Old Town Alexandria

About Old Town

Alexandria’s History

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Alexandria’s history reaches back more than 13,000 years. From the first Native Americans to settle here, to the bustling city it is today, the timeline of Alexandria’s history is filled with events that helped shape the United States of America into the country it is today.

Alexandria was founded in 1749 by Scottish merchants and was named after Scotsman John Alexander. Alexandria is known as being the adopted hometown of America’s first president, George Washington. As a teenager, George Washington surveyed the city. Later, he owned a townhouse here in Old Town. You can see a replica of the townhouse today on Cameron Street. He also worshiped at Christ Church (you can tour the site and sit in his pew – number 60), and frequented Gadsby’s Tavern.

The prosperity of Alexandria and the United States was inextricably linked to the work of enslaved and free African Americans. A horrific part of Alexandria’s history is that, prior to America’s Civil War, Alexandria served as one of the largest domestic slave trading ports in America. Most of Alexandria’s leading businesses and properties could not have operated without the unpaid labor of the enslaved men, women, and children who lived and worked here.

Yet to walk through the streets of Alexandria is to walk through America’s timeline of African-American history from colonial times to the Civil War and from Civil Rights to today. You can learn empowering stories of individuals and communities that overcame adversity and even pushed our society forward as you explore the city’s historic sites and take part in walking tours from Manumission Tour Company.

The best way to learn about Alexandria’s history is by purchasing a Key to the City Attractions Pass. Explore 9 historic sites for $20 plus receive 40% off admission to George Washington’s Mount VernonPotomac Riverboat Company by Hornblower and the tall ship Providence.

There are also numerous tour companies that offer in-depth looks at Alexandria’s history. From walking tours to boat tours to bike tours, immerse yourself in Alexandria’s history. Want to choose your own adventure? Follow our self-guided tours of Old Town, Alexandria’s African-American history, Mount Vernon and more.

Take a Tour

Featured
Alexandria’s Original Ghost & Graveyard Tour. Follow an 18th century costumed guide by lantern light through the charming streets of...
221 King Street
Alexandria the Great offers Segway, walking and food and drink tours. We offer a 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Alexandria...
Old Town
African Americans escaping slavery found refuge in Alexandria after Union troops occupied the city in 1861. The Rev. Clement “Clem”...
320 S. Washington Street
Bike to Mount Vernon. Rent a bike through Bike and Roll, Capital Bikeshare, Pedego Electric Bikes or Wheel and Nuts...
106 N. Lee Street (Unlimited Biking) OR 210 N. Lee Street, Unit 102 (Pedego Electric Bikes)
At Blue Fern Travel – Fork & Fizz Tours, we believe travel should give back to the local community while...
4220 Nicholson Street Hyattsville, MD 20781
Runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11:30 a.m. and lasting three hours. Meet your guide and the rest of...
Starting location provided at time of ticket purchase
We offer three-hour guided excursions that take you down the cobblestone streets of picturesque Old Town Alexandria. Take a journey...
809 Princess Street Suite 100
Admission: $100 per person; $10 for passenger riders Pedego Electric Bike’s 2- to 3-hour rides and guided tours let...
210 N. Lee Street Suite 102
Every April, five of Old Town Alexandria’s private homes and gardens will open to the public, as part of the...
Alexandria Visitor Center 221 King Street
Admission: $120 per person; $25 for passenger riders Pedego Electric Bike’s 4-hour private group ride and guided tour will...
210 N. Lee Street Suite 102
Admission: $100 per person; $10 for passenger riders Pedego Electric Bike’s 3- to 4-hour ride and guided tour will cover...
210 N. Lee Street Suite 102
Departure between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (based on light conditions); call to confirm availability Admission: $70 per person; $10...
210 N. Lee Street Suite 102

Visit Historic Attractions

This City Hall was built in 1871-74, with Market Square and the Colonial-inspired additions that face the plaza built in...
301 King Street
Founded as a subscription library in 1794. Alexandria’s public library since 1937.
717 Queen Street
One of 12 sites created and dedicated by President Lincoln in 1862 to serve as military burial grounds. The cemetery...
1450 Wilkes Street
African Americans escaping slavery found refuge in Alexandria after Union troops occupied the city in 1861. The Rev. Clement “Clem”...
320 S. Washington Street
The Captain Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial honors the service and supreme sacrifice of the 67 men from...
Mount Vernon Recreation Center 2701 Commonwealth Avenue Alexandria, VA 22305
A National Historic Landmark, 1315 Duke Street, known today as Freedom House Museum, was the headquarters for the largest domestic...
1315 Duke Street
The Lee-Fendall House Museum is a historic house, located in Old Town, Alexandria. Since its construction in 1785, the house...
614 Oronoco Street -2308
Founded in 1974 in an old munitions plant, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the nation’s largest number...
105 N. Union Street
USA Guided Tours, LLC™  is a sightseeing and transportation company based in Washington, DC and Falls Church. We offer fully...
1155 F Street, NW 10th Floor Washington, DC 20002
Woodlawn: George Washington gave the estate to his adopted granddaughter and his nephew as a wedding gift. Dr. William Thornton,...
9000 Richmond Highway Alexandria, VA 22309
Step right into the museum’s laboratory where archaeologists reconstruct Alexandria’s history, fragment by fragment. The museum’s exhibits highlight the process...
105 N. Union Street, Torpedo Factory Art Center Third Floor, #327
Bring the whole family along for Alexandria’s Original Ghost & Graveyard Tour. Follow an 18th century costumed guide by lantern...
221 King Street

Historic Attractions and Museums

Alexandria Black History Driving Tour

Black History & Culture

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