Our Alexandria Bucket List
Locals and visitors alike love our fair city! The City of Alexandria has received countless accolades over the years, such as:
- #1 Best Value U.S. Travel Destination (Money magazine)
- The South’s Prettiest Cities (Southern Living)
- Top Trending Destinations of 2018 (Expedia)
…and many more. If you’re looking to get the “true” Alexandria, experience, look no further. Our team has compiled its “Alexandria Bucket List” to help you enjoy all that our city has to offer. Whether you’re new to the area or an Alexandria native, we challenge you to work your way through every item on our Alexandria Bucket list!
- Ride the King Street Trolley. What better way to explore Old Town than to hop on the city’s free trolley and make your way along the historic King Street? With stops every two blocks from the waterfront to the Metro Station, the King Street trolley provides easy access to more than 180 restaurants, boutiques, and attractions.
- Visit Old Town Farmers’ Market (301 King Street). If you come to Alexandria on Saturday mornings, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a dazzling display of fruits, vegetables, flowers, dairy, baked goods, crafts and much more. Operating since 1753, the Old Town Farmers Market is the oldest in the nation. George Washington famously sent his produce from Mount Vernon to be sold at this site.
- Search for Spite House (523 Queen Street). At just 7 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the tiny, blue home is the narrowest house in America! It often goes unnoticed by passersby – see if you can spot it.
- Celebrate Alexandria’s Birthday (100 Madison Street) Every July, Alexandrians celebrate the city’s — and country’s — birthdays along the Potomac waterfront at Oronoco Bay Park. This patriotic event features live music by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, a cannon salute, patriotic birthday cake, and Grande Finale fireworks display.
- Attend the Scottish Christmas Walk. What a delight it is to witness hundreds of Scottish clansmen with their bagpipes marching through Old Town! The Scottish Christmas Walk has been a local favorite for the past three centuries. In 1749, three Scottish merchants established the town of Alexandria and named it after its original founder John Alexander, also of Scottish descent. Today, thousands preserve and promote the city’s Scottish heritage through a day of festivities
- Stroll on a Cobblestone Street. Stroll along Captain’s Row, at the 100 block of Prince Street. This block is the oldest cobblestone street in Old Town. It is named for Captain John Harper, who built many of the surrounding homes in the late eighteenth century. This picturesque and romantic block near the waterfront is a great spot for s selfie, family photo or wedding pictures!
- Get a Caricature of Yourself. Visit the Old Town waterfront by the Torpedo Factory and stop by one of the many caricature artists for a truly memorable and one-of-a-kind souvenir.
- Attend First Thursdays in Del Ray (Mount Vernon Avenue). If you’re eager to spend time outdoors and around the town in the nice weather, First Thursdays are the perfect way to do it. Every April – September, the Del Ray community offers this monthly street party (food, music, kids’ activities, and more) along Mount Vernon Avenue from 6 to 9 p.m.
- Watch the Holiday Boat Parade. During the holiday season, Alexandria’s festivities culminate in a mile-long spectacular boat parade. Along the Potomac, dozens of powerboats and sailboats light up the dark winter sky with an array of colors. In 2017, USA Today named it one of the Top 10 Holiday Parades in the country.
- Take In a Movie under the Stars (2701 Commonwealth Avenue) Cinema Del Ray offers outdoor, family-friendly movies that are perfect for a fun night for everyone. Just bring a lawn chair, blanket, and popcorn to Mount Vernon Recreation Center lawn for monthly kids’ movies. The fun usually starts at dusk.
- Check out Art on the Avenue (Mount Vernon Avenue) Every fall, on the first Saturday of October, this multi-cultural arts festival highlights artwork in the Del Ray neighborhood. Besides enjoying great food and music, you can support the more than 300 local artisans by visiting their booths or buying their work.
- Celebrate with a glass of bubbly at Brut (118 S. Royal Street) If you ever want to celebrate special holidays or a big accomplishment with your friends and family, Brut is the perfect place for you. This exotic, champagne-centric drinking den offers different kinds of bubbly from France, Uruguay, Australia, and South Africa (among others), along with small plates, charcuterie, and raclette.
- Enjoy a Cup of Joe at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub (2300 Mount Vernon Avenue) Growing bored of the hubbub of the nation’s capital? Just grab a seat in the quiet and cozy St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub, put down your phone, and pick up a book. Known as “Del Ray’s Living Room,” St. Elmo’s is best known for its relaxing ambiance and weekly live jazz. Of course, the Stumptown coffee is great too!
- Take a Water Taxi. Alexandria serves as a launching point for the Potomac Riverboat Company to a plethora of national landmarks. You can choose a monument tour from Alexandria, a cruise to Mount Vernon, or the Canine Cruise. Going to the Nats game? Skip the traffic and crowds, and ride the baseball boat with stops at Nationals Park, Alexandria City Marina, National Harbor, and The Gaylord National Hotel.
