Unwind + relax with a staycation in Old Town Alexandria

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Staycation in Old Town Alexandria 

For Type-A Washingtonians living in the city, sometimes you need to get away without REALLY getting away. And for that, we call upon Old Town Alexandria — the historic town nestled right outside of the city. It’s a beautiful part of the greater Washington-area packed full of boutiques, cobbled-stone streets + insta-worthy alleyways. No matter what season you’re going in, it’s the perfect time to go. So whether or not you need a REAL staycation, book a river-view room at the Crowne Plaza Old Town. Then spend the next 48-hours doing our favorite things below. 

FRIDAY EVENING

After a crazy week, the first thing to do before checking into your hotel is to get a drink {duh}. 

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If it’s sunny out, I love happy hour at The Charthouse. Sit at the bar and let the sun come flowing in. If it’s warm, opt for sitting outside. Their shoestring fries + plantains + sweet potato chips are to die for. They come mixed together — trail mix-style — in a paper cone. Just order them. Trust me. Maxim's favorite is the prime rib french dip sliders (and stealing my fries!). On the side, grab one of the half-off, house beers or my personal favorite: A cosmopolitan with the house vodka. It’s a great way to let off steam and start indulging. 

Once you're settled up, check-in to your room and refesh a little bit. I usually change out of my work clothes into something a little bit more comfortable {read: I pull on my fave pair of Madewell jeans and throw on an off-the-shoulder top}. Since it's Friday night, opt for something casual and easy, but always pack a light jacket because it can be breezy by the water. 

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The best Friday night spot is Don Taco. The Mexican place is further into Alexandria on King Street — the main drag of Old Town— but it's totally worth the walk. Opt for the bar or second floor and be prepared for an amazing meal!

Tip: They have a late night happy hour from 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. if you get those late-night munchies.

Drinks wise, order your margarita with jalapeño-infused tequila. It's amazing and, honestly, though, you're going to want refills. Off-the-bat, order the chips, salsa and guacamole. Veggie tacos, grab the sweet potato, fried avocado {ugh, drooooooling} + grilled portobello. Maxim loves the mahi-mahi and skirt steak.

If it's nice out, stroll slowly under the lights of Old Town as you walk back to your room. Make sure to soak up the gorgeous view and note the MGM + National Harbor across the river. 

 

SATURDAY MORNING

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It's a little vacay, so order coffee + breakfast to your room. If you’re staying in the Crowne Plaza Old Town and don’t want soy milk, bring your own creamer. I’m personally a psycho, so I bring my own no matter what. For breakfast, I'll usually order a side of rye toast, a side of avocado and a side of fruit. Maxim usually orders a croissant or oatmeal and an omelet. 

Pro tip: Bring this creamer or this one. You’ll thank me later. 

Enjoy breakfast in bed while soaking up that morning Vitamin D from your room. My favorite thing is sitting in bed, gazing out at the water and watching the early morning rowers or sailors. 

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Once you're up and at em, head out to the town square for the weekly farmer's market — it happens year round. Maxim and I like to pick up some fresh apples, hummus + Senzu, our favorite local juicery — ask for the activated lemon! There's always local artists displaying their work, too, if you're looking for a gift. 

Then head up and down King Street to enjoy the boutique shops. Definitely nip into The Lucky Knot (by the water) if you’re more of a preppy-type person. Further up King Street, check out popular consignment shop, Current Boutique. My "musts" for Old Town Alexandria are She's Unique (jewelry); The Christmas Shop; Spice & Tea Exchange; 116 King St. Pop-up. 

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON + EVENING

When you're ready for lunch, head over to The Fish Market. It's MAYBE 50 yards from the water. But honestly, though, as a vegan, it's not worth it if you’re not sitting on the balcony over looking everyone (hellllllo people watching). The inside is a bit loud and dark. Maxim and I love the fish bowl bloody mary or sangria. It's 32 oz and absolutely AMAZING. Literally, Maxim and I go here in the summer JUST for the opportunity to sip our fish bowl and people watch. My go-to order is the house salad with a side of grilled veggies {and fries to steal from Maxim}. If you’re into seafood in ANY CAPACITY, make sure Fish Market is a top priority. 

