Home for the Holidays 2022!
By Bob Tagert
We have been writing Road Trip articles for at least 30 of the almost 35 years we’ve been in publication. They began as a story about a destination near Alexandria. Then we got into Day Tripping when I had my 1974 Fiat Spider which was perfect for a day’s excursion. As our publication grew we expanded our focus and ventured farther out. Most of these involved an overnight stay near the destination and in fact, sometimes the destination was the the place we stayed. Our recent visit to the beautiful Swanendele Inn in Southern Maryland is a good example.
A number of years ago we decided to write about our beautiful Old Town Alexandria every December as this is a time to stay home with family and friends…Welcome Home.
I will start with a brief history of what it was like when I arrived in 1977. Old Town was approximately six blocks long. It was King Street from the Potomac River to Washington Street. There were a few restaurants on the other side of Washington Street but only a few…the concentration was near the water in the old seaport town which was founded in 1749. Old Town, as we know it today, was in its infancy. The town’s daring merchants transformed a neglected area and gave it a heartbeat. When I arrived, there was live music in almost every restaurant, mostly local folks playing their own music while covering favorite songs for their dedicated customers. Parking was plentiful and pedestrian traffic was minimal…but what a good time!
Today, over time and like the Old Town Crier, things have changed. The town is now one of the most vibrant waterfront cities on the east coast. Some of the places that provided music are now gone replaced by more multi-owned stores whether that be National or local. The pace is faster and pedestrian traffic moves slower. Still the history and natural beauty of this town does not change.
Alexandria Virginia was voted one of Travel & Leisure’s Best Cities in the U.S. 2022 and Southern Living’s Best Cities on the Rise 2022. Our nationally designated historic district is home to over 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside historic museums. During the pandemic, in order to provide more restaurant seating to accommodate social distancing, the city closed off the 100 block of King Street to allow more outdoor seating and created a pedestrian walk way in the street. That remains in effect today while the city is reviewing the guidelines. The effort was well worth it as King Street blossomed and more foot traffic was created on the waterfront for those businesses as well.
Today, I would say that “Old Town” extends much farther up King Street as far as to the Metro. There has been much growth and discovery of that part of town. You can find every kind of restaurant as well as many independent shops catering to those who venture out. In addition to the selection of great restaurants, Old Town has independent jewelry shops with their own craftsmen, independent clothing stores that carry one of a kind designs, a number of shops selling speciality items and hard to find gifts.
Named one of the area’s top shopping destinations by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, Old Town boasts a blend of independent galleries, stylish boutiques, vintage shops and national retailers. A good resource of great shopping and dining are the advertisers in this publication, after all, they are the reason we can go to press each month.
We hope that you have an enjoyable time while visiting Old Town Alexandria. There is so much to do, that it makes sense to spend a night at one of our beautiful hotels scattered throughout town. Don’t miss Santa waterskiing down the Potomac on Christmas Eve and the fireworks on the 31st celebrating First Night! Enjoy the holiday hospitality of Alexandria and make plans to come back in the new year.
For up to date events and information about our retail and hospitality establishments, you can connect to VisitAlexandria.com or Facebook at VisitAlexandriaVA.