Alexandria VA - A Top Dog Friendly Destination

Top Ten Attractions and Things to Do for Canines and Their Humans

For visitors traveling with pets, Alexandria, Virginia is more than just a place to find a pet-friendly hotel. In the Old Town and Del Rey areas of Alexandria, a special head over paws fondness for dogs is reflected in the number of specialty shops, dog-friendly attractions and regularly schedule events that focus on canine camaraderie.

Visiting pooches and their families are able to enjoy all of these attractions, events and more, making Alexandria one of the best destinations anywhere for pet friendly vacation fun and sightseeing that all family members can enjoy together. Here are our top ten Alexandria pet picks:

  • 01 of 10

    Find a Great Pet Friendly Hotel

    Morrison House Hotel in Old Town Alexandria
    ••• Morrison House Hotel in Old Town Alexandria - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander

    First things first. There are over 15 pet friendly hotels in Alexandria in price ranges to suite most travel budgets. Three Kimpton hotels, long known for their exceptional pet friendly policies and innovative pet packages, are conveniently located in the heart of historic Old Town: Hotel Monaco Alexandria, Morrison House and the Lorien Hotel and Spa. Kimpton amenities include honor bars stocked with both pet and people treats, pet bedding and bowls and more. (Follow the compare prices link below to look for hotels with the black paw included in the amenities key to determine which hotels are listed as pet-friendly.)
  • 02 of 10

    Dog Friendly Dining, Happy Hours, Shopping and Snacks

    Pet friendly Alexandria VA
    ••• Photo Credit: Richard Nowitz / Courtesy of Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association

    Pets are not permitted by law to enter indoor restaurant areas, however many Alexandria restaurants offer seasonal outdoor seating areas where permit pets to join the family while dining outside. Also, extremely popular in Alexandria, regularly and seasonally scheduled dog friendly happy hours provide a wonderful chance for "everyone" to mingle with new friends. A number of specialty shops sell homemade and healthy pet treats, pet accessories, pet couture and more.
  • 03 of 10
    Potomac Riverboat Canine Cruises
    ••• Potomac Riverboat Canine Cruises - Photo: Courtesy of Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association

    If you are visiting during the months from May to August, plan to include a Thursday evening in your stay to enjoy Potomac Riverboat Company's popular Canine Cruise. The cruise, which explores the Alexandria seaport, lasts about 40 minutes. Reservations are not required, but it is always a good idea to book ahead of time if possible because space is limited.
  • 04 of 10

    Visit George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

    George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate
    ••• George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander

    George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, the most popular historic estate in the United States, is a highlight for anyone visiting the Alexandria, Virginia / Washington, D.C. area. Mount Vernon welcomes visitors to bring dogs on leashes during daytime visiting hours. Forty-five acres of the estate are open to the public offering plenty to see and explore, however, canine visitors are not permitted in the buildings, including the Mansion, the theaters of the Ford Orientation Center and the galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center.
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    The Torpedo Factory Art Center
    ••• The Torpedo Factory Art Center - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander

    Housed in a building originally constructed in 1918 as the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station, the world renowned Torpedo Factory Art Center features the artwork in a variety of media of over 165 visual artists. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome to visit the Torpedo Factory, where, by the way, several artists display and commission wonderful portraits of dogs. Located along Alexandria's Potomac River waterfront, the Torpedo Factory is free and open daily with extended evening hours on Thursday.
  • 06 of 10
    Historic Captain's Row in Old Town Alexandria - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander
    ••• Historic Captain's Row in Old Town Alexandria - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander

    Footsteps to the Past, a family-operated business owned by a ninth generation Virginian, offers several pet-friendly guided walking tours that explore the history, architecture, art and heritage of Alexandria. If you prefer to explore on your own, visit this Self-Guided Walking Tour of Alexandria.
  • 07 of 10

    Go for a Walk on the Mount Vernon Trail

    The Mount Vernon Trail, one of the most popular hiking, jogging and biking trails in Virginia, goes right through Old Town Alexandria with portions leading out of town toward Arlington and Mount Vernon. The views are amazing and this is a great option for getting a little exercise, although on nice weekends it can be doggone crowded. Also remember that the general rules for taking pets into pet friendly national parklands operated by the National Park Service require that all pets stay on leashes no longer than six feet in length and that owners clean up after their pets.
  • 08 of 10
    Arlington National Cemetery - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander
    ••• Arlington National Cemetery - Photo: Courtesy of George Alexander

    Nearby Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from Alexandria, receives more than four million visitors each year. Whether paying tribute to a lost loved one or taking a journey through history, a visit to the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery is an interesting, powerful and memorable experience. Common sense, courtesy and sensitivity are in tall order here, but leashed pets are allowed on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery as long as the owner properly cleans up after his or her pet and as long as the presence of a pet does not adversely affect or disrespect the cemetery grounds, funeral activities or other visitors.
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities provides 17 Dog Exercise Areas and Fenced Dog Parks with designated areas for dogs and their owners to enjoy and exercise without disrupting other uses of the parks. Dog owners who believe their pets are not safe in an open exercise area are encouraged to visit a fenced dog park. Leash laws must be respected when using other park areas. The three most convenient parks for Old Town Alexandria visitors are: Founders Park at Oronoco Street and Union Street and Windmill Hill Park at Gibbon and Union Streets (both unfenced), plus a fenced dog park, Montgomery Park at the corner of Fairfax and 1st Streets.
  • 10 of 10

    Attend a Special Holiday Celebration or Community Event

    Scottish Christmas Walk Parade - Photo by Jeremy Harvey: Courtesy of the Alexandria CVA
    ••• Scottish Christmas Walk Parade - Photo by Jeremy Harvey: Courtesy of the Alexandria CVA

    Alexandria is a great destination for seasonal festivals and special events. Many, but not all, events are pet-friendly. The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade activities always begin with the Fun Dog Show, one of the biggest fun dog events in the Washington, D.C. area. After the show, the owners and dogs are invited to lead the parade as it marches down King Street. In early December, the popular annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade includes Scottie dog groups among the array of Scottish themed participants. If you are planning to attend a special event with your dog, call the sponsoring organization or visit the event website to confirm that it is a dog-friendly event before making your final plans.