As summer rolls around, many of us are gearing up for a (hopefully) relaxing trip to the beach — frustrations with Bay Bridge and I-95 traffic notwithstanding. But there’s also good fun and great food to be had right here in Northern Virginia. The area offers a whole host of popular restaurants with outdoor dining so people can appreciate nice weather and beautiful landscapes.
Here are six excellent options for outdoor dining in Northern Virginia.
There’s dining on the waterfront, and then there’s dining on the water. BARCA calls its pier in historic Old Town Alexandria home with a modern twist on traditional Spanish beach bars. The eatery itself is made from shipping containers and provides alfresco dining with seating for up to 200 guests. The wine bar is a little more intimate with jewel-toned walls and gold lighting fixtures. It’s a good spot for cocktail receptions or casual get-togethers. On the menu, you’ll find small plates inspired by Mediterranean, Greek, Italian, and Moroccan cuisines. Of course, it has wine, but there are plenty of boozy non-wine options to enjoy with its picturesque Potomac River views. 2 Pioneer Mill Wy., Alexandria
Manassas’ Farm Brew Live doesn’t just give you an outdoor space to enjoy. It gives you a 12-acre campus in Innovation Park. This vibrant venue showcases craft beers, delectable food, and live local music. And there’s more than one spot to eat and drink. Farm Brew Live has The Black Sheep Restaurant, 2 Silos Brewing Co., theYARD outdoor live music stage, The Pit BBQ, 2nd Stop Ice Cream & Coffee Bar, and La Gringa, a comfort food truck. 9901 Discovery Blvd., Manassas
Kalypso’s is a favorite for when the mood for good food and lakeside views strikes. It also took Northern Virginia Magazine Best of NoVA spot four years in a row: 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023. Though billed as a sports tavern, the patio area is all about admiring Lake Anne. There’s also live music on Fridays so you can enjoy some tunes alongside the excellent Greek grub. The food fare consists of Greek, Italian, and American dishes, but the menu is no slouch and there’s something for everyone. Give the salmon burger and the fettuccini alfredo (the noodles are very buttery) with gyro meat a try. As for beer, you can’t go wrong with Kalypso’s Lager. 1617 Washington Pl. N., Reston
MacDowell’s has a wonderful gimmick: There’s no need to go to the beach when they bring the beach to Northern Virginia. The self-described “Key West of Leesburg,” MacDowell’s menu boasts burgers, barbecue, beachy entrées, and beer. It has a sandy, palm-shaded outdoor bar, another bar created out of a reclaimed boat, and even a kids area where children can build sand castles. There’s live music and karaoke, so you can enjoy some tunes during your time at the “beach.” If you find yourself unable to leave, there’s also a hotel called The Palm House. 202-B Harrison St. SE, Leesburg
The Secret Garden, nestled in the heart of Historic Old Town Occoquan, isn’t much of a secret. This gem offers a diverse menu of housemade delights that take inspiration from global cuisines, from Asian pot stickers to coconut-pecan cake. The Secret Garden has savory flavors and sweet treats. Of course, there is the garden part of The Secret Garden, an idyllic setting for a romantic evening or unwinding with friends. 404 Mill St., Occoquan
Wilson Hardware evokes the feelings of a fairy tale garden party with soft hanging lights, greenery, and a rooftop bar with retractable cover. The eatery is not new to Arlington, but it was recently revamped. Wilson bills itself as a contemporary American restaurant and that comes with a vast and varied menu featuring calamari, fried artichoke, caprese sandwich, its own burger (of course), and truffle hanger steak. All that food needs something tasty to wash it down with. Check out the similarly expansive drink menu. 2915 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Featured photo courtesy MacDowell Brew Kitchen
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