Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reasons to hop over to Alexandria when visiting D.C.

Many of Washington D.C.'s attractions are located in nearby Northern Virginia, which is literally across the Potomac in close proximity to downtown. While there are many attractions which span west and south of the District, Alexandria is almost a hop, skip and a jump, easily accessible by Metro. If you're in town for longer than a weekend and want to venture a bit outside the district's borders, I highly recommend a visit.

The local apothecary was actively run by the same family from 1792 until the depression hit. The owners locked the doors and walked away. Incredibly preserved.
The historic Old Town Alexandria I find to be amazing. I am fascinated with this area of Northern Va. While the city was officially founded in 1749, the story goes back further. In my experience growing up in the Northeast U.S., many places tended to quip "George Washington slept here" as their claim to fame. And, perhaps, he really did. In many cases, we'll never know.

Alexandria, Va., however, is truly a place George Washington indeed frequented, owned property, dined, worshipped and did business. 

Washington family pew at Christ Church Alexandria
Marker on the Washington family pew at Christ Church (marker was relocated by the church in 2017)

Whether you're seeking food, culture, history or just a relaxing time, Old Town has it all. Some of the best little museums reside in Old Town Alexandria. You can drive into Virginia from downtown (but truthfully, traffic can be a bear) or hop the Metro. If you get off the Blue or Yellow Line at King Street, you can walk the 1 to 1.5 miles down to the riverfront or there is a free trolley that will take you there.  

Carlyle House, built in the 1750s, beautifully restored after having neared ruin

Visitors can learn about this history through the free and inexpensive tours and landmarks located throughout Old Town Alexandria. Many of the museum and landmark tours cost between $2 and $5 each, if not free. 

Visitors can learn less frequently heard stories and history when visiting places such as Carlyle House, Christ Church, Fort Ward, Gadsby's Tavern, Torpedo Factory, Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Lyceum, Friendship Firehouse, Freedom House Museum, and the amazing Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. 

These are only a handful of affordable places which await in Alexandria. Additionally, there are literally tons of great restaurants and shops spread throughout the city, in Old Town and the Del Ray neighborhoods  (the latter is on my list of places to explore!)

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