Whenever you come, you're sure to run into some activity or other -- a jazz festival, a tea garden or tavern gambol, a quilt exhibit, a wine tasting, or an organ recital. But note that many of Alexandria's main attractions are closed on Monday.
Save with a Discounted Attraction Pass -- Alexandria's Ramsay House Visitor Center usually sells money-saving discounted attraction passes to some of the top sights. A combination ticket to Gadsby's Tavern, Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, Lee-Fendall House, and Carlyle House Historic Park recently cost $12 for adults, $8 for children 11 to 17. The passes change from year to year, but it will pay to ask the center what's being offered.
Three Specialized Attractions -- In the former headquarters of Franklin, Armfield & Co., one of America's largest 19th-century slave traders, Freedom House Museum, 1315 Duke St. (tel. 703/836-2858; www.freedomhousemuseum.org), between Payne and West streets, uses first-person accounts to tell the story of the more than 1,800 enslaved persons who were bought and sold here each year. A slave compound occupied most of this city block. The museum is operated by the Northern Virginia Urban League, which shares the building. Open Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
Much digging has taken place to study and preserve the past in Old Town, and some of the results are on display in the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, 105 N. Union St. (tel. 703/838-4399; www.alexandriaarchaeology.org), on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art center. It shares space with a working laboratory. Admission is free, and it's open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 3pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday 1 to 5pm.
If you've ever had a clever idea for an invention you thought would revolutionize the world (and make you rich), walk into the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Museum, in the USPTO's Madison Building, 600 Dulany St. (tel. 703/968-4332; www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ahrpa/opa/museum), which uses high-tech displays to explain how ideas for famous products came into being. Admission is free. The museum is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday noon to 5pm. From the King Street Metro station, follow Diagonal Road south to Dulany Street.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.