The 18th-century city that George Washington called home is rich in charm, culture, and historic sites aplenty.
*Originally published on April 24, 2018:
Alexandria, Virginia, is a haven for culture seekers and history buffs alike. From George Washington's elegant estate to various museums and historic sites, Alexandria is chock-full of things to see for those interested in the early history of the United States.
1. George Washington's Mount Vernon
Courtesy of Smartdestinations.com
Did you know our first president once resided just eight miles south of Old Town Alexandria in a beautiful riverside estate? Tours of Mount Vernon include the mansion itself, outbuildings, tomb (where the man himself was laid to rest), working farm, and visitor facilities with 25 galleries and theaters.
2. Gadsby's Tavern Museum
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Tavern-keeper John Gadsby's establishment was the center of business, political, and social life in Alexandria and Washington, D.C., in the late 18th century. It hosted balls and banquets for the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Now a museum consisting of the hotel and tavern, restored to its authentic 18th-century appearance, the landmark offers tours, programs, and special events.
3. Fort Ward
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The Union fort built to protect Washington, D.C., during the Civil War is now the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Through exhibits, tours, lectures, and living history activities, the museum and historic site offers a look into the fort’s history, life within the defenses of Washington, and the everyday life of Civil War soldiers and civilians.
4. Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
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Alexandria patrons from Martha Washington to Robert E. Lee frequented this 18th-century pharmacy for the tonics, medicines, and other remedies they relied on. Today, the apothecary museum still contains over 15,000 objects—from herbs to bottles to prescriptions and formula books—as part of a 200+-year-old collection of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
5. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial
Courtesy of Fifteenth Masonic District
This national historic landmark built and maintained by the Freemasons of the United States contains a memorial and museum, an active Masonic temple, a research library, a cultural space, a community and performing arts center, and more. Learn about the high esteem in which the memory of George Washington is held within the Masonic fraternity, and take in beautiful 360-degree views of Alexandria, Washington, D.C., and the surrounding areas from the observation deck atop the ninth floor of the memorial structure.