What’s New in Alexandria, Virginia in 2018 January 30, 2018

Claire Mouledoux: CMouledoux@VisitAlexVA.com or 703-652-5367
Leah Spellman, APR: LSpellman@VisitAlexVA.com or 703-652-5363

What’s New in Alexandria, Virginia in 2018

A major waterfront transformation, trending food, specialty tours and more

Alexandria, VA—Known for its rich history, independent restaurant and boutique scene, walkable lifestyle and close proximity to Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA is introducing an array of new offerings for 2018. From a major waterfront transformation to trending food and immersive history experiences, find out what’s new in the Port City. 

New Waterfront Destination Will Transform with Seasonal Experiences

As the D.C. region’s waterfront landscape evolves with major developments like The Wharf and MGM National Harbor, a dramatic change is coming to Alexandria’s historic waterfront in the fall of 2018. A major new waterfront destination is opening at the intersection of the Potomac River and Alexandria’s most historic retail corridor: King Street Park at the Waterfront. The space will transform throughout the seasons with pop-up programming. The new park is the crown jewel of the city’s waterfront plan, which has been decades in the making.

Independent Boutiques Open and Expand with Second Concepts

Alexandria’s reputation as the “Shop Small” destination of the D.C. region continues to grow as independent retailers are opening and expanding with second concepts in the city. In May 2018, Nicole McGrew, an attorney with a design background and former member of the Obama administration, opened Threadleaf, a small, independent boutique focusing on fashion-forward clothing and accessories that are responsibly made with respect for the environment. Victoria Vergason, owner of vintage cocktail-ware boutique The Hour, is fulfilling her dream of launching her own original vintage-inspired made-in-America line, available in the spring of 2018 through a new e-commerce store called The Modern Home Bar, with select products available at The Hour. King Street’s mainstay for home design and gifts, Red Barn Mercantile is celebrating 10 years in 2018, and owner Amy Rutherford was pleased to open Penny Post Paper Goods in October 2017. In February 2018, fine art jewelry artist Jennifer Jordan Park opened Wear Ever Jewelry as a brick-and-mortar location, following 10 years as a fine-craft-show and online concept. Wear Ever Jewelry represents 20 American artists and offer classes.

Taco Trend Takes Off with BBQ and Mexican Tacos Plus Walk-Up Churro Window

Alexandria’s creative comfort food trend continues to grow in 2018 to include a taco trend. Smoking Kow BBQ, “D.C.’s first and only American BBQ taco food truck,” opened a brick-and-mortar location in Alexandria’s West End in the spring of 2018, joining Meggrolls as a popular food truck that chose Alexandria for their first restaurant concept. Owner Dylan Kough (last name pronounced “Kow”) was a CPA who left it all behind to pursue his dream of opening a mobile restaurant. Diners can enjoy American BBQ in taco form as well as Smoking’s best seller, the Mac ‘N Meat. Other restaurants opening soon include Urbano 116, which will bring a taste of Mexican food to lower King Street. Plans for the eatery include a walk-up Churro window, a top-notch bar program, live music and windows that open to the street. In North Old Town, Chop Shop Taco will open within the Madison Collective that will feature other local businesses including a tattoo artist, spin classes and a juice bar. Diners will enjoy “off the spit” chopped meats like Al Pastor, chicken, pork belly and brisket.

Pampering for Pets

With nearly 160,000 human residents and an estimated 40,000 dogs, Alexandria’s reputation as a top dog-friendly city continues to grow. New in December 2017, Wag & Brew offers luxury services for pups while their owners enjoy a coffee, beer and wine bar along with free WiFi in Alexandria’s West End neighborhood. In addition to a doggy boutique, they offer grooming services, an indoor gym for dogs and a doggy daycare. Also new in December is From Head to Tail Grooming Spa in the Potomac Yards neighborhood on the edge of Del Ray, offering luxury and holistic services including microbubble bath therapy treatments, mud masks and pawdicures. Their grooming also takes it to the next level with creative colors and cuts like mohawks, natural hair dye and nail designs.

“Hamilton”-Themed Happenings at Historic Sites 

As “Hamilton” hysteria spreads to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the show’s run at The Kennedy Center June 12 to September 16, 2018, Alexandria is proud to announce special programming at historic sites “Hamilton” fans won’t want to miss. While local historians do not believe Alexander Hamilton visited Alexandria, many of his friends and “frenemies” did. Fans of the musical can learn about the politics of the day with special Hamilton-themed tours at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum where Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Madison and Burr partied and made history. Discover how accurate the musical’s portrayal of Washington and Hamilton’s relationship is during a special lecture at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Picture yourself center stage during an evening at The Lyceum: Alexandria’s History Museum where you can try on American Revolutionary War uniforms like the ones seen in “Hamilton” and snap sharable photos.

Immersive Experiences at George Washington's Mount Vernon

In 2018, George Washington’s Mount Vernon opened two experiences that will immerse visitors into George Washington’s world. Launching on February 12, 2018, “Be Washington: It’s Your Turn to Lead” is a new first-person interactive experience that puts you in the shoes of the first president and commander and chief. Discover key moments in Washington’s life and see how you stack up to the decisions Washington made as the events of the Revolutionary War and presidency come alive on a massive 6K-resolution screen. Chris Jackson, the actor who played George Washington in the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” will introduce each of the scenarios onscreen and will later describe the course of action that General or President Washington took. The experience, which is generously sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, is included in admission. Meanwhile, Mount Vernon reopened its Revolutionary War Theater in December 2017, marking the completion of a year-long $2.2 million renovation to the 4-D theater and an overhaul of the feature film. The theater, which first opened in 2006, features state-of-the-art 4-D effects including snowfall, fog, and rumbling seats to tell the story of General George Washington’s major victories during the American Revolution. With these updates, guests will feel in the midst of the action of the Revolutionary War. The new 17-minute film focuses on the same major battles as its first iteration: Washington’s victories in Boston, Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown.

New at Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa

In early spring 2018, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia completed a multimillion-dollar phased redesign to all 107 guest rooms including 16 suites, hallway corridors, public areas, adjacent restaurant BRABO, and its 5,600 square feet of meeting and event space, including two main function rooms accommodating up to 100 as well as the hotel’s signature outdoor suite terraces overlooking King Street. The hotel’s contemporary new design from MONOGRAM by BBGM echoes Old Town’s classic and refined charm with elegant, subdued colors and a touch of whimsy with the restrained injection of color to add a modern and relaxed flair. An ethereal color palette of purples, copper, blues and greens and timeless furniture with modern twists will adorn the reimagined spaces with playful layers of curious art meant to spur imaginative thought.


Named the #1 Best Value U.S. Travel Destination 2018 by Money magazine and one of the South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 by Southern Living, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked in to 18th- and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy.

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