Thanksgiving week has arrived and most of us are ready to wrap up our short workweek and enjoy a long weekend filled with turkey feasts, football and family.
If the tryptophan doesn’t leave you in a lazy nap filled coma, and you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house this weekend (besides Black Friday deals of course), I’ve discovered a hidden gem in Old Town Alexandria.
The Old Town Theater was originally built in 1914 as the Richmond Theater and was the first permanent theater constructed in Alexandria. Over the years the theater was opened and closed a number of times for renovations and various changes. The last renovations took place in December of 2002, when the second screen was added to allow an additional movie to be seen in the theater.
I recently ventured to Old Town Theater with three friends for a “girls night out.” Located at 815 ½ King Street, the theater is nestled between shops and restaurants, which made it easy for us to catch a bite to eat at Red Rocks before the show.
We found driving to the theater to be our best option. There is street parking all long King Street as well as the surrounding blocks that is free after 7pm. Or if you’re up for a walk, the closest Metro stop is the Alexandria King Street Stop (Blue or Yellow Line) and is about eight blocks away from the theater.
When we visited, two first run major motion pictures were playing, one of which grossed $139.5 million this weekend alone. But don’t let this blockbuster’s presence fool you, this is not your typical AMC or Regal cinema. Old Town Theater channels a much more vintage feel, similar to the Byrd Theater in Richmond or the Lyric in Blacksburg – two of my all time favorite local theaters.
The lobby is small and the last design renovations appear to have occurred sometime in the late 1980s, but don’t let this discourage you. The snack bar is equally understated but provides the usual expected snacks as well as a small panini selection. When we arrived, we were actually directed there to purchase our tickets as that was the only cash register – a far cry from the wall of kiosks at most chain theaters.
Tickets cost a mere $9, but there is a catch. A recent theater policy change states that you must purchase at least one beverage to accompany your ticket. A soda is $5, beer is $6-$7 dollars and wine runs $8 a glass or $28 for a bottle. That’s right, they serve alcohol in the theater – a pleasant surprise added to a fun and relaxing girls night out and not your usual find at the movies!
You do have the ability to purchase tickets on the Old Town Theater website, however I advise against this. There is a $5 dollar service charge PER TICKET on the website and for that added cost you might as well at least get a soda with your ticket for the same price in the theater!
Once we entered the actual theater, we were pleasantly surprised that while the movie was selling out at many locations (Yes, if you haven’t figured me out yet, we saw Twilight – don’t judge!) there were ample seats to choose from here. We sat near the back and even there the picture quality and sound were great.
At the end of the movie, there was no mass of people to funnel through or confusing hallways to navigate; we simply walked right out of the theater, were thanked by the two kind employees for our visit, and got in our car. It was a welcomed change from the large theaters we usually visit and all of us agreed we’d be back for another visit to the Old Town Theater soon!
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