- Dine at Fontaine Bistro (119 S. Royal Street) If you ever want to visit a charming, classic European cafe without leaving town, simply make a trip to Fontaine Bistro. Here you’ll enjoy the most authentic French dining experience around. The cafe is committed to offering you the most delicious crêpes — both sweet and savory — made from fresh, local, organic ingredients.
- Bike to Mount Vernon. Old Town marks the halfway point on the Mount Vernon Trail, the 18-mile-long and fully paved path following the Potomac River. With online apps like Capital Bikeshare or Bike and Roll, you can easily hop on a bike and pedal along its beautiful landscape.
- Visit Port City Brewing (3950 Wheeler Avenue) Are you ready to raise a glass of hand-made, locally crafted beer from Port City Brewing Company? Port City was named the “Best Small Brewery” in the United States at the Great American Beer Festival (2015). You can tour its facility, located in Alexandria’s West End, then enjoy a brew or two in its tasting room.
- Listen to a Glass Harp Performance (Entrance to the Torpedo Factory 105 N. Union Street) Alexandria resident Jamey Turner’s glass harp performance is an absolute must! Not familiar with the glass harp? The harp is really just wine glasses filled with varying amounts of water to create different pitches. Mr. Turner has spent decades perfecting his skills, revolutionizing timeless classics like Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
- Watch Artists at Work in The Torpedo Factory (105 N. Union Street) Be sure to stroll through the Torpedo Factory after hearing the glass harp This former munitions factory is home to the country’s largest collection of working-artists’ open studios under one roof. You’ll see the artists at work on their painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture. The best part? You can ask them questions and buy their art on-site.
- Dine at Landini Brothers (115 King Street) Ready to sit down, relax, and enjoy a fine Italian meal? Landini Brothers is your answer! Since 1979, its “casually elegant” atmosphere and delicious Tuscan cuisine have made it a local favorite.
- Eat Seafood on the Balcony of the Fish Market (105 King Street). The Fish Market offers the freshest seafood with a plethora of options from raw Chesapeake oysters to Maryland Crab Cakes. If you’d like to enjoy an intimate meal for two, just grab a seat in the balcony and enjoy the gorgeous river view.
- Participate in the Cherry Challenge. In the spirit of the famous cherry tree tale, Alexandrians celebrate George Washington’s birthday by enjoying a local culinary contest. Alexandria restaurants compete to create the best cherry-centric dish in four categories: beverage, appetizer, entree, and dessert. It’s a tasty way to pass the cold days of February!
- Browse in Old Town Books (104 S. Union Street) Amidst countless restaurants, boutiques, and gift stores in Old Town, this tiny, cozy bookstore immediately stands out. Old Town Books serves as a community center that hosts monthly book clubs, workshops, and open mic nights. If you’re a bookworm, stop by and enjoy its cozy atmosphere.
- Peruse the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax Street) Once you set foot in this Old Town museum, you’ll feel like you’re in Harry Potter’s world. This museum displays real-life “potion” ingredients like dragon’s blood, mandrake root, and lavender, as well as an incredible collection of prescription, journals, and formula books. You can also find the names of many famous historical figures in those documents, including George and Martha Washington, Nelly Custis, Robert E. Lee.
- Walk or Ride Through Jones Point Park (Jones Point Drive) This park offers recreational spaces including playgrounds, basketball courts, and gardens. Its lighthouse, built in 1855, is the last remaining riverine lighthouse in Virginia. Spend some time on its trail to enjoy a moment of respite from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
- Enjoy an Ice Cream Cone at The Dairy Godmother (2310 Mount Vernon Avenue). Located in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, The Dairy Godmother is a place where local kids–and their parents!–satisfy their sweet teeth with Wisconsin-style frozen custard. Grab a scoop of chocolate oreo or the rotating daily flavor and enjoy the nostalgic taste (for more on ice cream in Alexandria, read our related post).
- Tour the Carlyle House (121 N. Fairfax Street) If you are eager to explore the city’s history, Carlyle House is definitely the place to start. Built in 1753 by merchant and city founder John Carlyle, the stone mansion and gardens have stood the test of time. The home is also one of the nation’s finest examples of Georgian residential architecture. Visit and check its is many educational exhibits, programs, or lectures.
- Visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon (3200 Mount Vernon Highway) Expand your vast knowledge of our first President and early American history by visiting Mount Vernon to tour its meticulously preserved mansion, farms, gardens, Washington’s tomb, as well as the slave memorial. You can also attend one of its special events like the Spring Wine Festival, holiday candlelight tours, or book talks by well-known authors.
- Get a Glass of Cider From Lost Boy Cider (317 Hooffs Run Drive) Lost Boy Cider, which recently opened in the Carlyle neighborhood, has quickly become a favorite amongst everyone in town. The open and airy vibe is a great place to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night with friends and family. Plus, it’s dog friendly! In addition to their refreshing cold ciders, they even have a play pin for younger kids and food trucks with great food.
The Bottom Line
There is no shortage of unique experiences to enjoy in Alexandria! No matter the season, locals and visitors alike will find a fun way to enjoy our amazingly unique and historic city.
Did we miss your Alexandria bucket list item? Please let us know so we can check it out and add it to our list!