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 7th, 2018 when we celebrate Alexandria’s and USA’s birthday during one big waterfront party. Alexandria also makes the perfect home base for Independence Day celebrations in D.C., or a unique getaway of its own.
We’ve 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
Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria
This Fourth of July, experience American history where it happened with some of Alexandria’s best historical sites and tours. As “Hamilton” hysteria spreads to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the show’s run at The Kennedy Center June 12 to September 16, 2018, Alexandria is proud to announce special programming at historic sites “Hamilton” fans won’t want to miss. You can also catch family-friendly 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.
2. All-American Eats
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 Alexandria’s new Smoking Kow BBQ for BBQ tacos, platters and sandwiches or Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque 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 Dolci Gelati. Dolci founder Gianluigi Dellaccio was appointed Italy’s “Ambassador of Homemade Gelato” in 2018 and won “Best Gelato Flavor” at the inaugural Gelato Festival America in 2017. Watch your ice cream being made right before your eyes at Nicecream, 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 more 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 credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Daytime fireworks? Yes, that’s legal and yes, they’re awesome. At George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 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 7
Image credit: Victor Wolansky Photography
Don’t miss our big patriotic party on the weekend AFTER July 4th! Alexandria turns 269 this year (yep, that’s 27 years older than the United States) and on Saturday, July 7, 2018 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 269!
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