Alexandria (Virginia)

Map of Old Town, Alexandria
The free trolley on King St, Old Town

Alexandria is a city in Virginia, located just outside of Washington, D.C., in the United States of America.

Understand

Originally surveyed in 1749, Alexandria claims some of the richest history in the D.C. metropolitan area. At various points in her past, Alexandria has been part of the District of Columbia, a regional slave trading market, an occupied city, a washed-up post-industrial hamlet, and a hometown to famous American heroes and rebels. Today, the town serves as an interesting day-trip alternative for weary tourists looking to escape the capital, a treasure trove of early American architecture, a romantic getaway for metro-area residents, and a bedroom community for the white-collar workers that fuel the Federal labor mills to the north. Old Town's cobblestone streets have nearly 4,000 buildings dating as far back as the 1600s, and is filled with shops and good restaurants.

Get in

By plane

Alexandria is accessible from the three Washington, D.C., area airports.

For information on traveling to Alexandria from the Washington, DC area airports, see Washington DC#Get_in

By train

By Metrorail

Metro Stations in Alexandria, which are serviced by the Blue and Yellow lines, include: Braddock Road, King Street-Old Town,Eisenhower Avenue, Van Dorn Street, Huntington.

For more information on riding the metro, see Washington DC#Get_around

By car

Major roads of note:

Get around

The historic center of Alexandria is known as "Old Town", which is where the most notable restaurant, shopping, architectural, and tourist destinations are located.

By foot

Stroll down King Street and visit the side streets of Old Town. The main Old Town section begins about a half mile east of the King Street-Old Towne Metrorail Station and provides a combination of restaurants, art and antique shops, souvenir traps, and public buildings. With its French style open air cafes, gas lamp styled lights, red brick sidewalks, and historical, old-style architecture, King Street provides one of the most romantic settings in the DC metro area. More than just a tourist destination or open air museum, Old Town is a vibrant community of residents who take great pride in their city. The streets north and south of King Street near the river boast nearly four thousand 18th and 19th century buildings still used as private residences. Unlike many of the planned communities promoted by new urbanism, the streets of Old Town simply ooze a sense of character and authenticity that is not normally seen outside the best cities in Europe.

By trolley

King Street Trolley operates a free transportation service from the King Street metro station to the waterfront. These black and red rubber tire trolleys are free and will stop at any one of the signs for the trolley stops seen along King street.

By bus

DASH also operates many buses that will take you from the King Street Metro station to the historic center.

By car

Getting around Alexandria beyond Old Town and the Duke Street business district is a little more difficult, and will require bus transit or a car.

Two hour parking is often available a few blocks away from King Street (though it can be harder to find on weekend evenings), but read the parking signs carefully. Some parking is free, some is metered, and some is for locals only. Tires are frequently marked (chalked) by parking enforcement staff; if you exceed 2 hours you WILL get a ticket. If you plan on leaving your car for more than a couple hours it would be wise to pay to park in one of the many parking garages in the city.

By water taxi

A water taxi runs from the waterfront at the end of King Street to both Georgetown in Washington D.C. and to National Harbor in Maryland.

By bicycle

For information on bike-sharing programs in the Washington DC area, see Washington DC#Get_around.

Big Wheel Bikes, located near the waterfront just south of King Street, offers bike rental services.

Bicycle Trails

The Mount Vernon Trail runs through Alexandria (although the Old Town section is streets) and goes all of the way to Mount Vernon, as well as connecting with the greater D.C. area.

See

George Washington Masonic Memorial

The Alexandria Visitor's Center is located in the old Ramsay House at 221 King Street.

Old Town

Historic Buildings Survey


Many of the houses throughout Old Town display oval shaped plaques granted by the Historic Alexandria Foundation. Starting in 1977, the determining basis became a street by street listing in Historic Alexandria written by Ethelyn Cox. The plaques indicate that the building is at least one hundred years old, as documented by a combination of records (title search, tax records, wills, etc.), and the principal facades of the building visible from the street or any public right of way maintain integrity of form, materials, and architectural features consistent with the dominant period of the building.

Outside of Old Town

Do

Inside the Torpedo Factory

Buy

A large concentration of small business, walkable shopping is on King Street in Old Town. There are a little shops up and down Washington Street.

Farmers markets

Shopping centers

Eat

Old Town

As a rule of thumb, restaurant prices in Old Town get more expensive as you approach the waterfront. A typical meal for one might run $7-$12 near the King Street Metro and $15-$30 near the Potomac.

Outside of Old Town

Drink

Straight-up bars or nightclubs are not in the area because Virginia requires liquor be served with food. Therefore, restaurant-and-bar combination places are the norm.

Old Town

Pubs/Bars

Coffeehouses

Outside Old Town

Sleep

Though many are not in Alexandria itself (most are located just inside the South Alexandria section of Fairfax Co.), there is a large cluster of reasonably priced motels/hotels on Hwy 1 starting about half a mile south of Interstate 95/495. Take the Ft. Belvoir exit to get to them. This cluster of motels/hotels have the added advantage of being within walking distance of the Huntington Metro, though getting to or from it may require a map, assistance from a metro/hotel employee, or a shuttle service. Motel/Hotel options in this area range from cheap, old, local roadside inns to much newer chain hotels like a Red Roof Inn or a Holiday Inn Express. Prices in the area will likely run about half what more posh accommodations on King Street in Old Town would.

Stay safe

Alexandria, particularly Old Town, is a safe city with considerably less crime than its neighbor, Washington, DC. While you are unlikely to be the victim of a crime here, you should take normal precautions that you would in any urban area, such as keeping your car and hotel room locked at all times and not walking alone at night.

Go next

Routes through Alexandria (by train)

Lynchburg/Newport News Manassas/Woodbridge  SW  NE  Washington, D.C. Baltimore
Charleston Manassas  W  E  Washington, D.C. Baltimore
Baltimore Washington, D.C.  N  S  Manassas Lynchburg
Baltimore Washington, D.C.  N  S  Richmond Fayetteville
Baltimore Washington, D.C.  N  S  Richmond Raleigh


Routes through Alexandria (by car)

Greenbelt National Harbor  N  S  Springfield Richmond
Washington, D.C. Arlington  N  S  Springfield END
Annandale Springfield  W  E  National Harbor Greenbelt
Washington, D.C. Arlington  N  S  Mount Vernon Richmond
Winchester Falls Church  W  E  END


Routes through Alexandria (by subway)

East End Arlington  N  S  Springfield END
East End Arlington  N  S  Huntington END


Routes through Alexandria (by commuter rail)

Fredericksburg Springfield  SW  NE  Arlington Washington, D.C.
Bristow Springfield  W  E  Arlington Washington, D.C.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.