Things to do in Alexandria’s Carlyle Neighborhood

Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood near the George Washington Masonic National Memorial is the perfect blend of locally-known hidden gems and contemporary conveniences, all in one walkable neighborhood. Home to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum as well as African American heritage sites and locally-loved restaurants, we’ve rounded up our can’t-miss Carlyle stops so you can spend a day exploring the neighborhood.

Breakfast at Table Talk Restaurant

Table Talk Sign Exterior Credit S Stanton for Visit Alexandria (1 of 1)Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

The only way to start your day like a local in Carlyle is with breakfast at Table Talk Restaurant, a classic diner-style spot that will make you feel like a regular after one meal. Seriously, the staff is so friendly they’ll remember your name and order by your second visit. And trust me, the food alone will make you want to come back, with a menu that offers all your favorite breakfast and brunch staples.

Edmonson Sisters sculpture

Edmonson_Sisters_Statue_3_CREDIT_R_Kennedy_for_ACVA_720x498_72_RGBCredit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria

Around the corner from Table Talk near the corner of Duke Street and Reinekers Lane is the Edmonson Sisters sculpture, a gorgeous tribute to sisters Mary and Emilia Edmonson who were born into slavery and attempted escape at the ages of 15 and 13 respectively. The sisters were captured and held in bondage at the Bruin’s “Negro Jail” (pictured left above), and purchased by their father. Visitors can use the self-guided tour “A Remarkable and Courageous Journey” to learn more about the Edmonson sisters on page 9, and about the Bruin “Negro Jail” on page 7. When you visit, take a look at the back of the sculpture to see if you can find the ship engraved into it.

African American Heritage Park

African_American_Heritage_Park_CREDIT_R_Kennedy_for_ACVA_720x505_72_RGBCredit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria

A short walk from the Edmonson Sisters sculpture is the African American Heritage Park on Holland Lane near Duke Street and Eisenhower Avenue. The park winds through woody areas lined with beautiful artwork including a bronze memorial by Jerome Meadows titled, “Truths that Rise from the Roots – Remembered,” as well as informative panels. The park sits on the site of one of the oldest independent African American burial grounds. Learn more about the park on page 15 of the self-guided tour “A Remarkable and Courageous Journey“.

Lunch at Sweet Fire Donna’s

Sweet Fire Donna's Credit S Stanton for Visit Alexandria (1 of 1)Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

Walking through Carlyle will definitely work up your appetite, and it’s hard to imagine a better treat than barbecue at Sweet Fire Donna’s (from the folks who brought you Holy Cow, Pork Barrel BBQ and The Sushi Bar in Del Ray). The North Carolina vinegar sauce is so incredible, visitors from North Carolina have been known to take a bottle home with them. The casual atmosphere and friendly service make it a favorite in the neighborhood. Here’s a tip for visitors: check out the Sweet Fire Donna’s Facebook Page daily for “secret words” to score a free side with your meal.

National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum

National_Inventors_Hall_of_Fame_Ford_Mustang_exhibit_CREDIT_M_Enriquez_for_Visit_Alexandria_720x480_72_RGBCredit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

The free National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum inside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was completely revamped in 2016 and is cooler than ever. The small exhibit includes a one-of-a-kind side-by-side 1965 Mustang and a 2015 Mustang as seen above, and you can get behind the wheel of both. Visitors can explore interactive displays and see how patents fuel the evolution of technology with some of the most essential and quirky inventions from past to present.

Dulany Gardens 

Patent_Office_2_CREDIT_M_Donahue_for_ACVA_720x477_72_RGBDulany Gardens and the USPTO. Credit: M. Donahue for Visit Alexandria

Outside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is Dulany Gardens, a park with outdoor seating, picnic space, a fountain and a Capital Bikeshare station. Often bustling with activity during lunchtime, this is a great place to read a book, walk around or picnic with friends.

John Carlyle Square

John Carlyle Square Credit S Stanton for Visit Alexandria (1 of 1)Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

Nearby, John Carlyle Square is a green space with canopy shade and free wi-fi, perfect for answering emails or getting some work done outside. At night, the park often transforms into a stage for summer outdoor movies and music concerts as well as pop-up shops and markets.


Trademark Drink and Eat

Trademark_CREDIT_Trademark_720x413_72_RGBCredit: Trademark Drink and Eat

Trademark Drink and Eat at the Westin is a must-try in Carlyle, inspired by the innovation from the nearby U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The innovative concept doesn’t just apply to the decor inside—the dinner and cocktail menus are inventive enough to make your mouth water and the atmosphere is warm enough to make you linger after you’ve paid the bill.

Pasara Thai

Pasara_Thai_CREDIT_M_Enriquez_for_Visit_Alexandria1Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Pasara Thai is the definition of a hidden gem, tucked onto Jamieson Ave. in Carlyle. One Yelp reviewer said the yellow curry was the best she’s had in the DC region. This traditional Thai spot is perfect for date night or group outings.

Catch a show at Carlyle Club

Carlyle_Club_stage_CREDIT_Carlyle_Club_720x486_72_RGBCredit: Carlyle Club

The Carlyle Club is a unique 1930’s style Art-Deco supper club on Ballenger Avenue in Carlyle, offering weekly music shows in a swanky setting that makes you feel like you’re in The Great Gatsby. Check out their calendar for upcoming acts including R&B and jazz artists.

Drinks and jazz at Laporta’s Restaurant

Sharon_Clark_Trio_at_Laporta_s_CREDIT_M_Enriquez_for_Visit_Alexandria1_720x521_72_RGB (1)Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Laporta’s Restaurant has been one of the best places in Alexandria for local jazz for over 20 years. The intimate setting is a cozy place to have a drink and catch late-night jazz performances seven nights a week with phenomenal bop, scat, big band, classical, fusion and bluegrass artists. If you’re not much of a night owl, try their brunch—it’s a local favorite and now offers outdoor seating.

Coming soon: Whiskey & Oyster

In 2016, the folks who brought you Sweet Fire Donna’s in Carlyle and Holy Cow, Pork Barrel BBQ and The Sushi Bar in Del Ray will be opening Whiskey & Oyster. The restaurant will feature a 20-foot oyster bar, a 50-foot bar, and outdoor dining with fire pits.     For more fun in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood, stop by local-favorite “Winesday” Wednesdays at Whole Foods, and be sure to check the Carlyle Council calendar for fun neighborhood events like sunset concerts, movies under the stars, food trucks and more.     Header image: Credit S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria