Moving to Alexandria, Va., appeals to those looking for small-town charm and big-city amenities. The city is packed full of quality of life attributes, and with so much to see and do, it's easy to see why the city ranked on our Top 100 Best Places to Live for 2015. Whether you're a history lover, beer lover or dog lover, Alexandria is worth checking out.
“We’re absolutely dog crazy – we come out for canine cruises on the Potomac, Yappy Hour after work and play in 18 dog parks. I love that we have a 100-year-old coffee roastery that was founded 55 years before Starbucks. We established the region’s first craft brewery, and our restaurants and shops are run with a passion by owner operators. Our designer doughnut shop is planning to add a speakeasy!” says Tom Kaiden, COO of Visit Alexandria.
Along with these reasons to move the Alexandria, here are eight more:
1. Old Town
This hoppin' city center is the place to find fun, dining and entertainment. This historic neighborhood sits on the Potomac River waterfront and is packed with boutiques, award-winning restaurants and lodging options. King Street, Old Town's main street, offers sightseeing at places like the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and The Lyceum: Alexandria's History Museum.
2. Safe, walkable neighborhoods
Aside from Old Town, there are three other main neighborhoods in Alexandria. Each is different in their own way, but the neighborhoods blend 18th and 19th century architecture with modern amenities. Neighborhoods include: Old Town, Del Ray, West End and Carlyle/Eisenhower, each with their own arts, dining, shopping and history.
“It’s easy to go car-free in our walkable city, which includes easy access to DC’s Metrorail system, bike sharing and car sharing systems, the free King Street Trolley, and prolific taxi and Uber service. We have our own Amtrak station in Old Town and are just 10 minutes from Washington Reagan National airport,” says Claire Mouledoux director of communications at Visit Alexandria.
3. Dogs welcome
One of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., the city loves four-legged furry canines. So much so, the city offers special events and plenty of places for them to get out, including doggy happy hours and canine boat cruises, treats, and water bowls along King Street. Scottish dogs even have a chance to strut their stuff at the annual The Campagna Center's Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade in December.
4. Food, food, food
Award-winning restaurants in Alexandria help place the city's dining scene in publications such as Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The New York Times and our Best Foodies list. From cocktails to desserts, Alexandria restaurants serve it all. Notable Yelp reviewer hot spots include Columbia Firehouse, Hank's Oyster Bar, Momo Sushi and Cafe, and the region's first brewery, Port City Brewing Co., and Swing's, a coffee roastery established in 1916.
5. George Washington lived here
Washington's town house was completed in 1769, and even though it was demolished in 1855, it was rebuilt on the original foundation using its bricks and stones in 1960. Along with that cool fact, Alexandria is packed full of museums and historical sites including the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
6. Students can get their STEM on
Anyone studying the economic future sees the great emphasis the country is placing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, located in Fairfax County, ranks No.4 on U.S. News and World Report's list of best high schools in the nation. The city also has 18 public schools and six private schools ready to teach and train students.
The city's dedication to STEM also attracted the U.S. Patent & Trade Office headquarters in 2003, and the National Science Foundation, a government agency that promotes science and engineering through education and research, is moving to Alexandria in 2017, bringing many jobs with it.
7. It's close to D.C., but it's not D.C.
“Alexandria is an oasis – 15 minutes by Metro from the nation’s capital, but with a friendly, small-town feel," Kaiden says. The city is so close residents and visitors can actually see the Washington Monument and Capitol building in Washington D.C. on the riverfront horizon. Moving to Alexandria gives residents access to one of the country's most famous cities without having to live in the metro area.
8. The Potomac River
Many looking to relocate want a place to enjoy outdoor recreation, and Alexandria has plenty of options for outdoor fun. The city offers mild climate with options for biking along the Mount Vernon Trail, which starts in Mount Vernon and ends at the National Mall in D.C. Water taxis and boat cruises can also take you to area attractions, or you can visit one of many parks, which range from historic and nature to waterfront and pet friendly.