Welcome to charming, historic Alexandria Virginia!
When people talk about Alexandria, it can get pretty confusing. You’ll hear Alexandria City. You’ll hear Alexandria Fairfax County. And you will hear “Alexandria, you mean, like Old Town?” So what is it? And where is it?
This video is about the city part.
Alexandria is located west of the Potomac River, inside the beltway with 495 the southern boundary, 395 is the western boundary and Four Mile Run is the northern boundary. There are a few metros that service Alexandria – Van Dorn St Metro in West End, then Eisenhower, King Street or Braddock Rd. Alexandria isn’t just Old Town. There are actually several neighborhoods that make up Alexandria City.
Old Town: This is old Virginia. Think brick sidewalks and brick homes, this was originally part of the capital city. Alexandria resonates with people who move here from the Northeast – Connecticut, Massachusetts. A combination of life near the water and that feel of an old port town feels part New England and definitely part old colonial Virginia.
Del Ray: Between Rosemont and the northern edges of Old Town, Del Ray is a hopping little neighborhood with a strong sense of community and a main strip, Mount Vernon Avenue, with restaurants and retail.
Potomac Yard: This has more of a commercial feel, and sits south of Pentagon City (which is in Arlington) on Route 1. There is lots of new development happening here, but it’s a long narrow strip of land sandwiched between the geographic constraints of Route 1 and the Potomac River.
Eisenhower/Carlyle: long strip of land that stretches across the southern edge of Alexandria just inside the beltway. The western edge is industrial, and the eastern part is west of Old Town and has several high-rise condo buildings, townhomes and an area of retail and restaurants just off Duke Street.
Rosemont: This is a quiet neighborhood where people wave at you when you drive by. There are many well-manicured homes, developed in early 1900’s. It’s mostly comprised of single-family homes. There’s a historic district and Rosemont is often grouped together with North Ridge.
North Ridge: This neighborhood is mostly single-family homes as well, but developed later than Rosemont. These homes were built in the 930’s – 1960’s. Retail areas are on the edges of these neighborhoods.
Park Fairfax: A large community of almost 1700 homes, originally built for those coming home after World War II.
Arlandria: A small neighborhood on the northeast part of Alexandria. Arlandria is a residential neighborhood served just as much by retail on the Arlington side of Four Mile Run River than it would be in Alexandria. Arlandria was made famous by a Foo Fighters Song of the same name.
Parker Gray or Uptown: This is an area west of Old Town that has experienced a lot of growth. There are many smaller two story townhomes here, but also new developments by Braddock Rd Metro.
West End is the West End of Alexandria and includes a few neighborhoods.
Seminary Hill is mostly residential single-family homes, many Cape Cod style with well-maintained yards.
The Landmark area is just south of Seminary Hill and is being redeveloped. Here you will find a mix of condos and apartments.
Cameron Station: This is a huge planned community built in the late 1990’s around 2000 of mostly townhomes and condos
Did you know?
Alexandria (old town) used to be part of the capital / DC back in the early 1800’s!
The ports here were mainly used for tobacco. As mentioned, Alexandria was part of the capital city but retroceded back to Virginia mostly for two reasons. First, the differing slavery opinions. Alexandria wanted slavery and it was falling out of favor in the capital. By 1846 the bill passed for Alexandria to retrocede back to Virginia. The second reason was the city of DC as we know it now, was growing much more rapidly. The more rural Alexandria wasn’t well represented being included as part of the city.
A good portion of the housing in Old Town is from the 1800’s – which isn’t super common to find in the area. But Old Town Alexandria, just like Georgetown in DC, were the two main ports. You will find houses from the 1800’s in both areas. In Old Town Alexandria, you will find rowhouses, condos and apartments. Old town is – well – old.
There are some newer condos that have popped up in places in Old Town that have been mostly repurposed through conversions of other buildings. Condos can be found in older buildings on the southern edge of Old Town in the $200’s, but the newer condos go from $400,000 up into the millions. It’s all about a water view here.
