This Washington D.C. bedroom suburb tries its damndest to keep you from ever looking across the Potomac River to the capital. The tools it employs include a heap of museums, a heart-meltingly handsome historic center, an amazing arts building, good restaurants, cozy pubs and a lively shopping scene.
While much of the city consists of modern condominiums, when you mention “Alexandria,” most people think “Old Town.” As the name suggests, Old Town is a central district of charming (if sometimes overtly twee) brick storefronts threaded by cobblestone streets, the sort of place that looks like a Christmas card when it snows. Boutiques and casual and fine dining restaurants are sprinkled throughout Old Town, which becomes fairly lively on weekends with suburban party people who prefer not to commute to D.C.
The city of Alexandria maintains nine small museums devoted to the area's considerable history. We also highly recommend the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a former munitions factory that has been converted into a multi-use studio and gallery space for area artists.