Alexandria, Virginia has so much to offer its visitors and residents on a year-round basis. The town is quaint, historic, and easy to traverse on foot or via car. The town is a perfect getaway for couples looking for a romantic weekend or families looking to stop on their way to Williamsburg, Atlanta, or Orlando when headed South or Philadelphia, New York, or Boston when headed North.
King Street is the heart and soul of Alexandria, Virginia. King Street is home to bars, pubs, stores, restaurants, lodging and coffee shops. King Street is accessible via car or foot, depending on where you are staying during your trip. Almost all of the hotels and bed and breakfasts are located within walking distance of King Street. It is a lengthy walk from the hotels, somewhere around 14 or 15 blocks, but it is well worth the exercise when the weather is suitable. If you do not feel like walking or finding a spot to park you can board a shuttle bus from the hotel to King Street.
Ghost Tours and Historical Tours
Plenty of the buildings in Alexandria are hundreds of years old, dating back to colonial times, that have seen some historical figures walk through them during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and current times. If American history entices you then signing up for a local historical walking tour, which takes about an hour to an hour and a half, will quench your thirst. The walking historical tour guides will take you to almost every important building in the town, including Gadsby’s Tavern, Alexandria City Hall, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop, the fire house, the Carlyle House and Ramsey Alley. The ghost tours offered throughout the town are intriguing and scary, if you believe in those types of things, with the tours ending in a local old-time cemetery.
Again, for you history buffs, Alexandria is located only 20 minutes from Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate on the banks of the Potomac River. The estate is open for visitors, who can take a tour of the mansion, the grounds, and visit Washington’s resting place on the estate. The tomb is open for the public to see the caskets of Washington and his wife Martha. Behind them is a vault with other members of the Washington family. There are gift shops, a restaurant, a food court and other visitor attractions on the grounds, which are owned and run by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union.
If you have done everything during your stay in Alexandria and have a day or two left on the trip you can always take a 30 minute drive to Washington, DC. You can spend the entire day in the nation’s capital visiting museums, historic landmarks, and other buildings in the area if you so choose.
Three other common tourist attractions within driving distance around Alexandria are the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Fort Ward Park, and T.C. Williams High School. T.C. Williams High School is the school at the center of the Disney movie “Remember the Titans.” The movie was not shot on location at the school. In fact, it was shot at various high schools and middle schools in Atlanta and Rome, Georgia.
Ghost Tour of Alexandria VA
Anyone, dead or alive, would have a difficult time NOT seeing guide Chris, with Alexandria’s Footsteps to the Past, as he stands on the porch of the William Ramsey House. Wearing bright red 18th century garb he seems to defy any specter, from a distant time, from mischief making. Not that he will give a definitive answer on the subject of ghosts and the supernatural – but after taking the hour-long tour it is difficult for even the greatest disbeliever to doubt them completely.
As one of Colonial America’s most important port cities – mainly for Virginia’s tobacco crop – Alexandria has a past rich in history and colorful characters. The latter seems to have a tough time leaving the area.
Case in point is Mr. Ramsey himself – one of the original Scottish settlers. His house – now used as Alexandria’s Visitors Center – was once a mere fraction of its current size. But that has not kept the former owner from returning. It seems although his time on earth was filled with land speculation and merchandising his afterlife is consumed with an eternal roving. Why? One answer came from his Anglo Saxon wife burying his Celtic remains in a Church of England cemetery. The proud Highlander has been on the move ever since.
Nearby former neighbors are also known – even to modern residents and visitors – for their spiritual wandering and occasional unearthly screaming. Without giving away any secrets just remember to ask about a bride and a fireplace.
While America’s early beginnings are reflected in present day Alexandria, the Civil War was an important chapter in time’s past.
July 21, 1861 was a day when Union troops and onlookers, all in a festive spirit, journeyed from Washington DC to nearby Bull Run (Manasses VA) for the supposed one day battle between the States. In the ensuing blood and confusion the wounded of both sides were stacked up, like cordwood, on the front yard and dirt street of Alexandria’s Mansion House Hotel. The horror remained with many for years to come.
Since the advent of photography – people have captured unusual orbs of light by the site. Are they film flaws or restless ghosts?
A common saying in Old Town, regarding regular hauntings is when an apartment or storefront’s lease runs out – so do the tenants.
One habitat, with a revolving door, is on Cameron Street.
Sufficient to say a thief, a restaurant, a cook and a big pot was involved. And in the end – as the old adage states – crime does not pay.
Historic Gadsby’s Tavern has its share of spooks too. Here a mystery remains to this day. The identity of the woman who disembarked, with her husband, from an overseas ship. She was so ill that the front bedroom at the tavern was utilized for her final illness. Shortly before her untimely death she confided to several local citizens her true identity. In respect her name was never shared with the public. Was she a runaway queen or a fugitive on the lam? The only thing we know is her sad wan face can still be seen occasionally gazing down on the busy street below.
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