A sunny gal from Cali living in France. I adore slow living, the cosmos, and celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I’m a Disney nerd, obsessed with cats and hot cocoa and living in different places in the world, and you can often find me swimming with the fishies in the salty sea or looking up astro transits, making secret world predictions. Come along and enjoy the magic, the simple joys of life with me...
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Studying astrology for over ten years, I specialize uniquely in astrocartography and zodiacal releasing.
Old Town Alexandria is a small town in Virginia, and it happens to be my favorite town in the U.S.A! I was lucky enough to live here for a year in 2017 and wanted to share my love for it, in case you ever happen to visit the area. If you’re an American history nerd like I am, don’t leave this darling town off your list. Here’s my travel guide on the best restaurants, shops and things to do in Alexandria VA!
Old Town Alexandria is a historic town dating back to the 1700s and it’s situated on the Potomac River, just outside of Washington D.C. This used to be a port town and it’s filled with history, stories and charming boutiques to get lost in. From the weekend farmer’s market in the town square, which is the country’s longest-running market running every Saturday rain or shine, to the spooky ghost tours around town, this is a place rich with history. And it has a peaceful, quiet, small-town vibe to it, making it a lovely place for a relaxing trip.
Not only is this charming town super walkable, giving it that European feel (similar energy I often feel in Boston) but it’s also so close to D.C. that you can take the metro from Alexandria straight into the city! Take the Blue or Yellow metro line to King Street and hop on the free Old Town trolley (it’s so cute inside and makes for a great ride!) and scope out the historic King Street. It’s also bike-friendly and there’s a bike trail that goes from Alexandria to the National Mall, and even to Mount Vernon – the estate where George Washington lived.
My favorite place to stay in Old Town Alexandria is the Morrison House. It’s an Autograph collection hotel, so it has this distinctive, independent boutique hotel feel with a whole lot of elegance and style. If you like beautifully designed hotels, this is a must! The hotel is themed to celebrate literature and classic stories. Everything from the book pages on the walls, to the hotel key cards that have pictures of Mark Twain and Jane Austen on them, is a subtle nod to storytelling – but in the most elegant way! And the location is perfect – tucked right into Old Town’s historic neighborhoods and a block away from the busyness of King Street. Be sure to not miss out on relaxing on the comfy couches in front of the fireplace…although let’s be real, the bed is a slice of heaven in itself, you won’t want to get out and explore. Hands down – one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever stayed at.
The family-owned shops and fashion boutiques are a real treat in Old Town Alexandria. Red Barn Mercantile (unique quality home furnishings and gifts), Penny Post (paper goods, cards, pens and notebooks), 529 Kids Consign (upscale high-end children’s consignment), The Lucky Knot and Old Town Shop (Alexandria, Virginia goods!), Mint Condition (women’s high fashion consignment), and Bishop Boutique and The Hive for cute shoes and stylish clothes. Old Town Books is also a must for book lovers!
The King Street Trolley is a delightful experience and it’s easy to hop on and off, too! It runs every 15 minutes between Alexandria City Hall/Market Square and the King St – Old Town Metrorail station from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays.
Upon stepping off the free trolley, meander the quiet cobble-stoned streets, past the historical colonial home and discover the unique shops hidden on the side streets and artsy alleyways. There is so much history to be discovered here, and you’ll find historic stone plaques on the brick homes dating back to the early 1700s.
After wandering down bustling King Street with its unique boutiques and small shops, be sure to check out the old Torpedo Art Factory along the water where you’ll find tons of local D.C. artists painting, creating and displaying their beautiful shops. They also have weekly in-person photography, scultpure, film and watercolor classes available here, and the prices are so affordable. On summer nights, I enjoy strolling along the dock and attending the free “Late-Night” events at the Torpedo Art Factory.
A quiet little haven, this used to be my daily bike path to town. Wide grassy fields filled with dogs chasing after frisbees, dirt paths leading through the leafy woods and a quaint light house with views overlooking the National Harbor and Dyke Marsh in the distance makes it my favorite spot in Old Town. History buffs will love this trail, as there are signs and markers detailing the history of our port town.
There is a photo opportunity along every corner in the The Historic District of Old Town Alexandria. 19th century gas lamps light the brick sidewalks and cobblestoned streets and waving American flags outside of old ornate wooden doors with giant knockers. You’ll notice old wooden shutters and interesting doorways leading to hidden alleyways and perfectly manicured gardens.
I particularly love Captain’s Row (the 100 block of Prince Street) with the cobblestone street leading right down to the waterfront, the boutiques along the side streets of King St and the colonial houses alongside WindMill Hill Park on Lee Street. Be sure to wander around at “magic hour” (an hour before sunset) for the golden rays of the sun to make these brick sidewalks glow.
