As summer heats up and longer days beckon, head to Alexandria, Virginia, within eyesight of Washington, D.C., for breezy vibes and buzzing waterfront activities in and around Old Town. From pirate-themed cruises on the Potomac River to music-filled beer gardens, don’t miss these 7 summer happenings:
Experience What’s New
This summer, discover several new happenings on Alexandria’s waterfront. Channel your inner pirate, history nerd or craft beer fanatic aboard the tall ship Providence, a full-scale replica of a 1768 Navy warship set to arrive on Alexandria’s waterfront as a permanent attraction in early July 2019. Inspired by the ship’s appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean, pirate-themed cruises will be offered along with educational history tours and Port City beer cruises.
Then, rejuvenate at soon-to-open Riverside Taco Company with a frozen margarita and a jam-packed tortilla snack, served from an Airstream trailer and garden at the Alexandria Marina. Then, take in Mirror Mirror, Waterfront Park’s color-drenched temporary public art installation from New York’s SOFTlab studio. Coming in July 2019, don’t miss the debut of Alexandria Colonial Tours’ riverside twist on their famous Ghost & Graveyard Tour, blending fact with folklore to haunting effect.
Savor Summer Festivals
Toast the start of summer at the Portside in Old Town Summer Festival on June 22, 2019. Head toward Old Town Alexandria’s Waterfront Park, and you’ll hear fusion tunes ranging from Ethiopian jazz to Brazilian to Latin folk. Quench your thirst at a waterfront beer garden from Alexandria’s award-winning Port City Brewing Company, and grab savory bites from Pizzeria Paradiso and Rocklands BBQ. Bring the whole family for crowd-pleasing hands-on arts and history activities..
On June 28-30 and July 5-7, 2019, Port City’s Waterfront Beer Gardens return for two weekends of refreshing riverside brews along with lawn games, live bands and DJs. In June, pair your drinks with Meggrolls’ crispy creations, then come back over Fourth of July weekend for a barbecue bonanza. On July 13, 2019, join the City of Alexandria’s party for America’s 243rd birthday and Alexandria’s 270th at Oronoco Bay Park. Enjoy patriotic birthday cake, food vendors, the mesmerizing Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and a dazzling fireworks display.
Take a Potomac River Cruise
For a picturesque (and practical) jaunt across the Potomac, skip the traffic and set sail on a water taxi to The Wharf, minutes from the National Mall, or to National Harbor. Cruise by D.C.’s iconic landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument and more, on Potomac Riverboat Company’s narrated Monuments Tour ending at Georgetown. For hassle-free access to the big game, catch a lift on the Baseball and Soccer Boat and dock near both the Nationals’ and D.C. United’s stadiums. Or, bring your favorite four-legged friend aboard the popular Canine Cruise touring the Alexandria seaport. Dogs ride free and get free treats, too.
Dine Al Fresco on the Water
No visit to Alexandria’s waterfront would be complete without an outdoor dining experience. Watch the waterfront world breeze by as you indulge in a seafood-filled feast at Vola’s Dockside Grill, from crab dip for the table to spicy shrimp tacos. For modern tavern fare plus a hip and historic ambience, Virtue Feed & Grain offers a laid-back, light-strung patio to enjoy hearty salads, juicy burgers or elevated entrees. Then, settle in for a nightcap at Blackwall Hitch’s expansive riverside lounge, complete with refreshing libations and live music. Need more inspiration? Explore outdoor dining spots along King Street and beyond.
Revel on the River
Take advantage of Alexandria’s ample coastline by skimming along in a kayak, sailing on a sloop or stand-up paddle boarding. At Daingerfield Island’s Washington Sailing Marina, contemplate the cloud formations from the water as planes take off and land just overhead at Reagan National Airport. Or, get up-close with nature at the Belle Haven Marina and scan the tidal marsh for creatures across the food chain, from darting fish to sun-tanning turtles to stately bald eagles.
Go Green at Alexandria’s Parks
From Oronoco Bay to Founders Park and from Waterfront Park to Jones Point Park, Alexandria is filled with riverside greenspace. Take your pick and play, picnic or plant yourself on the grass to soak up some vitamin D. Pack a basket to dine riverside or work up an appetite on the sand volleyball courts at Founders and Windmill Hill Parks. Ride or rent a bike to roll along the path or simply stroll at your own pace. Don’t forget your four-legged friends, as many of Alexandria’s parks are pet-friendly and provide plenty of frolicking space.
Explore the Torpedo Factory Art Center
When you’re ready to cool off, go behind the scenes of the creative process at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the heart of the waterfront. The former World War II munitions plant now houses 82 working artists’ studios, seven galleries, the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and more, making it America’s largest collection of active open studios in one building. Find artists at work in every medium, from ceramics to welding to watercolor, and search for inspiring works to take home.
For more ideas, get the scoop on all the ways to soak up Alexandria’s waterside goings-on.
Header Image Credit: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria