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America's multifaceted cultural districts are home to a plethora of national treasures, including nine of the most charming streets in the country. Take a leisurely stroll on one of these picturesque paths to get a glimpse at some of the United States’ most iconic locations.
King Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Founded while the U.S. was still considered a British colony, King Street in Old Town Alexandria was once a neighborhood hotspot for some of America’s most iconic historical figures, such as George Washington, who helped plan its original construction. The quaint, cobblestone path runs westward from the Potomac River and is still surrounded by many 18th and 19th-century buildings. They include the Alexandria Town Hall and Market House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Meanwhile, the famous King Street Mile boasts D.C.'s largest group of independent boutiques, offering everything from colonial antiques and fine art to modern rock records and yoga gear. This thoroughfare also plays host to the country's oldest, year-round Farmers Market, held at the same spot each week on Market Square. Near the east end of King, you can take a deeper dive into the street's storied past at the Torpedo Factory, a collective of independent art studios and galleries. Here, you’ll also find the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, located on the third floor of the art center. To round out your visit, try an enchanting tour on one of the Potomac riverboats that dock just behind the museum, and get a sailor's-eye view of King Street.
Broadway, Skagway, Alaska
Broadway's double dose of charm stems from its stunning Coast Mountain backdrop and its unparalleled snapshot into one of America's most historic events: the Klondike Gold Rush. Planned and built with record speed during the height of the prospector influx in 1898, the street became the staging ground for thousands of hopeful treasure hunters. Many of them began their journeys at the Pantheon Saloon, which served as a hotel of sorts. The men slept in a common room before heading off to stake their claims in the Alaskan wilderness.
Today, the Pantheon serves as the training space for junior rangers of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. It's surrounded by buildings and renovated storefronts that capture the spirit of those singular years of fortune-seeking. A particularly monumental structure is Boss Bakery. This first-class patisserie provided fresh-baked goods, candies, and ice cream to the men who swarmed Skagway's Main Street. It now serves as the headquarters of the Chilkoot Trail Center. The original Chilkoot Trail was used by prospectors during the Gold Rush. Every summer, hikers pick up their hiking permits and get pre-hike briefings at the Chilkoot Trail office. Broadway also showcases other authentic turn-of-the-century scenes, including an early town life display at the renovated Mascot Saloon and an exhibit about notable women during the Gold Rush at the Goldberg Cigar Store.
East Kossuth Street, Columbus, Ohio
With its red brick sidewalks and a plethora of cultural and culinary gems, East Kossuth is a treasured path replete with charisma. Nestled in the heart of the city's historic German Village, the street was the original southern boundary of a neighborhood constructed during the early part of the 19th century. Developed before zoning laws, East Kossuth features beautifully renovated houses interspersed with brick-constructed retail buildings that highlight the creative flair of long-ago artisans.
The city’s artistic talent is on full display at the Red Stable Art Gallery (a collection featuring the works of over 100 local vendors) and the acclaimed Helen Winnemore's gift shop, where a group of eclectic creators have been producing usable, wearable art for over 80 years. The roadway's most renowned gathering spot is Schmidt's Restaurant, a central Ohio treasure that opened as a packing house in 1886. The restaurant was converted into one of the city's most enduring culinary hotspots in 1967. Another East Kossuth legend is the corner diner Old Mohawk, which officially began serving American cuisine after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Interestingly, it unofficially served as a speakeasy during America's "dry" years. The street's social charm has continued through to the 21st century, with the 2007 opening of the Kossuth St. Community Garden.
Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
As one of America's most celebrated streets, Beale Street is probably best known for its varied blends of blues music — from the original Delta style to the electric Chicago technique popularized by virtuosic musicians like B.B. King. Today, King's namesake club can be found in the heart of the street's lively Entertainment District. The club also houses a hidden gem just up its fire escape — the decadent Itta Bena Restaurant boasts menu selections patterned after classic, Deep South favorites like jumbo shrimp and grits and Cajun pasta.
Running nearly two miles from the Mississippi River down to East Street, this iconic strip is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated by Congress as the official "Home of the Blues" in 1977. With a history going back to 1841 when “Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy set up roots here, Beale Street offers visitors an unparalleled cultural experience that’s part rock concert, part living history, and pure southern charm.
Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico
With over 100 restaurants, art galleries, and shopping boutiques, Canyon Road is a mecca of vibrant, multicultural offerings that aren’t far from the bustling Santa Fe Plaza. The shaded, southwestern-style road runs along an original Native American trail and features many businesses located in adobe bungalows. Some of these structures were built over two centuries ago by Spanish farming settlers.
Here, you'll find local, national, and international delights, such as the five-star Geronimo Restaurant, showcasing seafood, steak, and vegetarian dishes, served to patrons inside a 265-year-old, adobe, wood-beamed building. The street's clothing and jewelry boutiques offer designer apparel, handbags, and footwear. You’ll also find handcrafted stone, bead, and metal jewelry and accessories here. Over 80 art galleries light up the street to create a kaleidoscope of art. You can feast your eyes on stunning desert photography and traditional Pueblo pottery. Canyon Road also offers a variety of arts events and festivals year-round such as the Spring Art Festival, summer Edible Art Tour, autumn Historic Paint and Sculpt Out, and winter Holiday Block to Block pARTy.
Front Street, Sacramento, California
Running along the banks of the Sacramento River in the beautiful Waterfront District, Front Street is home to an eclectic mix of museums, historical sites, and restaurants — all of which helped transform this Gold Rush town into a thriving center of commerce, tourism, and entertainment. On the street's north end, you'll find the Old Sacramento State Historic Park, featuring several early Gold Rush buildings. You’ll also find the California State Railroad Museum where you can step foot into an authentic, 19th-century Pullman car.
Head south and you'll discover the 1927 steamship Delta King docked at Front and K, which once shuttled passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco in the decade before highways and byways became the preferred means of travel. If landmark views are more to your taste, try the old Rio City Café, designed to replicate a 19th-century steamship warehouse. You'll enjoy panoramic views of the 1934 Art Deco-style Tower Bridge and Egyptian-inspired Ziggurat pyramid building. As for cuisine, Front Street has savory farm-to-table menu selections paired with award-winning Napa Valley wines. After your meal, take in an exhibition at the Latino Center for the Arts, a recipient of the 2020 National Endowment for the Arts award. Front Street's rich history and serene waterscapes help make it one of America's most appealing streets to explore.
South Boundary, Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken was recently named "one of the best small towns in the South" by Southern Living magazine. Strolling along the scenic South Boundary, it’s hard not to see why. South Boundary is a residential street located just between downtown Aiken and Hitchcock Woods. The street features a majestic archway of century-old oak trees. According to USA Today, South Boundary is one of the prettiest southern streets for a leisurely afternoon walk. It's also one of the most photographed streets in America. The famous oaks of South Boundary were planted in the 1890s by an attorney, Henry Dibble, who moved from his native Michigan after falling in love with Aiken. After becoming the president of the Bank of Aiken, Dibble found himself traveling the South Boundary boulevard on the way to work every day. Eventually, he was inspired to plant live oaks along the street he loved so much.
When visiting Aiken, be sure to explore the restaurants and shops downtown on Richland Avenue. On the far end of South Boundary lies Hitchcock Woods, a massive urban forest full of ancient magnolia trees, cedars, and wild orchids. This 2,100-acre treasure was donated by the Hitchcock family so that the residents of Aiken could enjoy walking or horseback-riding on the trails. After your visit, take a stroll through Hopelands Gardens, a 14-acre estate that opened as a public garden in the 1970s. If you're there around the winter holidays, be sure to catch the 100,000 twinkling lights illuminating the pathways of its grounds.
Jones Street, Savannah, Georgia
Tucked under a canopy of moss-draped trees is the prettiest street in Savannah, Georgia. Jones Street is at the center of the Savannah Historic District. The street was named after Major John Jones, who was killed during the attack on Spring Hill during the Revolutionary War. Jones Street is lined with beautiful, 19th-century, Greek revival-style homes. The street lies adjacent to Pulaski Square, a tranquil, scenic area built in 1837 and named after Count Casimir Pulaski. The count was a Polish general and Freedom Fighter in the Revolutionary War.
After visiting Jones Street, get a bite to eat at one of the best restaurants in the Savannah Historic District. Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is located on Jones Street and serves homestyle southern fare favorites like fried chicken, okra gumbo, sweet potato soufflé, cornbread dressing, and black-eyed peas. When it comes to accommodations, it’s easy to score a historic hotel room or cozy bed and breakfast with antiquated charm like Joan's on Jones on West Jones Street. A visit to this relaxed area of town makes it easy to make yourself at home.
East Bay Street, Charleston, South Carolina
There aren't many cities that can rival Charleston, South Carolina, when it comes to feeling refined in high-class, southern society. East Bay Street along the Battery is home to one of the most photographed areas in the Holy City — Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is a block of 13 private homes on East Bay Street — each painted in pretty pastels like pink, yellow, lilac, and baby blue. There are many myths surrounding Rainbow Row’s colorful appearance. One story is that the houses served as a guide to help drunken sailors find their way home after a night of carousing. Another theory is that the merchants of Charleston used the colors to differentiate the types of goods sold in each building. Ultimately, it might just boil down to a matter of personal preference. The owners of the houses may have just liked the distinctive colors they picked!
Of course, no discussion of East Bay Street is complete without the mention of food. Along the street and in the French Quarter of Charleston, you’ll find a number of exquisite seafood and southern soul restaurants and bars. East Bay Street is also home to the oldest liquor store in the nation, the Tavern at Rainbow Row. Before you leave East Bay Street, be sure to pop over to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.
Located inside the Old Exchange Building, this old prisoner-of-war dungeon was under British control during the Revolutionary War. South Carolina patriots ratified the United States Constitution in this building as well. Currently, the Old Exchange Building is a museum run by the Daughters of the American Revolution. While exploring the area, be sure to check out Charleston's famous pineapple fountain or take a Charleston ghost tour.