In a city as patriotic as Alexandria (we’ve been known to house an American president or two), choosing how to celebrate July 4th can be a tough task. Although Alexandria does not have fireworks on the Fourth of July, we do on July 8th when we celebrate Alexandria’s and USA’s birthday during one big waterfront party. We’ve also picked out some great all-American activities to help make the most of Independence Day in Alexandria, located on the waterfront just minutes from Washington, D.C.
1. Hands-On History
This Fourth of July, experience American history where it happened with some of Alexandria’s best historical sites and tours. Follow in George Washington’s footsteps on the new George Washington’s Alexandria tour and learn about Alexandria’s founding, its role during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and George Washington’s life in the city. Don’t miss family tours of Gadsby’s Tavern, where all five first presidents spent time, and today operates as a restaurant and museum. Jefferson even had his inaugural ball there. Other sites with can’t-miss historical tours include Carlyle House, the former home of one of Alexandria’s founders John Carlyle, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, where Martha Washington and George Washington’s doctor sent prescriptions. Looking for a driving tour? The Courageous Journey Self-Guided Driving Tour is a must, exploring ten historic sites to get you started on your exploration of Alexandria’s wealth of African-American historic sites.
2. All-American Eats
BBQ at Myron Mixon’s. Image credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
What better way to kick off your Independence Day festivities than with the basic ingredients of summer fun? Alexandria has plenty of BBQ, waterfront restaurants, specialty drinks and cold treats to make an All-American July 4th. For classic American BBQ, hit up Old Town’s new Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue for mouthwatering comfort food. Few things are more American than a burger or hot dog, and we’ve got you covered with our favorite burger joints as well as one of the best spots for cheap eats in the D.C. region—Haute Dogs. You can also choose from waterfront views and outdoor dining options. Top it all off with a cool treat from some of Alexandria’s best sweets spots like Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato, with flavors you won’t find anywhere else including a boozy Malbec and Sambayon, inspired by the owners’ Argentine heritage. Watch your ice cream being made right before your eyes at the new Nicecream Factory, where liquid nitrogen freezes the cold treat on the spot.
3. Outdoor Fun and Parkside Picnics
Image Credit: flickr user Isaac Wedin
The Fourth of July is all about getting outside under that summer sun, and Alexandria has no shortage of outdoor activities. Hit the waterfront at Daingerfield Island, where you can rent kayaks, canoes, sailboats, stand-up paddleboards and even hydro-bikes (it’s OK, I had to Google it too) from the Washington Sailing Marina. Test your volleyball skills at Founders Park, hit the Mount Vernon Trail for scenic running and biking, or shoot hoops at the basketball courts at Jones Point Park. Everyone knows no Fourth of July is complete without a picnic. And Alexandria’s waterfront parks make prime picnic spots for no-fuss patriotic parties. Picnic 101: Fill your basket with goodies from Society Fair or pick up a delectable cheese selection from Cheesetique. Top it off with desserts from sweets shops like Bluprint Chocolatiers.
4. An American Celebration at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Image via George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Daytime fireworks? Yes, that’s legal and yes, they’re awesome. At George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, celebrate our nation’s birth on July 4th with a fireworks display over the Potomac, military reenactments, free birthday cake for all and a visit from our founding father himself. Plus the National Concert Band will serenade guests with its “Red, White and Blue” concert. (This is one party you better book in advance.)
5. Alexandria/USA Birthday Celebration on July 8
Image credit: Victor Wolansky Photography
Don’t miss our big patriotic party on the weekend AFTER July 4th! Alexandria turns 268 this year (yep, that’s 27 years older than the United States) and on Saturday, July 8 we’re celebrating with a huge birthday bash along the Potomac waterfront at Oronoco Bay Park. Live music, food vendors, birthday cake and a dazzling fireworks display over the river are all on the agenda. So grab your lawn chair and join me in saying ALX, you’re looking pretty good for 268!
For more things to do this summer in Alexandria, click here, or stop by the Alexandria Visitor Center at 221 King St.
Header image credit: E. Michio