Alexandria has certainly earned its place among America’s top dog-friendly cities. One out of every four Alexandria residents is a dog (yes, we know dogs are people too), and in this pup-ular town, dog-lovers find no shortage of dog parks, doggy boutiques and even Doggy Happy Hours. From Old Town to Del Ray, it’s dog days in Alexandria all year-round—and we’re not complaining. Read on to discover all the ways you can experience Alexandria with your own canine companion:
Things to Do
Image credit: Potomac Riverboat Co.
1. Canine Cruise: Hop aboard the Potomac Riverboat Company’s popular 60-minute cruise touring the Alexandria Seaport for a howling good time with your best four-legged friend. Dogs ride free! (Offered monthly, May-September.)
Doggy Happy Hour. Image credit: Kimpton Hotels
2. Doggy Happy Hour: Chow down on dinner and drinks at this Old Town institution, where dogs can sniff and mingle while their human companions enjoy cocktails and “tavern bites” on the outdoor patio at Jackson 20. If you like, become a regular: Doggy Happy Hour (or Yappy Hour, as some like to call it) is every Tuesday evening during the summer and fall.
3. VIP Pet Salon: Reward your dog with the ultimate pampering at the VIP Pet Salon in Old Town, where your pup can get a massage from a certified canine massage therapist and receive spa treatments like a dead sea mud treatment, blueberry facial or sugar scrub. They also have a Pet Taxi that can take your dog to and from appointments, as well as a mobile grooming van that comes to you so you can save the trip to the groomer.
4. Frolick Dogs Gym: To keep Fido fit, head to Frolick Dogs, Alexandria’s year-round doggy gym with agility training, “Canine Good Citizen” classes and more, and purchase a day pass for access to the exercise facilities guaranteed to keep furry fellows in top shape.
Image credit: BCF for Visit Alexandria
5. Dog boutiques: Dapper dogs find chic clothing, toys, accessories and gourmet baked treats at Alexandria boutique The Dog Park, a local favorite on King Street with friendly and knowledgeable staff, and at Your Dog’s Best Friends The Store in Del Ray for everything from training tools to adventurewear. Dozens of Old Town boutiques are dog-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your pup behind while you browse (the Old Town Boutique District even has a directory for pet-friendly shops).
On a stroll during the annual King Street Art Festival. Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
6. King Street stroll: Hounds love walkable Old Town Alexandria, where dog bowls line the red brick sidewalks of King Street. Expect to see a steady stream of dogs and their human companions out and about on this bustling historic corridor. For an historical jaunt, check out the dog-friendly Footsteps to the Past guided walking tours.
7. All the Presidents Pups Walking Tour: Alexandria’s dog obsession is nothing new, dating all the way back to George Washington himself. On select Saturdays, you and Fido can tour George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to learn more about canine life on the grounds and Washington’s love for dogs at five historic locations along the way.
Image Credit: Kerinia Cusick with Fetching Photos
8. Fetching Photos: You know your dog is ridiculously photogenic, so why not take him on a Fetching Photos “Walk & Snap” tour and get the photos to prove it? Walking tours of Old Town taking you to photogenic and historic locations, teaching you how to take better photos and a bit of Old Town history at the same time. Pups are always welcome!
Image credits: Potomac Riverboat Co. and BCF for Visit Alexandria
9. Treat stops: Proof that Alexandria rolls out the red carpet for dogs? All the free treats set out for our furry friends. Outside The Enchanted Florist on South Fairfax St., you’ll find free dog biscuits tucked into a stylized birdhouse called the Bone Box. At Principle Gallery on King Street, doggy concierge Asher will show you to free treats on the checkout counter. And don’t be surprised if you spot dogs queued up for tickets—er, biscuits—at the Potomac Riverboat Co. ticket booth.
10. Old Towne School for Dogs: This shop has been an Alexandria fixture for 40 years, providing a doggy day care, large pet supply store, grooming services and more to our ever-growing dog population. It’s so pup-ular that even Bo Obama has been groomed at the facility the Washington Post called “the Princeton for puppies, the Columbia for canines, the Harvard for hounds.”
Image credit: L. Barnes for Visit Alexandria
11. Dog-friendly parks: Alexandria has 18 public, off-leash dog parks, not to mention a bunch of private dog parks to boot. Plus quite a few dog parks are equipped with gorgeous views of the Potomac. Our picks? Founders Park has riverside views, a dog exercise center and walking paths fringed with greenery, and Montgomery Park offers a fenced dog run, tennis courts, parking and a playground.
12. Mount Vernon Avenue: Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray is a fun walk in the neighborhood “where Main Street still exists,” and where your pup is sure to make a few friends along the way. Stop by Nature’s Nibbles, celebrating 10 years in business in 2016, for premium treats and food.
Image credit: Shelley Castle Photography
13. Torpedo Factory Art Center: The anchor of the Alexandria waterfront, the Torpedo Factory also happens to be dog-friendly. Stop in for some art appreciation with your pup in this former World War II munitions factory turned 82 working artists’ studios.
Ready for the Doggy Howl-o-ween Costume Contest. Image credit: Kimpton Hotels
14. Pups on parade: There are quite a few annual events in Alexandria where dogs are the star of the show. Every Halloween, Jackson 20 hosts its Doggy Howl-o-ween Costume Contest, in which four-legged fashionistas strut down the dog-walk in a benefit for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
For the St. Patrick’s Day Parade events, dogs compete in the “Fun Dog Show” at Market Square in Old Town in their best Irish finery for honors such as Best Tail Wag, Best Irish Costume, and Best Owner/Dog Look-a-like. Later, the winners lead the way for the pre-parade.
During the holiday season, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade features dozens of terriers in Scottish tartans strolling proudly through the streets of Old Town to the tune of bagpipes. (Yes, it is the cutest.)
Where to Eat
15. Doggy desserts: Head to Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato for a doggy gelato (alternating options of lactose free peanut butter banana and apple cinnamon) or enjoy a handmade doggie treat two blocks down while browsing the goods at The Dog Park boutique.
Image credit: Bastille Facebook Page
16. Outdoor dining: Dogs and bipeds agree: there’s nothing as nice as lunch in the sunshine. Check out patios at Bastille or Laporta’s for dog-friendly dining, including Paws on the Patio happy hour events at Bastille.
Mural interpretation of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” at Lost Dog Cafe. Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria
17. Lost Dog Café: This gourmet pizza deli in the historic Parker-Gray neighborhood features an extensive menu (think lots of beer options), but it’s also got the feel-good factor: profits benefit the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation. And now that the new dog-friendly patio is open, Rover can join you in supporting a good cause.
18. Picnic in the park: With so many dog parks in Alexandria, it’s easy to grab a to-go meal or picnic-style dinner from Old Town eateries like Society Fair and enjoy a meal al fresco while your furry friend roams.
Places to Stay
Image credit: BRABO
19. Pet-friendly hotels: If you’re looking for a dog-friendly getaway, this is it. More than half of Alexandria’s hotels are pet-friendly, and there are more than 2,000 pet-friendly hotel rooms in the city. Welcoming properties include Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa and The Westin in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood.
For more information about dog-friendly Alexandria, click here.
Header image by Shelley Castle Photography