A trip Washington, D.C. is incomplete without a visit to the nearby city of Alexandria. Located just a few miles and few metro stops from D.C., Alexandria is located South of Washington, D.C and is famous for it’s well kept 18th and 19th century buildings, restaurants by the water front, a lively bar scene and lots of gelato all year around! Whether you are ready for a break from the busy activities in D.C. or are just looking for a relaxing staycation, then Alexandria is your place. If you are wondering what are the must do things in Alexandria, VA this weekend, then keep on reading to find out my recommendations for the weekend.
How to Get There?
Good question! Let’s us start via air. If you are flying in (well not literally), Alexandria is only a few mins from Ronald Reagan National Airport (4ish miles) and Washington Dulles International Airport (25ish miles).
You can also get to Alexandria using the reliable metro system, King Street- Old Town, Braddock Road, Van Dorn Street & Eisenhower Ave, are the metro stops in the city that can be accessed via Blue & Yellow lines.
Once you are in Old Town, the green trams provide free transportation back and forth on King Street, yes I did say FREE!
PRO TIP: Need help figuring out the Washington, D.C. metro system? Click here to read my detailed blog post on how to use the metro train system.
If you are new to Airbnb, click here to join and receive a $40 credit towards your first trip. Free money!
What Should I do There?
How about we start with nothing? Once you have fully enjoyed your time doing nothing, we shall explore! Alexandria offers a lot of day time and night time activities for all ages and all year around. I recommend following the Visit Alexandria website for all the upcoming fun activities they have lined up and you get to enjoy the city with the locals! Some of the activities include parades, art festivals, food tastings, firework shows for NYEs, etc. I have watched the fireworks for new years eve, even though I had to do it from my car with 3 other people, it was an explosive show! Click here for the website.
You can also spend your weekend shopping at some of the unique boutiques in Old Town on King Street, visit the Arlington National Cemetery where thousands of men and women of the United States forces have been laid to rest including the former U.S. President, John F. Kennedy and his family. You can also grab a Alexandria Key to the City museum pass and learn about the history of Alexandria through the years. You can purchase the museum pass here.
Fun fact: in case you would like to advertise your face on the King Street Trolley, you can do it for $600 for 3 months! How cool! Seriously tho, it is an option on that link above, I know you want to click it.
The museum pass gives you access to over 10 museums including the Carlyle house, Alexandria Black History Museum, Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary which was an old-school pharmacy where you can you can still find over 15,000 objects as part of the museum which includes the bottles and herbs (the good stuff too before it became illegal! ) . I found the museum pass to be the most budget friendly way to see more of the city’s history. The pass also gives you access to the George Washington Masons Memorial which is a stunning piece of work and the best part is a birds eye view of Alexandria & Washington, D.C. from the Observatory Deck located on top of the memorial. Entry to the deck is limited and timed, make sure to check out the tour times before you head there. Click here for hours.
Another wonderful way to make your trip special is by taking a dinner cruise. There are several options available where you can enjoy a relaxing evening cruising up & down the Potomac River, with a nice dinner or dance your night away.
Favorite Breakfast Spot?
How I love breakfast! Whether you are someone who enjoys just coffee and breakfast on the go, or someone like me who eats a meal for 6 during breakfast (I am not kidding!), my go to place is La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe. Now I know this isn’t authentic to Alexandria, however, the fresh croissants and the custom breakfast crepes keep me coming back.
Address: 500 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Best Coffee in Town?
Located on the West End of Alexandria, is my favorite coffee shop called Java Loco. You can go for either traditional coffee or try their bubble tea, gelato or baked goods. It has a very relaxed ambiance, full of locals, friendly staff and delicious coffee, which all make Java Loco a must visit.
I actually just recently tried my first bubble tea which was at Java Loco after the staff’s recommendation and it was pretty good! In case you are wondering what took me so long, I don’t know! Maybe I was living under a rock and they don’t have bubble tea as an option under the rock? Anyways, you guys should try it too!
Address: 289 S Van Dorn St, Alexandria, VA 22304
Best Dinner Options?
