The Lyceum was built in 1839, as a concert, exhibition, and lecture hall. The building also served at different times as a Civil War hospital, a private home, an office building, and other functions. Since 1985, it has been the Alexandria History Museum.
Inside are exhibits on the city's long history, including the life of George Washington, the colonial days, the Civil War era, and more recent history. There are also special events, so check the website below for more.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday: 1 pm to 5 pm. It's closed on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.
The marina is surrounded by parks, walking/bike trails, quaint restaurants, shops, historic sites, host to summer concerts, boating enthusiasts which includes pleasure boats and commercial vessels. For boaters who wish to stay over night, restroom and shower facilities are available.
Short history up until 2008 the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was one of the worst bottlenecks on the East Coast causing massive traffic jams in the DC area. 6 lanes 3 each way just wasn't enough. In 2008 we finally got a new bridge with 10 lanes of traffic and for walkers, bikers and rollerbladers a very wide walkway. The Virginia entrance is very close to the Old Town section of Alexandria and the Maryland entrance is 1/2 mile from the new National Harbor shopping entertainment complex. You also get great views of the skyline of Washington with all of the famous sites including the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol
I really enjoyed the Museum at Mount Vernon. It was fun, interactive and very educational. They had numerous displays on Washington from his early life until his death. They highlighted his life as a farmer, soldier and eventually President of the United States.
I especially enjoyed a film they had highlighting some revolutionary battles. They even had special effects such as snow falling into the auditorium during winter battle scenes.
The Lower Garden at Mount Vernon supplied the house with fresh frui and vegetables. The garden still has various herbs and produce growing in its rows. Bee careful there are a ton of bees around dusk in this area.
The upper garden is the more formal of the gardens. There are a variety of flowers, trees and plants in the garden and well as a garden house. The garden also has an intricate shrubbery patterned into a fleur de lys design. Our last visit to the garden the flowers were in full bloom with vibrant colors. The butterflies flew by and the lightning bugs were beginning to come out for the night.
There was even a demonstration of colonial dance and music occurring that night.
Mount Vernon was the home of our first President, George Washington and his wife Martha. The property of Mount Vernon is situated in Alexandria overlooking the Potomac. The property is quite extensive with the main house, gardens, distillery, farm, wharf and several other houses along the property that were used for farming and domestic staff. The propety is also the site of Washington's Tomb where George ashington, his wife Martha and other family members are entombed.
The tour begins when you enter the visitor's Center. Here are shops, a film that tells the story of the saving of the property, food court, Restaurant, and a museum. The grounds are extensive and it is amazing to walk in the gardens, under the historic trees, touring the houses and enjoying the beautiful views of the Potomac River.
Our last visit to Mount Vernon was for a special Memorial Day weekend event in 2010. It was a sunset tour of the property complete with colonial dancing, music, food and a splendid sunset view. It was a fun time and we had perfect warm weather. We enjoyed a tour of the house and grounds, enjoyed the museum and watched some historical films. We enjoyed a tasty red velvet cupcake and some champagne under the magnolia trees as the sun set in the sky.
Old Town Alexandria is right on the banks of the Potomac River. Several streets lead down to the water and Founders Park. Founder's Park and the waterfront area are nice places to enjoy the river views on a nice sunny day, bike ride, picnic or grab a bite to eat at one of the waterfront establishments. There are several boats along the waterfront and many that give river cruises and tours.
Market Square in Old Town Alexandria is the oldest continuously operated marketplace in the U.S. On Saturdays there is a Farmers Market in the Square with a variety of vendors selling everything from pastry to chocolate to fresh veggies. The Square has a large fountain and colorful flowers along the perimeter. The City Hall is also located in Market Square. The Square is a hub bub of activity and people relaxing on one of the brick walls or on benches under the shade.
The Square has a not so pleasant history with it once being the second largest slave market in the United States.
