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Even though Old Town Alexandria, Virginia is located just minutes outside of Washington, D.C., its adorable character and old-fashioned charm will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to another place and time. Old Town Alexandria was named one of the South’s “Prettiest Cities” by Southern Living and was also named the #1 “Best Value U.S. Travel Destination” by Money Magazine. With everything from shopping and dining to museums and historical attractions, there’s something here to captivate every visitor.
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Old Town Alexandria is recognized as a nationally designated historic district. It dates back to 1749 and is the former home of President George Washington, making it the perfect place to visit for history enthusiasts. In fact, there are over 140 different attractions in the town that are related to George Washington alone. Just outside of Old Town, you can visit the President’s historic home, Mount Vernon. Inside the historic town limits, you can learn about the area’s African American history at the Alexandria Black History Museum, then experience modern technology and innovation at the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum.
The most popular part of Old Town Alexandria is the “King Street Mile”, which has been named one of the “Great Streets” of America and the top thing to do in the city. You can hop on the free King Street trolley and take a ride or just stroll down the picturesque street and check out over 30 different boutiques, vintage shops and retail chain stores, as well as several independent art galleries. You’ll also find a unique mix of chef-driven restaurants that have been acclaimed by Bon Appetit and the New York Times, including Haute Dogs & Fries, which is a gourmet hot dog joint that uses toasted, New England Style buns for all their dogs. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, head to Sugar Shack Donuts for creative comfort food that also happens to have a speakeasy hidden behind a secret door.
While you’re walking around downtown, make sure you turn down Queen Street so you can check out the Spite House. This seven-foot-wide home is the skinniest historic house in the country and was said to be built out of spite (hence the name) by its neighboring resident in 1830, who wanted to keep people from loitering in the adjacent alleyway.
If you happen to be visiting Old Town Alexandria on a weekend, you can also visit the country’s oldest continuously-run farmers’ market. It’s been held on Saturday mornings in the Market Square on Kings Street for more than 250 years. Even George Washington used to sell his produce from Mount Vernon at this market. Understandably, it’s been named one of the top 25 food markets to visit in the world.
Beer lovers will also want to make a stop at the Port City Brewing Company, which is the first modern-day craft brewery to open in the Washington, D.C. region and has been named the “Best Small Brewery in the U.S.” according to the 2015 Great American Beer Festival. Located in the West End of Old Town Alexandria, the brewery offers tours, tasting flights and special events with food trucks and live music.