Alexandria Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by Yaqui
  • Things to Do
    by Yaqui
  • Things to Do
    by Yaqui

Best Rated Things to Do in Alexandria

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    Restaurant Cruise

    by zanzooni Written Oct 6, 2009

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    There's a few restaurant cruises on the Potomac side of Virgina. I've done the Dandy and the Spirit of Washington. It's been a few years, but they still continue on. They really are a wonderful way to see DC, Virginia and the Potomac at night. There's good food, entertainment and just the awesome experience of being out on the water. Their website can say more than I can as it's very extensive, and one of the best website's I've seen in a long time.

    She awaits your arrival
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    Alexandria City Hall (Market Square)

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 14, 2011

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    When I can, I like to include information of city halls since so much is in direct relation with them as far as the tourist industry and activities. We came upon this night while they were having a evening concert here in the City Halls court yard. I couldn't help take the picture of that wonderful glorious flag.

    Alexandria's city hall was founded in 1749. The tall, steepled tower, which contrasts with the building's Second Empire-style massing and detailing, is a reconstruction of a tower designed by Benjamin H. Latrobe that was part of Alexandria's 1817 town hall. That hall burned in 1871. In 1960-61, an addition was built on City Hall, filling in the old courtyard. The building was reoriented toward the south with the new entrance facing King Street and Market Square, an open, landscape plaza with central fountain, completed in 1967 as part of the Gadsby Commercial Urban Renewal Project. Beginning in 1981, the building was renovated to link the 1871 building and the 1961 addition with new elevators, stairs and corridors.

    Washington drilled troops here for both the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars. At Arell's Tavern, once located on this site, Washington chaired a committee in 1774 that adopted the Fairfax Resoves.

    Hours of Operation: M-F 8 AM to 5 PM

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    Torpedo Factory

    by Yaqui Updated Dec 29, 2004

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    Constructed in 1918 for the manufacturing of torpedoes, the factory now serves as working studios for over 160 professional artists. Visitors can purchase wares onsite or simply watch the creative process in action.

    HOURS: Daily 10am - 5pm
    ADMISSION: Free

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    Music down by the marina!

    by Yaqui Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    This gentleman could really play!
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    Ramsay House (Visitor Center)

    by Yaqui Written Aug 14, 2011

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    Mrs. Ramsay was a cousin of George Washington; and her husband William Ramsay was one of the founders of Alexandria. He was a Scottish merchant and had his house built facing the river because back then he could see his ships come and go out of the harbor. During the 18th & 19th century the house had been a tavern, grocery store, rooming house, and cigar factory. Sadly a fire destroyed most of the original buidling in 1942, but the city saved it and had it restored. It now houses the Visitor Center.

    9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day

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    Carlyle House Historic Park 1753

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 14, 2011

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    The Plaque Reads:

    The Carlyle house completed in 1753, was the residence of one of 18th century Alexandria's leading citizens John Carlyle a properous merchant and landowner.

    Although the earliest know engraving of the Carlyle House appeared in Harper's New Monthly in 1880 it showed the house at an earlier time. The simplicity of the landscaping in front is in keeping with the style of the mid-18th century. The large pointed trees are either Lombardy poplars or cedars planted on a lawn reserved for funtional actrivities. The lack of shrubbery, especially as foundation plantings, is also typical of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    The flanking outbuilding on the right was Carlyle's kitchen in the southern colonies, kitchens were in a separate building to keep the smoke, heat, and odors of cooking away from the main house and to lessen the danger of fire, the kitchen stood approximately where the law building is today.

    The left outbuilding was Carlyle's office and counting room for his extensive mercantile operations attached to the left of the office were a store and a warehouse along Fairfax Street approximately where the 1807 Bank of Alexandria now stands.

    Carlyle House, Harper's New Monthly, February 1880. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

    Toward the rear of the Bank of Alexandria was the site of other Carlyle outbuilding such as the stable, couch house, necessary, smokehouse, dairy, and storage sheds. This plan drawn from a 1756 insurance policy, show the relative locations of the outbuildings.

