National Trust for Historic Preservation Names Alexandria a 2011 Distinctive Destination February 15, 2011
February 15, 2011
Contact: Claire Mouledoux,, 703-746-3309

National Trust names Alexandria a 2011 Distinctive Destination

Public Votes for Fan Favorite through March 15

Washington, D.C. (February 15, 2011) -Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Alexandria, Virginia, one of its 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.  Alexandria, nominated by the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, was selected for its urban charm that blends an extraordinary early American past with modern flair and its citizens' strong commitment to protecting and celebrating their history. From February 15 to March 15, Alexandria will be participating in a public online voting contest to select the 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations Fan Favorite.

For 11 years the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected communities across America that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from those found at the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and a commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place. 

"Alexandria is one of the most vibrant historic destinations in the country," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Its blend of tradition and contemporary charm makes it a must-see for history buffs, art lovers, foodies and any visitor to the Washington, D.C. area."

Located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Alexandria is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country - and not just because it was home to the nation's founding father, George Washington. An eclectic mix of neighborhoods, historic sites, unique dining, boutiques and art and antique galleries sprinkled across the city keep the streets abuzz. In Alexandria's famous Old Town, the third oldest locally designated historic district in the country, visitors can hop on a free trolley and dine where Revolutionary War leaders gathered at Gadsby's Tavern or shop for art in the World War II-era Torpedo Factory Art Center, where actual torpedoes were once manufactured. There are more than 30 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including six historic districts that span from the 1700's to the 1930's, as well as six National Historic Landmarks.


  • The city was recently recognized by Prevention magazine and the American Podiatric Medical Association as one of the top 100 Walking Cities in America and the Best Walking City in Virginia.
  • The King Street Trolley is free and runs between the historic waterfront, where visitors arrive by water taxi from Maryland and DC, and the King Street Metro station, which is only two stops away from Reagan National Airport.
  • With the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site is a must-see. Modeled after a Union headquarters and with its restored bastion and preserves earthwork walls, Fort Ward interprets the Defenses of Washington and the soldier experience through living history and a collection of weapons and uniforms.
  • Once headquarters for a slave-trading operation, the Freedom House is now one of the newest museums in the city. The Alexandria Black History Museum, originally a segregated library, documents the local and national history, culture and contributions of Black America in Alexandria. 48 sites are also featured on the African American Heritage Program, a trail marking significant African American sites.
  • Every Presidents' Day weekend, Alexandria hosts the George Washington Birthday Celebration, a three day celebration honoring Alexandria's favorite son with a birthnight ball in the very tavern where he once socialized, a 10k race, historic sites open houses and the country's largest parade remembering George Washington.  
  • Thomas Jefferson celebrated his presidential inaugural at Gadsby's Tavern, where visitors can still dine.


The public is invited to vote online to help determine which of the 12 destinations will be the 2011 Fan Favorite. From February 15 to March 15, any legal resident of the U.S., 18 years of age or older, can vote once per day for his or her favorite city or town on this year's list. The winner of the popular vote will be announced on March 16, 2011.  Voters are automatically entered to win a complimentary two night stay at any Historic Hotel of America. No purchase necessary.  Offer void where prohibited.  Visit for official rules, information about Historic Hotels of America, to learn more about this year's destinations, and to begin voting!

To download high resolution images and video of this year's Dozen Distinctive Destinations, visit

The 2011 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations includes:

Alexandria, Va. - Located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Alexandria is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country - and not just because it was home to the nation's founding father, George Washington. An extraordinary blend of early America and modern chic, the city offers an eclectic mix of neighborhoods, historic sites, dining and shopping.

Chapel Hill, N.C. - From its well-preserved historic districts to its quiet winding streets and its bustling downtown area, Chapel Hill certainly lives up to its nickname as the ‘Southern Part of Heaven.'

Colorado Springs, Colo. - Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, visitors to Colorado Springs can enjoy commanding views of Pikes Peak from just about any part of this vibrant, historic town.

Dandridge, Tenn. - With its idyllic natural setting in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, a welcoming small town spirit and a charming historic downtown, Dandridge epitomizes the quintessential Southern Appalachian town.

Eureka, Calif. - Located on the Northern California coast, Eureka is a beautifully preserved Victorian seaport that features a lively Old Town, the Carson Mansion - one of the most photographed homes in America - and nearby forests of majestic old growth redwoods.

Muskogee, Okla. - Once the unofficial capital of Indian Territory, Muskogee's storied past and Native American, African American and Euro American influences are well-preserved and the vibrant town has many unique festivals, museums, restaurants and more.

New Bedford, Mass. - Once one of the world's largest whaling ports, New Bedford is awash in maritime history, as well as scenic beaches, abundant architectural and historical riches, diverse neighborhoods and a burgeoning arts community.

Paducah, Ky. - The heart of Kentucky's Four Rivers region, visitors to Paducah will find thriving historic districts filled with turn of the century architecture and one-of-a-kind shops and eateries as well as a community that creatively celebrates its cultural and artistic heritage.

San Angelo, Texas - A frontier city with a rich past, San Angelo offers visitors an authentic Old West experience, a bustling downtown historic district and vibrant cultural offerings.

Saint Paul, Minn. - Known for some of Minnesota's most famous historic buildings-including the Cass Gilbert-designed State Capitol and the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald-visitors to St. Paul can browse the quaint shops of Grand Avenue, dine in the strikingly restored warehouse district, or be awed by the stately mansions along Summit Avenue.

Sheridan, Wyo. - Set in "the shadow of the Big Horns," Sheridan offers a vibrant Main Street commercial district, abundant recreational opportunities, and an authentic Western experience.

Sonoma, Calif. - Dating back to the early 19th and set amidst winding country roads and family-owned vineyards, Sonoma offers all the perks of being in the heart of wine country, with the added benefit of a laid back vibe that complements the award-winning wine and food.


More about Alexandria, VA

An independent entrepreneurial spirit has defined Alexandria throughout its history, from the time of its founding by Scottish businessmen and the early days of this country, when George Washington sent the bounty of Mount Vernon to be sold at its market. Today, that independent spirit lives on in the merchants who thrive throughout the City. In Old Town alone, 77 percent of the storefronts are unique and individually owned, many operating in preserved 18th- and 19th-century buildings. Alexandria's distinguished blend of historic ambience and contemporary flair make it a standout destination for visitors. The city offers critically acclaimed restaurants; boutiques featuring designer clothes, shoes, antiques and home decor; a thriving art scene; a variety of hotels; and hundreds of years of American history. (


More about Distinctive Destinations and the National Trust

2011 marks the twelfth announcement of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Dozen Distinctive Destinations annual list. To date, there are 144 Distinctive Destinations located in 46 states throughout the country. To see a complete list and to vote for the 2011 Fan Favorite Destination, visit The title of Distinctive Destination is presented to cities and towns that offer an authentic visitor experience by combining dynamic downtowns, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization. In each community, residents have taken forceful action to protect their town's character and sense of place.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation ( is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. By saving the places where great moments from history - and the important moments of everyday life - took place, the National Trust for Historic Preservation helps revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development and promote environmental sustainability. With headquarters in Washington, DC, eight regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in 50 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America's stories.