With its picturesque setting along the Potomac River and wealth of unique attractions, Alexandria attracts more than three million visitors each year. If you’re thinking of booking an Alexandria hotel and making the trip, you’ll want to visit the likes of the Torpedo Art Factory and the George Washington National Memorial, but leave some time to discover some of the lesser-known landmarks, too. Here are five that you really should see.
Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco Street
Image via Flickr by cliff1066
Constructed in 1785, The Lee-Fendell House in Old Town Alexandria has served as home to prominent local families, politicians, as well as hundreds of convalescing soldiers. Guided tours, which include a stop at the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee, are available Wednesday through Saturday. If you are visiting in December, the Historic Alexandria Candlelight Tour is a must and includes other landmarks such as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and Carlyle House.
Alexandria Seaport Center, Thompsons Alley
Head north from the waterfront’s Torpedo Factory toward the bottom of Queen Street, and you’ll find the Alexandria Seaport Center. It’s essentially a floating museum that teaches local youth groups the skills involved in boat building. You can rent out a small boat for a few hours if you wish. Admission to the center, which is open daily, is free between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, N Union Street
Located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory, the Alexandria Archaeology Museum is a great spot to head to if you have kids in tow. In addition to local archaeological finds, the museum has plenty of hands-on activities to entertain the little ones. Open Tuesday through Sunday, entry to the museum is free.
Alfred Street Baptist Church, 313 South Alfred Street
Image via Flickr by eli.pousson
Founded in 1818, the Alfred Street Baptist Church — a wonderful example of Romanesque Revival architecture — lies within the Bottoms, Alexandria’s oldest African-American neighborhood. The church features on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the African-American Historic Sites Database. If you’d like to attend a service, they are held on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 8 and 11 a.m.
Wise’s Tavern, 201 North Fairfax Street and Cameron Street
Sometimes called the Dalton-Herbert House, this historic site — lesser-known than Gadsby’s Tavern — hosted the send off for George Washington before he took up the role of President in 1789. The site has served several alternative purposes over the years, including as a home for elderly women. Pop along to have a look, or see the house as part of an Alexandria ghost tour.
Ready to discover more of Alexandria? There’s so much to do here that almost 80 percent of visitors choose to stay overnight at a local hotel. Need some help deciding where to stay? Head to Hipmunk.com to find great deals on Alexandria hotels.