22 Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Alexandria

Alexandria has certainly earned its place among America’s top dog-friendly cities. One out of every four Alexandria residents is a dog (yes, we know dogs are people too), and in this pup-ular town, dog-lovers find no shortage of dog parks, doggy boutiques and even Doggy Yappy Hours. From Old Town to Del Ray, it’s dog days in Alexandria all year-round—and we’re not complaining. Read on to discover all the ways you can experience Alexandria with your own canine companion and pamper them along the way:

Things to Do

Canine_Cruises_CREDIT_Potomac_Riverboat_Co2_720x480_72_RGB (2)Image credit: Potomac Riverboat Co. 

1. Canine Cruise: Hop aboard the Potomac Riverboat Company’s popular 60-minute cruise touring the Alexandria Seaport for a howling good time with your best four-legged friend. Dogs ride free and get free treats, too. The cruise is offered monthly from May through October, culminating with a fun and unique Halloween-themed canine costume cruise.

alexandria-va-dog-friendly-old-town-doggy-happy-hourImage credit: Doggy Yappy Hour

2. Doggy Yappy Hour: Chow down on dinner and drinks at this Old Town institution, where dogs can sniff and mingle while their human companions enjoy cocktails and “tavern bites” on the outdoor patio at Jackson 20. If you like, become a regular: Doggy Yappy Hour is every Tuesday evening during the summer.

alexandria-va-dog-friendly-old-townImage credit: BCF for Visit Alexandria

3. 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 adventurewear. Dozens of Old Town boutiques are dog-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your pup behind while you browse (the Old Town Boutique District even has a directory for pet-friendly shops). Global Bridal Gallery even makes custom wedding outfits for dogs to match the couple.

King_Street_Art_Festival_2015_CREDIT_M_Enriquez_for_Visit_Alexandria__154__copy_720x480_72_RGB Image credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

4. 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. For an historical jaunt, check out the dog-friendly Footsteps to the Past guided walking tours.

5. George Washington’s Mount Vernon: Alexandria’s dog obsession is nothing new, dating all the way back to George Washington himself. George Washington’s Mount Vernon encourages folks to visit with their furry friends. Leashed dogs can access all outdoor spaces that are open to the public, and some dogs (like mine) enjoy visiting the animals at Pioneer Farm. You can also catch special guided All the President’s Pups Walking Tour in May and October.

dog-friendly-old-town-alexandria-va-free-dog-treatsImage credits: Potomac Riverboat Co. and BCF for Visit Alexandria

6. Treat stops: Proof that Alexandria rolls out the red carpet for dogs? All the free treats set out for our furry friends. Outside The Enchanted Florist on South Fairfax St., you’ll find free dog biscuits tucked into a stylized birdhouse called the Bone Box. At Principle Gallery on King Street, enjoy free treats on the checkout counter. And don’t be surprised if you spot dogs queued up for tickets—er, biscuits—at the Potomac Riverboat Co. ticket booth.

Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

7. Dog-friendly parks: Alexandria has 18 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.

8. 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. Stop by Your Dog’s Best Friends: The Store for unique dog gifts, toys and treats, or hit up Dairy Godmother for puppy pops, the ultimate cool-down treat on a hot day. Don’t miss Nature’s Nibbles for premium treats and food.

 shelley-castle-pet-photography--14_720x479_72_RGBImage credit: Shelley Castle Photography

9. 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 82 working artists’ studios. Some artists can even be commissioned to do a portrait of your dog.

Image credit: R. Nowitz for Visit Alexandria

10. 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 Campagna Center’s 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.)

Pamper and Play

11.  From Head to Tail Grooming Spa: Opened in the Potomac Yards neighborhood on the edge of Del Ray in 2017, From Head to Tail Grooming Spa offers services that will make you want an appointment for yourself. From microbubble bath therapy treatments to mud masks and from facials to pawdicures, there are countless ways to spoil your pup.

12. Wag & Brew: Wish you could bring your dog to grab a drink with you? At Wag & Brew in the West End, opened in 2017, your pup can get luxury services or play while you enjoy the coffee, beer and wine bar along with free WiFi.

Image credit: Frolick Dogs Gym Facebook Page

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. Olde 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.”

Where to Eat

 Image credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
16. Doggy dessertsHead to Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato for a doggy gelato (alternating options of lactose free peanut butter banana and apple cinnamon), or a handmade doggie treat two blocks down while browsing the goods at The Dog Park boutique. Beginning June 2018, dog-friendly Dolci Gelati will add dog gelato to their menu, made from sweet potato, peanut butter, agave nectar, banana and water. In Del Ray, dogs go wild for the pumpkin and banana puppy pops at Dairy Godmother.  
 Image credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

17. Outdoor dining: Dogs and bipeds agree: there’s nothing as nice as lunch in the sunshine. Check out patios at Bastille or Mason Social for dog-friendly dining, including Pups on the Patio happy hour events at both spots. The patio at Magnolia’s on King is dog-friendly, and they even offer a 10% discount to diners who present a receipt from The Dog Park boutique, or 10% off at The Dog Park with a Magnolia’s receipt. In Old Town, enjoy patio service for pups at other restaurants including Jackson 20, Blackwall Hitch, Daniel O’Connell’s Southside 815ChadwicksBugsy’s, Buzz Bakeshop, Hank’s Pasta Bar, La Trattoria and others. In Del Ray, you can dine outside at Del Ray CaféNorthside 10, Bon Vivant Cafe + Farm Market, Bombay Curry Company and more. Rocklands Barbecue and Ted’s Montana Grill in Alexandria’s West End and Carlyle Neighborhood respectively, are also great options for dining al fresco. Enjoy new views on the dog-friendly patio at Cedar Knoll, located on the Potomac River near George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Image credit: Alexandria Restaurant Partners

18. Doggy menus: Treat your dog to a one-of-a-kind dining experience with full-on puppy dinner menus at Vola’s Dockside Grill (named for former City Manager and animal activist Vola Lawson), Virtue Feed & Grain, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza + Tap, with different options of homemade meals for even the pickiest pup. Locals love taking their four-legged friends to the wine garden to indulge in the special Puppy Menu at Sonoma Cellar. Be warned, your dog will never look at kibble the same.

Lost Dog Cafe Mural CREDIT S Stanton for Visit AlexandriaImage credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

19. Lost Dog Café: This gourmet pizza deli in the historic Parker-Gray area of North Old Town features an extensive menu for humans accompanying their dogs (think lots of beer options), but it’s also got the feel-good factor: profits benefit the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation. And now that the new dog-friendly patio is open, Rover can join you in supporting a good cause.

20. Haute Dogs: It’s all in the name. Dogs are welcome on the patio at Haute Dogs, with treats and the occasional “haute” dog available for pups. Plus, if you think your pup is particularly photogenic, you can bring in a photo of your furry friend to be displayed on their beloved “dog wall of fame.”

Image credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

21. 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 like Society Fair and enjoy a meal al fresco while your furry friend roams. Top picks include Jones Point Park in South Old Town, a spacious waterfront park with a lot of open space and trails.

Places to Stay

Image credit: Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa

22. 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 Kimpton 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