Del Ray: Beyond Old Town


At the intersection of Del Ray and Mt. Vernon, as seen though front window of St. Elmo's Coffeeshop - a popular Del Ray destination for its unique coffee drinks and wi-fi.

Today I made my first foray into Alexandria territory. Except, instead of hitting the “must-see” boutiques and brunch destinations in Old Town (King Street), I explored the more residential neighborhood of Alexandria — Del Ray.

Del Ray was originally called “The Town of Potomac” from 1908 to 1921 — likely because of it’s proximity to the river of the same name.

I brunched at a fairly forgettable place (I’ve genuinely forgotten the name) – though it was trendy establishment filled with twenty- and thirty-something couples sipping mimosas and devouring cinnamon pancakes.

We made our way to the featured “Living Legends” photo gallery at Del Ray Artisans. Photos of Alexandria’s honored citizens lined the one-room community center. However, I appreciated the quaintness that it represented – portraits of community citizens who have contributed to the betterment of Alexandria. I noted one was Alice Merill, a young woman who started SOHO (Space of Her Own), which pairs at-risk girls with adult mentors and culminates in the re-decoration of the girl’s bedroom (ala Extreme Makover Home Edition). In a time where traditional community ties are changing, it’s still crucial to maintain a sense of community history. This gallery did a great job of that.

The gallery’s docent, an older woman, seemed ecstatic that we, three women well under 60, had entered the photo gallery. She enthusiastically handed us nomination forms – so we could suggest the next “living legend” of Alexandria (even though none us had ties to the town). Cute.

I would recommend Del Ray as a neighbhorhood to visit once you’ve mastered Old Town – located on King Street. Del Ray is certainly off the “beaten path” of traditional DC tourism. And of course, our visit would not have been complete without one of DC’s classic summer torrential downpours. 20 soaked-minutes later, we found refuge in the ecletic St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.

Mt. Vernon Ave. - the main "strip" of the Del Ray neighborhood.

Note: Alexandria is TECHNICALLY inside the beltway.

Additionally, Tom Bridge, from WeLoveDC, reminded me via Twitter that Alexandria is not actually outside the beltway (thank you for correcting my gaffe!) But it’s definitely near the border.

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About Meg Biallas

Thoughts From A DC Intern Turned DCist. A twenty-something goes beyond traditional tourism to achieve Washingtonian authenticity.
This entry was posted in DCist, young professional and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Del Ray: Beyond Old Town

  1. Del Ray Resident says:

    As a Del Ray resident, I can only bite my tongue and encourage you to re-visit the area, stop by more than just 3 establishments and write a follow-up. This article doesn’t tell the reader anything about Del Ray’s unique qualities, charm or delicious family-owned restaurants.

    Like

    • Meg Biallas says:

      Thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right: there IS more to Del Ray than what my write-up reveals. I think a combination of factors – a quiet Sunday and the rain – may have affected my experience. But I will repeat what I was most impressed with: the Del Ray Artisans, which featured “Living Legends” did a great job honoring their local citizens. I also failed to mention my brief stop in Cheestique, the wine and cheese shop on Mt. Vernon Ave. Actually, for as quiet a Sunday, this place was hopping! There is a definite charm about Del Ray, and I’m sure I’ll see more during my next visit. Thanks for writing.

      Like

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