Walking Tour: Old Town Alexandria

Start: Ramsay House Visitor Center, King Street at Fairfax Street.

Finish: Torpedo Factory, Waterfront at Cameron Street.

Time: Allow approximately 2 1/2 hours, not including museum and shopping stops.

Best Times: Anytime Tuesday through Sunday.

Worst Times: Monday, when many historic sites are closed.

You'll get a glimpse into the 18th century as you stroll along Alexandria's brick-paved sidewalks, lined with Colonial residences, historic houses and churches, museums, shops, and restaurants. This walk ends at the waterfront, no longer a center of commercial shipping but now home to an arts center along the Potomac riverfront.

Begin your walk at the:

1. Ramsay House Visitor Center

Built around 1724, the center has a Dutch barn roof and an English garden. It's located at 221 King St., at Fairfax Street, in the heart of the historic district. This is the best place to get your bearings.

Head north on Fairfax Street to:

2. Carlyle House Historic Park

This elegant 1753 manor house is set off from the street by a low wall.

Continue north on Fairfax to the corner. Turn left on Cameron, past the back of the old city hall, to the redbrick buildings across Royal Street, known as:

3. Gadsby's Tavern

The 18th-century tavern complex houses a museum of 18th-century antiques, while the hotel portion is an Early American-style restaurant.

Take a Break -- The 18th-century atmosphere at Gadsby's Tavern is the perfect place for a sandwich or salad.

Continue west on Cameron Street and turn right on St. Asaph Street. At Queen Street, you can see:

4. No. 523 Queen St.

At 7 feet wide, it's Alexandria's narrowest house.

Continuing north on St. Asaph, you'll come to:

5. Princess Street

The cobble paving stones are original (and you'll see why heavy traffic is banned here).

One block farther north on St. Asaph, turn left at Oronoco Street. The house on your right at number 607 was:

6. Robert E. Lee's Boyhood Home

Lee lived in the Federal-style mansion at 607 Oronoco St. from age 5 until he went to West Point in 1825. It's a private residence.

Across Oronoco Street, at the corner of Washington, is the:

7. Lee-Fendall House

The gracious white-clapboard residence was home to several generations of Lees. Enter through the pretty Colonial garden.

Head south (left) on Washington, a busy commercial thoroughfare, to Queen Street and cross over to:

8. Lloyd House

A beautiful late Georgian home (1797), the house is now part of the Alexandria Library and holds a fascinating collection of documents, books, and records on the city and state.

Proceed south on Washington Street to the quiet graveyard entrance behind:

9. Christ Church

The Washingtons and Lees worshiped in this Episcopal church.

Leave by the front entrance, on Columbus Street, and turn left to King Street.

Take a Break -- A cappuccino-and-pastry break at Bread & Chocolate, 611 King St., is guaranteed to revive flagging spirits. Sandwiches and salads are also available at this casual spot.

From King Street, turn left on Alfred Street, to the small but historic:

10. Friendship Firehouse

You can see an extensive collection of antique fire-fighting equipment here.

Turn left at the corner of Prince Street and proceed to Washington. At the corner is the Greek Revival:

11. The Lyceum: Alexandria's History Museum

Built in 1839 as the city's first cultural center, today it's a city historical museum. The museum shop has a lovely selection of crafts, silver, and other gift items.

At the intersection of Washington and Prince stands:

12. The Confederate Soldier

The sculptor modeled the dejected bronze figure after one in the painting Appomattox by John A. Elder. Confederate-soldier statues in Southern towns traditionally face north (in case the Yankees return), but Alexandria's looks southward, perhaps because Union soldiers occupied the city during the war.

Continue walking east on Prince to Pitt Street, then turn left to King. Turn right and you'll see the fountain in:

13. Market Square

This open space along King Street from Royal to Fairfax in front of the modern but Williamsburg-style Town Hall has been used as a town market and meeting ground since 1749. Today, the market is held on Saturday mornings.

Turn right on Fairfax to the quaint:

14. Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop

A remarkable collection of early medical ware and handblown glass containers is on display here.

Head south on Fairfax to Duke Street, to the:

15. Old Presbyterian Meeting House

George Washington's funeral sermons were preached in 1799 in this 18th-century church. The graveyard has a marker commemorating the Unknown Soldier of the Revolutionary War.

Retrace your steps back to Prince Street and turn right. Between Fairfax Street and Lee Street you'll see:

16. Gentry Row

The local leaders who made their homes in these three-story town houses in the 18th and 19th centuries gave their name to the row. With the skyrocketing price of houses here, Old Town should be called "Gentry City."

At the corner of Prince and Lee is the:

17. The Athenaeum

It's a handsome Greek Revival structure that now houses contemporary art shows.

Cross Lee Street to:

18. Captain's Row

This is a pretty cobblestone section of Prince Street. You're now in sight of the Potomac riverfront and may want to stroll down to the little waterfront park at the foot of Prince Street for a panoramic view of the river.

Continue north on Union Street, where you can begin your shopping expedition at:

19. Torpedo Factory

You can wander the arts-and-crafts center's studios and galleries, which are open to the public.

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.