Here’s What to Explore This Summer:
New at the Waterfront — Tall Ship Providence — Summer Concert Series — Cruises — Mount Vernon Events — Del Ray Happenings — Intertribal Creatives — Beer and BBQ — Sweet Treats — Shopping Scene — Riverside Picnic — Themed Walks
This summer, soak up the sun and fresh air with outdoor activities in Alexandria, VA. Wander the evolving waterfront for new restaurants and art installations. Enjoy al fresco adventures, from outdoor concerts to ways to get out on the water. Keep reading for inspiration.
Please note: While face masks are no longer required for the fully vaccinated while outdoors, they are still required at all indoor public spaces and advised in crowded outdoor areas.
1. Explore What’s New at the Waterfront
Alexandria’s waterfront is buzzing with new dining destinations, art installations and plenty of places to relax by the river. Peruse the menus at must-try new outdoor dining spots, Ada’s on the River and BARCA Pier & Wine Bar. Then, visit Groundswell, the 2021 temporary public art installation from artist Mark Reigelman on display at Waterfront Park from late March to November, and explore this immersive ecosystem of 102 wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors that shimmer like water. Then, enjoy the ample waterside greenspace by visiting one of the city’s eight riverside parks or wandering the African American Heritage Trail, plus a new south waterfront route debuting this summer.
2. Set Sail on Tall Ship Providence
Hop aboard the tall ship Providence, a reproduction of the first ship authorized to serve in the Continental Navy and John Paul Jones’ first American command, which appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. In addition to daily dockside tours to experience life aboard the 18th-century sloop, unwind on themed evening excursions on the ship, including sunset cruises, tasting cruises featuring cideries, rum and bourbon distilleries and maritime heritage cruises.
3. Soak Up a Summer Concert Series
Be enchanted by outdoor orchestral arrangements in a secret garden with Classical Movements’ summer series, “Sounds of Hope & Harmony,” hosted at The Rectory on Princess Street. Concerts are hosted twice nightly on most Thursdays and Saturdays throughout the summer, with themes such as “A Haunting Refrain: Jazz in June” and “Liberté chérie: A Bastille Day Celebration.”
4. Cruise on the Water
In addition to climbing aboard the tall ship Providence, you can feel the river breeze off the Potomac with City Cruises anchored by Hornblower. Water taxis connect you to regional destinations including Georgetown, The Wharf, National Harbor and Nationals Park, while monument cruises kick off on Memorial Day weekend.
5. Enjoy Events at Mount Vernon
Reserve your spot for outdoor events at the first president’s estate this summer. Be wowed by a pyrotechnics show from June 25 to 26, 2021, during the Independence Fireworks celebration, and participate in An American Celebration on the Fourth of July. For a spirited celebration, grab tickets for the Craft Beer Festival from June 19 to 20, 2021, and channel your inner sommelier for the Summer Wine Festival & Sunset Tour from July 16 to 18, 2021.
6. Discover Del Ray
Head to Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood for fun summer events like First Thursdays, themed festivities occurring the first Thursday of every month. Shop for one-of-a-kind items at the Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market, held the second Saturday of each month. Register to savor the 12th Annual Taste of Del Ray from June 4 to 6, 2021, with $5 takeout “tastes” available from Del Ray’s top area restaurants.
7. Visit Intertribal Creatives
Intertribal Creatives is a free and fair-trade gallery designed to showcase the artistic, creative, and entrepreneurial spirit of Indigenous artists across North America. With the support of its parent organization, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, the gallery hosts a safe space for Native artists and their communities to celebrate their rich contributions in the contemporary American marketplace. With the gallery’s soft reopening in June, peruse artwork like the pieces pictured above, by elder artist Sandy Swallow of the Oglala Lakota Nation from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Additionally, you’ll find pieces such as beaded medallions created by incarcerated Native men, and “Elder Spotlights,” highlighting the knowledge keepers in Native communities who have been deeply impacted by the pandemic.
8. Savor Beer and BBQ
Celebrate Fourth of July with a barbecue feast paired with a cold one. Pick up a six-pack of your preferred Port City brew, or sample one of Lost Boy Cider’s ever-rotating cans, then pair your beverage of choice with some of the region’s finest barbeque. Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue in Old Town is owned world BBQ champion and celebrity pitmaster Myron Mixon and features his award-winning competition rubs and sauces. Regulars at Rocklands Barbecue & Grilling Company in the West End crave The Pearl, which layers mac & cheese, baked beans and saucy chopped pork into one satisfying stack. Nearby on Duke Street at Smoking Kow BBQ, don’t skimp on the sides, including cheesy jalapeno grits and classics like homemade barbecue beans.
9. Treat Yourself to Frozen Flavors
Cool off in the city Forbes named the “Ice Cream Cone Capital of the U.S.” Try a decadent donutwich from Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats’ brand-new home at Commerce Street’s historic Ice House. Try ice cream made-to-order with liquid nitrogen at Nicecream on King Street. Savor the flavor of the day—and pick up a pupsicle for your four-legged friend—at Del Ray’s Dairy Godmother.
10. Explore the Shopping Scene
Experience the D.C. region’s Shop Small Headquarters this summer as you support locally owned businesses and celebrate the Fourth of July with “independence”-themed initiatives hosted by the Old Town Business Association. Discover new favorite boutiques, like Goldfinch, with Taste of Old Town North, a two-month stroll through the neighborhood from April 21 to June 21. Explore Alexandria’s AAPI-owned shopping scene by perusing global art pieces at Kyo Gallery, browsing and crafting home goods from AR Workshop and more.
11. Riverside Picnic
Nothing says summer more than a riverside picnic by the Potomac at one of Alexandria’s eight waterfront parks. Start your day by the water with bagels from Chewish Deli or brunch from Chadwicks, or bring a pizza from Bugsy’s or Lost Dog Café to share as you watch the sun go down.
12. Take a Themed Walk
Get outside for a guided or solo walking tour. Take one of Alexandria’s “Great Walks,” with themes such as a self-guided architectural stroll and an Old Town Art photo walk, and wander along the waterfront with the new African American Heritage Trail StoryMap—plus, look for a south waterfront route debuting this summer.
Get inspired by even more things to do this summer here.
Header Image Credits, left to right: Claire Mouledoux for Visit Alexandria; Laura Hatcher Photography for Visit Alexandria; Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria