You Can Now Stroll With a Cocktail in Your Hand in Parts of Virginia—Here’s Where

Is NoVa the new NOLA? Probably not, but you can still imbibe outside in select places.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

The pandemic has eased public drinking precedents in places such as Montgomery County, which launched a “Picnic in the Park” initiative that allows restaurants to drop off alcoholic beverages in participating parks. But some areas of Northern Virginia have actually allowed public drinking for years, thanks to a special license and designation known as the Commercial Lifestyle Center, which allows shoppers to drink while strolling through a shopping complex.

The latest to join the small list of locations? Two areas of Arlington. There’s the Village of Shirlington, which is home to such restaurants as Guapo’s, Cheesetique, and Busboys & Poets. And Pentagon Row houses Lebanese Taverna, Thaiphoon, and Zen Bistro & Wine Bar, among others. You can also do it in Fairfax Corner, Loudoun Station, and the Village at Leesburg. Arlington’s Crystal City National Landing has a license pending with the Virginia Beverage Control Authority.

But it’s not quite Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street—imbibers still have to adhere to a set of standards. Drinks must remain in the disposable container provided by the restaurant, and you can’t BYOB. Pay attention to the established boundaries to avoid sipping in a spot where drinking is prohibited, such as parking lots and car garages. And not every shop allows beverages indoors, so check for a sign before perusing with a margarita or merlot in hand.

Here’s a map of where you can stroll with a drink in NoVa:

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.