"Alexandria, once part of Washington, now almost DC" Top 5 Page for this destination Alexandria by Ewingjr98

Alexandria Travel Guide: 463 reviews and 1,534 photos

This page covers not just the most historic and famous areas of Old Town Alexandria, but also some of the outlying areas across in the Northern Virginia/Metropolitan Washington, DC area such as Arlington, Falls Church, and Manassas. If you are looking for things to do in the city of Washington, DC, I have a separate page, so feel free to check there for more ideas.

Old Town Alexandria is one of the most historic and quaint neighborhoods in the Washington DC area. It is famous for is historic buildings as well as high-end boutiques, fine restaurants, antique shops, theaters, and bars. Alexandria has about 140,000 residents, many of whom are associated with the federal government.

Old Town was originally laid out in 1749. Market Square was once a major slave market, and is now known as the oldest continually operated market in the US. King Street is the heart of Old Town's business district and is serviced by a trolley that runs between the water and the Metro station 17 blocks away. The waterfront area features Founders Park as well as several other green spaces all interconnected by the Waterfront Walk.

In 1791 the Federal City, now known as Washington DC was laid out along the banks of the Potomac, half in Maryland and half in Virginia, including Alexandria. The new city/territory was officially recognized in 1801, but in 1846 congress authorized retrocession of Alexandria back to Virginia, mainly because the local citizens feared the city would soon outlaw slavery. Sure enough, Washington DC outlawed slave trading in the city in 1850, the Confederacy broke off in 1861, and soon the Union re-occupied Alexandria, again ending the slave trade.

What's is there to do around here?

Best touristy things to do in the Washington DC area: visit the numerous monuments and memorials on the mall, see the dozens of museums of the Smithsonian Institution, maybe shop in Georgetown, see the famous government buildings like the White House and Capitol, and maybe check out a few other historic sites like Ford's Theater. Many visitors will also want to see some of the nearby areas like Arlington National Cemetery, Old Town Alexandria, and Mount Vernon.

My favorite not-so-touristy things to do in Washington DC: shop at Eastern Market and the Maine Avenue Fish Market, wander the historic streets and parks of Capitol Hill, eat in Chinatown or Barracks Row, go out for the nightlife at Adams Morgan, enjoy an afternoon at Rock Creek Park, hike or bike the C&O Canal, check out the view from the Old Post Office Tower, visit the Shakespeare Theater, and see some of the non-touristy monuments like the National Law Enforcement Monument and the Navy Memorial.

  • Last visit to Alexandria: Apr 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (168)

Comments (7)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    We have some great preserved areas in US yet, and you captured the greatness of this city and its history. One day I may get to see it in person.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    May 18, 2009 at 8:03 PM

    I just saw your updates here and they are wonderful. You've put some really wonderful historical content. Alexandria is a beautiful city!

  • Lhenne1's Profile Photo
    Apr 12, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    Dave likes his caption in your travelogue.

  • BillNJ's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2009 at 4:23 PM

    Great food tips. My brother lives in Alexandria -- so I get down that way sometimes. Joe Theismann's is great -- gotta love the "broken leg lager" on tap. Also, I have been to the Tiffany Tavern to hear some bluegrass music.

  • jethanand's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Very nice info on our neighbor Alexandria. Thank you for posting.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 10, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    Hi, JR! It's a wonderful page you have created. Thanks a lot!

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2008 at 1:53 PM

    A nice new page. I spent about a week in the Washington DC area in the mid 1990s. There is definitely a lot to do there.


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