Old Town is the area of downtown Alexandria (on the western bank of the Potomac River and on the border between Maryland and Virginia) that contains a mix of historic and contemporary sights and elements.

If you go down lower Prince street there are original cobblestones and historic homes of gentry and sea captains. Down King Street there is a lot of present-day shopping and restaurants, with plenty of live entertainment. Because of it's mix of both the old and the new, with museums and great dining, as well as sights and a great atmosphere, it's a great place for not only those in Northern Virginia, but also for first-time travelers.

Makes for a good evening with your significant other - but you'll find Friday and Saturday night to be over-packed with couples and small groups of businesspeople though; it's too crowded on such nights, and often difficult to find legal, free parking spots. In any case, the water (if you're fortunate enough to own a boat there) and the water front is very pretty, where you can sit on the grass or on a bench or out on the piers and even watch the airplanes in the sky approach Ronald Reagan National Airport.

There are many points of interest in Old Town you might want to see:

  1. The Ramsay House Visitors Center - It's the oldest house in Alexandria and once housed the founder of the city, by the name of William Ramsay. It's now a visitor's center, where you can find information about sights, events, and more about Old Town. Admission is free.

  2. Gadsby's Tavern Museum - This museum is in the place that was once popular during George Washington's term, and you can get 18th century food there, as well as see plenty of artifacts and things from the time period. You have to pay admission though.

  3. The Lyceum - Originally a Civil War hospital, a private residence, and an office building, this building has lots of exhibits about life in Alexandria. Admission is free.

  4. The Old Presbyterian Meting House - This place is the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution. Admission is free.

  5. The Torpedo Factory Art Center - This facility was once used to make torpedo parts for the U.S. Navy in the World War I and World War II. Right at the waterfront, the Torpedo Factory is now a collection of studios and galleries where you can watch artists at work, attend classes, and view a large collection of artwork. Alexandria Archaeology is also inside the art center. Admission is free.

  6. Market Square and City Hall - City hall was the original place for the Fairfax County Courthouse, as well as fire engine companies and a jail. George Washington would bring goods from his plantation at Mount Vernon to Market Square. Now in Market Square you can attend live entertainment and there's a Farmer's Market on Saturday, I think it's from 5 AM to 9 PM. Admission to these sites are free.

  7. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop - It's a historical science museum, which sounds strange, but it houses Quaker and Native American remedies, and once provided treatments for George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and other casualties of war. The shop closed during the Great Depression, but now you can see the thousands of items in original condition there. You do have to pay admission, though.

  8. The Athenaeum - Originally built for the Old Dominion Bank, this is a gallery of fine arts by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association. Free admission.

  9. Lloyd House - Before the Civil War, Robert E. Lee came here a lot. It used to be a school, a barracks, and a rooming house. Now it's a branch of the Alexandria library system, a museum, and a repository for historical and genealogical research. Admission is free

  10. The Mount Vernon Trail - This goes all the way from Roosevelt island to Mount Vernon, winding through Old Town Alexandria, through several parks, and along the waterfront. It's part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and anyone is welcome here.

  11. Boyhood Home of Robert E. Lee - Well, the name really says what it was, a big mansion where Robert E. Lee spent his early years before he got nominated to West Point. The house has been preserved and there are a lot of items from the Lee family and antiques. You have to pay to get in.

  12. Alexandria Black History Resource Center - There are a lot of exhibits and activities highlighting the history of African Americans in Alexandria and Virginia here. The admission is free

  13. The Lee-Fendall House - This house was created by Phillip Richard Fendall and housed many generations of the Lee Family. This is the place that lighthouse Harry wrote this line you may have heard about George Washington - "First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen." You have to pay to get in.

  14. Friendship Firehouse - this was the firehouse for the first volunteer fire company in Alexandria, and here you can see authentic period firefighting machines and other things of interest. Admission is free.

  15. Christ Church - This is the oldest church in Old Town, where George Washington and Robert E. Lee went to church, their pews preserved. There are also historic gravesites here. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

  16. George Washington Masonic National Memorial - Here you can take a guided tour of the events of Washington's life as well as a cool view of Old Town and Washington, DC from the memorial tower which is 333 feet tall.

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