Rowhomes? The charm here will cost you. Prices are typically $1M and up.
In Del Rey the house prices have risen steeply in the past few years. Being walkable to the main strip, Mount Vernon Ave, where the restaurants and shops are is key. Small 500 sf condos exist here in the $200’s, but most prices for condos in Del Ray go well into the $600’s and $700’s. There are attached/row houses in the $600’s – $700’s. Single Family Houses will set you back $800K and up.
The Eisenhower area has newer buildings. Condos are $400K for a 1 bedroom into the $600’s for a 2 bedroom. Houses are also steep here, in the $700’s to $1M’s.
Rosemont and North Ridge house prices are in the 700’s to $1M’s.
Potomac Yard is newish area with most homes being built post 2000. This is the most northern part of Alexandria, and feels more like Arlington / Crystal City than Alexandria. Newer townhouses here are in the $800,000 range and up, condos $400K.
My opinion of Potomac Yard is that it carries a premium for its location being so close to Arlington and Reagan National Airport, but there are not as much in neighborhood amenities.
In the West End you can find smaller two-level townhomes in the $500’s, but they will lack the location / neighborhood amenities of the areas to the east like Old Town, Del Rey and Potomac Yard. But what West End lacks in location is made up for with the proximity to 395.
Cameron Station is a community that can somewhat stand alone. The homes are in the $700’s and up. You have some retail, but you do have to leave the community for other amenities. That said, it is a popular location in which to live.
There is so much in Alexandria, it’s impossible to cover it all. Old Town has it all – American, Seafood, BBQ, Sushi, French. The highest concentration of restaurants in Old Town. Del Ray runs a close 2nd, and there are a lot more indie cafes.
As you move further toward the west and West End, you will see more chain restaurants heading west on Duke Street.
Grocery stores are not lacking in Alexandria. There’s Harris Teeter, Giant, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Balduccis.
Old Town wins again. It’s hard to compete with the waterfront! The Torpedo Factory used to be a munitions manufacturing building. It’s now a place for artists to show their work as well as condos.
Old Town has a Farmer’s Market, which happens to be the oldest continuously run farmer’s market. George Washington is said to have sold stuff here. It’s open from 7a.m. to noon on Saturdays
Don’t Miss: 523 Queen St – Hollensbury Spite House, built in 1830 by John Hollensbury to keep horses out of the alley.
Potomac Yard and Del Rey run a close second in terms of shopping, but they each offer two totally different experiences.
Potomac Yard is the big box stores – Target, Petsmart, TJ Maxx, Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Shoppers Warehouse (grocery.) Del Rey has smaller shops, independent stores and restaurants. There’s also the Del Rey Vintage and Flea Market to check out.
You can also see the southernmost boundary stone in Alexandria at Jones Point. There are tons of community gardens all over Alexandria as well.
There are playgrounds in every neighborhood. Some are smaller neighborhood parks less than an acre and others are larger.
Eugene Simpson between Del Ray and Old Town North has Baseball fields, basketball court, dog exercise area, garden, playground and tennis courts
Cameron Run Regional Park has Mini Golf, Batting Cages and Great Waves Water Park. There’s something here for all ages.
Ben Brenman Park is huge – 60 acres of everything.
Alexandria has all their parks on a website: https://www.alexandriava.gov/recreation/info/default.aspx?id=12342
In Old Town you can hit the Stabler – Leadbeater Apothecary Museum which has some Harry Potter Inspiration, with old medicine bottles to play with.
Your dogs are not going to be left out. Alexandria is really dog friendly. There is 1st Street Dog park, Eugene Simpson, Monroe Avenue in Old Town North but there’s tons of walking you can do along the river at a system of linear parks along the water in Old Town too.
Over in Eisenhower there’s a dog wash, a couple dog parks. And in West End there is a dog park at Ben Brenman, Holmes Run, Wiggley Field.
There is a ton in Alexandria, and I hope this gave you an overview. Let me know if you have questions!