From new waterfront experiences—including an interactive art installation and a celebrity tall ship—to new tours, breweries, taco spots, and boutiques, 2019 holds plenty of new things to do in Alexandria, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, D.C. Keep reading to learn about the temporary public art installation that will light up Alexandria’s waterfront, what’s on tap with Alexandria’s brewery scene, and the must-try restaurant bringing authentic Mexican flavors to King Street.
New Waterfront Experiences
New Park Opens
One of the most highly anticipated transformations of the Old Town Alexandria waterfront is unfolding in 2019 with the opening of a greatly expanded new park area at the foot of King Street, seamlessly connecting Old Town’s historic retail corridor with the water. The expanded Waterfront Park space, which features four distinct areas and is adjoined to the original Waterfront Park, is designed for ongoing enjoyment and special activations and events. The official opening celebration will take place in March to coincide with the opening reception for a major new public art installation.
Interactive Art Installation
Coming to the new Waterfront Park area in late March and on display through November, Mirror Mirror is a site-specific sound-responsive temporary public art installation from SOFTlab, a New York-based design studio led by artist and architect Michael Szivos. Mirror Mirror is an interactive piece that responds to sound with light. The artwork draws inspiration from the prismatic lens used at Alexandria’s historic Jones Point Lighthouse—the Fresnel lens, considered the most advanced lens technology of the 1800s. Two original Fresnel lenses can be viewed at Alexandria’s History Museum at The Lyceum. Mirror Mirror is the first in an annual series of temporary public art installations in Waterfront Park. Dance and music performances inspired by the installation will join the new Portside in Old Town programming, a series of free-to-the-public waterfront happenings.
Tall Ship Arrives
A new maritime history experience is coming to the Old Town Alexandria waterfront in 2019. The tall ship Providence arrives this summer as a permanent attraction that will offer public tours, chartered cruises, educational programs, and beer cruises presented in partnership with Alexandria’s own Port City Brewing Company. This celebrity tall ship, which has appeared in the international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, is a full-scale replica of one of the U.S. Continental Navy’s first warships, built in 1768, which was captained by John Paul Jones, the father of the U.S. Navy, under the leadership of General George Washington.
New Culinary and e-Bike Tours
Old Town Food Tour
This spring, Carpe DC Food Tours will launch a new Old Town food tour, joining their D.C. lineup, which includes U Street and Georgetown. Carpe DC will kick off the new tour with a Tastes of Spring – Cherry Blossom Food Crawl event in March. Carpe DC was started by two D.C.-area locals who are both avid travelers and anthropologists. They are the first and only one-for-one food tour, meaning a portion of each ticket sold provides food for a day to a local in need.
Electric Bike Tours
Pedego Alexandria Electric Bikes, which opened in Old Town in 2018, is launching new guided tours this spring. The new e-Bike tours will include a tour of Old Town Alexandria, a tour to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which includes admission to the estate, a monuments tour of D.C., a seasonal tour to the cherry blossoms in D.C., and an Old Town at Night tour—a 90-minute ride that will take cyclists across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, offering extraordinary nighttime views of Old Town, D.C. and National Harbor.
Brewery and Cidery News
Already celebrated as a craft beer destination as home to one of the best small breweries in the U.S., Port City Brewing Company, there are now even more reasons to visit Alexandria with the openings of new breweries.
Aslin Beer Co. Moving to Alexandria
Aslin Beer Co., the small batch brewery with a cult-like following and four of the top 10 Virginia beers rated by users on Beer Advocate, will move its headquarters to Alexandria’s West End with a targeted summer 2019 opening. Aslin is planning a production facility, larger brew house, barrel program, private event space and a 3,500 square foot tasting room.
Lost Boy Cidery Opening
The first urban craft cidery in Northern Virginia is poised to launch in Alexandria: Lost Boy Cider, which is the creation of Del Ray resident Tristan Wright. Planning a summer 2019 opening in the Carlyle neighborhood, the cidery will offer a line of heritage and modern dry craft ciders made from Virginia apples and featuring all-natural ingredients like hops, cranberries, pineapples and spices. Heritage ciders are aged in tequila, gin and Kentucky bourbon barrels.
