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  • Georgina D'Angelo

15 Best Things to Do in Alexandria (VA)

Updated: Jan 19

If you’re visiting the Washington, D.C. area, you need to spend a day exploring the charming city of Alexandria, Virginia, which is located right next door to D.C. This cute city is home to a great variety of coffee shops, stores, parks, architecture, and restaurants. Keep reading for the best things to do in Alexandria VA!


With its quaint Old Town, Alexandria is known for its 18th and 19th-century buildings, brick sidewalks, and being George Washington’s hometown. This is a very walkable city, making for a great day trip from DC. From shops to historical monuments, admire the charm that Alexandria has to offer.


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Best Things to Do in Alexandria VA


Street in Old Town Alexandria | Best Things to Do in Alexandria VA
Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Explore


There are many museums and art galleries to enjoy in Alexandria, but they often take several hours to see. We recommend opting for one, the Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum because it focuses on the history of Alexandria and admission is budget friendly (general admission is USD $3).


There are houses of every color in Alexandria, especially in the Old Town area (King Street). If you enjoy architecture, then I highly recommend walking down Patrick Street and King Street. There is a free trolley on King Street, which is awesome for those who want to utilize public transportation.


Charming Colored Houses in Old Town Alexandria Virginia
Charming Colored Houses in Old Town Alexandria

Learn about the history of slavery in Alexandria in the house that was responsible for the trafficking of thousands of Black people. According to AlexandriaVA.gov, “This Museum honors the lives and experiences of the enslaved and free Black people who lived in and were trafficked through Alexandria.”


Once an alley, the Spite House was built by a homeowner who was upset by people constantly wandering down the alley next to his house. It’s the narrowest house in the US at only 7 feet wide! This is a fun site to see and a great photo opportunity.


A family-run business open until 1933, this once apothecary is now home to the fascinating Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. Alongside medicine, they sold cleaning supplies, dyes, and more. Learn about famous potions that were once made and sold here with a guided or self-guided tour.


Apothecary Wall | Things to Do in Alexandria VA
Visit the Apothecary | Things to Do in Alexandria VA

6. Visit Mount Vernon: George Washington's Estate

You can visit the house George Washington grew up in and later expanded to what is now the Mount Vernon mansion. Washington's father built the core of the house, and after he died, George slowly began adding on to create the 21-room mansion you can tour today. Plan your visit and purchase tickets to see Mount Vernon.


Dine


This is a plus if you have your dog with you as it’s totally dog friendly, inside and outside! However, even if you don’t have a dog, Barkhaus is a great place to stop for a nice drink and delicious bites to eat. We highly recommend veggie tacos, parmesan truffle fries, and sourdough flatbread.


Truffle Fries from Barkhaus | Where to Eat in Alexandria VA
Barkhaus Truffle Fries | Where to Eat in Alexandria VA

This Mediterranean restaurant is sure to hit the spot. At Barca, you’ll find mouthwatering wines and tapas, as well as riverfront dining views in nice weather. Two must-try options here are the patatas bravas and the Tzatziki with pita bread!


If you like Thai food, then Sisters Thai is definitely a must-visit while in Alexandria. The decor is vibrant yet elegant, the staff is very friendly, and the food is absolutely delicious. We tried several things here because we’re slightly obsessed with Thai food, and nothing was a disappointment. In fact, everything was a 10/10 for us!


Dessert From Sisters Thai in Alexandria Virginia
Sisters Thai dessert for the win

Want to enjoy some authentic and delicious Italian food? Head over to Mia’s Italian Kitchen, sip on a glass of sangria, enjoy a wonderful meal, and admire the stylish decor. They have a great selection of pizza, pasta, and desserts. Reservations are highly recommended.


11. Cozy Up in a Coffee Shop

Alexandria has lots to explore, and the perfect spot to stop for a break is at a cozy coffee shop. Grab a drink and even a bite to eat for the perfect pick-me-up at one of the best coffee shops in Alexandria VA. There are a few to choose from, but you can't go wrong!


coffee and pastries from an Alexandria VA coffee shop
Cozy Up in One of the Best Coffee Shops in Alexandria

Shop


12. Explore the Shops and Boutiques in Old Town

Old Town Alexandria has an incredible array of shops to venture into. From Persian carpets to fashion to pet boutiques, you’ll find it all in Old Town, especially on King Street. The vibe here is charming, so even if you don’t want to go shopping, it is well worth a walk around here.


Admire the Potomac River, public art installation, and maybe an ice cream while you stroll around the area. You can stop by the Torpedo Factory Art Center, talk to local artists, and find a unique souvenir to take home.


Persian rugs for sale in Alexandria VA
Shopping in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Day Trips


14. Washington DC

While there are plenty of fun things to do in Alexandria itself, it's a great location to begin an epic day trip. Located just a 30-minute drive away is the US capital, Washington DC. If you're in the area and you have the time, I highly recommend exploring both cities. Alexandria and DC are both so charming, and you can check off most activities in just one day. Here's how to spend 24 hours in Washington DC.


15. Shenandoah National Park

Looking for the ultimate nature getaway? Plan a day trip from Alexandria to Shenandoah National Park! This underrated park offers incredible views, scenic drives, amazing hiking trails, and tons of wildlife. It's just under a 2-hour drive, so plan to leave early to make the most of your day in Shenandoah. It's a nature lover's paradise!


Sunset over houses in Alexandria | What to Do in Alexandria VA
Sunset in Alexandria, VA

There is so much to see and do in Alexandria VA. Make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes and a day bag for convenient exploring.


There are buses in Alexandria, but it’s really fun to walk around and admire all the beautiful architecture if you can do so easily. Remember there is a free trolley on King Street!


Now you know the best things to do in Alexandria VA so you can start packing! Get ready for charming city vibes, incredible food, fun shops, river views, and more. Explore all day stopping for a break at a cozy coffee shop, and dine on delicious food to end the evening.


What are you most excited about while in Alexandria? My favorite part was learning more about US history and eating delicious food! If you have more time to spend in this part of the US, head over to Washington DC for a day to explore some of the most famous monuments in the US. Happy adventuring!


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aboutME

Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.

 

I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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