Nationally recognized as one of America’s Top ArtPlaces 2013, Alexandria is a community with a "backbone of creative culture" (www.ArtPlaceAmerica.org). Alexandria is home to more than 120 art galleries and studios, displaying works ranging from 16th-century art to contemporary pieces. The city‘s visual arts hub is the world-famous Torpedo Factory Art Center, a former munitions factory transformed into a visual arts powerhouse with three floors of artist studios and galleries. Other notable arts institutions include Del Ray Artisans, the Art League, and the Athenaeum.
Patrons flock to performances at MetroStage for "Off-Broadway on the River's Edge" and productions at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, the area's oldest continuously operating community theater presenting musicals, comedies, and dramas. Nearly 100 years after it first opened, the Old Town Theater has returned to its original splendor, saluting its vaudeville past with a full calendar of live entertainment, including comedy, music, magic, and dance.
Alexandria’s music scene is eclectic and diverse. The world-famous Birchmere Music Hall hosts big-name artists in many genres. Locals love the piano bar at the acclaimed Grille at Morrison House, which features performances by Bob Smith, the White House pianist from the Nixon through the Clinton administrations. The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Northern Virginia's only professional orchestra, is led by Maestro Kim Allen Kluge and based at the NVCC Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. Seven nights a week, the best in local jazz musicians perform at Laporta's, a cozy Italian restaurant. In addition, restaurant venues like Fireflies, St. Elmo’s, and Nick’s Night Club often feature performances by local acts.
Many of Alexandria‘s historic sites are located in Old Town, such as Christ Church, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, The Carlyle House, The George Washington Masonic Memorial, The Lyceum, the Alexandria Black History Museum, and the Alexandria Archeology Museum. Mount Vernon, President George Washington's home, and Gunston Hall, home of George Mason, are just a few of the noteworthy attractions in the surrounding area.
Shopping & Dining
The city boasts a dynamic dining scene with a wide range of cuisines served up by locally-owned and operated establishments. With choices for every budget, Alexandria has several restaurants featured in the Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats and top 100 restaurants. Alexandria also offers a variety of shopping destinations, most-notably King Street and Mount Vernon Avenue. Alexandria is home to a collection of unique shops showcasing one-of-a-kind items and hard-to-find brands in every category, including home décor, specialty foods, apparel, and wellness. These shops are promoted by collaborative marketing campaigns like the Old Town Boutique District and Hand Crafted Alexandria.
Festivals & Fairs
Alexandria loves special events and parades. Some of the most popular include First Night Alexandria on New Year’s Eve, the George Washington Birthday Parade in February, the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in March, the Annual USA and City Birthday Celebration in July, the King Street Art Festival in September, Del Ray’s Art on the Avenue in October, the Del Ray Turkey Trot in November, and the Scottish Christmas Walk and the Boat Parade of Lights in December.
Year-round markets include the Old Town farmers market on Market Square, the nation’s oldest continuously operating Farmers’ Market, and the Del Ray Farmers’ Market on Mount Vernon Avenue; both are open Saturday mornings. The Upper King Street Fresh Farmers’ Market runs Wednesday afternoons, and both the West End Farmers’ Market and the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market run Sunday mornings seasonally. Visit the City’s website for a detailed list of the farmers markets.