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Old Town Alexandria's nightlife options center on the bar scene, which is nearly as varied as the one across the Potomac in the District. In fact, a number of popular, in-town restaurant-bars have outposts here, including Pizzeria Paradiso, at 124 King St. (www.eatyourpizza.com; tel. 703/837-1245), whose cozy bar is situated behind a large glass fireplace and serves 15 drafts, American microbrews, and Belgian beers, and hosts happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7pm. If you’re in the mood for raucous karaoke, DJ and local band performances, shuffleboard, and Skee Ball, make your way to the Light Horse, 715 King St. (www.thelighthorserestaurant.com; tel. 703/549-0533), where downstairs is a restaurant, but upstairs is where you want to be. And for cocktails, live jazz, and a view of the Potomac, snag a seat in the lounge of Blackwall Hitch Thursday through Sunday evenings.

Alexandria falls under the aegis of Washington, D.C., when it comes to the performing arts. The free weekly City Paper (www.washingtoncitypaper.com) and the monthly magazine Old Town Crier (www.oldtowncrier.com) are the best sources of news about the local bar and music scene; pick up copies at the Ramsay House Visitor Center and in hotel lobbies.

King Street restaurants are the center of Alexandria's ongoing club and bar scene. Especially noteworthy are Two-NineTeen, 219 King St. (tel. 703/549-1141), which features live jazz Tuesday to Saturday nights in the Basin Street Lounge; the Fish Market, 105 King St. (tel. 703/836-5676), with either a pianist or a guitarist Thursday to Saturday nights; and Murphy's Irish Pub, 713 King St. (tel. 703/548-1717), the town's best Gaelic bar with live Irish bands to accompany corned beef and cabbage on weekends.

An older crowd likes to gather for live music on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings in the cozy lounge of the Morrison House, 116 S. Alfred St. (tel. 703/838-8000), between King and Prince streets. Sometimes you can hear wannabe professional singers belt out some fine jazz and even an aria or two.

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The Birchmere, 3901 Mount Vernon Ave., south of Glebe Road (tel. 703/549-5919; www.birchmere.com), is the Washington area's prime showcase for nationally known bluegrass, country, and folk stars. Call or check the website for the schedule and reservations, which are absolutely necessary when a top performer is on stage.

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.