Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Alexandria

Alexandria has certainly earned its place among America’s top dog-friendly cities. One out of every four Alexandria residents is a dog (yes, we know dogs are people too), and in this pup-ular town, dog-lovers find no shortage of dog parks, doggy boutiques and even Doggy Happy Hours. From Old Town to Del Ray, it’s dog days in Alexandria all year round—and we’re not complaining. Read on to discover all the ways you can experience Alexandria with your own canine companion:


Things to Do

old-town-alexandria-va-dog-friendly-city-canine-cruise-smallImage credit: Potomac Riverboat Co. 

Canine Cruise: Hop aboard the Potomac Riverboat Company’s popular 60-minute cruise touring the Alexandria Seaport for a howling good time with your best four-legged friend. Dogs ride free! (Offered monthly, May-September.)


alexandria-va-dog-friendly-old-town-doggy-happy-hourImage credit: Kimpton Hotels

Doggy Happy Hour: Chow down on dinner and drinks at this Old Town institution, where dogs can sniff and mingle while their human companions enjoy cocktails and “tavern bites” on the outdoor patio at Jackson 20. If you like, become a regular: Doggy Happy Hour (or Yappy Hour, as some like to call it) is every Tuesday evening during the summer and fall.

Frolick Dogs: To keep Fido fit, head to Frolick Dogs, Alexandria’s year-round doggy gym with agility training, “Canine Good Citizen” classes and more, and purchase a day pass for access to the exercise facilities guaranteed to keep furry fellows in top shape.


alexandria-va-dog-friendly-old-townImage credit: BCF for Visit Alexandria

Dog boutiques: Dapper dogs find chic clothing, toys, accessories and gourmet baked treats at Old Town Alexandria boutiques like The Dog Park, a local favorite with friendly and knowledgeable staff. Plus dozens of Old Town boutiques are dog-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your pup behind while you browse (the Old Town Boutique District even has a directory for pet-friendly shops) . Shopping for your dog in Del Ray? Hit up Your Dog’s Best Friends Store for everything from training tools to adventurewear.

King Street stroll: Hounds love walkable Old Town Alexandria, where dog bowls line the red brick sidewalks of King Street. Expect to see a steady stream of dogs and their human companions out and about on this bustling historic corridor. For an educational jaunt, check out the dog-friendly Footsteps to the Past guided walking tours.


dog-friendly-old-town-alexandria-va-free-dog-treatsImage credits: Potomac Riverboat Co. and BCF for Visit Alexandria

Treat Stops: Proof that Alexandria rolls out the red carpet for dogs? All the free treats set out for our furry friends. Outside The Enchanted Florist on South Fairfax St., you’ll find free dog biscuits tucked into a stylized birdhouse. At Principle Gallery on King Street, doggy concierge Asher will show you to free treats on the checkout counter. And don’t be surprised if you spot dogs queued up for tickets—er, biscuits—at the Potomac Riverboat Co. ticket booth.

Old Towne School for Dogs: OTSFD has been an Alexandria fixture for 40 years, providing a doggy day care, large pet supply store, grooming services and more to our ever-growing dog population. It’s so pup-ular that even Bo Obama has been groomed at the facility the Washington Post called “the Princeton for puppies, the Columbia for canines, the Harvard for hounds.”


alexandria-va-dog-friendly-old-town-dog-parksImage credit: L. Barnes for Visit Alexandria

Dog-friendly parks: Alexandria has 18 public, off-leash dog parks, not to mention a bunch of private dog parks to boot. Plus quite a few dog parks are equipped with gorgeous views of the Potomac. Our picks? Founders Park has riverside views, a dog exercise center and walking paths fringed with greenery, and Montgomery Park offers a fenced dog run, tennis courts, parking and a playground.

dog-friendly-old-town-alexandria-va-torpedo-factoryImage credit: Shelley Castle Photography

Torpedo Factory Art Center: The anchor of the Alexandria waterfront, the Torpedo Factory also happens to be dog-friendly. Stop in for some art appreciation with your pup in this former World War II munitions factory turned 82 working artists’ studios.


old-town-alexandria-va-dog-friendly-city-st-patricks-paradeImage credit: Ballyshaners

Pups on parade: There are quite a few annual events in Alexandria where dogs are the star of the show.  Every Halloween, Hotel Monaco hosts its Doggy Howl-o-ween Costume Contest, in which four-legged fashionistas strut down the dog-walk in a benefit for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

For the St. Patrick’s Day Parade events, dogs compete in the “Fun Dog Show” at Market Square in Old Town in their best Irish finery for honors such as Best Tail Wag, Best Irish Costume, and Best Owner/Dog Look-a-like. Later, the winners lead the way for the pre-parade.

During the holiday season, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade features dozens of terriers in Scottish tartans strolling proudly through the streets of Old Town to the tune of bagpipes. (Yes, it is the cutest.)


Where to Eat

King Strret, Alexandria VirginiaImage credit: R. Nowitz for Visit Alexandria

Outdoor dining: Dogs and bipeds agree: there’s nothing as nice as lunch in the sunshine. Check out popular restaurants like Daniel O’Connell’s or Virtue Feed & Grain for dog-friendly al fresco options.

Lost Dog Café: This gourmet pizza deli in the historic Parker-Gray neighborhood features an extensive menu (think lots of beer options), but it’s also got the feel-good factor: profits benefit the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation. And now that the new dog-friendly patio is open, Rover can join you in supporting a good cause.

alexandria-va-dog-friendly-city-del-ray-dairy-godmotherImage credit: BCF for Visit Alexandria

Puppy Pops at Dairy Godmother: Head to Dairy Godmother in Del Ray for doggy delights in the form of yogurt Puppy Pops, aka pupsicles, sure to cool down a hot dog.

Pupcakes at Bittersweet: Find tail-waggingly good pupcakes at local favorite Bittersweet (you might even spot the owner’s greeter dog Bunny enjoying on—or two—herself). Your pup can also enjoy a handmade doggie treat two blocks down while browsing the goods at The Dog Park boutique.

Picnic in the park: With so many dog parks in Alexandria, it’s easy to grab a to-go meal or picnic-style dinner from Old Town eateries like Society Fair and enjoy a meal al fresco while your furry friend roams.


Places to Stay

dog-friendly-hotels-old-town-alexandria-vaImage credit: Kimpton Hotels

If you’re looking for a dog-friendly getaway, this is it. More than half of Alexandria’s hotels are pet friendly, from the Hotel Monaco—home of Doggy Happy Hour, ranked among the top pet-friendly hotels by USA Today—to the Holiday Inn in North Old Town, for a total of over 2,000 pet friendly hotel rooms. Kimpton Hotels (which include Hotel Monaco, Lorien Hotel & Spa and Morrison House) have no pet restrictions and no pet fee. Other dog-friendly hotels include the Westin in Carlyle, Sheraton Suites, Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, and the Residence Inns in both Carlyle and Old Town.



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