Alexandria is the perfect place for a weekend trip (or staycation)! In 2022, not only was Alexandria awarded the honor of one of Travel + Leisure’s “Best Cities in the U.S.” for the first time ever; but Alexandria was also recently highlighted at the top of Travel + Leisure’s “50 Best Places to Travel in 2023,” as one of the best places to travel “For Cultural Riches.” Out of all of the destinations in the world, Travel + Leisure’s Associate Editor Liz Cantrell chose Alexandria as her top destination in 2023, emphasizing the cultural reckoning, picture-perfect cobblestone streets, as well as Alexandria’s thriving hotel scene. Read on to discover some fun ways to enjoy a weekend in Old Town Alexandria.
5 pm: Check-in to what Travel + Leisure calls Alexandria’s “most elegant stay,” the Morrison House, located in Old Town Alexandria. The Morrison House was recently listed in Travel + Leisure as one of the “Best City Hotels in the Continental U.S.” Or check out The Alexandrian for “historic charm with a twist” located in the heart of Old Town on King Street. Maybe you’d prefer staying on Old Town’s new southern waterfront? Choose the Hotel Indigo. Coming soon in 2023, you’ll be able to stay at the new Hotel AKA Alexandria located in North Old Town (slated to open in winter 2023).
7 pm: Ready to sit down, relax, and enjoy a fine Italian meal? You must head to Landini Brothers, an Alexandria institution for dinner. Since 1979, Landini’s “casually elegant” atmosphere and delicious Tuscan cuisine have made it a local favorite. Reservations are likely needed.
10 am: Take a water taxi from the Old Town waterfront to the District Wharf for brunch. Alexandria serves as a launching point for the Potomac Riverboat Company to a plethora of national landmarks. Skip the traffic and crowds!
11 am: Brunch at Fabio Trabocchi’s Del Mar. The DC Wharf is a two billion dollar, mile long development along the Potomac River that includes dining, hotel, entertainment, retail, and activities such as ice skating in the winter and farmers’ markets in the summer. The Del Mar restaurant was entirely designed in Spain and assembled by a team of Spanish artisans. The finished product, a two-story jewel box overlooking the Potomac River, offers a range of traditional and seasonal tapas, as well as the must-have signature paella. For another Mediterranean option, try La Vie’s limitless brunch which includes a Mediterranean buffet featuring all you can eat small plates, or go to ilili where Executive Chef and Owner Philippe Massoud “crafts a melting pot of Lebanese, Levantine, and Mediterranean inspired cuisine.” If you’re still in the mood for Italian, try Lupo Marino where you can personalize your own breakfast pizza. Mi Vida is a great Mexican option. Enjoy breakfast tacos or huevos rancheros. Reservations needed at the Wharf.
1 pm: Head back to Old Town where you can plan a curated, guided cultural heritage Manumission tour to explore Alexandria’s past. Travel the streets of historic Old Town Alexandria and discover the lesser known stories of Africans and African-Americans who lived and worked in Alexandria, at at time when it was one of early America’s centers for international and domestic slave trade. This tour comes recommended by Travel + Leisure’s Associate Editor Liz Cantrell.
2 pm: Shop the local Old Town boutiques such as Bishop Boutique and The Hive for clothing, Bellacara for makeup, She’s Unique for jewelry, Boxwood and J. Brown & Co. for home decor, Old Town Books for something to read during your trip, and Monday’s Child or Pink & Brown for children’s clothes.
4 pm: Finish your shopping at Brut where you can toast to the weekend with a glass of bubbly at this champagne-centric, tiny local spot. Brut offers exotic bubbly from France, Uruguay, Australia, and South Africa (among others), along with small plates, charcuterie, and raclette.
5 pm: Make your way to the Old Town waterfront where the Torpedo Factory is located. The Torpedo Factory is one of the stops on the African American Heritage Trail, which opened in 2020. The trail follows the Potomac River and encompasses nearly 200 years of history at 11 stops, including the Torpedo Factory, where many Black men and women worked during World War II. Watch artists at work in the Torpedo Factory, this former munitions factory is home to the country’s largest collection of working-artists’ open studios under one roof. You’ll watch 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.
7 pm: Ready for some seafood? Try dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar, now open in their new location in the heart of Old Town North, which features an expanded dining room, large outdoor patio, and an open air rooftop bar. Hank’s offers some of the best seafood in Alexandria. Be sure to try the lobster roll! Want to stick with the Spanish tapas theme? Barca Pier and Wine Bar is the spot! Barca, built on a pier over the Potomac River, offers a festive coastal vibe and serves-up Spanish-Mediterranean small plates, wine, sangria, and cocktails. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, reservations suggested.
10 am: Before heading out of town, be sure to opt for brunch at Ada’s on the River. Not only does Ada’s offer stunning panoramic views of the Potomac River, but its brunch menu offers mouth-watering specialties like the Maine Lobster Omelet and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Enjoy your meal with Ada’s signature brunch cocktail “Bubbles on the River” made with La Marca prosecco, strawberry-infused New Amsterdam vodka, and hibiscus syrup.