Old Town Alexandria is a charming historic town in Northern Virginia. The neighborhood is very walkable and friendly with small shops and intimate restaurants of all types. It is also home to the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, and the George Washington Masonic Memorial.
As if you were walking back in time, you can see the same buildings, cobblestone streets, and culture that contributed to shaping American history. There are tours that will take you to the most interesting and historic sites of Alexandria. If history is not your thing, spend the day shopping or relax near the Alexandria Waterfront. If you love spending time with your dog, do not worry! Old Town Alexandria is known as one of the top pet-friendly neighborhoods in the region. In fact, dogs are allowed inside many shops, galleries and the post office.
Old Town Alexandria is located southeast of Arlington and across the Potomac River from Washington DC. The neighborhood is centered at the intersection of King Street (Route 7) and Washington Street (The George Washington Parkway). Old Town Alexandria is a wonderful place to visit and live. If you are a tourist, you can't visit Washington DC without coming to Old Town.
Old Town Alexandria has a mix of families, singles, and older people. Although most residents are white, people from different ethnic groups live here. The neighborhood is largely populated by government professionals, military personnel, and employees of the many private companies that contract out services to the government.
Average rent for a studio/efficiency apartment: $1400 and up.
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1600 and up.
Most of the historic homes built in the late 1700s or early 1800s still remain in Old Town Alexandria. They are located south of King Street near the Alexandria Waterfront and range from semi-luxury to luxury. This is one of the wealthiest parts of town, making Old Town Alexandria one of the richest areas in the region. As a result, the beautiful historic homes usually sell for close to or more than $1 million. For this price, you get a piece of history at a walking distance to the Potomac River and the fantastic shops in Old Town.
Other housing options include high-rise apartments, condominiums, modern townhouses and public housing. Most townhouses are located south to Interstate 395 along the Potomac River while high-rise luxury apartments can be found near the King Street Metro Station. Most of these apartments include amenities such as washer/dryer, dishwasher, and shuttles to the metro station. Renting prices also depend on proximity to the metro station. Public housing is found North of King Street and West of Washington Street.
Residential Parking: Many of the residential areas in Old Town Alexandria have zoned parking. If you don't have a residential parking permit, you can park on the street for only 2 or 3 hours during varying time periods. Only residents living within the boundaries of Old Town Alexandria are eligible to obtain parking permits. Note: the city code prohibits parking a car in the same place for more than 72 continuous hours. The parking permit would not override this restriction.
On-street Parking: Meter parking is limited to two hours. Meter hours vary, so check the meter for requirements. Free on-street parking is limited to 2 hours. To avoid getting a parking ticket, read the green-on-white signs posted in each block describing the time limits and hours of enforcement. Many public parking garages are also located in Old Town Alexandria.
Old Town Alexandria has its own metro: King Street Station, but the station is at the western edge of the neighborhood. The heart of the commercial district is about a mile away, and most of the charming historic homes are farther away. For this reason, many residents prefer driving to work rather than taking the metro. In fact, Old Town Alexandria has great access to the Beltway and the George Washington Parkway, which provide fast access into Washington DC.
The City of Alexandria also has a free King Street Trolley which transports residents, tourists, and those who work in Old Town between the King Street Metro Station and the Alexandria Waterfront. The trolley runs from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm, Monday-Sunday. Also, you can use Alexandria's DASH bus service, which transports passengers from the King Street Metro Station to Old Town's Market Square.
Nightlife & Restaurants
Old Town Alexandria has tons of great restaurants and bars, but nothing like the night scene in Washington DC. The nightlife caters mostly to adults in their 30s and 40s. However, if you want to go pub crawling, Old Town is definitely the place to go.
Murphy's Grand Irish Pub is considered an institution in Alexandria. It has a great festive pub atmosphere, good service, a reasonably priced beer selection, two bars, and live Irish-folk music. The Union Street Public House is also very popular with its cozy pub in the front and a sprawling restaurant in the back. The bar boasts a decent selection of micobrews and tends to attract an under-35 crowd.
Old Town Alexandria also has a great number of restaurants varying in atmosphere and price. There is certainly something for every taste and budget. Restaurant Eve is considered one of the best fine-dining establishments in the region. If you want tapas, La Tasca Restaurant offers the best authentic Spanish cuisine in Alexandria. For a waterfront dining experience, the Chart House Restaurant has panoramic views of the Potomac River, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the U.S. Capitol Building.
Founders Park at Oronoco Street and Union Street provides residents the opportunity to stroll along the shore, walk their dogs, play volleyball, or have a picnic by the river.
The Mount Vernon Trail runs through Old Town Alexandria giving bikers and joggers the opportunity to exercise while enjoying the great scenery along the Potomac River. Even though it can be crowded, this trail is a great recreational link between Washington DC and Mount Vernon.
The crime rate in Old Town Alexandria is lower than virtually any part of Washington DC. Most crimes occur near the public housing projects at the north end of Old Town. Frequent crimes include theft from cars and robbery. One thing for sure is that the Alexandria Police is well funded and well staff and will raise to the occasion if called. For specific information, check out the crime database at the Alexandria PD website. You can search crime reports by street, block, and district: alexandriava.gov/police
Pros of Old Town Alexandria
Cons of Old Town Alexandria