Alexandria: This Old Town is New Again

by Mary and Bill Burnham

Alexandria waterfront

There's a lot new in this old town, just across the river from the nation's capital. Here, American history comes alive as you walk in patriots' footsteps on cobblestone streets to trendy boutiques and international eateries.

Four-legged travelers will find Alexandria truly is for the dogs, with water dishes outside the shops, upscale pet boutiques, and restaurants that allow pups to dine with their masters.

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Tour historic sites like Gadsby's Tavern, where George and Martha Washington once danced, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop or the stately Carlysle House mansion.

Once a World War II torpedo factory, today you'll see 84 artists at work in their studios at the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the waterfront.

There are oodles of new eateries to tempt your palate. Make your own wine at Carafe Wine Makers, have dinner and a show at the new Carlyle Supper Club, reminiscent of a 1940s speak-easy. Finish with dessert of Normandy-style crepes and cider at Fontaine Caffe & Creperie.

Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Meet "the real" George Washington at his home at Mount Vernon. You can still tour the mansion where the Washingtons lived, but now there are $110 million in new facilities, including the Ford Orientation Center and the Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center.

The new exhibits are high-tech and interactive, yet amazingly personal. The seats rumble and it actually snows in the film depiction of Washington leading an out-numbered rag-tag volunteer army to defeat a mighty empire.

Every day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., there's a wreath-laying at Washington's tomb. On-lookers are asked to participate in the solemn ceremony.

Hotel Monaco

Place to Stay

Hotel Monaco is a tres chic boutique hotel rose like a Phoenix from the old brick Holiday Inn. In keeping with the town's famous pet-friendliness, the hotel has Doggie Happy Hour and offers in-room goldfish to keep you company.

Fun to Do

Click here to read about a kayaking on the Potomac River!

For more on visiting Alexandria, go to