In the old town and in the new part of the downtown area, you will find loads of wonderful little shops with common and unique items. Just take the time to stroll around the various streets, namely around the King street and Market square. They were lots of people milling around, so it felt safe.
What to pay: About average to the high end range:-)
Rose Hill Shopping Centre is a modest strip mall in a suburban part of Alexandria. Among the more prominent stores are Safeway, Vocelli Pizza, Rite Aid, Pet Valu, Subway, and T.J. Maxx.
What to buy: Tim and I stopped here to get fixins for lasagne at Safeway. Besides groceries, you can get a pizza, a sandwich, a haircut, medicines, toiletries, and even learn Taekwondo.
What to pay: This is, by no means, Tysons Corner. Given the tenant lineup, reasonable prices can be found.
This store has anything and everything either made in Virginia or about Virginia.
What to buy: Virginia Peanuts, coffee mugs, posters, t-shirts, brass doorstops, logo golf balls, etc. etc. A really nice selection
What to pay: average pricing
This is a funky store that is half garden shop and half funky home decoration store. We visited for the garden shop, which has an OK selection of plants, but nothing like the big stores. They also have a few tools and outdoor decorations. One of the cool things outside is the cat named Max that wanders the ground among the plants and customers.
The building on the grounds appears to be an older house, but now each room is part of the store including the kitchen and bathroom. The decor in the rooms is all for sale, and all really unique and unusual. Most of the decorations are things I could never picture in my own house, but maybe in that crazy divorced aunt's house. Yes, the same aunt with 40 cats.
The Book Bank on King Street in Old Town is one of the best used book stores I've found in a long time. If you're a collector or just looking for a cheap read, it's a great place to check out. The store is constantly taking in books, so the supply on the shelves changes very frequently (you can go in every week and have a different selection).
I've had great luck here as a collector. The staff keeps the books in excellent condition, so you'll rarely find a damaged piece. Prices are low so you can go a little crazy if you'd like.
The staff is very knowledgeable about their stock and books in general. If you are looking for something specific, they can hold it for you if it comes in. The location can't be beat, just about 2 blocks from the King Street metro.
What to buy: Vintage paperbacks, hardcover and paperback literature, history, sciences. Paperback romance and mystery. Poetry, drama...etc...
What to pay: US$3-$10 typically
In English, "a likely story" refers to scepticism of an incredible tale. For example, if you tell your spouse you were late coming home because you were abducted by aliens, he or she would say, "A likely story." The store by this creative name sells childrens books.
What to buy: Children's book
So, as I've stated in many different tips King Street is the place to be! If you're just looking for shopping tips than look no further. Start at one end of King Street and go all the way down. They have all sorts of gift shops, art galleries, clothing stores, books, kids gifts and more. I loved walking up and down and going into all the shops.
The Mount Vernon Gift Shop has so much to offer: books, china, glassware, jewelry, sweets, wine, Christmas decorations, clothing and furnishings. I have never seen so much George Washington themed merchandise in one place. Liz and I wandered about taking it all in especially all the Presidential Christmas ornaments. We really liked the George and Martha Gingerbread ornaments the best.
From my apartment in Old Town there are three convenient movie theaters. The AMC Hoffman Center 22, the Alexandria Old Town Theater, and the Regal Potomac Yard 16. The Regal Kingstowne Stadium 16 is also officially in Alexandria, but not close to much except the Springfield Mall.
The largest and only one I've visited so far is the AMC Hoffman Center 22. This is a massive three story theater, built in 2001, with 22 screen showing all of Hollywood's latest and largest movies. They have automated ticket vending machines, and other high-tch automated featured that should help lower ticket prices... or not. Tickets are a ridiculous $10.50 each, but matinees are $8.50, and morning shows on weekends are just $6. This theater also has IMAX, installed in 2008. Just 1/4 mile from Eisenhower Metro Station on the Yellow Line.
The Alexandria Old Town Theater is a tiny two-screen theater right on King Street in Old Town. From the outside the place looks kind of run down, maybe a bit like an adult film venue. The Old Town Theater was constructed in 1914 and has had vaudeville, dances, movies, and even puppet shows. In the last 30 years the theater has been closed and reopened for various reasons at least dour times. Tickets are an expensive $9, with a one drink minimum purchase... and that drink can be beer or wine! 1/2 mile from the King Street Metro.
The Regal Potomac Yard 16 is located just south of Crystal City behind Target. They too, charge the outrageous fee of $10.50 to watch a movie, even worse, this one is not even metro accessible.
