George Washington's 250th recalls a raft of traditions and myths, coin toss to cherry tree. Whether he ever threw a dollar, or a quarter, across the Potomac or ever tangled with a tree, he did walk the streets of Alexandria. To mark his anniversary, you can retrace his steps through his home town. To learn why it's called Old Town, stop off only at establishments that pre-date the Revolution, starting with RAMSEY HOUSE, 221 King Street, where (on May 5, 1775) Washington ate breakfast on his way from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia to accept command of the Continental Army. It's the oldest house in Old Town, now a tourist bureau, with a 13-minute movie at 10:30 and 2:30 and by request. South of King Street lies the APOTHECARY SHOP, at 107 South Fairfax Street, where Martha bought a quart of the "best" castor oil, and George picked up his mail. The store, which also served as gossip center, was established in 1792, and is intact except for plywood patchwork across the recently bashed door; enter through the adjoining antique shop. A tape explains the collection of medicinal glass lining the shelves -- "bleeders" to draw off blood, vials, mortar and pestles, gruel feeders, 18th-century eyeglasses and colored "showglobes" in the windows -- all originals. Down the street sits DR. WILLIAM BROWN'S HOUSE, a private residence of white clapboard over brick, marked with a plaque, at 212 South Fairfax. The doctor was physician general to the hospitals of the United States, and personal physician and close friend of Washington who visited the home, though in those days they made housecalls. Two blocks to the north, at 121 North Fairfax Street, CARLYLE HOUSE claims GW as a frequent overnight guest. John Carlyle, Scottish immigrant and wealthy merchant, and Washington were close friends despite a falling-out over a wheat deal in 1767. Washington complained that Carlyle's firm was shortweighting his shipments. The place is open for tours 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday, noon to five Sunday; $1.50 for those over 17, 75 cents for those between six and 17, under six free. GW ate, drank and -- starting in 1799 -- celebrated his birthday at GADSBY'S TAVERN, now a museum, a couple of blocks away at 838 North Royal Street. Because his townhouse around the corner had no kitchen, Washington took most of his meals at Gadsby's. "Dancing assemblies" are reenacted annually in the tavern next door, with Colonial attire and 18th-century music. For the Birthnight Ball at Gadsby's, George Washington's 1805 cake has been reproduced from a description in a letter from a woman who was at that year's party. It was "a large cake with an equestrian statue of General Washington, the whole covered with a sugar candy net in the form of a cone, on the top of which was the American Eagle," she wrote. Research showed that the general and his horse were cast in marzipan. The cake, made two years ago, is undergoing a touch- up: "George is still fine, I'm restoring my sugarwork on the outside," said Rebecca Russell, who made it. Around the corner, at 508 CAMERON STREET, is a reconstruction of Washington's in-town residence, built on pieces of the original foundation and open occasionally for tours. Up Cameron, at North Washington Street, CHRIST CHURCH has Washington's reserved pew, marked with a silver plaque engraved with his signature. Originally all the pews were as large as this one, to accommodate footwarmers. Two more blocks along Cameron, and left on Alfred Street, is the FRIENDSHIP FIRE COMPANY, at 107 South Al Road, is open daily 9 to 5, with tours every hour. Besides panoramic views from 333 feet and a peek at the mysterious world of the Masons, the fortress-style building offers a collection of memorabilia once belonging to Washington, Master Mason of Alexandria Lodge No. 22: his townhouse desk, spurs, a garter, field compass, pen knife, the silver trowel he used in laying the cornertone of the Capitol in 1793, sealing wax, a letter to the lodge, the casket strap used to lower his body into the tomb at Mount Vernon and his bedroom clock reading 10:20, stopped at the moment of his death by one of the attending physicians. Plus several portraits of Washington, including one by William Williams that captured the aging general, pock marks, mole and all. Last tour to the tower begins at 4. Off the walking tour, the world's most famous farmhouse stands as the best example of a colonial plantation with smokehouse, washhouse, greenhouse, coachhouse, slave quarters and mansion. In honor of its famous occupant, buried with Martha in a simple crypt on the grounds, MOUNT VERNON will be open free on February 15.