USA Today recently named Alexandria one of America’s Top Holiday Towns, where “visitors feel like time travelers to Christmas Past.” And on Old Town’s King Street, you can feel transported by a nostalgic sense of holiday wonder on brick-lined streets twinkling with holiday traditions. We’ve created this guide to help you experience all of the holiday cheer on King Street from cozy restaurants and boutique shopping to seasonal events and much more.
Holiday Wonder on King Street
King Street Twinkle Lights
Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Who says you can’t stargaze in the city? Every year, visitors and locals alike wait for the holiday season, when the trees over King Street transform into a canopy of twinkle lights. It’s one of the most magical things about holidays in Alexandria, and if you haven’t experienced it for yourself then I suggest grabbing a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and taking a stroll under the “stars”—it’s a great way to make date night special.
Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria
Make your shopping experience memorable and worry-free in Alexandria, the DC region’s Shop Small destination for independent boutiques. King Street is filled with enough shops and styles to find gifts for everyone on your “Nice List.” New this year is 116 King Holiday Pop-Up out of Nantucket, featuring emerging designers among 28 upscale fashion and lifestyle brands.
Random Acts of Holiday Cheer
Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
On Saturdays through Christmas Eve, Visit Alexandria presents Random Acts of Holiday Cheer to delight holiday shoppers in Old Town Alexandria with surprise giveaways from the Elf Prize Patrol, pop-up musical performances through the Alexandria Arts Alliance, and hands-on activities at the Mobile Art Lab. On Saturday, December 10th, NOVA Pride presents a Free Gift Wrapping Station at 116 King Holiday Pop-up located at 116 King Street.
The Tree in Market Square
Image Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria
The City tree is a holiday tradition that leaves King Street’s Market Square aglow with wonder and is a can’t-miss stop on any holiday tour of Old Town. On Saturdays, stop by Market Square for the year-round Old Town Farmers’ Market to pick up seasonal gifts and goodies surrounded by holiday joy.
The Free King Street Trolley
Riding the Free King Street Trolley during the holidays is a fun way to entertain the kids and get from one end of King Street to the other effortlessly. From the trolley, you can take in the twinkle lights and festively decorated storefronts, admire the holiday tree in market square, and get the full Old Town experience.
Holiday Dining on King Street
Few things can beat a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day, and Alexandria’s sweet spots won’t disappoint during the holidays. The Cioccolata or Italian hot chocolate, at Carluccio’s is heavenly, and the hot chocolate at Blüprint Chocolatiers had one Yelp reviewer calling it “the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Ever.” For a cooler holiday treat, try the seasonal pumpkin ice cream at Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company.
Image Credit: Magnolia’s on King Facebook Page
Dining during the holidays is all about staying cozy with some comfort food, and King Street is filled with restaurants that will keep you warm with fireplaces and outdoor heaters. For fireside fare on King Street, Columbia Firehouse, Magnolia’s on King, Sonoma Cellar, Daniel O’Connell’s, the bar at Restaurant Eve, Chart House, Murphy’s Irish Pub, John Strongbow’s Tavern, and Il Porto all have fireplaces inside and are great options for holiday meals in Old Town. Holiday dining in Alexandria isn’t limited to indoor dining, either. Restaurants in Old Town like Blackwall Hitch, Virtue Feed & Grain, Sonoma Cellar and Hunting Creek Steakhouse all offer outdoor heaters so you can dine outside during the holidays. Be sure to call ahead to ask if fireplaces or outdoor heaters are in use.
Holiday Events at the Marina
The holiday fun on King Street extends all the way to the waterfront, with plenty of holiday-themed events happening at the marina. The annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights takes place each year on the first Saturday of December, with these major events still to come.
Image Credit: N. Eckert
Waterskiing Santa is a can’t-miss event you won’t find anywhere else. This DC-area Christmas Eve event comes to Alexandria’s Potomac River waterfront for a spectacular show by the Waterskiing Santa and his wakeboarding reindeer, plus flying elves, the Grinch and his friends, Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost. The prime viewing area is along the waterfront between King Street and Oronoco Street which includes Founders Park and the Alexandria City Marina.
First Night Alexandria
Image Credit: J. Clifford for Visit Alexandria
First Night, Alexandria’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve party, transforms coffee shops, stores, hotels and museums in Old Town and on King Street into performance venues for 175 live shows, culminating with an unbelievable fireworks display that lights up the Potomac at midnight—making Old Town the place to be to ring in the new year in style.
For more on holidays in Alexandria, click here.
Header Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria