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Though it’s easy to see Alexandria on your own and with the help of Colonial-attired guides at individual attractions, you might consider taking a comprehensive walking tour. Architecture and history tours leave from the visitor center garden April through mid-November, at least once a day, weather permitting. Tours depart at 10:30am Monday through Saturday and at 2pm on Sunday, with additional tours during busy seasons. Call Alexandria Tours (tel. 703/329-1122) for more information or to book a tour, which lasts 90 minutes and costs $15 per person (free for ages 6 and under). Or you can just show up at the appointed time, and pay the guide when you arrive.

A slew of other organized tours is available, each focused on a particular subject. Ghosts tours may be the most popular. Check out Alexandria Colonial Tours’ (www.alexcolonialtours.com; tel. 703/519-1749) Ghosts and Graveyard Tour, which is offered March through December (weather permitting) at various times and days—best to call for exact schedule. This 1-hour tour departs from Ramsay House and costs $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 7 to 17; it’s free for children 6 and under. Reservations are recommended, though not required, for these tours; or you can purchase tickets from the guide, who will be dressed in Colonial attire and standing in front of the visitor center.

Potomac River Cruises

After you've seen Old Town's attractions on foot, you can get a fish-eye view of the city on a cruise operated by Potomac Riverboat Company (tel. 877/502-2628 or 703/548-9000; www.potomacriverboatco.com), based at the city dock behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center at the foot of King Street. For the scenic route, take the 1 1/2-hour "Washington Monuments Tour," as it goes upriver for super views of the nation's capital. This tour costs $28 tp $32 for adults, $16 to $20 for children ages 2 to 11, but it's worth the extra money. Check at the dockside booth for times, or check the website. The company also has cruises to Mount Vernon.

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.