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Alexandria, Virginia

When you visit Washington D.C., you should get out of the city and take a day trip to the surrounding areas to discover more U.S. history. Old Town Alexandria, Virginia is just 30 minutes from Downtown Washington D.C. and is full of interesting historical sites. Here’s what you should check out on your day trip to Alexandria.

From Washington D.C. to Alexandria

On our recent trip to Washington D.C., I got to meet up with my friend who has been living in Alexandria. She got me out of the city to walk around the quaint Old Town Alexandria district and see all the historical sites around her new home. It was just a short 20-30 minute drive from Downtown Washington D.C. to Old Town Alexandria.

What to See on Your Day Trip to Alexandria

Walk King Street

The Majestic Cafe, Alexandria, Virginia

King Street is one mile of independently owned shops and restaurants that runs through the heart of Old Town Alexandria. This is the even largest collection of independent boutiques around D.C.

King Street runs right down to the Potomac River, and everything else on this tour of Old Town is just steps away from this historic street.

Visit the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, Alexandria, Virginia

Our visit to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum was a spur of the moment decision. We wondered what could be in an apothecary museum; turns out, it’s an engaging group of tour guides and some fun history!

This apothecary was one of Alexandria’s oldest continuously run businesses, and the building has only ever been an apothecary and a museum. On the tour, we learned about the medicines people used to take and which of those remedies we still use today. We also saw documents from some of the business’s high profile patrons, like Martha Washington.

The museum offers self guided tours for just $5 and 45-minute guided tours for just $8. Tours are limited to 10 people at a time since the space is small and fragile.

Browse the Torpedo Factory Art Center

Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, Virginia

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is housed in a former naval munitions plant that once made torpedoes during World War II.

Now, it is home to the U.S.’s largest number of publicly accessible artists’ studios located under one roof: that’s 82 studies, 7 galleries, and 160 artists.

Walk Along the Potomac River Waterfront

Potomac River Waterfront, Alexandria, Virginia

Take in some fresh air while you walk along the Potomac River waterfront. Waterfront Park is the perfect place to relax and soak up some sun.

Visit Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

Gadsby's Tavern Museum, Alexandria, Virginia

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum was the 18th century tavern and hotel where George Washington twice attended a Birthnight Ball held in his honor and where Thomas Jefferson had his inaugural banquet in 1801.

The museum offers self-guided for just $5 and guided tours for just $8. It doesn’t take long to walk through the rooms yourself. The newer building also houses Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant, a working restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner.

Walk by George Washington’s House

George Washington's House, Alexandria, Virginia

George Washington used a house in Old Town Alexandria from 1769 to 1776 as an office and overnight accommodation whenever he was in town for business.

The original home was torn down in 1855, but a family in the 1960s rebuilt the house using bricks and stones from an excavation of the site. You can actually rent the home if you’re want to live like George Washington for a few nights.

Visit Christ Church

Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia

Christ Church is where all the prominent Alexandria townspeople worshiped, including George Washington. You can even sit in the family box pew he rented.

Christ Church is free to visit.

See the Skinny Spite House

Spite House, Alexandria, Virginia

523 Queen Street is certainly the skinniest house in Alexandria. It’s only 7 feet wide, 25 feet deep, 2 stories tall, and 325 square feet overall.

In the 1830s, the owner of an adjacent house walled up an alleyway to keep out loiterers and horse-drawn carriages. Someone still owns and lives in the home part of the year.

Walk the Historic Cobblestone Street

Cobblestone Street, Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Captain’s Row is the oldest cobblestone block in Old Town Alexandria. In the 1700s, most of Alexandria’s streets were cobblestone. These historic streets we see today were restored in the 1970s with original cobbles, and now the city tries to keep the streets picturesque and in good condition.

Where to Eat on Your Day Trip to Alexandria

The Majestic Cafe, Alexandria, Virginia

King Street is the heart of Old Town Alexandria, and this is where you’ll find some of the best places to shop and eat. We had brunch at The Majestic, an Old Town café that dates back to the 1930s.

They serve contemporary Southern dishes in a funky Art Deco interior. And the neon sign from the original restaurant still hangs right outside.

Read next: Taking a Day Trip to Baltimore, Maryland from Washington D.C.

Ready to visit Alexandria, Virginia? Plan your trip with these tips.



Taking a Day Trip to Alexandria, Virginia from Washington D.C.

Have you taken a day trip to Old Town Alexandria? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

Paige Watts is a travel expert and author of What's With Atlanta?, a guide to the quirks and charm of the ATL. A life-long traveler, Paige is dedicated to helping you discover the best things to do in the Southern USA and around the world. Her work has been featured in The Culture Trip, Matador, Newsbreak, MSN, NPR, and countless other interviews and podcasts.

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  1. Hey, didn’t even hear about it. And it’s only 30 minutes away from Downtown Washington D.C.? That’s good to know. 🙂
    I would definitely love the Potomac River waterfront and a visit to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, that must be interesting to see. I’ve always enjoyed places with such historical importance.
    Thanks for the guide, love the suggestions. 🙂

  2. Alexandria is at the top of my USA bucket list! I’ve visited an apothecary museum in Canada but never in the states. It looks so cool!

  3. Very great photography – it looks beautiful. My boyfriend has never been to DC and we plan on going to Virginia , Maryland and D.C.

    This has just excited me even more 🙂

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