Founders Park is a public park right on the waterfront. It has excellent harbour views with plenty of places to sit and relax on a bench or on a blanket in the grass. During our last visit it was a boiling hot day; in the high 90's. There were a large number of sunbathers, bikes, kids palying and dogs along the waterfront. The good thing about this park is the ample shade and cool breeze from the water.
The George Washington Masonic Memorial is definitely one of the most visible parts of Alexandria. This memorial stands at the East end of King Street. It's a beautiful structure and allows for the most breaktaking views of Alexandria.
Inside is a beautiful bronze sculpture of Washington, himself. Walled murals of the birth of the United States are on the right and left of the hall leading to the statue.
During different times tours are led up to the top of the memorial, but unfortunately, I just missed one of the tours and could not afford to wait a few hours until the next one.
While touring the memorial you are also allowed to explore the masonic lodge. There are lots of pictures of lodges and leaders with in the Free Masons brotherhood, one of the biggest secret societies in the world.
It is a bit tricky to turn into this place, you have to follow the street directions very closely, and be prepared to make a few U-turns. However, there is parking right next to the building and I loved that because I didn't want to leave my car very far away.
October 1 through March 31
Open at 10:00am and close at 4:00pm
Sunday Open from 12:00pm to 4:00pm Summer Hours
April 1 through September 30
Open at 9:00am and close at 4:00pm
Sunday Open from 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Except Major Holidays
Guided Tours Daily at 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm
Inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center, on the top floor is the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. It houses some nice pieces of history, however, no major pieces belong here. Of course, the Smithsonian just miles away houses more historical pieces than Alexandria possibly could.
However, this one room museum is easy to get in and get out and cross something else off your list. The only problem you may find is that the hours are quite limited so if you would like to see this museum, you'll want to make a point to get there within the right parameters.
Tuesday to Friday: 10 am to 3 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 1 pm to 5 pm
Closed: New Year's Day, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Woohoo, it's FREE! :)
At the end of King Street you hit the Potomac River! They have a nice boardwalk area and some locals drive their boats here to eat, have fun and explore.
I walked down here and actually enjoyed finding a bench and relaxing after a full day of sightseeing. I read my book for a bit, in the nice heat, then wrote in my journal. I people-watched and boat-watched.
One of the other fun things that I enjoyed was watching all the planes go over to the nearby airport. It was loud but not unpleasant.
There are restaurants here and the Torpedo Factory Art Center is also here. I think anyone would enjoy this relaxing scene, that kind of brings you back to the present after diving into the history of Alexandria.
When searching online I found a website that offers River Cruises if that sounds like your cup of tea. :)
The Torpedo Factory Art Center is definitely one of a kind! It was recommended by 1000 Things To See Before You Die and now, me too :)
Being an actual torpedo factory during World War II, this manufacturer now puts out more peaceful products in many different, artistic forms. I didn't really know what to expect here but it was fun and quite amazing. I've never considered myself a very artistic person but even for me, I found different things to enjoy.
I came in through the boardwalk and got to see a real torpedo manufactured here. Then I walked into the first floor. Along the open halls were many different, glassed art studios. Some of the artists were present, working on pieces, and visiting with potential buyers and art enthusiasts. I walked along each of them, visiting inside the studios that had doors open and seemd inviting. Then I went up both the second and third stories of the same set-up.
I didn't purchase anything but I was afraid to start buying, because I wasn't really sure I could stop. I wasn't pressured by any of the artists and loved watching some of them create masterpieces in my presence.
You can find all sorts of pieces here...jewelry, sculptures, paintings, photography, and many more.
Open to the public
Building Hours: 10am-6pm* daily, Thursdays until 9pm*
Studio and gallery hours vary
82 Artist Studios - 6 Galleries - The Art League School
Alexandria Archaeology Museum
There are also workshops here that you can sign up for. The website has lots of details on that.
I parked at the hotel and walked everywhere. But there's a parking lot across the street on Union St.
There are many art galleries in Alexandria, and many along King Street. I found one towards the middle of the street that had Dr. Seuss illustrations. They were way expensive but I'd still love to have one.
Just had to show the pics I took...