Alexandria Press Profile and Story Ideas

Named the #1 Best Value U.S. Travel Destination 2018 by Money magazine and one of the South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 by Southern Living, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked in to 18th- and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy.

Accessible and Easy to Get Around

  • 3 airports, with Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport minutes away, plus Dulles and BWI international airports
  • Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express
  • 4 DC Metrorail stations – King St-Old Town one mile from the waterfront
  • Free King Street Trolley
  • Capital Bikeshare, bike rentals and Mount Vernon Trail
  • Water taxis and Potomac River cruises connecting to D.C., the National Mall and MGM National Harbor Casino

Waterfront 2

New Waterfront Destination Will Transform with Seasonal Experiences 

As the D.C. region’s waterfront landscape evolves with major developments like The Wharf and MGM National Harbor, a dramatic change is coming to Alexandria’s historic waterfront in the fall of 2018. A major new waterfront destination is opening at the intersection of the Potomac River and Alexandria’s most historic retail corridor: King Street Park at the Waterfront. The space will transform throughout the seasons with pop-up programming. The new park is the crown jewel of the city’s waterfront plan, which has been decades in the making. Meanwhile, Alexandria-based Potomac Riverboat Company has expanded their D.C.-region water taxi service with new high-speed, low-wake water taxi service from Alexandria’s historic waterfront to The Wharf, southwest D.C.’s new multi-billion-dollar riverfront development. And in 2019, Alexandria will welcome a celebrity tall ship as a permanent attraction: The tall ship Providence, which appears in the Oscar-winning film Master and Commander and international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean. The full-scale replica of the Continental Navy’s first warship which served under General George Washington will host public tours and history programs while offering regular public cruises including a beer cruise in partnership with Alexandria’s award-winning Port City Brewing Company.

Penny Post

Independent Boutiques Expand with New Concepts

Alexandria’s reputation as the “Shop Small” destination of the D.C. region continues to grow as independent retailers are opening and expanding with second concepts in the city. In May 2018, Nicole McGrew, an attorney with a design background and former member of the Obama administration, opened Threadleaf, a small, independent boutique focusing on fashion-forward clothing and accessories that are responsibly made with respect for the environment. Victoria Vergason, owner of vintage cocktail-ware boutique The Hour, is fulfilling her dream of launching her own original vintage-inspired made-in-America line, available in the spring of 2018 through a new e-commerce store called The Modern Home Bar, with select products available at The Hour. King Street’s mainstay for home design and gifts, Red Barn Mercantile is celebrating 10 years in 2018, and owner Amy Rutherford was pleased to open Penny Post Paper Goods in October 2017. In February 2018, fine art jewelry artist Jennifer Jordan Park opened Wear Ever Jewelry as a brick-and-mortar location, following 10 years as a fine-craft-show and online concept. Wear Ever Jewelry represents 20 American artists and offer classes.

Taco Trend Takes Off with BBQ and Mexican Tacos Plus Walk-Up Churro Window 

Alexandria’s creative comfort food trend continues to grow in 2018 to include a taco trend. Smoking Kow BBQ, “D.C.’s first and only American BBQ taco food truck,” opened a brick-and-mortar location in Alexandria’s West End in the spring of 2018, joining Meggrolls as a popular food truck that chose Alexandria for their first restaurant concept. Owner Dylan Kough (last name pronounced “Kow”) was a CPA who left it all behind to pursue his dream of opening a mobile restaurant. Diners can enjoy American BBQ in taco form as well as Smoking’s best seller, the Mac ‘N Meat. Other restaurants opening soon include Urbano 116, which will bring a taste of Mexican food to lower King Street. Plans for the eatery include a walk-up Churro window, a top-notch bar program, live music and windows that open to the street. In North Old Town, Chop Shop Taco will open within the Madison Collective that will feature other local businesses including a tattoo artist, spin classes and a juice bar. Diners will enjoy “off the spit” chopped meats like Al Pastor, chicken, pork belly and brisket.

captain gregory's

Artisanal Sweet Spots Add Alcohol for Can’t-Resist Boozy Desserts

Alexandria has long been known as a dessert destination with nearly 20 artisanal sweets and dessert spots. Now, alcohol-infused treats are making their way onto menus. Triple Craft, which opened in the summer of 2017, offers giant mouthwatering milkshakes garnished with cake frosting, whipped cream, candies, sweet drizzles and cookies. Adult versions include Chocolate Kahlua, Vanilla Bourbon and Strawberry Rum-Amaretto. Sugar Shack Donuts in Alexandria represents the ultimate blending of sweets and spirits as they often have donuts that incorporate Port City Brewing Company’s beer and have a speakeasy, Captain Gregory’s, hidden inside the donut shop.  Argentine-inspired Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato serves up gelato and sorbets in flavors like Malbec (wine) and “Granizado” (stracciatella, white vanilla, cooked with a little rum and woven with melted chocolate). If chocolate is your vice, try Blüprint Chocolatiers, which offers six chocolates with alcohol, including Porto, Grand Mariner and More Whisky, starring the 12 year Cragganmore Scotch Whisky. Additional seasonal flavors range from the Dark & Stormy featuring dark rum to Buffalo Trace for the Kentucky Derby. At Fleurir Chocolates indulge in truffles like the Grand Mariner Orange Blossom, Irish Coffee and Lavender Shiraz. For Father’s Day, try their Bourbon Box with cocktail-inspired truffles like Bourbon Ginger, Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

