Top Things to Do This Summer in Alexandria

This summer, soak up the sun and fresh air with ample activities in Alexandria, VA. Wander the evolving waterfront to enjoy new public artwork, discover the best seasonal treats around the city, plus find ways to celebrate Juneteenth and Pride Month. Keep reading for inspiration.

1. Head to the Portside in Old Town Summer Festival

Image Credit: Sam Kittner for Visit Alexandria

 

Kick off summer with the return of the Portside in Old Town Summer Festival on June 17 to 18, 2022, featuring an array of live music genres, local craft beer from Port City Brewing Company and fun for the whole family on the waterfront. New this year, the event expands to two days with the addition of Friday evening Alexandria Jazz Fest performances with live poetry and spoken word between sets. Saturday the festival continues with an eclectic musical lineup, local food, hands-on art and history activities and more. The Portside in Old Town Summer Festival is produced by Visit Alexandria in partnership with the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts.

2. Experience More Summer Festivals

Image Credit: Sam Kittner for Visit Alexandria

 

Mark your calendar for more al fresco festivals this summer. Experience Mount Vernon after hours and sample craft beer from 32 local breweries from throughout the region while enjoying live music during Mount Vernon Summerfest from June 10 to 12, 2022. On June 25, check out the popular Old Town Arts and Crafts Festival at Market Square featuring local and regional artists and crafters who showcase their pieces across various mediums, including pottery, stationery, jewelry, photography and more. Visit Del Ray on August 21 for the annual Bands and Brews Summer Bar Crawl featuring live music, food & drink specials at 15+ restaurants, trolley transportation and more. On August 27, the Around the World Cultural Festival takes attendees on a day trip around the world and present you the cuisine, culture and traditions of more than 40 countries in expansive Oronoco Bay Park.

3. Explore the Buzzing Waterfront

Image Credit: Laura Hatcher Photography for Visit Alexandria

 

Alexandria’s waterfront is humming with dining destinations, art installations and plenty of places to relax by the river. Visit I Love You, the 2022 temporary public art installation from award-winning, Miami-based R & R Studios on display at Waterfront Park from late March to November, offering a luminous love letter from the city to the public. Misha’s Coffee’s new Prince Street location includes rooftop seating with a river view, while local favorite Chadwicks expanded its outdoor seating with a balcony and new patio area. 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.

4. Participate in Juneteenth Events

Image Credit: Adedayo “Dayo” Kosoko for Visit Alexandria

 

Honor Juneteenth in Alexandria by supporting Alexandria’s Black-owned businesses and finding new favorites to visit year-round, such as Harambee Books and Artworks and Abyssinia Market & Coffee House. Bask in an outdoor musical celebration on June 16, 2022, hosted by Classical Movements at The Rectory at Princess Street with the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. On Juneteenth itself, the Torpedo Factory Art Center invites guests to join artists in creating artistic messages that celebrate freedom and deepen awareness of systemic racism and oppression.

Dive into Black history experiences with self-guided tours such as the Courageous Journey driving tour and Duke Street Black History Trail or take a guided Manumission Tour Company route. Grab tickets for timely events at historic sites, such as Carlyle House’s “Tell Me Your Name” tour on June 16 and July 21, 2022, exploring the experiences of the enslaved community at Carlyle House and his plantations. On June 18, July 16, and August 20, the “Under the Same Roof” tour shares the perspectives of the enslaved and free African Americans who lived in and shaped Lee-Fendall house as domestic servants, both before and after the Civil War.

5. Cruise on the Water

Image Credit: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

 

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. Or, opt for D.C.’s only passenger pedal boat, the Potomac Paddle Club. Pedal as much or as little as you like—the vessel is assisted by a captain and motor if needed, allowing guests to enjoy monumental views on an intimate cruise at their own pace.

6. Enjoy Events at Mount Vernon

Image Credit: Buddy Secor

 

Reserve your spot for outdoor events at the first president’s estate this summer. Be wowed by a pyrotechnics show from June 24 to 25, 2022, during the Independence Fireworks celebration, and participate in An American Celebration on the Fourth of July. For a spirited celebration, grab tickets to sip craft beer at the Mount Vernon Summerfest from June 10 to 12. New since spring, the innovative permanent exhibition, “Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon,” explores the history of Mount Vernon and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

7. Discover Del Ray

Image Credit: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

 

Head to Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood for summer fun like First Thursdays, themed festivities occurring the first Thursday of every month. Register to savor the 13th Annual Taste of Del Ray from June 3 to 5, 2022, with $5 “tastes” available from Del Ray’s top area restaurants—don’t forget to vote for the People’s Choice Award. On June 11, practice self-care during the Well Ray Health & Wellness Festival, featuring free fitness classes, wellness demonstrations, health screenings, and more. Wrap up summer with the August 20 Bands and Brews Summer Bar Crawl, complete live music, food & drink specials at 15+ restaurants, trolley transportation, and more.

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8. Celebrate Pride Month

Image Credit: Laura Hatcher Photography for Visit Alexandria

 

On June 10, 2022, celebrate pride in all colors at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s The Late Shift: ALX Pride event along the Potomac. Discover an evening filled with art projects along the waterfront, the Union Street entrances as well as throughout the building in a myriad of styles and celebrations. Meanwhile, Growing Pride at The Garden is back for its second year celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride on June 26. This family-friendly event features 15 local LGBTQ+ makers and allies, local food trucks, live music and crafting at The Garden ALX. On June 4, celebrate Pride Month with King & Rye at a drag brunch, complete with a southern brunch and performers including Siren Kelly, the region’s premiere Britney Spears impersonator.

9. Savor Beer and BBQ

Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

 

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.

10. Treat Yourself to Frozen Flavors

Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

 

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’ home at Commerce Street’s historic Ice House or authentic Argentinian gelato from Casa Rosada. Savor the flavor of the day—and pick up a pupsicle for your four-legged friend—at Del Ray’s Dairy Godmother.

11. Explore the Shopping Scene

Image Credit: Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria

 

Experience the D.C. region’s Shop Small Headquarters this summer as you support locally owned businesses. 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.

12. Take a Themed Walk

Image Credit: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

 

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.

Header Image Credits, left to right: Adedayo “Dayo” Kosoko for Visit Alexandria; Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria; Instagram user @stassitheaussie

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