Now that summer has officially started, gather up your loved ones and head down to one of the east coast’s most charming cities, Alexandria, Virginia. Starting Memorial Day, the city plans to offer visitors special discounted hotel packages as a part of their, “Love your Summer in Alexandria” initiative, making it one of the most affordable places to visit this season. The Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, for example, will have reasonably priced rooms featuring five-star service, great amenities, and the best location on King St. Only minutes away from Washington DC, this city boasts a historical past that dates as far back as the birth of America. With a thriving independent food scene, well-preserved historic architecture and charming coastline, Alexandria is the perfect choice for a weekend getaway this summer.
Explore King Street
Stroll down the main road, King St, where you’ll be greeted with charming cobblestone sidewalks lined with everything from historical row houses to local restaurants and plenty of unique boutiques. Amongst the many independently owned boutiques you’ll find affordable consignment shops such as Mint Condition, quirky stationary stores like the Penny Post and quaint coffee shops, where at Killer ESP you can find locals hanging on a Sunday. On weekends, you can find one of the oldest farmers markets in the nation at Market Square, in front of City Hall, where local vendors have everything from fresh fruits and produce to artisan pastries and, of course, fresh coffee. Even president Washington shopped and sold his produce here back in the day making it founding father approved.
Visit The Waterfront
After walking down King Street, you’ll inevitably find yourself at Waterfront Park. From there, we suggest you head north and mosey on down the boardwalk where you can find great restaurants, river cruises, and the fun and eclectic local art studios at The Torpedo Factory Art Center. After meeting a few local artists, you can take a ferry to DC and soak in our nation’s greatest national monuments via boat. Past the boardwalk, you’ll find Founders Park, where you’ll encounter plenty of locals enjoying a mid-day stroll, scooters for rent, and beautiful running views up and down the Potomac River making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
Electric Bike Tour
Electric bikes may seem like a way of the future but we can assure you they are nothing short of fun, practical, and good exercise. What makes these bikes so great is that you can be of any athletic skill to participate. The electric motor makes pedaling a breeze, allowing you to bike for hours without growing tired. Alexandria is the halfway point on the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail, which starts at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon and ends in DC. From the Pedego bike shop, a quick bike up the Potomac River to visit the nation’s capital is without a doubt the best way to tour the city.
Dine On Local Coastal Cuisine
From oysters to the catch of the day, Virginia is known for its coastal cuisine that’s always served fresh as well as delicious. For lunch, plan a date with the best oysters in town at chef Jamie Leeds restaurant, Hank’s Oyster Bar. Inspired by her father Hank, Leeds serves up what she calls “urban beach food,” with a daily selection of fresh oysters hand picked by experts, thick crab cakes, and a local favorite, the lobster roll. Later in the evening, stop by Urbano 116 for authentic fish tacos with a round of spicy habanero sauces for those who like it hot and tasty. Or you can treat yourself to a date night at Vermilion, a fine dining restaurant on King Street where even the Obamas have crossed the river to enjoy a night out. After dinner, indulge your sweet tooth at Alexandria’s very own speakeasy, Captain Gregory’s. Here, handcrafted cocktails are served alongside a menu where donut dough reigns supreme and everything sweet is always a good idea.
Visit A Historical Museum
In old town Alexandria, history can be found on every street corner. From the infamous spite house to the most picturesque street in town, Captain’s Row, you’re always within walking distance of beautifully preserved 1700 – 1800s architecture. A visit to the Carlyle House, an 18th-century mansion turned museum, or a visit to the townhouse replica of Alexandria’s most famous resident, George Washington, is a favorite amongst visitors. Just down the road, you’ll find one of Martha Washington’s personal favorites, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, where she would often send letters requesting modern medicines. The apothecary is currently one of the most well-preserved pharmacies in America shedding light on some of the earliest stages of modern medicine. Speaking of the Washington’s, a quick uber ride away and you’ll find the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, the residence where our first president once called home. On the estate, you can explore the residence, sip on whiskey at his newly restored distillery, and take a look into life on the farm in colonial times.
Merissa Principe is a teacher and a freelance travel blogger from NYC. Teaching early childhood education has provided Merissa an opportunity to travel all over the world and live in new places. Be sure to follow her at Citygirlriss.wordpress.com for all things travel, beauty, fashion and New York City.