Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/MISHELLAMarket Square and City HallShopping along King Street in Old TownChrist ChurchAlexandriaAlexandriaAlexandria

Families will love:

  • Cobblestone streets and charming homes
  • Easy drive to Mount Vernon
  • Fascinating museums

If history elicits a "whatever" eye roll from your kids, it's time to toss those dry textbooks, grab the family and travel east, young parent. Immerse your kids in the marvels of Washington D.C. and spend your days watching the excitement of history ignite in your kids' eyes.

But stay in Alexandria, Virginia. Did you know that just a mere seven miles across the Potomac ... more
If history elicits a "whatever" eye roll from your kids, it's time to toss those dry textbooks, grab the family and travel east, young parent. Immerse your kids in the marvels of Washington D.C. and spend your days watching the excitement of history ignite in your kids' eyes.

But stay in Alexandria, Virginia. Did you know that just a mere seven miles across the Potomac River from D.C. you'll find beautiful hotels at reasonable prices nestled into the colonial streets that George Washington walked as a boy?

In this charming seaport town with it's Old World homes, cobblestone streets and colonial brick buildings, eighteenth-century history seems to breath in every crack and crevice. Turn a corner and you see the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee. Turn another and you pass Christ Church where the Washingtons worshiped (still in use today). Glance over there and you'll see the small cemetery at Christ Church where thirty-four Confederate prisoners of war are buried. Down that street is Gadsby's Tavern where Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Monroe and the Marquis de Lafayette dined. And right over there is the Apothecary shop where Martha Washington ordered her castor oil.

But how easy is it to get to the museums and monuments of D.C.? A snap. Just hop the D.C. metro. Or if you want stay in Alexandria to shop, dine or visit museums along King Street just climb aboard the free King Street Trolley that runs every fifteen minutes.

For that special day when you're ready to head to Mount Vernon, choose between driving the fifteen-minutes to the popular estate or renting bikes at the waterfront. You and the kids can pedal the nine miles on the paved bike path with its sparkling views of the Potomac and D.C. monuments. After your Mount Vernon visit, take a water cruise back to the dock. Simple.

But what is not simple is choosing a restaurant. Never before have I eaten in a town like Alexandria where every meal was memorable. I had a surprisingly tasty salad at King Street Blues. I ate every calorie of my eggs Benedict at Bread & Chocolate. And twice I carefully guarded my egg crepe champignon at La Madeleine. (I had no intention of sharing.) I won't even mention the various cupcake establishments that snared my unsuspecting husband on a daily basis. I was talking with an Alexandria pastry chef about why the food is so darned good in Alexandria and she supposed that it had to do with the restaurants being both independently owned and just outside of D.C. (healthy competition being a delicious thing). Also, she explained, Old Town Alexandria is not a tourist trap, meaning the food had better be good or the locals wouldn't return.

I agree. Alexandria is not a tourist trap. No gaudy trinkets or tee shirts here shouting "I heart Alexandria" -- just plenty of appreciative visitors and locals side-by-side shopping, browsing, dining, and enjoying the beauty of Alexandria.

So bring your kids. Dunk them in D.C. and Alexandria offerings. Tell them no dusty textbooks allowed. Watch a burgeoning love of history emerge.

Written by Wendy Irvine less

Alexandria, VA Planning & Tips
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