By Karen Johnson, PawsGo
My husband and I, along with our dog Boomer and two cats live in a magical place called Del Ray – at least Boomer think it’s magical. We agree it’s a wonderful place to live where we are on a first name basis with neighbors, dogs and business owners.
Del Ray is a front porch neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia – a couple miles from historic Old Town, a couple of miles from the Pentagon and about 6 miles from the U.S. Capitol. Our inside the beltway oasis, “Where Main Street Still Exists”, features rows of bungalows, tree lined streets, pocket parks and is home to some of the area’s best restaurants, shops, and dog friendly stops.
The neighborhood was once home to a horse racing track (our 1920 bungalow is built on one of the turns). Gambling, drinking and other various nefarious activities were once the order of the day in Del Ray. A century later – we welcomed a President hungry for pizza, burgers, and frozen custard. And our little neighborhood is often on HGTV’s House Hunters.
With every season there is a celebration in Del Ray. In the spring we have A Taste of Del Ray and First Thursdays – which kicks off honoring our canines — Dog Days of Del Ray. Local businesses celebrate dogs with treats, toys and demonstrations. Rescue groups line the streets with adoptable dogs and cats — for the rare family that has neither, or more than likely, needs another! In the fall, it’s Art on the Avenue, a Halloween parade and the annual Turkey Trot 5-mile run. Winter and the holidays bring Santa and a tree lighting. Our farmer’s market operates year-round and serves as the Saturday morning gathering place — the majority of these events are dog friendly.
Walk down The Avenue, as well call it, and your dog will pull you into the bank, dry cleaner, hardware store, pharmacy, boutique, bike shop, car dealer, coffee shop, or duh – the natural pet food or dog accessory store, because they all have TREATS!
Boomer and I begin our mornings at St Elmo’s Coffee Pub, where dogs await their reward for, well, waiting for their humans get their lattes. Owners pay it forward by ensuring the free treat jar is always filled for not only the next day, but the next dog and owner that stop in. If your pup needs to run, Del Ray is home to the area’s first dog park. Dog lovers and business owners are work together to ensure the dog park is safe, healthy and fun!
Humans and dogs should come hungry to Del Ray! Most of our restaurants are dog-friendly. Leana’s Wood-Fired Pizza even has a doggie menu! The Del Ray Café, a delicious French restaurant which unfortunately doesn’t have a patio to accommodate dogs, has more than made up for its architectural snafu by creating addictive dog treats. Created by a classically trained French chef, the Del Ray Café’s dog treats are baked in house (I am told they are delicious). When friendly staff sees a dog walking outside (often before the restaurant opens) they happily bring out a treat, just another example of the magic of Del Ray.
To learn more about Del Ray, restaurants, events, and all our neighborhood has to offer go to www.visitdelray.com. Bring your dog and spend the day!