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Authentic U.S. History

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 U.S. 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. 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

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 when Washington walked these historic streets.

 

Local Treasures

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.

Fun Fact

Traditional architecture of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
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W. Connett/Visit Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria is the third oldest locally designated historic district in the USA (following Charleston, South Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana).

An exhibit exploring the Torpedo Factory’s historic roots
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K. Summerer/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.

The Spite House, sandwiched between two other historic Alexandria buildings
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W. Connett/Visit Alexandria

At just two meters wide, Spite House on Queen Street is the narrowest historic house in the USA, designed so that horse-drawn wagons and people couldn’t pass through a nearby homeowner’s alley.

View of Old Town Alexandria from Wilson Bridge
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Nearby Experiences

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Experience

Water Sports

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Upcoming events

Bagpipes performance as part of Alexandria’s Scottish Walk Weekend Holiday Festival
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Matt Chenet/Visit Alexandria
Watching the fireworks display as part of the First Night Alexandria celebration
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J. Clifford/Visit Alexandria

Event

First Night Alexandria

December

A snowy Mount Vernon
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Mount Vernon

Event

Christmas at Mount Vernon

November - January

Circus-style performance during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
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Jessica Hentoft

Event

Smithsonian FolkLife Festival

June - July

Band performing at Alexandria Birthday Celebration
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City of Alexandria
Browsing artists’ booths at Alexandria’s King Street Art Festival
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R. Nowitz/Visit Alexandria

Event

King Street Art Festival

September

Official Alexandria Travel Site

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