Famous for its ties to American history, Alexandria
today remains a popular city — not just for tourists but also for those who work for the government. Located southwest of Washington, D.C., the west end Alexandria neighborhood of Landmark/Van Dorn
has become a culturally diverse place for commuters to live.
Landmark/Van Dorn sits 5 miles due west of the downtown Alexandria waterfront, making a walk along the Potomac River only 15 minutes away. With the neighborhood outside of Old Towne, the close Metro line makes going downtown simple, yet residents can enjoy their local parks and restaurants without the influx of tourists.
Known for its luxury car dealerships, high-end rentals in Cameron Station, parks and diverse grocery stores, Van Dorn benefits from being a part of a community that, with over 900 acres of protected open space and a commitment to be biker and pedestrian friendly, makes Alexandria well worth the investment to live in.
Schools in Landmark/Van Dorn
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Restaurants & Nightlife
The Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe makes you feel as if you've gone from the beach into a seaside eatery. Here you can get homemade pita bread right out of the oven. Besides having a cozy restaurant area, the grocery store section is known for its large variety of hot sauces, spices and teas.
In Van Dorn, you can move from the Mediterranean to Peru in less than a mile. The Peruvian restaurant, Emma's Chicken, serves three kinds of empanada, roasted Peruvian chicken with fried plantains and even yucca. Just be prepared for sauces that have a little kick.
If you're looking for a little nightlife, try out Shooter McGee's. Around for more than 30 years, this comfortable bar features more than 100 beers and wines, including craft drinks from around the country as well as local Virginia brews. Open until 2 a.m., this bar and restaurant in the heart of Van Dorn is the place to be - especially on Wednesday nights when it serves whole Maine lobsters.
History & Culture
The Van Dorn/Landmark neighborhood became part of the West End of Alexandria during annexation from Fairfax County in the 1950s. Because it sits near the intersection of Interstate 495 and 395, it developed into a high-end residential area with various strip malls.
One exit away on I-395, you can find the Civil War-era Fort Ward Museum. Built to protect Washington, DC, today, 90 percent of the earthwork walls have been preserved, and the free museum features tours and living history activities throughout the year.
In September, head down to Old Towne to see more than 200 artists at the King Street Art Festival, and in December, give your feet a workout as you join in the Scottish Walk Parade in downtown Alexandria. And of course, you can't forget George Washington's birthday in February. On President's Day, make time to watch the 3,500-participant parade honoring this local founding father.
The Van Dorn area is located just north of exit 173 on the Beltway, sandwiched between Interstate 495/95 and Interstate 395, making it a perfect location for commuters. If you want to avoid Beltway traffic, Route 613 runs north through town, connecting with Duke Street, which runs right into Old Towne Alexandria.
Public transportation is an excellent option throughout Alexandria. In the Van Dorn/Landmark neighborhood, the Alexandria DASH bus runs the purple line, while the Washington Metro bus runs the blue line and during peak times, a separate commuter line. Having the blue line Van Dorn stop located right off the Capital Beltway makes hopping on the Metro easy, and during peak hours, it runs a rush line to the Franconia/Springfield station. Six registered cab companies operate throughout Alexandria with Uber also being an option.
Plenty of parking spaces exist at stores and restaurants in the area with a public lot at the Metro station — with only 361 spaces, however, it's not a large one.
On a mission to make Alexandria bike and walker friendly, a Complete Streets Policy was enacted in 2011, and projects continue to make all roads safe for all types of users, including painting the bike lanes green so as to be easily visible.
With the cost of living 40 percent higher than the national average, living anywhere in the Alexandria area requires a bit of extra money. The going rate for a one-bedroom
apartment might be a little high at $1,400, but a domestic beer only costs $5. Gas also costs a little higher, coming in at 6 percent higher than the state average. You'll find metro rates seem reasonable. A ride from Van Dorn to Old Towne Alexandria costs $1.95 and only takes 5 minutes, while a ride into the heart of DC only takes 30 minutes and costs $3.55.
Although the historic Landmark Mall has turned into a somewhat-abandoned strip mall, you can still find some unique shops in this neighborhood. If you're into acting, stop by The American Backstage Company, the region's best theatrical store, where in this 6,500-square-feet building, you can find thousands of costumes to rent and buy alongside accessories, makeup and even custom work.
Mixed-media artists know they have stepped into heaven when they stop by Artistic Artifacts. This space is not only a store where you can find fabrics, fibers, paints and stamps but you can also take a wide array of mixed-media and fabric classes or stop in once a month for the open altered art group that meets here.
Alexandria is proud to be home to award-winning Peruvian American jewelry designer Evelyn Brooks. Featured several times in Vogue magazine and with showings around the country at locations such as The Museum of Art and Design in New York, Brooks' designs remain easily accessible to look at and buy at three different locations throughout Alexandria, including in the Van Dorn/Landmark neighborhood just outside the luxury Cameron Station townhouses.
Plenty of grocery stores sit along Van Dorn St., such as Safeway, BJ's and Kroger. Stores featuring international foods like Afghan Market, Halal Meat & Grocery and the all-encompassing Fair Price International Supermarket reside here too.
Every Sunday between June and November, people gather at the West End Farmer's Market to find local produce, cheeses, jams and even organic dog treats.
For other shopping needs, most people drive a few miles to the southwest area of Springfield to find several shopping centers including stores such as Best Buy, Trader Joes and Macy's.
Sitting on nearly 60 acres, with a fenced dog park, picnic benches and grills and a playground, Ben Brenman Park remains the popular place to take the family when you want a touch of nature. The park also comes with a pond, bathrooms, walking and bike trails and an amphitheater. In April, Ben Brenman hosts the Alexandria Earth Day event, which features kids' activities, tree sales and planting and a musical concert.
Other options for scenery include the Armistead Boothe Park, which has athletic fields, a basketball court, tennis courts, trails and a playground, or Holmes Run Scenic Easement with 8 acres of woods and walking and biking paths. Holmes Run also maintains a 24-plot community garden with the plots available to rent.
The parks, even the dog parks, are free to visit and have plenty of parking. The only financial requirement for the dogs is that they be licensed, vaccinated and wearing their tags.