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Only in ALX

Longing for fresh scenery filled with picturesque streetscapes? Named a Top 5 Best Small City in the U.S. 2020 by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Alexandria will spirit you away with its cobblestone streets and flickering gas lamps. From waterfront paths within eyesight of D.C. to thought-provoking art installations to architectural delights, our city is filled with unique sights and memorable encounters. From dining al fresco on the water to ducking into one-of-a-kind boutiques, grab your face covering and explore experiences available Only in ALX.

Face coverings are required in all public indoor spaces except when drinking, eating or exercising, as well as outdoors when 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

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Biking on Queen Street

1. Explore One of America’s First Neighborhoods Designated as a Historic District.

Founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria was only the third neighborhood in America to be officially designated a historic district, just after Charleston and New Orleans. Take one of our self-guided tours to explore the area on foot. Stroll along the cobblestones of Captain’s Row and discover historic sites to transport you through more than 250 years of the American story, from the American Revolution to the Civil War to Civil Rights and beyond.

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Phase 3

2. Stroll the King Street Mile for Independent Restaurants and Boutiques.

Take a walk on nationally renowned King Street and see why it’s been recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. This brick-lined avenue leads from the King St./Old Town Metro Station to the Potomac River, with over 200 independent shops and restaurants along the way. See what’s new on King Street, and wander just a block or two down side streets to find beautiful homes and hidden gem boutiques and eateries.

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Wrought Knit and Iron

3. Contemplate Alexandria’s History Reframed Through the Lens of the Free and Enslaved African Americans Who Built the City’s Early Economy.

Through November 2020, Alexandria is home to a thought-provoking and visually striking new installation by acclaimed artist Olalekan Jeyifous. Situated in the newly expanded Waterfront Park, Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies frames Alexandria’s African American history through the lens of the city’s industrial and merchant history. Once a prosperous port city that was home to one of the largest domestic slave trading firms in the country, Alexandria was a major center for shipping and manufacturing with an economy inextricably tied to the work of both enslaved and free African Americans. Read more from Jeyifous, well-known for his work on the upcoming Shirley Chisholm monument in Brooklyn, and immerse yourself in Black history sites throughout the city.

*While this installation's run at Waterfront Park has ended as planned, you can find it for a limited time near the Old Town Pool at 1609 Cameron Street where it has been relocated.

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Shopping

4. Shop at an Eco-Friendly Fashion Boutique Helmed by a Former Obama Administration Attorney.

Looking for the intersection of style and sustainability? Start at Threadleaf, an independent boutique focused on fashion-forward clothing and accessories that are responsibly made with respect for the environment, their suppliers and customers. Owner Nicole McGrew, an attorney with a design background, previously worked for the Obama administration before setting up shop in Old Town. Don’t miss Nicole’s extensive selection of dresses with pockets. Then, keep exploring Old Town’s King Street mile, the largest collection of independent boutiques in the D.C. region. 

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Spite House

5. See the U.S.’s Skinniest Historic House and More Instagrammable Spots.

There are countless interesting abodes in Alexandria, but the Spite House may have the quirkiest backstory. Back in 1830, the owner of the adjacent property was frustrated by frequent loiterers and horse-drawn carriages lingering in his alley. Hence, this seven-foot-wide home was built out of spite, and the rest is history. Pose with arms wide in front of the doorway or capture cobalt-blue Spite House squeezed between its white and red neighbors from across the street. Then, search out more of Alexandria’s architectural gems and photogenic delights.

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King Street Ice Cream

6. Chill Out with a Cold Treat in America’s Ice Cream Cone Capital.

Forbes recently named Alexandria the “Ice Cream Cone Capital of the U.S.,” and who are we to argue? Our city is sweetened with scores of old-fashioned ice cream parlors, gelato shops, chocolate crafters and cupcakeries. On a warm summer evening, savor your treat while meandering through Market Square or watching the moon rise over the river. Or, hop over to the charming Del Ray neighborhood for an authentic Wisconsin frozen custard sundae as you watch the world go by.

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Tall Ship Providence

7. Take a Cruise on Tall Ship Providence

Experience a celebrity tall ship that appeared in the international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean. Alexandria’s newest waterfront attraction, Providence is a full-scale reproduction of one of the most renowned ships in the Continental Navy, helmed by Captain John Paul Jones in 1776. Book a private dockside tour or lounge on a public weekend cruise, complete with historical interpretation. Learn more here.

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TFAC Studio 2100x1400

8. Explore the Nation’s Largest Collection of Working Artists’ Studios at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

For decades, a former munitions factory from World War I and II sat quietly as a document storage facility. But by the 1980s, this building that stands guard along the Potomac had transformed into the nation’s largest collection of working artist studios under one roof. Duck into a studio that catches your eye and you may get to chat with the artist or bring home a one-of-a-kind piece for yourself. The Torpedo Factory Art Center—complete with an actual torpedo for your photo op—will inspire you to explore more of Alexandria’s thriving arts scene.

 

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Old Town Farmer's Market

9. Find Something Fresh at America’s Oldest Continuously Operating Farmers Market.

This market may be over 260 years old, but we promise that the produce was picked just yesterday. Like clockwork, since the mid-18th century, each Saturday morning the Old Town Farmers Market bustles in the shadow of City Hall. During peak season, you’ll find over 70 vendors offering fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, meats and more. In a hurry or hesitant to linger? Put in an advance order for an easy pick-up process

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Cyclist on Mount Vernon Trail

10. Rent a Bike and Coast Riverside Through National Park Land from Old Town to Mount Vernon.

Take a memorable ride along the river all the way to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. If you need a breather, stop at one of Alexandria’s parks along the way. Here’s a suggestion to get you started: Linger at Jones Point Park south of Old Town and discover a historic lighthouse and boundary stone that marked what was once the southernmost point of Washington, D.C.

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LGBTQ Waterfront

11. Make It a Special Date in One of the Nation’s Most Romantic Cities.

Fodor’s, Amazon and Curbed have raved about Alexandria’s romantic appeal. Maybe it’s the flickering gas lamps on picturesque side streets, the quiet din at an intimate restaurant set in a centuries-old building or the made-for-strolling boardwalk glowing with reflected light from the marina. Check out our list of date ideas, whether you are here in person or just want a piece of Alexandria to bring home for a special evening.

 

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