Walking the streets of Old Town Alexandria was very nostalgic for us and reminded us of walking the streets of old towns in Europe. The history of Old Town Alexandria may not go back as far as those medieval towns, but it does have its roots in the foundation of the United States. Situated just outside of the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., the cobblestone streets of the city were once walked by many historic figures that influenced and shaped the country. Even today, you can still find gas lit lamps on the sides of the brick buildings that date back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
Today, of course, the streets are lined with upscale cars and tourists enjoying the variety of restaurants, retail stores, antique shops, and museums that are in the area. It is a residential area with a very walkable lifestyle, although it is a very expensive area to live in. At night the streets are lit up and the streets are full of people enjoying a night out on the town, especially during the summer, but even in the fall when we were there.
In the early days of its history, it was a busy seaport as boats would make their way up the Potomac River to deliver their goods to be sold in the Northern Virginia area. Today, the waterfront area is a bustling art district with the focal point being the converted Torpedo Factory, which houses a variety of artists selling their artwork. There are also many restaurants with views of the river where you can enjoy a nice meal while watching the yachts, river taxi, and dinner boats that make their way along the Potomac.
We had a short visit, so we spent most of our time walking the streets and stopping in a few shops and restaurants, but we did take the time to tour the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. Founded in 1792, it was an active apothecary in this particular location from 1805 to 1933. Upon closing, it was immediately purchased and preserved as a museum, with all of the original ingredients still in their glass jars almost a hundred years later. Although most of the sales of the apothecary were to other pharmacies around the area, but they did mix and fill prescriptions for many people, including George Washington and his family as they have notes from Martha Washington requesting prescriptions.
A visit to the Washington D.C. area should definitely include taking time to step back in time and walk the streets of Old Town Alexandria. Although the restaurants can be a little pricey, there are an abundance of choices and something can be found to suit anyone’s tastes. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, walking through the art district and window shopping as you walk by the various shops is still a great way to spend an afternoon.