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Alexandria, Virginia - Walking Tour of Old Town

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Overview and Visitors Center
Ramsay House - Alexandria Visitors Center

Ramsay House - Alexandria Visitors Center

Photo Credit: © 2006 George Alexander, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Overview

This self-guided walking tour of picturesque and historic Old Town Alexandria takes anywhere from about one and one-half to several hours, depending on how long you spend at each stop.

If you are planning to have lunch along the way, it is a good idea to make reservations in advance, especially on the weekends.

Essentials for an enjoyable tour include:
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Your camera and plenty batteries or film
  • A small carry bag packed with only the essential items you need for the day
  • A fair weather day

Begin the Tour at the Ramsay House Visitors Center

  • Location - 221 King Street at the corner of North Fairfax Street
  • Hours - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
  • Telephone - 703-838-4200
Enter the building from King Street to collect some useful brochures and maps. Travel counselors are on hand to answer any questions you may have. Out-of-town visitors may obtain free parking passes for metered street spaces.

Brief History of Ramsay House - The original house was built by William Ramsay, a Scottish merchant, respected Alexandrian and close friend of George Washington's. Architectural studies of the house indicate that the earlier portions were built elsewhere in about 1724 and later moved to the current location. It was placed facing the river to give Mr. Ramsay a good view of his ships sailing in and out of the harbor.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the house became a tavern, grocery store, rooming house and cigar factory. After a 1942 fire destroyed much of the original building, the City of Alexandria purchased and restored the house. Today, in addition to housing the Visitors Center, it is a historic site marking Alexandria's oldest house.

Walking Tour Directions to Next Stop: Carlyle House - Turn right (north) on North Fairfax Street and walk to the next corner at Cameron and North Fairfax Streets.

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