This city just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. is a key destination for anyone remotely interested in colonial and Revolutionary history. Among the sites not to miss are Christ Church, which George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended, and Gadsby's Tavern, where George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette all supped. The Lyceum offers exhibits on Alexandria and northern Virginia history, including a wide range of artifacts from the colonial and Civil War eras. At the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, see archaeologists at work, uncovering the area's history. And the Alexandria Black History Museum offers exhibitions, lectures and special events throughout the year. The town also offers charming boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
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African-American History Tour of (Alexandria) See the journey of African-Americans from slavery to leadership in historic Alexandria. On the tour, you’ll see Market Square, where slaves were bought and sold. Nearby is the site of an abolitionist Quaker's shop where the first sit-in against discrimination occurred. Other stops include Alexandria's Black History Resource Center, Franklin & Armfield Slave office and the African-American Heritage Park.
Anne Spencer House and Garden
See the Lynchburg house and museum of internationally acclaimed poet Anne Spencer, who was part of the Harlem Renaissance.
Courthouse and National Historical Park (Appomattox)
Stand on the spot where General Robert E. Lee surrendered, ending the Civil War. Also in Courthouse Square is the Appomattox County Historical Museum, which houses a turn-of-the-century one-room school, a doctor's office and a jail cell.
National Cemetery (Arlington)
The final resting place of some 250,000 people, from the American Revolution to the current conflict in Iraq, the 612-acre cemetery was formally established during the Civil War on land originally owned by George Washington Parke Custis, the first President's adopted grandson. Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy are buried here, as are Supreme Court Chief Justices Earl Warren, Warren Burger, and William Rehnquist.
Don't miss Arlington's oldest house, built in 1742. It's a rare example of a working-class home. William Carlin, who was George Washington's tailor, lived here.
Belmont Farm Distillery
Check out this legal moonshine distillery in Culpeper. Master distiller Chuck Miller got the idea from his grandfather, who made illegal moonshine, and opened this still in the late 1980s. The massive copper tank is quite impressive.
Ben Lomond Historic Site and Old Rose Garden
Used as a hospital for injured Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, the site maintains the signatures on the walls, scribbled by soldiers recuperating there. The 5,200 square-foot garden of old roses (one of the largest public gardens devoted to old roses in the U.S.) has some 160 separate cultivars and 200 individual rose shrubs.
Berkeley, in Charles City, is Virginia's most historic plantation. Visit the site of the first official Thanksgiving. See the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President William Henry Harrison, our nation's ninth president, whose grandson Benjamin became the 23rd president. Envision Lincoln reviewing 140,000 Union troops. And hear "Taps" (composed here in 1862). The elegant 1726 Georgian mansion is furnished with rare period antiques. Five terraces of restored boxwood and flower gardens offer breathtaking vistas of the James River.
This 18th-century parish church in Petersburg is a memorial to the Southern soldiers who died during the Civil War. In honor of the Confederate dead, states each contributed a stained glass window designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The weathered tombstones of Blandford Cemetery date to the early 1700s, and are surrounded by locally made ornamental ironwork. Some 30,000 Confederate soldiers are buried here where the first Memorial Day was observed in June 1866.