Think you know King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, minutes from Washington, D.C.? Prepare to be delighted when you venture beyond lower King Street near the waterfront and head west of Washington Street to explore more of this historic mile. Already known for its top-notch dining, date night spots, signature boutiques and live music scene, middle and upper King Street is buzzing with newly opened and relocated gems. Keep reading for an insider’s look at can’t-miss new and longtime favorite destinations. And this summer, don’t miss $2 parking at City-owned garages and lots, plus year-round free meter parking on Sundays.
Toast a Night Out
From pre-dinner aperitifs to late-night nightcaps and everything in between, visit upper King Street’s expanding drink destinations. Lounge in the newly rebranded, literary-themed The Study at Morrison House, one block from King on S. Alfred Street, where you can order unconventional house cocktails such as the Jerk-Spiced Kingston Negroni, along with regionally-sourced small plates. Nearby on N. Alfred Street, The People’s Drug serves up drinkable works of art up in a tiny, neon-signed, Insta-worthy setting. For perpetual Oktoberfest, visit the new Village Brauhaus, which offers beer cocktails and German drafts along with hearty German-Austrian cuisine. For an established pub scene with an Irish lilt, grab a pint at Murphy’s Irish Pub. Or, settle into Vermilion’s crimson bar seats and soak up the elevated atmosphere, clink glasses at Brabo Brasserie’s exposed-brick bar, or sip something special at art deco-themed The Majestic, all on King Street.
Take a Sweets Crawl
Dessert lovers will swoon over the dozens of sweet spots in Old Town. Tour a trio of sweet spots on upper King Street, beginning at Fleurir Chocolates’ new home a half block from King Street on S. Payne Street for all-natural artisan truffles, caramels, toffees and other delights like the Alexandria bar, a dark blend chock-full of candied espresso beans. Then, cross the street for Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato’s Argentinian flavors, such as the wine-infused Malbec or the decadent Dulce de Leche. Ride your sugar rush around the corner to Alexandria Cupcake on King Street, and try their signature rosewater bake, made daily from scratch.
For round two of your confections crawl, start on a magical note at King Street’s Nicecream, where liquid frozen nitrogen poured before your eyes catalyzes a multi-sensory experience. Savor your scoop as you meander toward S. Patrick Street’s Blüprint Chocolatiers, where you can pair a drink from their micro-café with a dainty chai or Porto-flavored chocolate square. This fall, end on a grand finale with a flavor “flight” of three scoops at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ newest location steps away on S. Patrick Street. The growing franchise will boost Alexandria’s Ice Cream Cone Capital reputation, bringing a cult following for flavors like the Gooey Butter Cake and Brambleberry Crisp, containing no artificial flavors or colors.
Instagram New Murals
Float over to Bloomers at 924 King Street to experience the Butterfly Effect mural, painted by community members in June 2019. Snap a shot with the wings, which include Arabic, Spanish and English translations of Ghandi’s iconic message, then pass along the good vibes as you boost a favorite charity by submitting your photo. Then, catch the newly-painted galaxy gal outside fibre space at 1319 Prince Street. These new Instagram spots in the upper King Street area join a growing collection of must-see murals in Old Town. The lower King Street area boasts a brand-new burst of color by artist Meg Biram at 106 N. Lee Street on the South Block building, and the Beaded Curtain mural by artist Erin Curtis on the loading dock door of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Snag Curated Finds at Independent Boutiques
The King Street Mile boasts the largest collection of independent boutiques in the D.C. region. New-in-2018 boutique Threadleaf has just expanded to a larger space at 102 N. Fayette Street. The airy shop showcases even more responsibly made, fashion-forward clothing and accessories from independent brands, reflecting the passion and curatorial eye of owner Nicole McGrew, an attorney with a design background who previously worked for the Obama administration. Threadleaf joins a bevy of must-shop boutiques around Upper King Street. Penny Post offers beautifully-designed greeting cards, pens, stationery and other printed treasures, while Red Barn Mercantile highlights local designers among its inventory of high quality home goods, gifts, furniture and more. Hosting a soiree soon? The Hour Shop sells sparklingly chic drinkware, from vintage Mad Men-era glasses to original designs from local owner Victoria Vergason’s new line, The Modern Home Bar. Check out the Ultimate King Street Shopping Guide for more ideas.
Fuel up with Fast Casual
Start the day on a satisfying note at King Street’s newly-opened Toastique, where a slice of whole wheat comes generously and gorgeously topped with the Avocado Smash, Tomato Burrata and more. In a rush? Pick up a cold-pressed juice or vibrant smoothie for an on-the-go boost. On the fast-casual front, Toastique joins Sweetgreen, a D.C.-based national favorite for colorful, nutrient-packed greens and grain bowls. Offering a quirkier grab-n-go option, Meggrolls has earned a loyal following for irresistible fried egg rolls packed with fillings ranging from “4 Cheese Broccoli Mac” to “The Chorizo Poblano.” Trust us on this one.
Wind down as you get dolled up at the recently-opened Drybar on King Street, which provides professional blow-outs (and drinks) for an indulgent experience. Nervous about your first tattoo? Let inq tattoo ease your mind with designs in organic and vegan ink, including temporary 2-3-week options, and a safe and spa-like atmosphere, opening late summer 2019. These two new beauty spots join longtime favorites like makeup boutique Bellacara, artsy and inclusive Salon deZEN and luxurious Sugar House Day Spa and Salon in and around upper King Street.
Get Creative at Maker Boutiques
Newly relocated to 1212 King Street, AR Workshop remains the go-to spot to design and decorate your own home décor, from canvas pillows to plank wood boards and more. Perfect for everything from bachelorette outings to youth events, AR Workshop is a creative crowd-pleaser. Inspired for more hands-on hobbies? King Street’s Stitch Sew Shop is a maker’s dream, boasting a by-the-hour sewing workspace and eight Bernina sewing machines along with regular classes, workshops and events. Join the lively community at fibre space on Prince Street, which offers classes from crochet to weaving, “yarn tastings” and other pop-up events.
Shop National Favorites
Shop for new specs at recent newcomer Warby Parker, where you can also treat your eyes to a one-of-a-kind, optical illusion mural. In 2020, King Street will welcome Patagonia, the beloved eco-conscious outdoor clothing brand, into the former Old Town Theater locale. These two national stores join nearby favorites like lululemon, a one-stop-shop for women’s athleisure, from high-intensity workout gear to casual chic yoga wear.
Savor Local Coffeeshops
Misha’s, an Old Town institution, has hopped across the road to a new location at 917 King Street, with a larger interior and the same hand-roasted beans and brews served in their iconic orange cups. Even in its new home, Misha’s stays close to long-time neighbor Killer E.S.P., a funky favorite for coffee or tea, edgy art and sweet and savory pies to die for. In either coffee spot, sit a spell with a drink in hand as you watch the world go by.
Looking for more inspiration? There’s more to explore along the King Street Mile.