Alexandria may be rich in old-world charm, history and beauty, but this Virginia town is often overshadowed by its neighbor, Washington DC. Most people view Alexandria as a suburb of DC, but this idyllic town is anything but a bland, homogeneous suburb. Rather, it should be considered a destination on its own, because there is no shortage of things to do, see or explore in Alexandria.
During my recent visit to Washington DC, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to shorten my stay in DC and spend the last couple of days of my trip in Alexandria. After all, I had been to DC numerous times over the years, but I had yet to visit Alexandria. To make my impromptu travel changes possible, I went onto HotelTonight’s app to book a last-minute hotel in Alexandria. Within a few minutes, I had booked a great hotel in the heart of Alexandria, and I was ready to start exploring this beautiful Virginia city.
Without a doubt, the pride of Alexandria is its historic Old Town. While it may seem like a very touristy area at first glance, it’s actually a neighborhood where locals spend significant amounts of time. This doesn’t surprise me, though, since I too would hang out in Old Town a lot if I were a local, because Old Town features beautiful old buildings, idyllic cobblestone streets, and plenty of great shops and restaurants. While Old Town is steeped in history, it now boasts a vibrant, modern energy, which is why it’s so easy to lose track of time in this beloved district. I spent hours wandering the historic streets and popping into various shops and museums in Old Town, and I was so grateful that my hotel was located in the heart of this charming neighborhood.
Just a quick walk away from the heart of Old Town, Alexandria’s waterfront is picture-perfect and full of things to do and see. As I strolled along the Potomac River on that sunny spring day, I passed locals enjoying picnics on grassy knolls, small cruise boats floating down the river and various people running, walking, and biking along the trails. The Potomac is wide, picturesque and lined with important monuments and historic buildings, which is why the waterfront is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll, especially if the weather is nice.
I’ve visited a fair amount of arts districts on my travels, but I’ve never seen something quite like the Torpedo Factory Arts Center. As the largest working-artists’ open studio space in the country, this art center is a must-visit if you want to see some of the best artists in the country at work. The Torpedo Factor Art Center hosts 82 artists’ studios, as well as seven art galleries, and the best part is that admission to this unique art center is completely free.
Fort Hunt Park is located just a few minutes outside of the city, which makes it an easily accessible park that both locals and tourists can enjoy. This expansive park used to be park of George Washington’s estate, but it has also served as a Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and an intelligence center during World War II. There are several paved trails that run through Fort Hunt Park, so I spent a good part of the afternoon exploring this green, historic park.
Before leaving for the airport the next day, I knew I had to cross one last thing off my Alexandria bucket list. Prior to this trip, I had never been to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic plantation. This stately home and its manicured grounds are impressive, and this was definitely a highlight of my time in Virginia. Anybody who loves American history should take a tour of Mount Vernon, which is a carefully preserved museum today. While this is certainly one of the most popular tourist attractions in Alexandria, it’s still something I couldn’t miss during my brief visit. I love exploring cities like a local, but there are certain attractions and sights I just can’t miss, and Mount Vernon was definitely one of them.
Alexandria, Virginia is not only a charming, pretty town, but it’s also one of the most historic towns in the entire country, which makes it a fascinating destination for travelers. It’s hard not to fall in love with Alexandria after a visit, because this town offers plenty of great sights, attractions, restaurants and activities, and it’s certainly easy to see why locals love their town so much. The next time I have to head to DC for a business trip, I might just book a hotel in Alexandria so that I can explore more of this unique, vibrant town. And, of course, I’ll be sure to rely on HotelTonight to book my last-minute Alexandria hotel.