Let’s get one thing out of the way: we recognize that Alexandria isn’t exactly a neighborhood. With a population of around 150,000 and around 200 independent restaurants and boutiques, Alexandria is better described as a small city. Nonetheless, we chose to feature it because it’s chock full of things to do and comes with some major perks for residents. For starters, living in Alexandria means an easy commute whether you work in DC or Northern Virginia! Alexandria offers easy metro access and it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to Reagan National airport for those who travel frequently. And, if you’re moving to the area to join the ranks at Amazon’s new HQ2, Alexandria is a perfect spot to call home–close to Arlington but with arguably more charm!
Even if you aren’t looking to move in 2020, this small city is most certainly worth a visit for both DMV locals and out of town visitors alike. Don’t take our word for it–Alexandria was named a Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards in 2019! Read on for our guide to this lovely and historic town.
What to Do
In order to experience Alexandria’s charm, start by simply strolling around Old Town. Take in the cobblestoned streets, red brick sidewalks and historic 18th and 19th century row houses. Include bustling King Street if you’re interested in checking out the plethora of independently owned boutiques and restaurants.
For history buffs, the options abound. You should visit Carlyle House, a Georgian manor house built in 1753. Royal governors held a meeting here to discuss funding for the French and Indian War. The Carlyle House offers daily tours, youth programs, lectures, and exhibits about colonial Virginia and its key role in American history. To combine history and refreshments, visit Gadsby’s Tavern for wine or lunch. George Washington didn’t sleep here but he did drink here (along with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.) There is also a museum next door if you’re interested in learning about the tavern’s role in early Alexandria’s political and social life.
If you’re an art lover, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is a must visit. The Torpedo Factory is the country’s largest collection of working artists’ studios (82 in total). You can watch artists as they create masterpieces in photography, ceramics, jewelry, stained glass, and painting to name a few. You can purchase art, take classes or attend a variety of special events and exhibitions.
Where to Eat
Named one of the DC area’s 100 best restaurants by the Washingtonian in 2019, Royal Nepal won’t break the bank and features an extensive menu of Nepalese cuisine. Make sure to sample the momos, which are Nepalese style dumplings with fillings such as buffalo, goat, and yak. Washingtonian highly recommends the yak momo and notes that the yak meat comes from a farm in Pennsylvania!
Moving on to another of Washingtonian’s best of 2019, a meal at Nasime will run you more than at Royal Nepal, but for lovers of sushi and Japanese cuisine it’s a must! Conveniently located on King Street, Nasime features a seasonal menu with some of the most inventive sashimi in the DC area–not to mention a selection of hard to find sakes. Try for a seat at the bar, where you can watch the chef in action (and the action happens to involve his use of a blowtorch!)
Finally, we would be remiss not to mention Cheesetique in the Del Ray neighborhood. If you love cheese (and I imagine that includes most of us) this place is a must visit. Featuring an expansive selection of cheeses, Cheesetique is both a cheese shop and a restaurant (not to mention it offers catering services and hosts special events!) As you can imagine, the menu features mouthwatering items heavy on the cheese–varieties of mac n’ cheese and grilled cheese abound. And, if you’re in need of last minute holiday gifts, Cheesetique offers gift baskets and gift cards so you can surprise the cheese lovers in your life with something they’ll actually use (and by use we mean eat.)
The median home price in Alexandria is over $579,000–higher than average for the DC metro area, which comes as no surprise given all Alexandria has to offer and its proximity to Washington. If you’re home shopping and have a cool 5.2 million to work with, the historic Sanford Dempsey house is on the market! Located in desirable Old Town, this 9,000 square foot estate was built around 1780 and has been beautifully updated with modern amenities. The home boasts 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, and several gorgeous spaces for entertaining. While each of the many rooms is beautiful, the manicured gardens and outdoor patio may be the most gorgeous part of this special property.
Now, whether your budget is 5.2 million or (as is the case for many of us) significantly less, Alexandria is a wonderful place to call home. If this article has you interested in a move, please give me a call at 240-401-5577 so I can show you all the lovely properties for sale in this historic town!