Be enchanted by fluffy cherry blossoms and themed treats along centuries-old streetscapes and wander the waterfront for new dining, art and history experiences.
First, let’s learn about the food trends that are dominating new restaurants, the emerging arts and dining district of Old Town North, and the new gallery showcasing the artistic spirit of Indigenous artists across North America. Alexandria’s waterfront dining scene continues to grow with hundreds of new outdoor seats at two concepts from Alexandria Restaurant Partners: Ada’s on the River and BARCA Pier & Wine Bar. Ada’s on the River just opened in January 2021, drawing design inspiration from Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century female mathematics pioneer, and featuring a menu centered around meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes cooked to perfection in the wood-burning oven. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Randall J. Matthews, a Maryland native who has worked with some of Washington, D.C.’s most celebrated kitchens under Michelin-starred chefs, including Chef Adam Sobel at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons in D.C., and who worked with James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Sam Fox to open True Food Kitchen.
BARCA Pier and Wine Bar will open near Ada’s in spring 2021. BARCA Pier will be a seasonal outdoor eatery inspired by Barcelona’s beach bars and made from carved-out shipping containers, with a menu consisting of mainly Mediterranean small plates, infused with Greek, Italian and Moroccan flavors. BARCA Wine Bar, which will be open throughout the year, will boast an intimate, sophisticated setting and vast selection of unique and domestic wines from around the world.
Groundswell, the 2021 temporary public art installation from Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman, will be on display in late March to November 2021 as the third installation in the City of Alexandria’s annual Site See public art series presented by the Office of the Arts. Reigelman was inspired by Alexandria, Virginia’s history as a bustling port city in the 18th and 19th centuries when drastic measures were taken to extend the city’s shoreline. New land was built upon intentionally sunk wooden ships and thousands of timber pilings that crept further into the Potomac River, creating a fluctuating new boundary. Groundswell introduces an element of play to the city’s changing shoreline with an immersive ecosystem of 102 raw wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors that shimmer like water. The grayscale ground mural reflects the underwater topography of the river near this site.
Tall Ship Providence – Specialty Cruises, Virtual Classes & New Pier
Alexandria’s newest waterfront attraction, tall ship Providence, will continue to set sail with expanded educational programs and cruise schedules in 2021. This celebrity tall ship, which has appeared in the international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, is a full-scale reproduction of one of the most renowned ships in the Continental Navy. This year, the Tall Ship Providence Foundation will build a brand-new pier and visitor center at Waterfront Park, bringing Providence closer to the action at the marina and King Street when it opens this summer. In the meantime, Providence will expand virtual classes on topics including maritime, nautical and colonial history. The 2021 cruise season kicks off in April with specialty cruises featuring themed tastings with craft beer, wine, rum and more.
Opportunities Abound for TV and Film Buff
Alexandria kicks off 2021 by celebrating its blockbuster connections following late 2020 premiere of Wonder Woman 1984, which filmed in Alexandria’s Landmark Mall in 2018. Through February 28, 2021, fans can pose for a picture in front of a seven-foot-tall drum prop from the shopping mall scene, emblazoned with the iconic Virginia is for Lovers logo, located in an Old Town window display near the waterfront. Then, check out Wonder Woman-themed offerings from local businesses like cocktails, donuts and tattoos. Explore these special offerings and all things “Wonder Woman” on Visit Alexandria’s web hub, including behind-the-scenes photos and a featurette highlighting star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins’ time filming in Alexandria.
Plus, learn more about Alexandria’s celebrity connections, from Dave Grohl to Hoda Kotb and beyond. TV and film fanatics can even mask up and stroll through a cinematic self-guided tour through sites with ties to the big and small screens, including “West Wing,” “J. Edgar,” “Mercy Street” and “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” reality star Monte Durham’s new salon, Salon Monte.