Nothing says summer fun like family-friendly music and food festivals, movies under the stars and fireworks along the Potomac. Located just minutes from Washington, D.C. and with a nationally designated historic district, Alexandria, Virginia, is the ideal location for your summer vacation with more than 35 special events coming Memorial Day through Labor Day. Highlights include unique events at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and authentic American history experiences in George Washington’s hometown, from family tours led by junior docents at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum to a Revolutionary War re-enactment on May 4-5. Watch hundreds of Continentals, Redcoats, Hessians, cannon, and cavalry in action throughout the weekend and learn more about life in the 18th century. Wander through the encampment and meet the soldiers. This family-friendly event features a youth muster on the bowling green and even meeting General Washington. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked into 18th- and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy.
Waterfront activities abound and boat cruises cater to everyone from baseball fans to our four-legged friends to those wanting to visit the scenic National Mall. One of the most highly anticipated transformations of the Old Town Alexandria waterfront was opening of a greatly expanded new park area at the foot of King Street, seamlessly connecting Old Town’s historic retail corridor with the water. The expanded Waterfront Park space, which features four distinct areas and is adjoined to the original Waterfront Park, is designed for ongoing enjoyment and special activations and events. A major new public art installation also just took place. On display through November, Mirror Mirror is the first in an annual series of temporary public art installations in Waterfront Park. Dance and music performances inspired by the installation will join the new Portside in Old Town programming, a series of free-to-the-public waterfront happenings.
The dining scene is booming with Carpe DC Food Tours which added a new Old Town food tour, which includes U Street and Georgetown. There is still time to enjoy Tastes of Spring – Cherry Blossom Food. Carpe DC was started by two D.C.-area locals who are both avid travelers and anthropologists. They are the first and only one-for-one food tour, meaning a portion of each ticket sold provides food for a day to a local in need.
Celebrity pitmaster Myron Mixon has partnered with barbecue championship judge and local restaurateur Joe Corey to open Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue in Old Town Alexandria. Myron is a 4-time world grand champion, author and TV star – and is very well known to barbecue fanatics. Inspired by his native Georgia, Myron’s award-winning dishes and competition rubs and sauces get raves from barbecue purists while he surprises diners with his creative sides and appetizers including barbecued deviled eggs, peach barbecue beans and baby back mac and cheese.
Live Oak is a fairly new restaurant nestled into Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood from chef Justus Frank, former executive chef at Fiola in D.C., along with local restaurateurs Tim Irwin and Jeremy Barber, opened in 2016. The new locale is serving up distinctive Charleston, S.C.-inspired Southern cuisine with dishes like head-on shrimp & grits with lobster bisque and chorizo.
Alexandria welcomes its first waterfront hotel, the highly anticipated Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria opening this spring. Touches of Alexandria’s colonial past blend with contemporary design at the boutique hotel, nestled on a riverside site where a 300-year old ship was discovered and excavated during the hotel’s development. At the city’s marina, new restaurant Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge offers waterfront dining with an oyster bar, seafood classics and tiki-inspired cocktails. More recent expansions on Alexandria’s waterfront include new connections to D.C. via Potomac Riverboat Company’s water taxis and future plans to create a new public plaza at the foot of King Street.
Like baseball? You can even get to a baseball game via the “Baseball Boat” from Old Town Alexandria to Nationals Park by water, avoiding the crowds and soaking up views of the Washington skyline. It’s literally the easiest way to get to the game—the boat docks just outside the stadium, and makes the trip back to Old Town 20 minutes after the final pitch, and you can enjoy popcorn, beer and soda available for purchase. Plus you get free parking near the Port of Alexandria when you purchase your tickets online. I’d say that’s a home run!
For another breath of fresh air, visit one of Alexandria’s eight waterfront parks, where you can enjoy all the benefits of the great outdoors just steps from bustling King Street. Between the beautiful views of the Potomac and the spring flowers in bloom, these parks make for the perfect picnic (and great dog-walking, too). For those looking to get more active during the longer days, Alexandria’s award winning Mount Vernon Trail beckons: it’s got waterfront vistas, loads of green space and it’s easy to get to, making it the perfect escape for a quick bike ride or nice long run. You can also get out on the water by renting sailboats, kayaks or stand up paddleboards at the Washington Sailing Marina at Daingerfield Island in Alexandria.
Lost Boy Cidery Opening
The first urban craft cidery in Northern Virginia is poised to launch in Alexandria: Lost Boy Cider, which is the creation of Del Ray resident Tristan Wright. Planning a summer 2019 opening in the Carlyle neighborhood, the cidery will offer a line of heritage and modern dry craft ciders made from Virginia apples and featuring all-natural ingredients like hops, cranberries, pineapples and spices. Heritage ciders are aged in tequila, gin and Kentucky bourbon barrels.