Whether you are looking to celebrate a special occasion or enjoy a nice meal, my number one favorite restaurant is Brabo, offering Belgian- French cuisine, the restaurant never disappoints. No matter what you order, make sure you get a side of the Belgian frites aka french fries with it!
Address: 1600 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
PRO TIP: If you are driving to the restaurant, valet parking is FREE!
A runner up for amazing dinner option is Jackson 20 restaurant. A classic Southern restaurant known for it’s amazing brunch and ofcourse dinner.
Address: 480 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Need More Day Trip Options?
Quick trip to Annapolis, MD
Why visit the Arlington National Cemetery
Top 5 beaches on the East Coast
My travel must haves
What About Vegetarian Options?
I didn’t forget about the vegetarians out there! Anytime I am in the mood for some vegetarian food, I almost always go for Indian cuisine, because I am guaranteed to find tons of vegetarian options and they taste delicious! My most visited Indian restaurant, (8 times in the last 6 months) is Aditi Indian Dining. Whether you are in for the vegetarian or the meat options, you are going to enjoy every bite! Try their mango lassi and garlic naan!
Address: 5926 Kingstowne Blvd #150, Alexandria, VA 22315
Basin Street Lounge offers nightly live music and a selection of cigars. A locals’ favorite, this sleek lounge was established in 1979. Click here for more information about the lounge.
Address: 219 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Favorite Dessert Spot?
Can I start with a happy dance? Just because we are talking about desserts….King Street in Old Town is home to several ice cream/gelatto/frozen yogurt shops, they might as well start calling it Gelatto Street! The lines are long at each and every shop, especially during the summers, and most of them remain open even during the winters. If ice cream in winter is not your thing, then you can always opt in for a cup of hot chocolate (yum!) as you stroll the festive streets. The rocky road flavor at Pop’s Old Fashion Ice Cream Co is to die for! And if you are bored of the old fashioned way of eating ice cream, go for some nitrogen ice cream made right in front of you at Nicecream. So cool, literally! Chocolate lovers try the nutella flavor there!
Ice cream is serious business in Old Town, especially during warmer days. Most shops are small and have very limited seating, don’t freak out if you see lines out on the streets, they move rather quick.
Address: Pop’s Old fashioned – 109 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Address: Nicecream- 726 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
A Fun Day Trip?
Located roughly 2 hours from Alexandria is the capital of Virginia, Richmond which makes for an excellent day trip. Click here to read my staycation in Richmond guide and click here for a review of the stunning Jefferson Hotel Richmond.
Is the Key to the City Museum Pass Worth it?
Yes and yes! Also called Key to the City Museum pass, is absolutely worth the $15. You get access to 8 historic sites, the best view of the city from the Observation Deck at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, a 40% off coupon for a visit to the George Washington’s Mount Vernon which is only a few mins via car from Old Town and access to some of the free museums. Most of the museums/sites are small and won’t require more than 45-1 hour for a complete tour.
**Disclaimer: The Alexandria Key to the City Museum pass was generously gifted to me by the Visit Alexandria organization. However, all opinions are my own in all honesty! **
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading my tips to visit Alexandria. Since I live only a few mins from the city, I tend to visit it often. Have you been to Alexandria before? I would love to hear it in the comments.
great guide for things to do in Alexandria. The amazing pictures are the best part, sometimes its hard to picture if something is worth seeing. Your pictures make me want to go now
Great post! Saving for when I’m up that way 🙂
Very cool post, I will bookmark this for when we visit Washington, we try to go around at least one day in every big city we visit!
My brother lives in Alexandria and we really enjoy it up there. These are some great tips. Arlington National Cemetery is a sobering experience and I think it’s worth a visit at least once for everyone. I have never been to La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe, but we enjoy a good breakfast so I will have to give it a try next time!
This article is so thorough! Saving for the next time I’m in the northern Virginia area. Thank you!
Great tips! We stayed in Alexandria on our last visit and loved the tram to/from the Metro when we were just DONE with walking! They have some great gluten free options in the area too!
I would have never thought to visit here! It looks really interesting and pretty place! Thank for sharing your experience!