Top 10 Reasons To Visit Alexandria This Summer

Against the backdrop of a vibrant waterfront and historic streets, summer in Alexandria sizzles with boat cruises, fireworks, outdoor dining and more. Located on the Potomac River just minutes from Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia has cold brews and summer treats, scenic parks, outdoor tours and new happenings in summer 2017. We’ve rounded up our top 10 reasons to visit Alexandria this summer:

1. New Restaurant Openings

Image Credit: Hotel Indigo

There is a mouthwatering lineup of new restaurants opening throughout Alexandria all summer long, adding to an already impressive list of new restaurants open this year. Nothing says summer like waterfront dining, and one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in the D.C. region will open on Alexandria’s waterfront just in time for summer. Hummingbird, from chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve, will open inside the new waterfront Hotel Indigo in spring 2017, offering a raw bar, burgers and crab cakes and Irish breakfast options among other menu items. In the Carlyle neighborhood, look out for Whiskey & Oyster featuring a 20-foot oyster bar, a 50-foot bar, and outdoor dining with fire pits perfect for summer nights.

2. Waterfront Activities 

Image credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria

The Alexandria waterfront is a summer hotspot for foodies, art lovers, dog owners and hopeless romantics alike. Catch live music and fresh seafood at Blackwall Hitch, picnic in one of our scenic waterfront parks, sip on dockside drinks or explore the Torpedo Factory Art Center to complete your perfect summer night. You can also get out on the water by renting boats at the Washington Sailing Marina on Daingerfield Island, including stand up paddleboards, kayaks, sailboats and more. The marina offers spectacular views of planes landing while you paddle around the Potomac.

3. Boat Cruises 

Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Everyone knows the recipe for a perfect summer day is “just add water,” right? Hop on the Baseball Boat to Nationals Stadium to catch a game or climb aboard the water taxi to the National Mall to explore DC events like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Independence Day festivities. Take a narrated cruise to Mount Vernon or enjoy the views on the Alexandria Seaport Cruise.

4. Alexandria Birthday Celebration 

Image credit: Victor Wolansky Photography

Alexandria turns 268 years old this July (meanwhile, the U.S. turns 241) so of course we celebrate with a huge birthday bash along the Potomac waterfront at Oronoco Bay Park in Old Town. No gifts, please, but expect live music from the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, food vendors, patriotic birthday cake and a dazzling fireworks display over the river.

5. Summer Tours 

Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Sunny skies and summer breezes practically beg you to get out and explore our historic city, whether by bike, by boat or on foot. Plus these Alexandria tours aren’t just for tourists. Take a “hop stop” on the historic breweries walking tours (June 18, 2017; self-guided option here), bike or boat down to Mount Vernon, or discover new niche tours like Discover Alexandria‘s Shop Alexandria Boutiques Tour.

Fans of PBS’ Civil War drama “Mercy Street” can explore the city that inspired the series on a number of tours offered throughout the summer in Alexandria.

6. Outdoor Dining 

Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Summer hasn’t officially started until you’ve hit the patio for some al fresco dining. Luckily, Alexandria is chock-full of restaurants offering outdoor dining, from riverside views at Vola’s Dockside Grill + Hi-Tide Lounge to vibrant streetscapes at the Front Porch from Evening Star in Del Ray. You don’t want to miss the beautiful garden patio with Greek food at Taverna Cretekou. Now all you have to do is choose between that rosé or the IPA.

7. Dog-Friendly Things To Do

things-to-do-this-summer-old-town-alexandria-dog-friendlyImage credit: Shelley Castle Photography

Dogs love summer in Alexandria. Why? They get to feel the wind in their hair on the Canine Cruise, explore Alexandria’s many dog-friendly parks and gobble doggy treats like doggy gelato. Oh, and strolling bustling King Street is always fun on a sunny day for pups and bipeds alike. Check out all 19 dog friendly things to do in Alexandria here.

8. Summer Treats

Image credit: Nicecream Factory

Beat the heat with chilled sweet treats from Alexandria eateries specializing in ice cream and other frozen delights. The newest Alexandria destinations for sweet-lovers include Nicecream Factory, where liquid nitrogen meets fresh farm ingredients with made-to-order ice cream, joining nearly 20 artisanal sweets and dessert spots in this already sweet dessert destination. Each Nicecream serving is crafted right before the customer’s eyes with rotating weekly and seasonal flavors such as Mint Mojito, Cran-Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk and Butter Toffee Pecan. Duck Donuts also recently opened its doors in Alexandria, offering customers made-to-order doughnuts with their choice of toppings and other warm, freshly made doughnuts of the day such as Maple Bacon & Raspberry Drizzle and Blueberry & Powdered Sugar. Other classic spots to cool off include Wisconsin-style frozen custard and popsicles (root beer float popsicle, anyone?) at The Dairy Godmother in Del Ray, handcrafted artisan gelato including banana split and dulce de leche at Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato, healthy sorbetto (sorbet) in flavors like roasted plum and jasmine pear at Killer E.S.P., and classic homemade ice cream at The Creamery and Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.

9. Frank Lloyd Wright 150th Birthday Celebration at Pope-Leighey House

Image Credit: Paul Burk for the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Celebrate world-renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday at the only Frank Lloyd Wright house open to visitors in the D.C. region!—the Pope-Leighey House. Located just 10 miles from Old Town Alexandria, the Pope-Leighey House is the perfect showcase of one of Wright’s “Usonian” style modest homes that he began designing in the 1930s. Visitors are invited to enjoy celebrating the anniversary all year long.  First up, on the birthday itself, June 8, the site will be hosting Cupcake tours during the day, and a very special The 150th Birthday Picnic & Party fundraiser in the evening, to include birthday cake from some of the region’s best cake makers, cocktails, music, a unique auction and much more. On July 12, the hilarious cocktail theater troupe, Picnic Theater Company, will be presenting their version of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever in front of the house (picnic dinner available) and on August 27th, the Pope-Leighey Picnic series ends with a mid-century modern, family-style Back-to-School picnic (Loren Pope was an education reporter and author) on the grounds of the house.  Look out for other events all year, including in-depth architectural tours, Twilight & Tipple Tours with beverages and bites, and a slew of exciting partner events throughout.   

10. Summer Deals  

Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

From the annual Summer Sidewalk Sale to summer hotel packages, all the stars are aligning for that weekend shopping trip you’ve been planning. Old Town’s chic independent shops offer deep discounts throughout the summer in one-of-a-kind personalized shopping experiences. In one walkable neighborhood, you can get fashion advice and expertise from independent boutique owners at shops like The Shoe Hive, take knitting classes or pick up handmade yarns and fibres at Fibre Space. At the end of the day, prop your feet at one of Alexandria’s top-rated boutique hotels. Check out our Ultimate King Street Shopping Guide For Old Town for the full scoop.

Find more things to do this summer in Alexandria here.

Header image by K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Special thanks to Kelsey Michaels, who contributed her writing to this post.