Explore the DC Region: A 7-Day Itinerary
Voted one of Travel + Leisure’s Best Cities in the U.S. 2022 and a Condé Nast Traveler Top 5 Best Small City in the U.S. 2022, historic Alexandria, Virginia, is the ideal home base to spend a week exploring America’s capital region. Situated minutes from Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River, you can venture out for the day and then wind down at Alexandria’s award-winning independent restaurants and hotels. Start your weeklong adventure in buzzing Alexandria, then hop across the river to D.C.’s museums and monuments, visit the first president’s estate, savor stunning wine country and so much more. Plan your perfect trip with our itinerary below.
Day 1: Alexandria
Discover King Street’s History
Stroll through Old Town’s walkable King Street mile, lined with 200+ independent shops and restaurants set inside historic buildings, red-brick sidewalks and a free trolley. Stop at historic site museums like the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and peruse centuries-old medicinal treatments, including dragon’s blood.
Embark on an Old Town Food Crawl
Satisfy your hunger and curiosity on Carpe DC’s Boutique Old Town Alexandria Food Tour. You’ll sample five of Alexandria’s culinary hotspots while hearing about the neighborhood’s history.
See Art in Action
A munitions plant during World War II, the riverside Torpedo Factory Art Center now houses seven galleries and 82 artists’ studios. After your behind-the-scenes peek at the creative process, walk outside to the waterfront and explore its many offerings.
Grab Dinner and a Show
Wrap up your evening at one of Alexandria’s late-night hubs. Catch a show at The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall. Or, nurse a nightcap or decadent dessert at riverfront Blackwall Hitch while grooving to the live tunes.
Day 2: Washington, D.C.
Cruise to D.C.’s Monuments
Sightsee via water taxi as you head into Washington, D.C. and spend a day traversing the nation’s capital. Meet America’s icons at moving and memorable landmarks including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and more.
Tour Smithsonian Museums
Enjoy free admission and absorb all there is to see and learn at immersive Smithsonian Museums like the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History.
Sample Southern Cuisine
After a day of sight-seeing, taste Alexandria’s Southern credentials with some authentic takes on American comfort cuisine like award-winning barbecue or Cajun shrimp and grits. Or, branch out to other innovative plates, from creative eggrolls to grown-up grilled cheeses.
Get Spooked on a Ghost Tour
Hear the city’s more haunting history on one of Old Town’s ghost tours. A colonial-costumed, lantern-wielding docent will guide you through the twilight, sharing ghost stories, legends and folklore.
Day 3: George Washington’s Mount Vernon
See the First President’s Home
George Washington’s Mount Vernon is just a bike or boat ride from Old Town. Explore the historic estate and take part in immersive activities including a 4D film, interacting with period interpreters, hearing tours from lesser-heard perspectives (such as “Herstory”) and exploring Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill.
Snap Picturesque Photos
Scope out share-worthy shots of charming rowhouses along cobblestoned Captain’s Row. Strike a pose in front of the skinniest historic house in the U.S. Discover hidden gems like Wales Alley and scenic Jones Point Lighthouse.
Relax at Port City Brewing Company
Unwind at Port City Brewing Company, an award-winning craft brewery in Alexandria’s West End. You’ll find tours, tasting flights and tons of events, from trivia nights to Beer Yoga.
Grab a Late-Night Snack
For enticing late-night eats, head to Old Town’s Urbano 116 and choose sweet and spicy dipping sauces to accompany fresh fried churros. Or, pair The People’s Drug’s vibrant craft cocktails with savory bites to share.
Day 4: Wine Country
Take an Electric Bike Tour
Start your day with an endorphin boost by running or walking on the Mount Vernon Trail. Or, zip along on a Pedego Electric Bike. Riders of wide-ranging abilities can cruise along an Old Town tour to see the city roll by.
Book a Winery Tour
Sit back and let the Reston Limousine spirit you away to a safe and luxurious tasting experience at wineries across Northern Virginia. Sign up for a public tour or customize a private outing for you and your fellow sommeliers.
Shop for Curated Keepsakes
Discover the perfect mementos along Old Town’s King Street mile, the D.C. region’s largest collection of independent boutiques, along with national favorites. Step inside local shops offering curated selections of stationery, vintage barware, sustainable fashion and more.
Enjoy Regional Oysters
After a day spent spinning, sipping and shopping, refresh yourself by the water and sample regional oysters under the red umbrellas at Vola’s Dockside Grill. Or, enjoy the briny delicacies at the acclaimed Hank’s Oyster Bar.
Day 5: Shenandoah National Park and Luray Caverns
Cruise along Skyline Drive
Rent a car and wind along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Skyline Drive for spectacular views of the rolling peaks and valleys.
Soak Up Views from Mary’s Rock
Stretch your legs with a hike up Mary’s Rock. The moderately-difficult, 3.7-mile ramble rewards you with sublime views of the lush Shenandoah valley below.
Roam Through Luray Caverns
Pull over again and experience jaw-dropping Luray Caverns. See four million centuries-old subterranean rock formations, cathedral-high chambers, shimmering pools, optical illusions and the world’s largest musical instrument, the “Great Stalacpipe Organ.”
Dine in Historic Hotspots
Back in Old Town, decompress and dine in style at one of Alexandria’s historic hotspots, such as Virtue Feed & Grain or Columbia Firehouse, both housing gorgeous interiors, an upbeat ambience and stellar American cuisine within their 19th-century walls.
Day 6: Baltimore
Explore Inner Harbor
Rent a car for an adventure in downtown Baltimore’s buzzing center. Stop by the architecturally-stunning Visitor Center for ideas and expert advice for where to eat, explore and be entertained.
Discover the National Aquarium
See the giant turtles, dolphins, electric eels and more at Baltimore’s beloved National Aquarium. Get up-close-and-personal with guided opportunities like the Shark Tour or the Icky, Creepy, Slimy, Cool Tour.
Visit Fort McHenry
During the War of 1812, the defense of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the “The Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics of America’s national anthem. Partake in historical exhibits and outdoor programs for the whole family.
Partake in Presidential Dining
Back in Alexandria, visit one of Alexandria’s presidential favorites. The Obamas dined in Vermilion’s luxurious, lantern-lit interior and enjoyed The Majestic’s funky neon lights and bistro menu.
Day 7: National Harbor
Take a Water Taxi
Enjoy a 25-minute cruise across the Potomac from Alexandria’s Marina to National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Follow the bright lights of the Capital Wheel and spend the day exploring the waterfront district, all with Alexandria in eyesight.
Shop at Tanger Outlets
Find a bargain at Tanger Outlets, which boasts something for everyone among its dozens of stores, from Kate Spade to Brooks Brothers. For a new outfit, home décor, chic shoes and more, Tanger Outlets has you covered.
Experience MGM National Harbor
From world-class acts to thrilling casino games, entertainment abounds at MGM National Harbor. Widespread dining options invite you to linger and soak in the extravagant interior.
Grab Drinks and Dessert
Head back to Virginia for a satisfying end to your day. Alexandria has long been known as a dessert destination, and Sugar Shack Donuts lets you blend sweets and spirits with their own speakeasy, Captain Gregory’s, hidden inside the donut shop.