New Beer Gardens
Alexandria will soon have three new beer gardens, with two new hot spots in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. Hops N’ Shine beer garden, restaurant and bar opened in late January on Mount Vernon Avenue at the north end of Del Ray, offering exclusive craft beer, more than 50 beers on tap, plus moonshine, delicious grilled cheeses and more. Meanwhile, the team behind Charlie’s on the Avenue and Live Oak are working to open a concept called The Garden at the former Greenstreet Gardens space on Mount Vernon Avenue next to Charlie’s.
Named after the patron saint of beer, Augie’s Mussel House on the Patio will open on King Street in Old Town in the spring of 2019, following a 2018 pop-up beer garden and dramatic renovation to the restaurant. With an expansive outdoor patio, Augie’s will feature some of the best beers from around the world and a creative Belgian menu from Chef Eric Reid.
Taco lovers will soon find four new Alexandria restaurants serving up creative and authentic takes on their favorite dish. Open in January, Urbano 116 is the first endeavor in the U.S. for critically acclaimed chef Alam Méndez Florián, who brings his talents from Mexico City to King Street. Urbano 116 features moles, ceviche, cocktails, and a taco menu with fresh takes on fish, carnitas, lengua, vegetarian tacos and more.
Opening in the winter of 2019 at the Madison Collective in the Parker Grey area of Old Town, Chop Shop Taco will serve unique takes on tacos plus creative offerings like Frito pie in a casual setting that was converted from an actual 1970s automotive chop shop. These new restaurants join 2018 newcomers Tequila and Taco in Carlyle and Smoking Kow BBQ, which is a hit on Alexandria’s West End with a menu that includes American BBQ tacos.
Avanti Holdings Group, which recently opened The People’s Drug in Old Town, has two new group concepts in the Parker Grey area of Old Town. Pendleton Carryout Co. is an incubator for emerging culinary concepts and a test market for established brands. Currently with concepts from three different chefs, you can enjoy Beijing pork and ginger chicken dumplings, burrata pizza, decadent Killa Cakes, and more. Nearby, Madison Collective is an eclectic collection of businesses located just one block from hotspots like Mason Social, Lost Dog and Sugar Shack Donuts and Captain Gregory’s. Madison Collective includes Chop Shop Taco, opening in the winter of 2019, and the now-open Grateful Kitchen Co., Marlowe Ink tattoo studio, and Zweet Sport Total Fitness.
Recognized as the “Shop Small headquarters of the D.C. region” because of the thriving entrepreneurial spirit in historic Old Town and concentration of more than 100 independent boutiques along the King Street corridor, Alexandria is excited to welcome new and expanding boutiques.
Old Town Books opened in November 2018 on S. Union Street as a six-month pop-up that continues into 2019 as owner Ally Kirkpatrick looks for a permanent home. This independent book store emphasizes community engagement through book clubs, author events, writers’ groups, and workshops. Also in Old Town, Royal Street Barn opened in December of 2018 on S. Royal Street, featuring home décor, unique gifts and restored vintage furniture.
Independent Design Expansions
New-in-2018 boutique Threadleaf is a passion project for owner Nicole McGrew, an attorney with a design background who previously worked for the Obama administration. Nicole just announced that in the spring of 2019 she will move from S. Royal Street to a larger space on N. Fayette Street near King Street where she will be able to feature even more responsibly made, fashion-forward clothing and accessories from independent brands located in the U.S. and abroad.
Meanwhile, entrepreneur, cocktail enthusiast, artist and author Victoria Vergason, owner of The Hour boutique on King Street, is expanding her creative empire further, with a new e-commerce store called The Modern Home Bar that features Victoria’s own original line of vintage-inspired barware that is made in America.
High-Quality & Handcrafted
Alexandria also welcomed two new boutiques in 2018 that focus on high-quality, handcrafted items, each piece carrying a story about the designer and materials. Fine art jewelry artist Jennifer Jordan Park opened Wear Ever Jewelry on King Street in August 2018 following 10 years as a fine-craft-show and online concept. Wear Ever Jewelry represents the work of American artists and offers classes on site. Cromwell’s Wood Products opened on King Street in July 2018. The 2,000 square feet retail store features made-in-the-U.S. wood products with history and provenance. Product lines range from furniture and wood art to flooring and millwork.
Header Image Credits: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria, Sam Kittner for Visit Alexandria, and Pedego Electric Bikes