Located less than ten minutes from Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport, Alexandria is ideally situated for exploring the nation’s capital or Virginia’s wine country—but the beautifully preserved city itself makes for a great vacation destination as well. There’s history, art, tons of restaurants (including some with the Presidential stamp of approval), and nightlife to keep you entertained for a weekend or longer.
The Kimpton Morrison House is a four-diamond property that’s earned accolades like a spot on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hotels in the USA list. It’s located directly next to King Street, which runs through the heart of Alexandria, and is lined with plenty of attractions. It’s also close to a Metro stop, so you can get around easily without a car.
Take the Kimpton’s free shuttle from the airport and you’ll be at the hotel in under 15 minutes. Once you’ve settled in, walk over to Vermilion (where the Obamas have famously dined for date night). The cozy restaurant serves regional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. For a true taste of the south, don’t miss the pimento cheese dip, which is served up with warm pita bread.
After, walk down to the waterfront and visit the Torpedo Factory, a former munitions plant that’s been converted into studios for 82 artists. Spread out over three floors, you can watch the artists at work or buy their pieces in their workspace/shops.
If you’re thirsty, stop in the Hi-Tide Lounge next door, a retro-style tiki bar for a rejuvenating drink. When the weather is nice, take a walk along the waterfront and soak in the views of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building just across the river. Continue your walk back up King Street, popping in the boutiques along the way to do some shopping.
For dinner, Don Taco is a lively joint that puts a modern spin on Mexican food—you can’t miss the fried avocado taco or fresco margarita. If you’re not in a food coma after that, swing by the speakeasy-style bar PX for a craft cocktail.
Start your morning by wandering down to the Market Square Plaza, where the Old Town Farmers’ Market has been held every Saturday for over 260 years. Booths from more than 70 vendors will tempt you with everything from cheese to vegetables and even non-edibles like art or plants. Grab lunch at Virtue Feed & Grain, a short walk away, where you can get a light and healthy lunch—like the avocado hummus. Then hop onboard a sightseeing cruise with Potomac Riverboat Company and for a great overview of Alexandria’s waterfront and the Potomac River.
When you’re hungry for dinner, snag a table at Hank’s Pasta Bar (one of the city’s newest restaurants), a creative Italian sport run by local chef Jamie Leeds. You’ll find classic comfort food here, like a super rich mushroom risotto. Finish off your evening with a nightcap at Captain Gregory’s, a secret lounge hidden behind a wooden wall in Sugar Shack Donuts.
Work off some of last night’s dining with Discover Alexandria’s Virginia is for Runner’s Tour. This three-mile jog goes at a comfortable pace to highlight some of the city’s more off-the-beaten path sights. After you’ve cleaned up, reward yourself to a lunch pint at Port City Brewing, a craft brewery with a lively tasting room. The Optimal Wit is made with locally grown wheat, so be sure to try it for a true taste of Virginia!
Finish up your visit with tours at some of Alexandria’s best historic spots–the Carlyle House and the The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. The Carlyle House is a gorgeous historic home that was built in 1753, and the Apothecary once prescribed medications to George Washington.
Take the Kimpton Shuttle back to the airport.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Scenic Drives for Each U.S. Region
- 11 Most Impressive Waterfalls in the U.S.
- 5 Perfect College Towns
Caroline was hosted by Visit Alexandria. Check out their website for help with planning your trip or call their information desk at 1-800-388-9119. Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.
(Photos: Visit Alexandria)
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