Old Town Alexandria is a charming historic town located southeast of Arlington, VA and across the Potomac River from Washington DC. 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.
Old Town Alexandria has a mix of families, single professionals, and older people. The neighborhood is largely populated by government workers, military personnel, and employees of the many private companies that contract out services to the government.
Average rent for a studio apartment: $1600 and up.
Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1800 and up.
Most of the historic homes built in the late 1700s or early 1800s still remain in Old Town. 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 Alexandria, making Old Town 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.
Alexandria has its own Metro station: King Street Station. 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. However, many residents prefer driving to work rather than taking Metro. In fact, Old Town Alexandria has great access to the Beltway and the George Washington Parkway, which provide fast access into Washington DC. If you are in the mood for traveling, there is also an Amtrak station near the Metro station.
There is also a free King Street Trolley which transports residents and tourists from the King Street Station to 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 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 DC. The nightlife caters mostly to adults in their 30s and 40s. However, if you want to go pub crawling or have a romantic dinner, 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.
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