Updated: 5 days ago
There are many fun things to do in Old Town Alexandria that involve history, great food, and fun! Definitely check this spot out whether you’re a local or visiting Washington, DC. I absolutely love the charm of old towns! There is something so special about walking the same streets you know that many others have in generations past.
With all the fun things to do in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, I’d recommend spending a full day here if you have time. It also makes a great weekend trip if you want something a little slower-paced than Washington, DC, quaint, and full of history! Here are some of my favorite things to do there!
Things to Know
Old Town is located just south of Washington, DC. It was once part of Washington, DC, and is home to American Revolution-era history.
It is metro accessible and there is a free trolly that runs from the Metro (King Street stop) into Old Town. Choose a hotel near the metro in Alexandria for easy access to DC!
Parking can be tricky in Old Town, especially now with the main street closed for extra outdoor seating. There are a few garages available and I would recommend parking at off-peak times or just splurging for the garage if you are coming to visit.
If you’re planning to stay somewhere while here, I’d recommend looking at a hotel right near Market Square. It is in the central part of Old Town and more affordable than the waterfront!
1. Visit the Oldest Farmers Market in America
Every Saturday for the last 260 years, this farmers market has been open to the public. George Washington himself used to bring produce from his farms here to be sold! It’s located directly under Market Square Plaza from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. year-round. Access the free garage (108 N. Fairfax St.) between Cameron and King Streets.
2. Eat on the waterfront
Old Town Alexandria has some amazing waterfront spots that you will want to check out while there! Vola’s is probably my favorite waterfront restaurant. Beautiful view with great specials during happy hour. I also love Virtue Feed and Grain which has a great outdoor seating area that while not right on the water, does give you a view and it is definitely more intimate and quiet there.
Ghost tours are a must in Old Town! Because it was founded back in the 1700s, there are some spooky stories that live on to this day, very old cemeteries, and more throughout Old Town. Also fun on these tours – guides dress up in period costumes to really set the mood for your ghost tour.
4. Eat where the presidents used to at Gadsby’s Tavern
Gadsby’s Tavern is a historic tavern that operated in the 17080s onward. Presidents such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams stayed there while on trips to Washington, DC. Today, it has been restored and you can visit the restaurant that serves up food from that era as well as the museum (free to Alexandria residents!). It’s located at the corner of N. Royal and Cameron Street.
5. See Captains Row
Captain’s Row is the oldest block in Old Town Alexandria. The homes there are beautiful and residents go all out for different holidays throughout the year. It’s charming and located just one block off the main drag of King Street near the water. Definitely worth a stroll through this cobblestone street.
6. Shop on King Street
You can find all sorts of shops and restaurants along King Street. Outdoor seating is plentiful and the historic buildings are beautiful to look at. There are over 70 independent small businesses, shops, and boutiques along King Street so it’s the perfect place to support local and find unique things for you or your loved ones!
7. Eat on King Street
Similar to the shops, there are some amazing spots for food on King Street. Some of my favorites are below.
Vermilion (American Food, the Obama’s loved it here!)
Sonoma Cellar (Great cheese plates and wine pairings, cute patio)
Il Porto (Italian food there is top-notch)
The Rub Chicken & Beer (Fried Chicken sandwich there is soooo good)
8. Cruise the Potomac on a private boat
Seeing Old Town, and DC, in general, from the water is a great time. I recently went on a cruise with Reflections DC and it was a perfect afternoon. His tours are completely “pick your own adventure” type of tours so you can spend your hours on the boat seeing exactly what you want or taking his recommended course along the water.
9. Find the most narrow house in America
It’s true, at just 7 feet wide, Old Town Alexandria is home to the most narrow house. It’s definitely tiny and Instagram worthy. Also, easy to find the exact location via a google search.
10. Walk the cobblestone streets
One of the best things to do in Old Town Alexandria is just to walk the cute streets. You’ll find some amazing hidden gems just by walking around. Grab a coffee at Misha’s and meander through the streets.
11. Picnic in Waterfront Park
Alexandria has a recently remodeled waterfront park that is a favorite to locals and visitors alike. Grab a snack or meal to go and hang out along the water, watching the boats go by. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon.
12. Get close to Revolutionary history at the Carlyle House
Carlyle House is a historic mansion built by Scottish merchant John Carlyle in 1751–53. It’s now a museum with exhibits about different American Revolution events. Exhibits often change here and there are beautiful gardens in the back. It is situated located on North Fairfax Street between Cameron and King Streets.
13. Rent bikes and ride along the Mount Vernon Trail
Pick up a bike from VA Bike Rentals right in Old Town and cruise along the Mount Vernon Trail. I’d recommend going north, toward DC to Gravelly Point where you can watch planes fly over into Washington Reagan and enjoy a great view of the monuments. The trail is mostly flat and makes for a beautiful ride for the whole family!
14. Find all the cute murals and art
There are several different spots to find cool murals and art throughout Old Town. Visit a gallery or just walk the streets and find some awesome street art! More on the details of murals in this article from the Alexandria Times.
You’re now prepared with some fun things to do in Alexandria, Virginia! This town will hook you in with its charm and history. Whether looking for a good weekend getaway or planning a day trip from DC, you’ll love Old Town.