Living Like a Local in Del Ray

If you’re on vacation, there’s no better way to get to know an area than by following the locals. In Alexandria’s colorful Del Ray neighborhood, family, creativity and locally-owned are the name of the game, with tons of shops, events and restaurants dotting the streets, that are both great for newcomers and beloved by residents. Found yourself meandering along or just off Mount Vernon Avenue, the area’s main strip? Experience Del Ray like a local would (and does!) and stop into these popular haunts.


Evening Star Café


Street-side dining, luxe dining rooms, Southern comfort food and the Majestic Lounge, featuring live music and a full service bar; need I say more?

Birchmere Music Hall


This famous music hall specializes in contemporary and up-and-coming country, blues and folk up close (as the seats are only feet from the stage), historically hosting big names like Johnny Cash and Ray Charles.


St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub


This coffee corner is Del Ray’s neighborhood java joint, featuring delish pastries and drinks plus live music Wednesday through Saturday evenings.


Tops of Old Town


In need of beautiful hat for a special occasion? Look no further—Tops of Old Town has, for years, been a neighborhood staple, specializing in hats in all colors, shapes, sizes and price ranges.


First Thursday


Each first Thursday of the month, the Del Ray community comes together for live entertainment, food vendors and family fun—even a majority of the shops stay open late!


Del Ray Pizzeria


Even President Obama has visited this locally-owned pizza shop, which touts an impressive list of pies and beer. They even have a weekend brunch menu (I know, it’s amazing).


Art on the Avenue


Every fall this art festival floods Mount Vernon Avenue, complete with hours of live music, kids activities, a pie-baking contest and more than 300 artists selling handmade wares like jewelry, artwork and clothing.




This stylish boutique, located in what used to be a home (pretty neat, right?), carries everything from designer women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, shoes and gifts plus home and garden wares.




This bistro not only has award-winning mac n’ cheese (as praised by Food & Wine magazine), but also a wall of wine (yes, a wall of wine bottles and obviously an impressive wine menu) and a cheese shop.


Dairy Godmother Frozen Custard & Nostalgic Treats


Wisconsin-style custard, popsicles and baked goods, oh my! This family-owned custard shop makes all of its frozen treats on site and even has special “puppy pops” for yes, you guessed it, four-legged friends.


Find more great spots in Del Ray here.

Images by Del Ray Variety, St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub, the Washington Post, Del Ray Baby and Del Ray Pizzeria.