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Presidential Connections in Alexandria

With Alexandria’s hundreds of independent restaurants in an unforgettable historic atmosphere, it’s easy to see why presidents and first families have spent time in the city for decades (and even centuries). Here are just some of the presidential sightings around town, plus more political connections:

President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

  • On May 28, 2021, President Joe Biden visited Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria’s Eisenhower corridor to mark COVID-19 vaccination progress as Virginia lifted distancing and capacity restrictions.
  • On April 6, 2021, President Joe Biden visited a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site operated by Neighborhood Health on the grounds of the Virginia Theological Seminary.
  • On March 3, 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Old Town boutique and “yarn universe” fibre space to speak with owner Danielle Romanetti and shop’s employees about the administration’s COVID relief plans to support small businesses. While at the store, the Vice President purchased a hoodie for her step-daughter, knitwear designer Ella Emhoff.
  • First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is a lifelong educator and full-time English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, including the Alexandria campus off N. Beauregard Street. Dr. Biden has expressed a desire to continue to teach while her husband is in office, and would become the first lady to hold a day job outside the White House.

Current Political Connections in Alexandria

  • Prior to opening her eco-friendly boutique Threadleaf in Old Town in 2018, owner Nicole McGrew was an attorney with a design background in the Obama administration.
  • From her vibrant power suits to stylish face masks, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is known to find style inspiration from Old Town’s donna lewis boutique.

Nicole McGrew, owner of Threadleaf

Barack Obama and the First Family

  • Vermilion: President Obama and Michelle Obama delighted in a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner here in 2012.
  • Del Ray Pizzeria: Features presidential pies (“Barack My World”) enjoyed by President Obama and his family in 2011.
  • Union Street Public House: Enjoyed by First Lady Michelle and daughter Malia in 2011
  • The Dairy Godmother: A Father’s Day treat for President Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia early in his first term in 2009.
  • The Majestic: First Lady Michelle and the girls celebrated Michelle’s mother’s birthday at The Majestic in 2009.
  • In addition to the restaurants above, President Obama visited now-closed eateries such as Del Ray’s FireFlies Bar & Restaurant for lunch with this secretary of education in 2014 and Restaurant Eve in Old Town for his 19th wedding anniversary with Michelle in 2011.

Laura Bush

Jackson 20 (now King & Rye): First Lady Laura Bush dined here during her husband’s presidency.

Ronald Reagan

Ireland’s Own (now closed): Surprise visit by President Ronald Reagan on St. Patrick’s Day 1988. The restaurant features photos of Reagan, the original table where he dined and a bust of the president.

Gerald Ford

In 1955, then-Congressman Ford and his family moved to Alexandria. The Fords remained in Alexandria during Ford’s tenure as Vice President (1973-1974), as the Vice President did not yet have an official residence. Following the resignation of Richard Nixon, Ford spent his first 10 days as President in the house before moving to the White House. The house at 514 Crown View Drive is on the register of historic places.

Richard Nixon

While serving as a U.S. senator and representative of California, former President Richard Nixon lived at 3426 Gunston Road in Alexandria’s Park Fairfax neighborhood.

George Washington and Early Presidents

  • Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant: Favorite of George Washington and host to all of the first five U.S. presidents, including Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural banquet in March 1801.
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon: The first president’s riverside home, just eight miles south of Old Town, is America’s most visited historic estate.
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