Exploring historic Old Town Alexandria’s shops, restaurants and museums
Admiring the view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial from the water taxi
Taking a break at the marina after a bike ride on the Mount Vernon Trail
Outdoor dining in historic Old Town
George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the USA’s most visited historic estate
The free King Street Trolley, which runs from the Metrorail Station to the waterfront
Taking a romantic stroll on Alexandria's cobblestone side streets
Taking a family selfie with a constumed reenactor at one of the city's many early American museums and historic sites
Waterfront dining along the Potomac River
Browsing the independent boutiques on walkable King Street
Alexandria: An authentic blend of Colonial and modern culture just outside the nation’s capital
Authentic U.S. History in Alexandria
The key to understanding Alexandria’s storied role in U.S. history is a tour (or several tours) of Old Town, established in 1749 and home to first USA President George Washington. Walk along King Street (or take the free King Street Trolley) past hundreds of unique shops and restaurants amid vividly-preserved architecture. Next, take a bike, bus or boat to Mount Vernon to explore the stately mansion and gardens Washington called home. Learn even more about one of the country’s Founding Fathers at the spectacular George Washington Masonic Memorial, which includes a museum, chapel and observation deck. And spend a little time sitting in historic Christ Church, a colonial-era structure once attended by Washington and dozens of other American presidents.
Old Town’s Artistic Bent in Alexandria
History really is everywhere here, and that includes the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a one-time naval munitions factory turned art mecca. With 160 professional artists showing and selling work in 82 studios and six galleries, it’s a real feast for the eyes. The same is true at the Museums at Market Square. Situated in Old Town, Gadsby’s Tavern, the Carlyle House and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary are three original colonial-era buildings functioning as museums within one block of each other. See what daily life and marketplace activity was like back when Washington walked these historic streets.
The city may be old, but it keeps to a modern beat. Gravitate to the Potomac River waterfront for all manner of recreation: from sailing or cruise tours to biking the Mount Vernon Trail, dining right at the water’s edge or relaxing in the park. Visit the Alexandria Farmers Market on Saturday (it’s recognized as the oldest continually operating farmers' market in the country). Take in a show at The Birchmere, a much-loved musical hall that’s been drawing the best acts since the 1960s. At Port City Brewing Company, rated the best small brewery in the U.S. at Great American Beer Festival 2015, sample the craft brews on tap in the Tasting Room.
Old Town Alexandria is the third oldest locally designated historic district in America (following Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana).
Photo: W. Connett/Visit Alexandria
The Torpedo Factory was once a World War II-era torpedo and munitions factory; today, it is one of the largest visual arts centers in the USA.
Photo: K. Summerer/Visit Alexandria
At just two meters wide, Spite House on Queen Street is the narrowest historic house in America, designed so that horse-drawn wagons and people couldn’t pass through a nearby homeowner’s alley.
Photo: W. Connett/Visit Alexandria