by Erin Ochocki
Welcome to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, a magical city along the Potomac River that is fit for a heroine. A place where you get both bustling urban energy and the serenity of its natural landscape. A modern-day hub that maintains cobblestone streets and candlelit windows. Five miles from DC and eight miles from Mount Vernon, Old Town Alexandria stands strongly on its own. There is a reason why everyone is using #ExtraordinaryALX to share the wonders of this thriving historic district.
Whether you’re a history buff, love to try new restaurants, enjoy the city, or prefer to take in natural sights such as rivers and wooded paths, Old Town Alexandria will be the perfect destination for your next adventure.
casually explore historic neighborhoods
Whether you’re exploring for the day or are a resident of the city, there is nothing quite like walking down streets of historic row houses. Enjoy the unique architecture, colors, gas lamps, and lush gardens. During Christmastime, there are candlelight tours on designated weekend nights, and you will enjoy a plethora of classic holiday decoration. Additionally, the new PBS drama “Mercy Street” was inspired by Civil War events right here amongst these homes in Alexandria.
visit the Jones Point Lighthouse
The Jones Point Lighthouse is a quick walk through a wooded path next to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Rich with history, this lighthouse operated from 1865-1926.
dine at Fontaine Caffe & Creperie
Sit down for brunch at Fontaine Caffe & Creperie. Choose from a variety of crepes, savory or sweet, and enjoy the cozy calm that is a byproduct of building restaurants inside old houses themselves. A perfect chance for a heroine to have meaningful conversations with friends.
stop by Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Co on the iconic King Street
King Street is central to Old Town, and home to great shops, restaurants, and live music. There is even a free Trolley that runs up and down the entirety of the street daily! Be sure to stop by Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and enjoy a cone of your favorite classic or innovative flavor in a little shop with checkered floors that reminds me of a place that American Girl character Samantha Parkington may have frequented in the early 1900s.
tour the Torpedo Factory Art Center
Home to 7 galleries, 2 workshops, and 82 working artist studios, The Torpedo Factory Art Center is a publicly accessible hub for the visual arts. Many times, artists will allow visitors to enter their studio and ask questions about the technical details and inspiration behind their work. The building was an actual torpedo factory used in World War II!
wander by the Waterfront
The Alexandria Waterfront is a popular place for tourists and locals alike. You will find a harbor full of private boats along with restaurants that feature views of the Potomac. Walk down to the edge of the dock, and you can see the Washington Monument on the horizon to your left, and the National Harbor ferris wheel across the river to your right.
One day, around midnight, we were walking around the waterfront when we noticed a huge crowd gathering to witness the docking of a historic replica of the French ship “Hermione” from the 1780s. The ship had sailed across the ocean from France and was docking at various locations along the East Coast, USA. You never know what you might witness or discover, just by being present, or by doing some advance research on upcoming events.
take a water taxi to National Harbor
The Potomac Riverboat Company water taxis will take you on a breathtaking trip across the river, under the twinkling Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, and dock at National Harbor. Shop, explore, and dine at the Harbor, and enjoy a ride on the ferris wheel’s year-round, enclosed cars (where you can see beautiful views of the DC area) before taking another gorgeous return trip back across the river to Old Town Alexandria! (There are other options for Water Taxi and River Cruise trips, but this is my personal favorite.)
Erin is a singer-songwriter, performing as Rorie [roriemusic.com]. Her songs are reminiscent of getting lost in a Victorian novel with a cosy cup of tea*. Her new EP will be released this summer.
> Xandra recommends: Follow Rorie on Spotify – It’s difficult to choose just one favourite song, but I suppose “Storyteller” is a suitable place to start.
* all opinions my [xandra’s] own :)