliant!

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Not two words you’d naturally put together, torpedo and art, but there’s a logical reason for it. The building was founded shortly at the end of World War I—sounds backwards, doesn’t it—and began producing torpedoes. When World War II started, production geared up and additional buildings were added to the location to keep pace with the need. For a while, the building was used for government storage until finally in 1974 it was given new life as the art center. Luckily, it underwent another renovation, central heat and air were added, and it reopened refreshed in 1983.

It’s a treat to walk through the building, see the history and see history being made by 165 artists as they work and display their treasures for sale.

The Seaport

There are various parks plopped every so often along the Potomac River. They don’t connect by path, but you can certainly stroll from one to another along the streets and the Promenade.

Nearby, Captain’s Row (on Prince between Union and Lee Streets) is a fun walk. Pittsburgh still has many cobblestone streets, but these were paved by Hessian Soldiers as prisoners of the Revolutionary War. Besides the stones, the street features Federal style row homes built by sea captains.

Captain's Row
Captain’s Row


Old Town Alexandria is full of quaint storefronts with friendly owners, home made chocolate and tea shops, ice cream and restaurants to coat every taste bud with pleasure.


Going: It’s just off the 495 and across the river from DC. There’s a Metro stop at the top of King Street, so if you’re staying in DC and want to pop over for an afternoon, it’s easy as can be.

Museums: If you plan on doing a lot of museums, check out the Key to the City pass. Eight museums for $15 and a coupon for $40 off a visit to Mount Vernon. Sounds like a deal not to be missed.


Also published on Medium.

23 Responses

  1. William Rusho
    | Reply

    I love Virginia. Spent so much time there, even in Alexandria.
    One thing I would complain is sometimes the traffic, and traffic signs can be bad and misleading.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Sushmita
    | Reply

    Love your travel journeys, they are like sweet stories 😀
    Sushmita recently posted..Thinking of Working From Home? 6 Things You Should Know FirstMy Profile

  3. Jeannette Paladino
    | Reply

    I’ve never been to Old Town, but have heard so much about it. I have a friend in Washington, DC, and the next time I visit Old Town is going to be on my list.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Do You Exist if No One Recognizes Your Brand?My Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      There’s so much to do there, Jeannette, that I hope you get to enjoy a long visit!

  4. Phoenicia
    | Reply

    What an adventure you have been on Rose Mary. You describe your excursions with such a passion I can just picture the setting! Old town Alexandria sounds right up my street – afternoon tea, assorted flavoured ice-cream and tasty meals.
    Phoenicia recently posted..Are you easily intimidated?My Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Super glad to hear that, Phoenicia! I always hope I’m taking you on these trips with me–even if in words & pictures.

  5. Marquita Herald
    | Reply

    What lovely memories this has brought back! It has been so long since my last visit to Old Town Alexandria but it doesn’t appear to have changed much. With the exception of the Torpedo Art Center – somehow I missed that one – the areas all look pretty familiar. Thank you for sharing!
    Marquita Herald recently posted..Is Fear Causing You to Lead a Smaller Life?My Profile

  6. Jeri
    | Reply

    I would have loved to take a trip to Mount Vernon, but my one and only trip to DC was a long Memorial Weekend, and that only left time to see the most major sights in town. I would definitely love to go back someday.
    Jeri recently posted..#LitChat: Eccentric Writing Habits of Famous Writers (Infographic)My Profile

  7. Ken Dowell
    | Reply

    It’s pretty common now to see old abandoned industrial buildings used by artists in one way or another. But a torpedo factory is a new one for me.
    Ken Dowell recently posted..History of Radio: Tuesday, April 28, 1942My Profile

  8. Doreen Pendgracs
    | Reply

    Hi Rose. Thx for this post about Alexandria. My friend’s sister lives there and she speaks very highly of it. Now I know why!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..5 reasons to love Original Beans ChocolateMy Profile

  9. Susan Cooper
    | Reply

    It’s been a while since my last visit to Old Town Alexandria. The next time I’m in the area, I need to do that. Thanks for the nudge and reminder.
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Butter Pecan Cream Chocolates: #RecipeMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Like I said to Marquita, if you get to the greater DC area, please let me know! It’s a short 5 hour drive. I love the diversity of those areas. Fantastic.

  10. Jackie
    | Reply

    Sounds and looks like such a fun place!!

  11. Nadine
    | Reply

    This article makes me want to visit the Alexandria area!

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