Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Seeing Old Town Alexandria in the spring is a visit to remember

Springtime in Northern Virginia is a beautiful time of the year to spend time outdoors. While true, this year spring appears a bit delayed, but normally this time of year the weather is beginning to get quite mild (looks like we'll see that next week if the forecast is any indicator). 

This year is an oddity in my almost 10 years in the region, by now usually the cold temperatures of winter have melted away, but the heat and humidity of summer has not yet arrived. The historic city of Alexandria is a great destination to enjoy what the region has to offer during the delightful spring season. 

Spring is a time of awakenings and the seasonal outdoor activities come alive in Alexandria. For the resident or visitor, there is plenty to see and do.

Walking tours

Alexandria offers several organized walking tours and the mild temperatures of spring make for a pleasant experience. The city's website lists some of the different tours available. If you are already in the city and unsure of where you want to start, you can visit the Ramsay House at the Alexandria Visitor's Center, which is located at 221 King St. The center is always happy to offer information and there are a ton of brochures available.

A number of the walking tours primarily focus on the history and architecture of Old Town Alexandria. Additionally, if you are interested in Alexandria's famous people, museums, and related history, some of these companies will customize a special interest tour which can be made by appointment.
If organized tours don't interest you, grab a map at the Ramsay House Visitor's Center and hit the streets on your own. There are many interesting landmarks to observe throughout the city, and more specifically in Old Town.

Cemetery at Christ Church

St. Patrick's Day Parade

Every year the City of Alexandria hosts a St. Patrick Day celebration which is full of family fun events. Some of the highlights are a classic car competition, a dog show and of course the highlight, the parade. A nonprofit group, Ballyshaners, runs the parade and maintains a website you can check to get the latest updates.

Historic Garden Week in Virginia 

Alexandria takes part in Virginia's annual Historic Garden Week event. The festivities are located in Old Town and visitors are treated to an open house like environment and have the neat experience of visiting some of Alexandria's most beautiful gardens. The event takes place each April and you can purchase tickets or view the current year's schedule if you plan to be in the area.

Waterfront boardwalk

Spring is a terrific time to wander around the Potomac River's waterfront area. This is a popular location and there are some nifty things to see and do. Often performers hang out in this area and you can see fun or music. You can have lunch at one of the nearby eateries, visit the many art galleries in the Torpedo Factory, or simply sit on a bench and watch the boats and birds sail by. Or you can buy a ticket and take a boat ride yourself. There is also a wide open grassy field nearby where you can let the kids run around and let off some pent up energy. Wandering the riverfront area is always a pleasant way to spend some time during the spring when visiting Old Town.

Ghost tours

Are you fascinated by ghost stories? Do the tales of historical haunting catch your fancy? If so, a ghost tour may be in order. Alexandria has two popular ghost tours offered by Footsteps to the Past and Alexandria Colonial Tours. The mostly agreeable Northern Virginia evenings in the spring set the perfect backdrop for a walking ghost tour. I love to go on a good ghost tour when in Alexandria during an evening. Reservations are recommended, but in my experience, often you can walk up and purchase a tour if the tours are not filled. However, if you are set on a specific tour, it's probably best to make a reservation, especially if your visit to Old Town falls during spring break.

Farmer's Market

Alexandria hosts one of the oldest Farmer's Markets in the United States, having begun in 1753. Spring time is a pleasant time to browse and select items ranging from traditional produce and baked goods to art, handicrafts, jewelry and other kinds of art. The market takes place at Alexandria's City Hall and is open year round and operates every Saturday.


Many of Alexandria's fine restaurants are set up for outdoor dining. A spring evening in Northern Virginia is typically pleasant and a great opportunity to spend the evening on one of the restaurant's patios having a meal or a few drinks with friends or a special romantic evening with a loved one. Alexandria emits a romantic ambiance and is definitely a good place to go for "date" night, whether you are local or visiting. 

The city is also a very family and pet-friendly city. These suggestions are only a handful of the many ideas for things you can do during your visit to this section of Northern Virginia. There are also cruise dinners and tours, museums and other highlighted areas of interest for you to wander about and enjoy. 

A trip to Alexandria in the spring is a visit to remember. Oh heck who am I kidding, a visit to Alexandria is memorable at any time!

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