Del Ray is "Where Main Street Still Exists" with made-for-strolling Mount Vernon Avenue dotted with family friendly pizzerias, barbecue restaurants and sophisticated spots. Cheesetique's Mac N Cheesetique was named a "Best Mac and Cheese in the US" by Food & Wine magazine while Artfully Chocolate's "Divas" are on Travel + Leisure's "America's Best Hot Chocolate" list. Eclectic shops and signature events like Art on the Avenue contribute to an artsy ambience while health and wellness businesses flourish. Del Ray hosts the popular "First Thursday" events, in which every first Thursday of the month a new festival takes to the streets, attracting visitors and locals alike in search of family fun and a splash of local culture.
On the north side of Del Ray, find shows at America's legendary music hall, the Birchmere in the up-and-coming area Arlandria. The neighborhood is also popularly known as Chirilagua, for the El Salvadoran village that was at one time home to many of its residents where now, small shops and restaurants with an international flavor line its streets.
Del Ray Gems
Dairy Godmother Frozen Custard and Nostalgic Treats: This Del Ray staple serves up frozen custard to the neighborhood and famous DC elite like President Obama. Declared a "Dessert Destination" by the Washington Post, this family friendly sweet shop also specializes in sorbets, cookies, cobblers and homemade marshmallows.
Cheesetique: Started by a local software guru, this specialty cheese shop was the first of its kind in the metro area when it opened. Now hailed as having "The Best Mac N' Cheese in the US" by Food & Wine magazine, Cheesetique offers hard-to-find cheeses as well as a full-service cheese & wine bar.
Artfully Chocolate: Travel + Leisure hails the shop's hot chocolate line "Divas" (named for big screen icons like Marilyn Monroe) as amongst the best in America. At this sweet shop-cum-art gallery, owner Eric Nelson takes the art of dessert to a whole new level, dishing up sugary delights from truffles, to cakes to French macaroons.
St. Elmo's Coffee Pub: Hang out on the corner of Del Ray and Mount Vernon Avenue, where live music fills the floor most evenings and outdoor tables let the coffee-sipping occur street-side.
The Legendary Birchmere Music Hall: Known worldwide as having the reputation for hosting the biggest names in country, R&B and folk like Johnny Cash and Ray Charles, this 500-seat music hall allows guests to dine on traditional American eats while sitting mere feet from the performers on stage.
A Show of Hands: Items in this gift store are not "made in China"; in fact, everything on these shelves is handmade and most often, locally crafted. Find artwork like paintings, pottery and handmade jewelry to bring home a little piece of Alexandria.
Amalgamated Classic Clothing & Dry Goods: This vintage store not only brings timeless pieces to the closets of nostalgic fashionistas everywhere, but also supplies period outfits for major motion pictures and Broadway productions.
Truly-Life Eco Gifts: Truly-Life's mission is to provide handmade gifts that are better for its customers and the environment. Owner Mellenie and partner Andy utilize produce from their own "urban garden" to create loofahs, balms, soaps and skincare products with little to no carbon footprint left behind. Crafted in Del Ray, you can purchase at A Show of Hands in Del Ray, at the Old Town Farmer's Market, and other retail locations.
First Thursdays: Every first Thursday of the month, May through September, Mount Vernon Avenue becomes a free street festival for Alexandrians and visitors to enjoy, featuring live music, food stalls and family entertainment.
Art on the Avenue: Held along Mount Vernon Avenue each fall, this art and music festival holds four stages which ensure live entertainment bursts throughout the city all day. Visitors enjoy stalls filled with artwork like jewelry, paintings and handmade crafts for purchase, food vendors with cuisine ranging from BBQ to delectable desserts and kids activities to guarantee entertainment for the entire family.
Del Ray Farmers Market: Held year round on Saturday mornings, visitors stop by this farmers market for locally grown produce like seasonal vegetables and fruits, as well as meats, eggs, fresh pasta and sauces, baked goods, eggs and jams.