Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

Take a moment to journey back to the 18th-century tavern and hotel where famous historical figures and everyday people dined and slept. Through tours, program, and special events, learn about the history, architecture, decorative arts, social customs, food, and clothing of this changing time in American history.

Page updated on Jun 30, 2020 at 10:22 AM

Gadsby's Tavern Museum

Gadsby's Tavern ExteriorGadsby's Tavern Museum consists of two buildings, a ca. 1785 tavern and the 1792 City Hotel. The buildings are named for Englishman John Gadsby who operated them from 1796 to 1808. Mr. Gadsby's establishment was a center of political, business, and social life in early Alexandria. The tavern was the setting for dancing assemblies, theatrical and musical performances, and meetings of local organizations. George Washington enjoyed the hospitality provided by tavernkeepers and twice attended the annual Birthnight Ball held in his honor. Other prominent patrons included John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette.


The museums are closed and public programs are cancelled until further notice. 


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Gather your supplies together for a Hamilton Watch Party! Don’t throw away your shot to make a hat, write a toast, and prepare your snacks, all inspired by the 18th century. 


Historic Alexandria has officially launched a new website to showcase a select portion of its vast collection online. From silver to samplers, photos to forks, over 30,000 items are held in OHA's museums. To offer a taste of this variety, tour the different collections available now. Can you find Carlton Funn’s posters on Crispus Attucks, John Gadsby’s wine cooler, and a student chorus photograph from Parker-Gray High School?


Help Historic Alexandria chart a new path for the summer and fall as we seek to bring history to you in new and different ways! Please take a few minutes to answer the following questions. Take the Survey!


Peaceful vigils, protests and other events took place in Alexandria during the first week in June, following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. Recognizing the importance of this moment in history, the Office of Historic Alexandria invites the community to share signs, t-shirts, flyers, photographs, journals, personal stories, and artifacts that document local vigils and protests. 


As we experience this unprecedented time in the history of our town and the world, the Office of Historic Alexandria is embarking on a project to record our City’s response by conducting oral histories and collecting select memories, objects and documents from across the Alexandria community.


In compliance with the governor’s Stay-at-Home order, the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) sites are closed and public programs are cancelled until further notice. The Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum will open in July followed by Gadsby’s Tavern Museum opening later in the summer
For additional information about the City of Alexandria’s actions, visit


Miss visiting your favorite Historic Alexandria sites? Looking for some fun historic activities to share with your kids at home? Let our staff bring history virtually to you! 


The Historic Ice Well at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum offers a glimpse into early Alexandria’s commercial and social history. An important and rare example of a commercial well in an urban environment, it provided the tavern with a ready supply of ice to cool beverages or help make the new desert of the day, ice cream.


Immerse yourself in the spaces and the stories of the tavern! Developed based on feedback from guests over the past two years, this new experience allows you to journey through the museum at your own pace. Funded by Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society.


Experience the museum independently at your pace, or join us on an In-depth guided tour. Discounts are available to AAA Members and to visitors who have dined at Gadsby's Tavern Restaurant. Admission is free for members of the  Gadsby's Tavern Museum Society, AAM members,  HHMC member organizations, and Alexandria City Employees.


Meet in the same room George Washington met in...Drink in the same room Thomas Jefferson drank in. Gadsby's Tavern Museum was the center of Alexandria’s social scene in the 18th century -- and now these historic rooms are available to you and your guests for your own historic event!  


Gadsby’s Tavern Museum supports educators in classrooms, in homes, and within organizations. Our on-site programs range from special tours and hands-on activities to lectures and living-history opportunities. Education programs and educational outreach kits can be tailored to meet the needs of your specific group!


Step back in time and enjoy our historic hospitality through the period dance program! Prepare for the next ball with dance classes and spend a lively evening exercising your skills at a formal period ball. Whether you dance the night away or just tap your toes, recall Philip Fithian’s 1774 saying: “Virginians are of genuine Blood. They will dance or die!” 

Museum and Office Hours

Note: the museums and offices are closed and public programs are cancelled until further notice.    

New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas

During Museum hours, guests are welcome to walk through anytime with a self-guided tour. Guided tours are offered at select times throughout the day. For more information, refer to our Plan your Visit page. 

Office Hours
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., by appointment only.

Email the Museum

Email Gadsby's Tavern Museum

Event Tickets

To purchase tickets to events at Gadsby's Tavern Museum and to shop online, visit The Alexandria Shop. Visit the Historic Alexandria Calendar for a full list of events.

Other Important Links

National Historic Landmark  |  National Register of Historic Places 

American Alliance of Museums logo  National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom logo Save America's Treasures


American Alliance of Museums
Accredited Museum