"Hamilton"-Themed Happenings at Historic Sites

As “Hamilton” hysteria spreads to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the show’s run at The Kennedy Center June 12 to September 16, 2018, Alexandria is proud to announce special programming at historic sites “Hamilton” fans won’t want to miss. While local historians do not believe Alexander Hamilton visited Alexandria, many of his friends and “frenemies” did. Fans of the musical can learn about the politics of the day with special Hamilton-themed tours at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum where Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Madison and Burr partied and made history. Discover how accurate the musical’s portrayal of Washington and Hamilton’s relationship is during a special lecture at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Picture yourself center stage during an evening at The Lyceum: Alexandria’s History Museum where you can try on American Revolutionary War uniforms like the ones seen in “Hamilton” and snap sharable photos.

Mount Vernon

Immersive Experiences at George Washington's Mount Vernon

In 2018, George Washington’s Mount Vernon opened two experiences that will immerse visitors into George Washington’s world. Launching on February 12, 2018, “Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead” is a new first-person interactive experience that puts you in the shoes of the first president and commander and chief. Discover key moments in Washington’s life and see how you stack up to the decisions Washington made as the events of the Revolutionary War and presidency come alive on a massive 6K-resolution screen. Chris Jackson, the actor who played George Washington in the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” will introduce each of the scenarios onscreen and will later describe the course of action that General or President Washington took. The experience, which is generously sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, is included in admission. Meanwhile, Mount Vernon reopened its Revolutionary War Theater in December 2017, marking the completion of a year-long $2.2 million renovation to the 4-D theater and an overhaul of the feature film. The theater, which first opened in 2006, features state-of-the-art 4-D effects including snowfall, fog, and rumbling seats to tell the story of General George Washington’s major victories during the American Revolution. With these updates, guests will feel in the midst of the action of the Revolutionary War. The new 17-minute film focuses on the same major battles as its first iteration: Washington’s victories in Boston, Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown.

LGBT King Street

Alexandria’s LGBT-Friendly Reputation on the Rise

Recommended by OUT magazine in 2018, rated a Virginia “All-Star” for LGBTQ rights by the Human Rights Campaign Municipality Equality Index in 2017, and named the #2 Best Town in Virginia for LGBT Families by Movoto in 2016, Alexandria’s LGBTQ-friendly reputation is on the rise. In June, Alexandria will celebrate Pride Month with more than 20 events, happenings, food and drink specials, and hotel packages.  For the first time, Alexandria’s Old Town and Del Ray neighborhoods were nominated for the Washington Blade’s 2017 “Best of Gay D.C.” awards, alongside numerous Alexandria businesses and Editor’s Choice “Best Chef” Jamie Leeds. A new LGBTQ initiative spearheaded by Visit Alexandria has certified 80 hospitality businesses as LGBTQ-friendly through educational training sessions, an effort launched alongside Virginia Tourism Corporation’s statewide initiative to market to the LGBTQ traveler. Visitors can browse VisitAlexandriaVA.com/LGBTQ for designated businesses and will notice welcoming rainbow decals in windows around town. Alexandria authentically meets what research shows many LGBTQ travelers are looking for: a small city with urban and rural amenities, historical and cultural spots, theater and concert experiences, and restaurants where they can enjoy dinner and drinks. Plus, LGBTQ travelers can expect a safe and welcoming destination that offers LGBTQ-friendly hotels like Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, activities like Drag Brunch at Hank’s Pasta Bar and plenty of locally owned businesses like Virtue Feed & Grain restaurant and The Dog Park boutique that are committed to supporting the LGBTQ community.

Lorien

Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa Undergoes Major Renovation

In early spring 2018, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia completed a multimillion-dollar phased redesign to all 107 guest rooms including 16 suites, hallway corridors, public areas, adjacent restaurant BRABO, and its 5,600 square feet of meeting and event space, including two main function rooms accommodating up to 100 as well as the hotel’s signature outdoor suite terraces overlooking King Street. The hotel’s contemporary new design from MONOGRAM by BBGM echoes Old Town’s classic and refined charm with elegant, subdued colors and a touch of whimsy with the restrained injection of color to add a modern and relaxed flair. An ethereal color palette of purples, copper, blues and greens and timeless furniture with modern twists will adorn the reimagined spaces with playful layers of curious art meant to spur imaginative thought.

Top 5 Must- See Attractions

  • Stroll King Street or take the free King Street Trolley
  • Explore the waterfront for stunning views of the Potomac River and D.C. monuments
  • Discover George Washington’s Mount Vernon , just 8 miles south of Old Town
  • Visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center
  • Tour the museums on Market Square: Carlyle House Historic Park, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

Top Touring Activities

  • Mount Vernon by Bike and Boat
  • Potomac Riverboat Co.
  • Walking tours (including ghost tours)

Annual Signature Events

  • George Washington Birthday Parade
  • St. Patrick's Day Celebration & Parade
  • USA/Alexandria Birthday Celebration
  • King Street Art Festival
  • Halloween in Alexandria
  • Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
  • Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
  • First Night Alexandria (New Year's Eve bash with 100+ live performances)

Offbeat and Unexpected

  • Canine Cruises
  • Donut speakeasy
  • Spite House (tiniest historic house in U.S. at 7 feet wide)