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. 


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: A new public plaza designed by OLIN, the designers of Bryant Park in New York City. Like Bryant Park, the space will transform throughout the year to support seasonal programming. Activities being considered for the space include pop-up markets, festivals, live music, and a temporary ice rink.  Meanwhile, Alexandria-based Potomac Riverboat Company has expanded their D.C.-region water taxi service with new high-speed, low-wake water taxi service from Alexandria’s historic waterfront to The Wharf, southwest D.C.’s new multi-billion-dollar riverfront development. And in 2019, Alexandria will welcome a celebrity tall ship as a permanent attraction: The tall ship Providence, which appears in the Oscar-winning film Master and Commander and international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean. The full-scale replica of the Continental Navy’s first warship which served under General George Washington will host public tours and history programs while offering regular public cruises including a beer cruise in partnership with Alexandria’s award-winning Port City Brewing Company.


Alexandria’s reputation as the “Shop Small” destination of the D.C. region continues to grow as independent retailers are expanding and opening second concepts in the city. Victoria Vergason, the 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. Coming in February 2018 to King Street, fine art jewelry artist Jennifer Jordan Park is opening Wear Ever Jewelry as a brick-and-mortar location, following 10 years as a fine-craft-show and online concept. Wear Ever Jewelry will represent 20 American artists and offer classes.


Alexandria’s creative comfort food trend continues to grow in 2018 to include a mini street-food trend. Smoking Kow BBQ, “D.C.’s first and only American BBQ taco food truck,” is opening a brick-and-mortar location in Alexandria’s West End in February 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. In addition to serving American BBQ in taco form, Smoking Kow’s best seller is the Mac ‘N Meat, with Dylan’s signature meats served over gooey mac ‘n cheese. Meanwhile, one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of 2018 is the restaurant coming to 100 King Street, steps from the new waterfront plaza coming this fall. Opening in late April, Mia’s Italian Kitchen is the newest concept of Alexandria Restaurant Partners and includes an outdoor take-away window offering pizza by the slice. The dramatic rework of 100 King Street space will also feature a dine-in pizza bar, second floor lounge and a delectable menu of house-made pastas and wood-fired pizza.


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.


In 2018, Alexandria’s rich collection of historic site museums present some exclusive tour offerings. Each Saturday during Black History Month, visitors can get a rare look inside the Freedom House Museum with African American history specialists on site. A National Historic Landmark owned by the Northern Virginia Urban League, the museum is located in the basement-level slave pen of one of the most infamous slave trading companies in the country, and bears a connection to the story depicted in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave. On the evening of May 10th during Preservation Month, history fans will gain rare access to the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House, the one of few buildings in existence in the area during the American Revolution. Every other Saturday from June through Labor Day weekend, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum offer a special Hamilton-themed tour in celebration of “Hamilton’s” run at the Kennedy Center. While historians don’t believe Alexander Hamilton visited Alexandria, many of his friends and frenemies did, including Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Madison and Burr. This tour will examine the stories and politics of Hamilton’s day.


In 2018, George Washington’s Mount Vernon opens 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.


In early spring 2018, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia will complete 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 a Top 10 Must-Visit U.S. Hot Spot for 2017 by Smarter Travel, a Top Romantic City and a Top Dog Friendly City, 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 hums with 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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