It’s Presidents’ Day! This year, I decided to celebrate by writing a little something about our country’s most famous president: George Washington! I lived in his hometown, Old Town Alexandria, for four years and loved every minute of it. Walking the same streets and sidewalks George walked made me giddy every day! Here are my favorite Washington-themed things to do in D.C. and Old Town, so you can plan your own George Washington getaway!
Stay at the GW Townhouse
This was a dream come true for me! I used to give history tours outside this house, and for my birthday this year, I actually got to stay there for the weekend! This is a replica of the home he had built and stayed in when he came to Alexandria from Mount Vernon. The original burned down, but this one was re-built in the same location, using the same foundation stones. If you have any interest in George Washington, you definitely need to stay here! It’s available on VRBO, but book early!
Keep reading: Staying at the George Washington Townhouse
Take a Selfie with Young George
You might miss this unassuming statue on a bench at 309 Cameron Street, but now you know where to look!
More here: 10 Reasons to Visit Old Town Alexandria
Take a Tour with Alexandria Colonial Tours
This is the best thing to do in Old Town! Whether you want a private history tour or a fun ghost tour with a group, you will have the best tour of your life. The North Route of the ghost tour goes past the GW Townhouse and ends up at Christ Church, where George was a vestryman, and the South Route ends up at the Old Presbyterian Meetinghouse. The George connection is below…
Book your tour, and tell them Whitney sent you! Alexandria Colonial Tours
Visit the Old Presbyterian Meeting House
If George Washington was a vestryman at Christ Church, why is there a link with the Old Presbyterian Meeting House? Well, it snowed a lot the day of George Washington’s funeral. So much, in fact, they the funeral carriage couldn’t make it all the way to Christ Church, so everyone ended up attending his funeral at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House!
He’s not buried there, however, since his final resting place is at Mount Vernon. There are several interesting people buried here, though. One is Dr. James Craik: Alexandria resident, Physician General to the U.S. Army, and one of the three attending physicians at George Washington’s deathbed.
Visit Christ Church
Want to sit in George and Martha’s pew? You can! Tours of this church are free, and the volunteer docents can tell you practically anything about the history of the church and George Washington’s role there. Right now it’s practically in the middle of town, but back in the 18th century, it was known as “the little church in the woods!”
More here: Your Guide to Religious Sites in D.C.
Shop at the Farmers’ Market
What does the farmers’ market have to do with our first president? Just the fact that he sold crops at this market, shopped at this market, and trained soldiers for the Revolutionary War at this site! Today, the longest-running, continuous farmers’ market in the country takes place here on Saturdays from 7:00am-noon! My favorite vendors are Truly-Life for soaps, Bigg Riggs for produce and canned goods, Guata Java for coffee, and Pat Palermino for beautiful local art!
Come hungry, and get some coffee, too! Where to Get the Best Coffee in Alexandria
Tour (and Eat!) at Gadsby’s Tavern
Gadsby’s Tavern was one of the most successful taverns and hostelries in Alexandria, and it’s an excellent example of an 18th century tavern! George Washington did eat here in his day, and you can, too! Tour the museum, have lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, and don’t forget to check out their gift shop, too!
Keep eating: Where to Eat in Alexandria
Take a Boat Ride to Mount Vernon
Why a boat ride? Because that was the quickest way George Washington would travel between Alexandria and Mount Vernon. It’s a fun way to get there, and you’ll get a very unique view of the estate! But however you get there, Mount Vernon is a must-do for George Washington aficionados and history lovers! I suggest going early to avoid crowds and afternoon heat in the summers. And don’t forget to dine Colonial style at the Mount Vernon Inn as well!
More here: Your Guide to Visiting Mount Vernon
Tour the Washington Monument
Take a quick hop across the river to Washington, D.C., and head over to the most iconic symbol in the nation’s capital: the Washington Monument! You can go up inside for free, but if you want a specific date and time, be sure to reserve tickets online in advance. You’ll be rewarded with the best views in town!
Read next: How to Tour the Washington Monument
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