My Organic Market is a small chain of organic grocery stores with just five locations in the DC Metro area: Alexandria, VA; Rockville, MD; College Park, MD; Columbia East, MD; and Frederick, MD. I have visited the Rockville and Alexandria locations. Both have a similar variety of organic food at pretty steep prices.
I was surprised to find some very unique things such as venison ($25 a pound), naturally aged cheese, a variety of organic beer and root beer, some international foods, a variety of nut butters (peanut, almond, soy, walnut, sunflower seed), and even duck hot dogs!
One big difference between the MOM's in Rockville and the store in Alexandria, is that the Rockville location was full of hippies. In Alexandria, it feels more like a local neighborhood grocery store.
National Harbor is the massive, brand new waterfront shopping and entertainment district along the Potomac just outside of the DC Beltway. The 300 acre complex opened in 2008 after some two billion dollars of investment and a decade of planning. The facility resembles a tiny six or eight block main street area of a city with its hotels, restaurants, retail stores, condominiums, marina, convention center, and commercial offices. The Gaylord Hotel and Resort dominates the site, and is now the largest non-casino hotel and convention center on the east coast.
Why is all this stuff built here, rather than in one of the blighted area of DC? Who knows! Who cares? Probably cheap land, good access from the beltway, and less government bureaucracy interference.
In the near future the National Children’s Museum will also have a home at National Harbor, alongside the statue called "The Awakening" that used to stand at Hains Point in DC.
Olde Towne Gourmet Market offers a mish-mash of foreign foods and drinks, mostly from the Middle East and Turkey. We happened to wander in to this larger-than-expected store one afternoon while strolling Old Town. The front of the store has sandwiches, coffees, and desserts, while the back of the store is a small grocery store with various breads, canned goods, and drinks, many with labels written in Arabic or Turkish. Their specialty is Ethiopian coffee, and they offer about 10 different varieties.
We stopped in and picked up some corned beef and some milk, and the lady behind the counter was friendly if distracted by her phone conversation. Since she was checking us out one handed, she had me hold the bag while she put our purchases in it. Odd... but I can deal with it.
There are many different type of shops selling art of different medias including paintings, glass, ceramics, wood products. All handmaade by local artisans.
10am - 5pm Daily
6 - 9pm on the second Thursday of every month for Second Thursday Art Night
Closed New Year's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day
Studio hours vary. To ensure that a particular studio will be open for your visit, please find the artist's contact information on their Torpedo Factory webpage and call them ahead of time.
12pm - 5pm Wednesday to Sunday
The Art League Gallery
10am - 5pm Monday to Saturday
12pm - 5pm Sunday
10am - 4:45pm Tuesday to Sunday
1pm - 9pm on Second Thursday Art Nights
Multiple Exposures Gallery
11am - 5pm Daily
Potomac Craftsmen Fiber Gallery
10am - 4pm Monday to Friday
11am - 5pm Saturday and Sunday
4pm - 8pm on Second Thursday Art Nights
10am - 4pm Monday to Friday
10am - 5pm Saturday and Sunday
10am - 9pm on Second Thursday Art Nights
10am - 5pm Monday to Saturday
12pm - 5pm Sunday
11am - 5pm Daily
What to buy: Ceramics, Collage/Mixed Media, Enameling, Fibers, Glass, Jewelry, Painting/Drawing, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture. However the torpedo is not for sale.
What to pay: Variable from a few dollars to the sky is the limit.
Alexandria holds its weekly farmers market in Old Town at the square in front of City Hall. While many towns have used farmers markets as an afternoon event to increase business for their downtown areas, Alexandria retains their traditional early morning start, running Saturdays from 5am until just 10:30am all year. During the farmers market, parking is free in the garage under the market plaza.
Alexandria's farmers market has been in operation at this site since 1753, making it one of the oldest continually operated markets in America. This area is said to have once been a slave market, and George Washington also sold his good here from the Mount Vernon farms.
Alexandria also has three other farmer's markets, meaning you can get your fresh produce in town each Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday, in season.
Del Ray Farmers' Market
Corner of East Oxford & Mount Vernon Avenues
Saturdays, 8 a.m. - Noon, through the first Saturday in December
Upper King Street Fresh Farmers' Market
King Street Gardens Park, 1806 King Street
Every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., through October 29
West End Farmers' Market
Ben Brenman Park, 4800 Brenman Park Drive
Sundays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. through October
Grocery store with reasonable pricing for northern Virginia.
What to buy: Food, bath, household products.
What to pay: Less than at other grocers!