From Poughkeepsie: 5 hours, 20 mins
While only minutes from DC, Alexandria stands on its own appealing merits. This charming waterfront city has an inspired food scene, retail options any city would covet, and American history woven right into the fabric of the town.
photo by C. davidson/visit alexandria
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Much of Old Town is focused around King Street, a long, lively, historic thoroughfare that runs down to the Potomac River. At the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, medications were once prescribed to Martha Washington; Gadsby’s Tavern Museum offers self-guided tours of gathering spaces frequented by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; and Carlyle House is a 1753 mansion that became a hospital during the Civil War. On Captain’s Row, picture-perfect 18th-century homes line the cobblestone street. Meanwhile, George Washington’s ever-gracious Mount Vernon is just a short drive away.
Near Old Town’s historic gems, boutique shopping thrives, including The Hour, featuring a dreamy collection of vintage barware. TSALT is a local favorite for apparel from chic, custom gowns to top-of-the-line jeans and workout-wear. Bishop Boutique is the place for irresistible accessories. And the Torpedo Factory Art Center lets you shop the work of 82 artists inside their studios.
Stick around King Street for dinner at Vermilion, a cozy spot where the Obamas famously enjoyed a romantic Valentine’s Day. Or choose Hank’s Pasta Bar, one of those cool, casual spots that gets everything right, including 14 kinds of homemade pasta. After dinner, seek out absinthe cocktails at Captain Gregory’s, a speakeasy hidden inside a donut shop. In the a.m., Stomping Ground has a breakfast menu built around meltingly delicious buttermilk biscuits.
STAY: Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa
photo by brabo
With a prime location on King Street, the Kimpton Lorien is a serene escape for you (and your dog, if you like) at the center of Alexandria’s shopping, dining, and historic destinations. Gray-toned guest rooms and baths are generously proportioned, the intimate spa is relaxing and unhurried, and the staff could not be more accommodating. Take advantage of lobby wine hour every day at 5 p.m. Then, check out Brabo, the hotel’s bustling restaurant, which serves European-inspired cuisine (the spring-pea soup with lobster, and ricotta-basil ravioli are excellent). Next door, the smaller Brabo Tasting Room offers Belgian mussels, pizza, and delectable small plates.
From $219/night; www.lorienhotelandspa.com