Things to Do in Alexandria’s Van Dorn Neighborhood in the West End

The Van Dorn neighborhood in Alexandria’s West End is filled with hidden gems, outdoor adventures and some of the best craft beer experiences and affordable ethnic restaurants in the D.C. region. The neighborhood, which has received buzz in 2017 with the opening of pre-Prohibition inspired Portner Brewhouse, is accessible via the Van Dorn Street Metro stop on the Blue Line, and is most easily navigated by bike or car. Keep reading for our top things to do in Alexandria’s Van Dorn neighborhood.

Craft Beer Experiences

Portner Brewhouse

Image Credit: C. Davidson 

With the opening of pre-Prohibition inspired Portner Brewhouse in March 2017, the Van Dorn neighborhood in Alexandria is a can’t-miss destination for craft beer lovers. Sisters Catherine and Margaret Portner are honoring their great-great grandfather’s legacy 100 years later by brewing up historic family recipes from Alexandria’s Robert Portner Brewing Co., the largest pre-Prohibition brewery in the South. Portner Brewhouse, also serves contemporary German-American cuisine and offers the public a chance to taste and rate home-brewed recipes in the Craft Beer Test Kitchen™.


Port City Brewing Company

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Just a bike ride away, Port City Brewing Company is known as one of the Best Small Breweries in America (Named #1 in 2015) and offers public tours, tastings and special events ranging from Joggers and Lagers, Pedals and Pints and Beer Yoga, combining fun activities with beer tastings and good company. Check out the Port City Brewing Co. calendar for a full list of events.


Things to Do



Image Credit: Topgolf Alexandria Facebook Page

Topgolf was named one of the top innovators of 2016 for reinvigorating the game of golf, and if you haven’t already been it’s a can’t-miss in the D.C. region. Topgolf brings out your inner kid with two 18-hole miniature golf courses and a modern driving range with micro-chipped balls, special light-up targets and games, and a lounge-style play area with drinks and food service. Topgolf is a one-of-a-kind experience and incredibly fun with a group of friends.


Sportrock Climbing Center

Image Credit: Sportrock Climbing Center Facebook

Chances are, if you know anyone in Northern Virginia who loves to climb, they’ve spent some time at Sportrock Climbing Center. The massive climbing gym has 57 rope stations with endless space and routes to climb, an extensive bouldering area and plenty of instruction for beginners to help get you started. They also offer classes like yoga, pilates, weight training and more. Never been climbing before? Sportrock is the place to go. It’s fun without being intimidating and is an offbeat idea for a date or an adventure with friends.


West End Farmers Market

Image Credit: West End Farmers Market Facebook Page

The West End Farmers Market is open May through October in Ben Brenman Park on Sundays. The market has plenty of local vendors including produce, sweet treats, food trucks, handcrafted goods and more. It’s a fun way to spend a Sunday morning picking up breakfast and strolling through local foods and crafts, and it’s also one of the only dog-friendly farmers markets in the area.


Ben Brenman Park

In addition to hosting the West End Farmers Market, Ben Brenman Park is a hub for the West End community near Van Dorn, with athletic fields, an amphitheater, a dog park, a playground, a pond, a picnic pavilion with grills and more.


Cameron Run Regional Park 

Image Credit: Cameron Run Facebook Page

Cameron Run Regional Park is a fun place for families when the weather gets warm. With a modest waterpark, miniature golf course and batting cages, Cameron Run has over 26 acres of outdoor adventure to explore with the whole family. Bring lunch and enjoy a picnic in one of the shelters to make a day of it.


Holmes Run Trail

Image Credit: William F. Yurasko flickr page

The Holmes Run Trail is the place to go when you’re looking for a quiet escape from the city or a spot for trail running. The trail winds along Holmes Run with picturesque water views along the way and is a popular Instagram spot in Alexandria.


Nick’s Nightclub 

Image Credit: Nick’s Nightclub Facebook Page

Nick’s Nightclub is known as one of the best spots in the region for live country music and dancing. Nick’s is always a lively spot on weekends, and also offers weekly dance lessons, swing and karaoke nights and regular special events. You can make it a night and grab food while you’re there, too.


Where to Eat


Thai Lemongrass

Image Credit: Thai Lemongrass

Hidden gem Thai Lemongrass in the Van Dorn Station shopping center has received attention from the Washington Post for its authentic and affordable Thai food. Menu offerings include traditional curries, noodles, fried rice and plenty of vegetarian options. While you’re there, check out the menus at other notable Van Dorn Station ethnic restaurants including Kabul Kabob House (Middle Eastern), Akasaka (Japanese), Satay Sarinah (Indonesion), and Pho Viet Flare (Vietnamese).


Taste of Asia 

Image Credit: Taste of Asia Facebook Page

Taste of Asia combines Thai, Japanese and Chinese food into a mouthwatering combination that’s received 4.7 stars on Google Reviews. The extensive menu includes endless options including vegetarian offerings and individual menus for Thai, Japanese and Chinese.


London Curry House

 Image Credit: London Curry House Facebook Page

London Curry House serves up a unique combination of dishes from India and London including seafood, vegetables, and tandoor, or clay oven-baked selections of salmon, chicken, lamb, and more. The hidden gem has received buzz from the Washington Post and Washingtonian for good, cheap eats.


City Kitchen

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

City Kitchen serves up a creative menu inspired by famous recipes from American cities, from classics like Boston clam chowder and the Philly cheesesteak to lesser-known favorites like the Chattanooga chicken sandwich with bourbon glaze, gouda, bacon, fried onion strings and spicy beer mustard. The drinks menu also toasts to American craft beer, wine and city-inspired cocktails.


Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling

Image Credit: Rocklands 

Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company serves classic smoked barbecue including ribs, chicken, sandwiches, platters and endless sides. With a 12-tap craft beer system and a rotating beer menu, Rocklands is the perfect spot to catch the big game or grab a beer when you’re craving barbecue.


Shooter McGee’s 

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Shooter McGee’s has been a local favorite for over 30 years, and is the go-to spot for burgers in the Van Dorn neighborhood. The restaurant boasts 10 HD TV’s, over 100 beers and wines with specials every day during lunch and dinner. You can also dine outside on the patio and park for free in their lot.


Jolley’s Restaurant & Lounge

Image Credit: Jolley’s Facebook Page

Jolley’s is an Ethiopian restaurant in the Van Dorn neighborhood, with a traditional Ethiopian menu and nightly entertainment including comedy, live music, salsa, and dance nights with a DJ. Jolleys also specializes in cocktails and drink specials including Happy Hour from 4-8 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Popped Republic!

 Image Credit: Popped Republic!

The go-to sweets-spot in Van Dorn, Popped Republic! adds a creative twist to popcorn with tons of regionally inspired popcorn flavors including Mount Vernon Maple Glaze, Capitol Caramel, Beltway Old Bay and more. Stop by their store at 2381 S. Dove Street or order online. The popcorn is great for gifts, or a sweet treat to share.


Mediterranean Bakery Inc.

The Mediterranean Bakery Inc. is a popular spot for locals to pick up fresh bread, pastries and groceries. Whether you’re looking to pick up something for breakfast, lunch, or an easy dinner to take home, The Mediterranean Bakery Inc. is the perfect neighborhood spot offering classic Mediterranean fare including falafel, homemade hummus, kabobs, dessert and more.



For more on things to do in Alexandria’s neighborhoods, check out Visit Alexandria’s Neighborhood Guide blog post series.

Header Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria