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Visit Historic Alexandria
It’s a dog-friendly town!

Christine Roberts

One of the exceptional historic American cities that I visited recently is the charming town of Alexandria in Northern Virginia, voted No. 1 on the “Top 10” list of America's Best Cities by readers of Ladies Home Journal. Interestingly, it is not only noted for its historic attractions, pre-Revolutionary Olde Town Quarter and Potomac Riverfront location, but also for the residents’ exceptional love and concern for the welfare of their dogs.

Banks in Alexandria welcome customers’ dogs. So much so that every teller in one centrally located bank, situated opposite the visitor center, has a transparent jar of colorful cookies placed on the counter for when they arrive. The larger dogs even manage to put their paws up on the counter ready to receive their treat.

“Fetch” is the name of the local dog bakery. It has many drawers filled with irresistible, freshly baked cookies. The shop has thought of everything that this greatly loved member of the family could possibly desire! On certain street corners unique bone boxes have been placed, just high enough for the local residents to reach and place a juicy bone inside, ready for the next hungry dog passing by, on his or her walk.

Personal dog trainers from the highly reputed Olde Town School for Dogs are frequently spotted walking their clients along the tree-lined pavements. They learn quickly and are so well-behaved. Many are dropped off in the morning and collected the same evening after work. And, there’s even a happy hour arranged for them on certain days of the week at a local hotel.

Founded as a seaport in 1749, the town still has retained some of its cobbled stone streets and ship’s captains houses. Today, it boasts over 200 restaurants, 50 art galleries and a plethora of boutiques, bookstores, antique shops and numerous exquisitely preserved buildings.

Gadsby's Tavern & Museum is a favorite choice with diners as it provided the inspiration for Mark Twain's book, "The Man who stopped at Gadsby's". Listed among their specials is Surrey County Peanut "Soup" and Corn-breaded Catfish over Blackeyed Pea Succotash served with a fine sauce. Once frequented by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the likes of James Monroe and the Marquis de Lafayette, the tavern is furnished in a typical 18th century style.

What to see:

  • Don't miss the farmer's market held on Saturday mornings where you can observe Alexandria's famed town crier.

  •  Take a cruise on the Potomac River to the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, first owned by George Washington. *

  • Explore "Olde Towne" in a horse-drawn carriage with owner Ann Crockett and her affable horse, Hobo. She has many fascinating tales to relate!

  •  Relax at the newly opened Sugar House Day Spa and Salon. Spa packages are available.

  •  Take advantage of  "Dash About", a free shuttle bus service that operates from King Street Metro Station to Market Square in Old Town Alexandria.

  •  Join a walking tour and stop by at the intriguing Apothecary Shop!

  •  Visit the Alexandria Visitors’ Center at 221 King Street for a plethora of interesting information. Check out their new Key Pass to visit historic estates of Virginia. The Pass provides the opportunity to visit, take a guided tour and attend special events at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, Woodlawn Mansion and Gunston Hall Plantation, all for the discounted price of $20 for adults and $11 for children aged 6 and over. These three estates are found just outside the town, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.

  •  Another very good saving is their VIP Pass (Very Important Patriot) that offers selected admissions, a River Cruise and walking tour, with a 20 per cent saving.

  •  The story of Alexandria’s African American history is told through a dramatic, newly published, illustrated guide, “A remarkable and courageous journey”, which takes the visitor to 20 historic sites and neighbourhoods that have mushroomed around early African American communities.

  • A 7ft. bronze-sculpted Shipbuilder Monument in Waterfront Park rests on top of a three-foot structure – designed and sculpted by Michael Curtis whose numerous public sculptures adorn buildings in Washington, DC.

Where to stay: 

Among its newest hotels are the centrally situated Hampton Inn, the luxurious Hilton Old Town Alexandria, close to King Street Metro and Homestead Guest Studios and the Marriott Residence Inn and Courtyard by Marriott. And Fairfield Washington, DC offers the first urban holiday timeshare condominium in the area.

Don’t miss seeing the impressive Carlyle House, close to the Visitor Center and the Frank Lloyd Wright  "Usonian" home built for a family of moderate means. Further details on Or Fax: (091) 703 838 4683.

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Email:  Christine Roberts


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