Spite House is a 7 foot wide, about 25 feet deep and 325 square feet in two stories home and landmark located on Queen Street. Just a few blocks past Carlisle House, you can must walk on over and visit this piece of history! Story has it that in 1830 John Hollensbury, the owner of one of the adjacent houses, built built this house to keep horse-drawn wagons and loiterers out of his tiny alley. He did it in spite an you can even see gouges from wagon-wheel hubs along the brick walls! It’s definitely the tiniest house I’ve ever seen, and it makes for a great stroll!
Head on over to the new South Block Juice in the heart of Old Town for healthy snacks (avocado toast anyone?), salads, light sandwiches, healthy smoothies and my favorite – their fruity Acai bowls! I feel like I’m in Australia or Bali when I eat one of these. The fruit is fresh, the smoothies are delicious and I love the L.A. health-obsessed vibe going on in this cafe.
Home of traditional Roman cuisine for over 25 years, this tucked away local spot is famous (with plenty of Capitol Hill politicians, celebrities and the locals!) for it’s authentic Italian pasta dishes, wine selections, and decor. The Trattoria is also the home of a monthly Opera Night, where the world’s best music is presented by Kennedy Center performers and Italian language classes are offered every Monday evening!
This locally owned casual and quiet European cafe is located on a quiet side street in Old Town. A personal favorite of mine, the small cafe feels like you’re stepping into a small village in France, with it’s authentic European vibe, savory and sweet crepes, and French fare. Make sure to try the Mussels, baguettes and Grand Chocolate crepe (it’s filled with chocolate mousse!). If you’re looking for delicious cheese boards, head to La Fromagerie for their artisan cheese and meat boards and wines.
A small hole-in-the-wall local Vietnamese spot, you will immediately feel like you’re visiting a cafe in Vietnam. Make sure to bring cash as it is cash-only. It’s always busy, and rightfully so – the food is delicious – so I recommend getting there right when they open before the few small tables are snagged!
The Study is a classy, luxe atmospheric bar and restaurant located inside the Morrison Hotel. The food is seasonally sourced, of the highest quality and every detail is artfully presented. The classic cocktails are some of the best in Alexandria (my husband went over the moon for the Beautiful Little Fool and we even got to meet the chef, who passionately shared his love for gastronomy and inspiration for the uniquely flavorful dishes. Some favorites on the menu are the cold smoked hamachi, churros with spicy chocolate sauce and the chocolate sampler! There is also live piano at the Study bar on Thursday – Saturdays from 6-9pm. I’ve eaten here a few times over the years and it’s always a must when we come back to visit.
Gadsby’s Tavern is an absolute must when visiting Old Town Alexandria. The historic American decor matches the energy of the town. This is a special restaurant where you can take a moment to journey back to an 18th-century tavern where famous historical figures such as George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson and everyday people dined and celebrated since 1770! I spent my 23rd birthday here, and it was truly an unforgettable and magical experience, with the traditional 18th century, elegant colonial dining rooms, waitstaff costumes, and an amazing selection of traditional American food. My favorites were the baked brie en croute (puff pastry with spiced apples and raspberry coulis) and the crispy fried oysters.
Chadwicks is a casual joint with great American food, located right on the waterfront. Wooden beams and shipyard decor sprinkle the upstairs area, which is my favorite area to sit in, and they’re open late, so it makes for a fun place to meet up with friends or watch a game on the t.v. If you love grilled cheese, be sure to get the one at Chadwicks; it has fried green tomatoes, pickled onions, with pimento cheese on toasted brioche. It’s heavy but ahhhh, it’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. So good!
For the best neighborhood atmosphere and the sound of coffee roasting, this brightly lit coffee house is my personal favorite in Old Town. These beans are hand-picked and hand-roasted daily. I love to sit at the communal table in the back and nibble on their chewy vegan chocolate chip cookies. Now in 2023, they have two locations: one on King Street and the other near the waterfront by Big Wheel Bikes.
….stands for Espresso, Sorbet, and Pie…. is a close second with their excellent gelato, deli sandwiches, and dog-friendly vibes.
Best cupcakes in the entire world. ‘Nough said.
Old Town Alexandria is a delightfully small town that I cherish and love visiting whenever I’m traveling in the United States. The first time my husband and I visited was for our first anniversary together in 2016. We loved the town so much, we decided to move there the following year! It feels like Starrs Hollow, with a sprinkle of elegance and a whole lot of history.
It’s one of those rare places in the world where my romanticized, rose-tinted glasses meet reality; it’s always just as magical as I imagine it to be.
If you’re ever in the Virginia / Washington D.C. area, be sure to add this town to the top of your list. I hope this Old Town Alexandria guide helps you in planning your travels.
Farm-to-table jianbing kickstarter, mixtape taxidermy actually scenester. Asymmetrical tattooed locavore meggings YOLO organic pabst forage.
Looking for more information on your natal promise, life's timing and the best places in the world to travel or relocate? I specialize uniquely in astrocartography and zodiacal releasing.
I'm Helena, your new kindred spirit.
Free-spirit, writer, astrologer and all around creative in love with documenting the simple joys of life. I am passionate about noticing light and truth around me and reflecting it back to others.
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