The City of Alexandria has certainly earned its place among America’s top dog-friendly cities and is the only community in Virginia certified as a BETTER CITY FOR PETS by Mars Petcare in 2021, demonstrating the pet-friendliness of the city to residents and visitors. In this pup-ular town, dog-lovers find no shortage of dog parks, doggy boutiques and even Doggie Yappy Hours. From Old Town to Del Ray, it’s dog days in Alexandria all year-round—and we’re not complaining.
New this year, Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront will host the inaugural ALX Dog Walk event on April 2, 2022. Dogs of every kind and from all over the DMV will gather in historic Old Town Alexandria for a 2-mile dog walk.
Read on to discover all the ways you can experience Alexandria with your own canine companion.
Things to Do
1. Visit Barkhaus: Check out the DC region’s first dog-friendly bar, restaurant and dog park trio near Potomac Yard with exciting events and happenings throughout the year for you and your furry pals to enjoy. Keep tabs on their events calendar for trivia nights, BINGO, bar crawls and more.
2. Doggie Happy Hour: Chow down on dinner and drinks at King & Rye, where dogs can sniff and mingle while their human companions enjoy cocktails and Southern bites on the back patio. If you like, become a regular: Doggie Happy Hour 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.
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 adventure wear. Dozens of Old Town boutiques that are part of the Old Town Boutique District are dog-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your pup behind while you browse.
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.
7. Bring Your Pup to Mount Vernon: Visit the estate with your furry friend and smell the flowers gardens, visit the animals in the farm and walk by the Potomac River. Dogs are even welcome to view the livestock areas, providing that they do not frighten the animals.
8. 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.”
9. Dog-friendly parks: Alexandria has multiple 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.
10. 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. Check out Nature’s Nibbles for premium treats and food.
11. 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 dozens of working artists’ studios.
12. Pups on parade: There are quite a few annual events in Alexandria where dogs are the star of the show. 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
13. Doggy desserts: Head to Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato for Hungry Henry’s Dog Gelato (lactose-free milk, coconut oil, cane sugar, and food starch) or enjoy a handmade doggie treat two blocks down while browsing the goods at The Dog Park boutique. Enjoy dog treats on Buzz Bakeshop’s pet-friendly patio or treat your furry friend to a wheat-free puppy pop made with yogurt from The Dairy Godmother.
14. 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. Locals love taking their four-legged friends to the wine garden to indulge in the special Yappy Hour Puppy Menu at Sonoma Cellar, and enjoy patio service for pups at other restaurants like Cameron Café, Hops N Shine, Virtue Feed & Grain, Daniel O’Connell’s, Del Ray Café, Southside 815 , Rocklands Barbecue, Chadwicks and more. Vola’s Dockside Grill was even named after former City Manager and animal activist Vola Lawson.
15. Lost Dog Café: This gourmet pizza deli in the historic Parker-Gray neighborhood features an extensive menu (think lots of beer options) and dog-friendly patio, but it’s also got the feel-good factor: profits benefit the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation.
16. 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 and enjoy a meal al fresco while your furry friend roams. Top picks include Windmill Hill Park in South Old Town. It’s a quiet spot on the waterfront you can often have to yourself.
Places to Stay
17. Pet-friendly hotels: If you’re looking for a dog-friendly getaway, Alexandria is the place for you. 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 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