    Assurance policies of William Herbert, March 1796 Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Courtesty of the University of Virginia, Alderman Library Composite Drawn by Donald Stumpe.

    House Museum, Gardens and Gift Shop
    Open
    Closed Mondays
    Sat - Friday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
    Sunday 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
    Park Closed
    8PM-6AM

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    Christ Church

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 14, 2011

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    Christ Church was the first Episcopal Church in Alexandria and has played an important role in the life of the city since its completion by John Carlyle in 1773. The church was designed by James Wren in the colonial Georgian style. George Washington and Robert E. Lee were regular worshippers. Other prominent persons have worshipped here, including many U.S. presidents.http://www.historicchristchurch.org/VisitUs/VisitorsHistory.aspx

    One of the photographs of the headstone reads:
    Erected in memory of Eleanor Wrenn the wife of Mr. Daniel Wrenn, who departed this life in the 7th day of April in the year of our Lord 1798, aged 32 years. Revelations Chapter 14, verse XLII. This stone was placed over her by the order of her disconsolate husband, who was left with two children to lament his loss - John Renweld, her son being only three years old when his mother departed this life, and Dinah Eleanor the daughter aged seven days.

    Alexandria Visitor Center
    221 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314
    (703) 746-3301

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    Staebler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

    by b1bob Updated May 4, 2003

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    I wasn't sure whether to put this here or in "fondest memories". It was a fond memory not only because of the apothecary tour which showed old fashioned home remedies, but because of Hortencia (a Cuban-American woman in the gift shop) with whom I talked in Spanish. The Staebler-Leadbeater apothecary was a business that was open from 1792 to 1933. It survived the war of 1812, the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1821, the War Between the States, the Spanish-American war through to World War I, but the Great Depression put it out of business. Among its most famous clients were Martha Washington, James Monroe and Robert E. Lee. This is the only historical science museum in Alexandria. The tour cost $2.50, but it is well worth it.

    apothecary museum
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    Cherry Blossom

    by b1bob Written Feb 24, 2003

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    The Cherry Blossom is a re-creation of a 19th century Victorian sternwheeler riverboat. It is being used for private gatherings for between 250 and 350 guests depending upon what time of year it is. It is docked behind the Torpedo Factory Art Centre on North Union Street, with dock privileges at the Mount Vernon Estate and gardens. Even in place, the Cherry Blossom provides a great view of Old Town Alexandria and the Washington, DC skyline.

    Cherry Blossom

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    City Hall

    by b1bob Written Feb 24, 2003

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    The Alexandria City Hall was originally built in 1749 for the city hall and marketplace. The tall steepled tower was designed in 1817 by Benjamin Latrobe. That hall burned down in 1871. Soon thereafter, they built the current building. It was designed by Adolph Cluss, a prominent local architect. Originally, the city hall housed a Masonic lodge, the courts and the police department. Now, only city offices remain. The courtyard with fountain to the south side of the building was built in the 1960's.

    Alexandria city hall

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    George Washington Masonic National Monument

    by b1bob Updated Oct 15, 2003

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    The monument, shown on the front page, was patterned from a lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt. The memorial serves as a reminder of George Washington's life and leadership. It features a 17 foot (5 m.) bronze statue of our nation's first president and has a nice sized collection of Washington artifacts.

    George Washington Masonic Memorial

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    Visit Gadsby's Tavern and Museum

    by 807Wheaton Written Jan 11, 2006

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    We visited Alexandria Old Town a few days before Christmas. There were carolers dressed from the 1880's outside the tavern when we were there. Inside the tavern has been completely restored to its 18th Century appearance.

    Gadsby's Tavern 134 N. Royal Street

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    Mount Vernon - George Washington's Home

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Mar 22, 2009

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    Though not located in Alexandria, Mount Vernon is a great side trip you should take when you visit the area.

    Mount Vernon was George Washington's home on the Potomac from 1759 through 1799. At its peak, the plantation had 8,000 acres of land, 45 of which are open to the public today. Though a walk on the grounds is very pleasant, the highlight of this trip is the tour of the 21-room mansion. Just be prepared for a very long wait! When I visited the estate in 2001, the line to visit the house was over one hour long, so we decided to skip it (they claim there is usually no wait in Jan, Feb, Mar, and Nov)! Our favorite spots were the back porch overlooking the Potomac River, Washington's Tomb, and the gardens.

    To get to Mount Vernon, just follow the George Washington Parkway; the house is 16 miles south of Washington DC. In 2001, the entry fee was $9.00 (* Update: tickets are now $11.00 for adults! *). It is open every day of the year from 8am to 5pm in the summer and 9am to 4pm in the winter.


    George Washington's Gristmill and Distillery are located about three miles west of Mount Vernon on Route 235. They were part of the original estate, with the gristmill constructed in 1771 and the distillery established in 1797. The gristmill ground wheat into flour, and it is said the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year, making it the largest distillery in America at the time. The distillery was destroyed around 1814 and the mill was demolished in the 1850s. The mill was rebuilt in 1933 and the distillery reconstructed in 2007. Open to the public from April through October.

    Mount Vernon Mount Vernon Ticket Washington's grist mill

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    Bike the Mount Vernon Trail

    by Kay_C Written Feb 25, 2003

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    This trail goes between Teddy Roosevelt Island in Washington DC/Virginia and Mount Vernon (home of George Washington.) It is about 18 miles long and gives you great views of the Potomac River, Washington DC Skyline, Alexandria and of course, Mount Vernon. Easy trail - it gets busy with bikers and walkers.

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    Head on over to DC

    by Ewingjr98 Written Nov 18, 2008

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    Sure Alexandria has a lot of history, touristy sites, restaurants, and nightlife, but I prefer Washington DC. Washington DC, the Capital City of the US, is a diverse city of monuments, historic sites, and government buildings, along with good nightlife, nice restaurants, and a variety of outdoor activities.

    During my visits, I always loved to see the major memorials, such as the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the new World War II Memorial. I also enjoy the diverse neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, DuPont Circle, and across the river, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. Now that I live here in the city I am trying to find all of the good hole-in-the-wall restaurants and off-the-beaten-path attractions throughout the city that are overlooked by visitors who are here for just a short time.

    Best touristy things to do in Washington DC: visit the numerous monuments and memorials on the mall, see the dozens of museums of the Smithsonian Institution, maybe shop in Georgetown, see the famous government buildings like the White House and Capitol, and maybe check out a few other historic sites like Ford's Theater. Many visitors will also want to see some of the nearby areas like Arlington National Cemetery, Old Town Alexandria, and Mount Vernon.

    My favorite not-so-touristy things to do in Washington DC: shop at Eastern Market and the Maine Avenue Fish Market, wander the historic streets and parks of Capitol Hill, eat in Chinatown or Barracks Row, go out for the nightlife at Adams Morgan, enjoy an afternoon at Rock Creek Park, hike or bike the C&O Canal, check out the view from the Old Post Office Tower, visit the Shakespeare Theater, and see some of the non-touristy monuments like the National Law Enforcement Monument and the Navy Memorial.

    In November of 2008 I brought an Afghan friend to the Mall for a quick afternoon visit that was cut short buy the cold wind and blowing snow flurries. He was amazed at the size of the Washington Monument and impressed by the White House and Capitol Building. I was a little surprised that he had never heard of Lincoln, but then again they have been dealing with other problems in Afghanistan since well before he was born. I was glad to hear him say, upon his first glimpse of the National Mall, "Wow, for the first time I really feel like I am in America." Makes you proud to be an American.

    The Smithsonian Protests are a part of life here Historic bank on Barracks Row View from my temporary apartment on Capitol Hill Capitol Hill businesses

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Alexandria Things to Do

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