Before I moved to Hampton Roads, I lived in Alexandria, Va., in a row house sandwiched between historic Old Town and Del Ray. Both neighborhoods offer great farmers markets, enough restaurants to satisfy whatever your pallet desires, plenty of desert options, cute boutiques, and an abundance of people to watch behind your sunglasses, which is my favorite pastime.
If you're traveling to Old Town Alexandria via the metro, get off at the King Street Station, which is on the blue and yellow lines. Then, head down King Street into the heart of Old Town.
If you want to work on your fitness, you can rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare. Stations are located throughout the D.C. Metro Area, and there are several in Alexandria. One of the best ways to reach Old Town if you are coming from Washington, D.C., or Arlington is via the Mount Vernon Trail. To plan your ride, consult these bike maps. This station is located outside Alexandria City Hall.
My former roommate Kate and I went to the Saturday farmers market, located at City Hall. Along the way, I admired the beautiful row houses that line King Street. They were converted into shops and restaurants.
This year, Alexandria marks 200 years since the War of 1812. Because Alexandria couldn't defend itself from the British, it surrendered and avoided being burned like Washington, D.C. The decision preserved the city, allowing us to see what the city was like 200 years ago. To brush up on Alexandria's history, check out the website created for the bicentennial.
Here's Alexandria City Hall, site of the weekly farmers market.
Vendors pitch tents, where they sell fruits and vegetables, artwork, jewelry, pastries, and unique knickknacks. I bought a print a local artist made of Old Town. It features some of the landmarks I mention in this post.
One vendor sold sunflowers, which were my favorite as a child.
After wandering around the farmers market, we went to the waterfront. In the summer, people watch fireworks, listen to musicians, or watch a local man play water glasses, which he has done for years. (Anyone reminded of Sandra Bullock's "talent" in Miss Congeniality?)
A few years ago, I even watched one of my friends propose to his girlfriend here (in the open space in front of the central trashcan).
You can sail on the Potomac River.
Or, if you're not into sailing, you can visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center, where you can view 82 working artist studios or take an art class. Admission is free, but art classes are not.
After we visited Mint Condition, a local consignment shop, Kate and I were hungry. Ironically, neither of us craved a dish from a local restaurant. Instead, we found ourselves in line at Chiptole. I ordered a burrito bowl with chicken and pinto beans. It was everything I wanted it to be.
After chowing down, we headed back to Kate's house to get ready for Saturday evening church. Here's a photo of Kate and me at DC Metro Church. If you're looking for a church to visit during your stay, I encourage you to go. The founding pastors attended Regent University School of Divinity and/or Regent Law. There are two locations: one is about five minutes from Old Town at the Braddock Road Metro Station, and the other is in Fairfax, Va.
Enjoy your trip to Old Town Alexandria!
This post is by Rachel Smith, a writer for the Regent Law Marketing and Communications Department.