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Activities in Old Town Alexandria for friends and family

Get ready for your family and friends coming to town! Perhaps one of the following scenarios applies to you:

Scenario 1: You are a college student working in the D.C. metro area during a summer internship. Your parents finally make the trip to see you. They are expecting you to know where to go and what to do around the area. After all, they think you are a local now.

Scenario 2: You have one or more siblings in town with kids. The house is going to be full, and you need to find an activity to get everyone outside and stay active.

Scenario 3: You are in the military and stationed in the D.C. area and your family is coming for a visit.

Scenario 4: You have friends in town for a reunion trip. You try to do one big trip with them every year. This year they are coming to the D.C. area. After all, there is so much to do and see.

If you live in the D.C. metro area and have family or friends coming into town, the good news is that you have plenty of options for fun activities in Old Town Alexandria. On the other hand, your family and friends might be looking at you to play local tour guide. That's a lot of pressure. Alexandria History Tours wants to take some of the pressure off of you.

If you visit Old Town Alexandria, consider taking the family on one of our guided walking tours. You can leverage our expertise to look like a superstar. We are the local "guy you know" who tells all the old stories around the neighborhood. If you take a morning guided walking tour, we will provide lunch recommendations when the tour ends. Our public walking tours go from 10:30 am to 11:30 am.

On our morning tour, we will see several iconic spots such as The Carlyle House, Gadsby's Tavern, Christ Church, and Captain's Row. We will even walk by one of our famous alley houses. It is so narrow that most people stroll past it without noticing. After seeing these historic locations, you can plan on touring one or more of them in the afternoon. Gadsby's Tavern and The Carlyle House are both museums with guided tours that are specific to the history of each location.

As you build your itinerary, here are some ideas for a fun day in and around Old Town Alexandria:

  1. For the early birds, grab a coffee at one of our many fantastic local coffee shops like Misha's, then start the day with one of our morning private tours such as Discover Alexandria. When the tour wraps up, we will be close by many outstanding restaurants that offer great brunch menus. If it is a Saturday morning, the Old Town Farmers' Market will be open. The Farmers' Market runs 7 am- 12 pm every Saturday (rain or shine). After getting some food, consider checking out one or more of Alexandria's interesting museums such as the Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary, The Carlyle House, The Torpedo Factory Art Center, Gadsby's Tavern, or check out the The Tall Ship Providence at the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center. The Visitors Center also provides a Key to the City pass that will offer access to nine historic sites plus a 40% discount to Mount Vernon. It is a great value if you plan to see multiple museums. After touring the museums, you will probably be ready for a cocktail at one of our many outdoor restaurants. We have several that overlook the water such as Barca Pier & Wine Bar, Ada's on the River, and Vola's Dockside Grill.

  2. Another idea is to come take a public tour with us from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. During the public tour, you will learn about Alexandria's history stretching back to a time when the Potomac River came up to Lee Street (formerly known as Water Street). You will discover the many hidden gems that exist on each block. These are the types of small and interesting features that people miss without a local guide to point them out. After the tour, grab some lunch at Virtue Feed & Grain, which is located in one of Alexandria's historic warehouses. We will also be close to Union Street Public House and Chadwick's, which is a long-time Alexandria establishment that serves burgers and beers. After lunch, a fun idea is to walk or take a bike ride along the Mount Vernon trail. If you do walk along the water from Old Town, you can go to Jones Point and see where the cornerstone of Washington D.C. was first laid in 1791. You will also see Jones Point Lighthouse, which is a historic site and reminder of Alexandria's maritime roots.

  3. For the George Washington history buff in your family, consider splitting your day between Mount Vernon and Alexandria. After touring Mount Vernon, our George Washington tour will offer an in depth look at the entirety of Washington's life through the lens of his activities in Alexandria. What makes our George Washington tour unique is that we discuss how Washington's interactions with the city of Alexandria fit into the broader scope of his military and political career as well as his business dealings. We also focus on Washington's leadership. Our Revolutionary War tour will cover George Washington history, but it also dives into the lives and experiences of Revolutionary War veterans that lived in Alexandria. We discuss how their actions helped America win independence. Both tours are perfect complements to a history packed day at Mount Vernon.

As family and friends come into town, you don't have to worry. We are here to help make you look good and make the experience special for everyone. Our goal is to relieve the stress by having at least one fun activity on the itinerary and then offering ideas and suggestions to keep the calendar packed with lifelong memories!

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