Located just outside D.C. lies Alexandria, a Virginian town that boasts just as much history as its political neighbor. Established under the British rule during the mid-1700s, Alexandria is home to several historical figures, including our founding father, George Washington. You can catch a ride on the free trolley that rungs along King Street to see the sights of the city — a great feature if you’re just spending a day here.
In the heart of Old Town is the main square, which hosts the Old Town Farmers’ Market, the longest-running farmers’ market in the country. For more than 260 years, vendors have been coming to the square, no matter the weather, to sell their goods. Even in chilly December, dozens of stalls offered hand-crafted cutting boards, fresh cheese and breads, and even some bright flowers.
One friendly vendor offered Eastern European food and breads, and I couldn’t resist trying a Georgian cheese pocket — yum. It was savory, salty, and delicious.
Alexandria sits on the bank of the Potomac River, and if you walk down to the waterfront, you might just stumble across this tiny park. Although there are a few small green spaces along the river, you can get a close-up view of the boats at the Waterfront Park. There’s also a monument dedicated to shipbuilders in the grass, as well as a small garden and a cannon that looked menacing. Other parks also hold picnic areas, a sand volleyball court, and a bike trail.
Even if you’re not in the mood to buy, don’t miss out on window shopping in the old town. There are plenty of antique stores and specialty boutiques, or well-known chains like Gap or Anthropologie if you’re feeling less adventurous. Alexandria is filled with historic buildings and cobblestone streets, but you can find a lot of cool architecture and signs advertising feed and grain stores if you keep your eyes peeled.
And if you’re like me, food is a top priority on any trip. Not to worry, Alexandria has you covered. There are plenty of ice cream joints and bars to keep you happy. You can chow down on comfort food and listen to live music at King Street Blues, or satisfy your inner geek at Bilbo Baggins Restaurant and Green Dragon Pub.
So if you’re looking for a day trip outside of D.C., or if you’re heading to nearby Mount Vernon for a look, be sure to stop in Alexandria for a taste of history along the water.