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So if it's super rainy or too cold for the balcony, opt for Chadwick's over-looking the water or Vola's Dockside Grill — Vola's isn't really vegan-friendly except for the cocktails. If you're vegan (like me), consider SweetGreen further up the street, or Ichiban Sushi House (grab their cucumber roll + seaweed salad). 

After eating, walk around the torpedo factory and get lost exploring all of the different artists’ workspaces. I personally love seeing the smorgasbord of people and art styles. Wander in and out and purchase a few pieces if you’re feeling inclined. Then wander out to the boardwalk. You can enjoy the fun sideshows and walk along the pier to watch the water traffic or yacht owners relaxing on their decks. 

If you're up for it, take the rest of the afternoon to explore the side streets of Old Town where little boutiques exist for you to discover. All it takes is a little diversion from King Street. See all of the boutiques here. 

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When you're ready, walk or uber back to the hotel to do a little freshening up. I personally love watching the boats go by from the hotel room and practicing stillness for a second. Okay, TRYING to practice it, because I'm antsy and struggle to sit still. It's the thought that counts, right? 

For dinner, hit up Mai Thai.

Maxim and I’s favorite place for dinner. Hands down. Full stop. Honestly, though. We’re huge on Thai food and their BayCity will knock you off your feet. Honestly, though, it's like 5 shots in one drink. My go-to order is the tofu pad thai (no eggs) and a side of steamed veggies. If Maxim and I are super hungry, we'll get veggie spring rolls to split. Ask for a table next to the windows over looking the water. It’s always busy, but never crowded. Expect your food to come out quickly and great service. 

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Other options for dinner? La Tasca, a popular tapas place in DC. It's on the pricier side considering the number of tapas you'll end up ordering, but it's a local, DC favorite. It's great for sharing plates with friends or starting the night with a pitcher of sangria. There’s live music on Saturday nights too. Personally, I prefer to drink there and get an app at the bar before moving on somewhere else. For a fancier dinner, try out The Wharf or Blackwall Hitch. 

Once you're filled and happy with food, wander down King Street to find yourself in Old Town's {not so} best kept secret: Speakeasy PX. It's marked with a blue light and takes reservations {or you probably won't get in}. It's upscale and oozes a Great Gatsby vibe, so look nice. But if you're looking for a more laid back feeling, look for the flag at Sugarshack. Welcome to Captain Gregory's. 

 

SUNDAY MORNING

In the morning, pack up and check out of your hotel. Plan on brunch at FireFlies in the more hipster part of Alexandria — Del Ray. This place is arguably one of the best places to really "destress" from the chaos of Washington. 

Their brunch scene is definitely much different from the typical Washington D.C. brunch, but that's kind of the point. First, they have a bluegrass band EVERY SUNDAY that plays while you eat. The music can be loud if you're seated RIGHT next to the band, but it's also a reminder to sit back and listen. 

The building itself is a cute mom and pop shop with a diner-esque feel. The tables are topped with condiments, and it's clear that families are coming in after church for a bite to eat. In the summer, they have an outdoor patio under cabanas that make the vibe much more hipster DC. 

Food-wise, I ordered the veggie burger with avocado + sweet potato fries. Hummus on the side. Maxim grabbed the eggs benedict (something he says, if done right, is the sign of a good chef. Spoiler: The chef is VERY good). I ordered a bloody mary and Maxim grabbed a pineapple juice. 

The service is great and, like a well-run Mom & Pop, the atmosphere in the restaurant is amazingly chill and incredibly welcoming. Everyone is friendly and happy to just take a minute to enjoy their Sunday. After brunch, walk up the street to Swings Coffee Roasters to grab a latte to keep you from that post-brunch coma while you travel back to the city. 

Download the staycation guide + dining guide

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