When it comes to celebrating Halloween, Old Town Alexandria is a special place to be!

Our historic streets are not only steeped in the history of several centuries gone by, but are also dripping with spooky stories and ghostly tales. What's even better is just how much the homes and neighbors of Old Town really, and I mean really, embrace the season with spine-tingling halloween displays. 

This week, in an effort to either entice you to visit Old Town this Halloween, to give you a few tips on how to best enjoy Halloween in our neighborhood if you'll be in Alexandria, or to inspire you to create your own spooky decor, I want to share a little of what makes Old Town so spectacular when it comes to my favorite holiday. 

Ghost Stories/Tours

Ask anyone who has lives in Old Town if they know of any ghost stories and you'll likely be treated to a few tales that might skin crawling. Throughout the years on our blog we've shared a few hair raising experiences in our home and our neighbors. In addition to these tales we've heard countless others involving everything from ghostly spinning wheels that make eerie noises well after they've been removed from the house, to spirits upset that their left artifacts have been removed from their secret hiding places and begin causing havoc.

Old Town is absolutely full of spooky tales that make Halloween week a little more fun. If you want to take a ghost tour in Old Town there are two options to choose from. The first, Alexandria Colonial Tours, offers a Ghost and Graveyard walking tour. On this tour you'll hear several legends of haunt led by a guide in colonial dress with a single candle lantern. The tour, no matter the route, ends in one of Old Town's church graveyards. 

The second is Alexandria's Footsteps to the Past. Again, a strolling tour of Old Town explores some of the most historical haunts from the old port town. A particular focus of the tour involves the bizarre medical practices and superstitions of the 18th century and their impact on our history.

Both tour companies depart from the Ramsay House visitors center on the corner of King and Fairfax.

Spooky Decor

If it's festive Halloween displays you're after, we certainly have no shortage. When it comes to enjoying ghostly decor, a simple self guided walking tour will be just what the spirits ordered. Our favorite route starts at Prince and South St. Asaph headed east. It's about 1.5 miles and takes you through some of the most historic and most frighteningly decorated parts of Old Town.

The walking path outlined in the embedded map (which also shows a few interesting sights and the cemeteries in Old Town) heads down Prince, where you're sure to see a few great bits of decor adorning the beautiful historic homes.

Walking along Lee Street you're in the heart of what will be Trick-or-Treat central come October 31st. But well before that day the neighbors along this stretch start to outfit their house with spider webs, skeletons, and other spooky paraphernalia. 

We love walking up and down this street during October simply because it takes on such a unique look during the month.

Even the Lee Street Rats get in on the festive action.

On the way back from the walking route's furthest extent takes you back on Fairfax Street, another of Old Town's very historic routes. Pay special attention in the 600 South block for some pretty spectacular decor.

There are little touches everywhere to get you in the spirit. Even Lulu was able to find a "friend" on one of our recent walks.

The route ends by walking up Wolfe Street and back towards King on South St. Asaph street where you'll see some of the homes in Old Town that truly elicit thoughts of haunted Victorian mansions.

No matter what day it is, this walking route will show you some of the most spectacular homes of Old Town, but during Halloween week, everything is kicked up a notch and is sure to give you a few goosebumps for the night.

Walking the Graves

If your idea of fun on Halloween involves getting a little closer to those six feet under, Old Town Alexandria has several small and large historic cemeteries that are perfect for a stroll. Though we like to walk among the head stones year round (it is such a quiet place after all), the crisp fall air, beautifully colored leaves, and elaborate markers and headstones dating back to the 1700s make our cemeteries just a little more impactful this time of the year. 

If you're interested in seeing some of the more famous graves in nearby churchyards, you can walk through the Christ Church or Old Presbyterian Meeting House graveyards.   

Christ Church is the family church of George Washington and houses a collection of very impressive headstones dating to the 18th and early 19th centuries. 

The Old Presbyterian Meeting House graveyard is the final resting place for many of Alexandria's early prominent citizens, including John Carlyle. You'll also find the headstone of James Craik, personal physician to George Washington and the person who may have inadvertently have been responsible for Washington's death due to the practice of blood letting.

The Old Presbyterian Meeting House also has the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. This is the only United States Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that's officially recognized outside of Arlington National Cemetery.

If you have time for a bit longer of a walk head over to the Alexandria Cemetery in the south west quadrant of town (see map above for large green area). This cemetery is massive and houses the burial grounds for Alexandria's local churches, many dating to the 18th and early 19th centuries. The grounds are full of beautiful headstones. 

In addition to the massive number of important Alexandrians who call this cemetery their final resting place, there's one particular grave that has an very well known, unknown inhabitant. She's the subject of the local story of the Female Stranger. This tale involves mystery and intrigue of an ill woman with no name. She was brought to Gadsby's Tavern by her unknown male suitor in September 1816, but died soon after her arrival. Her partner quickly left town without his deceased, and her identity remains a mystery to this day. 

Some have speculated that she is the illegitimate daughter of Aaron Burr, but the true identity may never be known.

Halloween Night & Trick-or-Treat!

Before we reach the main event of the 31st, Jackson 20 is hosting the perennial favorite Doggy Howl-O-Ween costume contest. Thursday, October 29th, owners and pets come to the Jackson 20/Hotel Monaco courtyard on King Street to enjoy a little dress up fun. It's an absolute sight to behold.

Since Halloween is on a Saturday this year, it's essentially an all day event. During the daytime hours, from 11:00-6:00, the Boutique District shops along King Street will be handing out candy to costume clad children as part of their "Trick-or-Treat with the Boo-tiques" event. In addition, the Carlyle House in the 100 North block of Fairfax Street will be celebrating an 18th century All Hallows' Eve from 5:00-7:00.

Once the sun begins to set it's time for the main event. What was once the area's best kept secret has exploded into an all out costume-fest, and it all takes place on South Lee Street.

Alexandria closes a roughly seven block stretch to traffic and all of the area's little ghosts and goblins roam the decorated homes in search of a little candy. There's talk that this may be the last year of this large of an event, so if you're in the area, it's definitely a must-see. We've seen it slowly grow from the early days to what it has become today, and it's quite impressive.

Once the night of treat gathering is over there's a good chance you'll be looking for a fun night cap. This year the Fish Market will be throwing a major Halloween bash, Nightmare on King Street. There will be a DJ with dancing and costume prizes, and it's all free. Festivities start at 10:00pm.

As you can see, in Old Town there's way more than what goes bump in the night on Halloween. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if more ghouls don't come out to our neighborhood to celebrate rather than scare. We hope our list is enough to encourage you to partake in the week's fun.

Comments 3


10/27/2015 at 7:00 PM

Thanks for the tour and all the tips; I'll have to make more effort to get down to OT this Hallows Eve!

11/3/2015 at 5:39 AM

The flying one is really scary.

In a DC Minute
5/19/2016 at 10:02 PM
This is excellent!
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