When America's first six presidents needed a place to celebrate, they headed to Gadsby’s Tavern. Home to Thomas Jefferson's inaugural banquet and two of George Washington's Birthnight Balls, the tavern also hosted plenty of community dances, musical performances, and meetings for local organizations.
These days, at the circa-1780s tavern—plus its neighboring 1792 hotel—guides teach visitors about 18th-century decorative arts and social customs. Visitors can also learn about the tavern's recently restored historic subterranean ice well. Designed along with the buildings by architect John Wise, the well could store up to 68 tons of ice, enough for the tavern plus Alexandria's citizens and vacationing polar bears.
In addition to regular guided tours, the museum plays host to frequent programs and events throughout the year. Along with lectures and candlelight tours, these include an annual recreation of George Washington's ball, complete with costumed actors filling in for George and Martha.
The readers of Washingtonian magazine voted the family-owned Princess Jewelers "Best Jewelry Store" in 2008, winning the company well-deserved notice for the careful, custom craftsmanship of its talented, certified jewelers. Two elegant showrooms display engagement and wedding rings set with diamonds or semiprecious stones, as well as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and cufflinks that make a glittery gift for significant others or surprised trick-or-treaters. The company imports a large inventory of loose gemstones and diamonds, which may be fashioned into original designs or replicas of pieces in photographs, and jewelers can also restore damaged pieces to their previous beauty and wearability. On-site graduates of the Gemological Institute of America are capable of identifying legitimate gemstones by scent alone, using their bling-based expertise to appraise customers' new and antique jewelry and assist them through each step in the selection of a quality showpiece.
Part art gallery, part cocoa bar, Artfully Chocolate was established in 2007 when owner Eric Nelson quit his job as an executive in order to pursue his artistic passions. Needing a little something extra to draw attention to his shop and unwilling to sound a tornado siren after every purchase, Eric called on the services of a friend and chocolatier who helped infuse the colorful gallery with a sweet allure.
Today, Artfully Chocolate delights customers with artful masterpieces parading across the walls, and a culinary expertise revealed in sips and bites of decadent drinks and pastries. Travel and Leisure has also named Artfully Chocolate as one of the nation's best places to get hot chocolate. They also host tasting classes, including a wine- and chocolate-pairing class, chocolate-tasting class, and art classes with chocolate and wine.
Reunions owner Barbara Geyer Watts describes her charming jewelry and gift boutique as "a blend of old and new where the merchandise changes daily." The shop's antiques, milled soaps, knickknacks, and jewelry have earned the patronage of countless loyal customers, as well as a place on Washingtonian magazine’s Best Gift Shops in Washington list.
The shop adorns bodies with one-of-a-kind earrings made from pearls and pewter and gold earrings and bracelets in the shape of hastily tied metal bows. It also inspires decorating creativity with its collection of candles, Waterford crystal, china, and robot butlers. Each purchase can be gift wrapped at no extra charge, and 5% of all sales each October benefit worthy local charities.
Founded more than 25 years ago at a single store in suburban Maryland, Wild Bird Centers has since spread its bevy of birding gear and wildlife-watching supplies to approximately 50 locations across the United States and Canada. At each shop, knowledgeable and friendly staffers compile an immense inventory of top-quality birdseed, including their own exclusive blends of premium, field-tested ingredients. They equip patrons with a cavalcade of bird-watching accouterments such as binoculars, birdhouses, birdbaths, and Big Bird costumes and help customers to enhance their wildlife wisdom with gardening tools. To further help patrons to decipher the symphony of birdcalls they hear, Wild Bird Centers proffers a Backyard Birds Field Guide, which includes helpful information about the characteristics and habitat of common avian species. Additionally, all purchases contribute to customers' Birdie Bucks accounts, Wild Bird Centers' customer-rewards program.