Five reasons Harry Potter fans love Alexandria’s Apothecary Museum

For fans of the Harry Potter movies and books who wish they could step into the potions classroom at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the historic Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum in Alexandria, Virginia, may be the next best thing.

The Apothecary Museum, which dates back to 1792, is one of the oldest pharmacies in the nation and offers Harry Potter fans a chance to step back in time and see the pharmacy exactly as it was when it closed in 1933. You’ll also learn about the real-life ingredients used throughout the 1800s that are “potion” ingredients in the Harry Potter books and movies.

Here are our top five reasons why you will love the Apothecary Museum.

1. Visit a real-life apothecary (dragon’s blood is real!)

Image credit: M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

You know of Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary and Slug & Jiggers Apothecary, but did you know you can visit a real-life apothecary? At the Apothecary Museum you can see ingredients dating back to the 1800s that were mentioned in the Harry Potter books and movies, including dragon’s blood, mandrake root, lavender, castor oil and valerian, and learn about their real-life medicinal uses and origins. You’ll even get the chance to hold a piece of dragon’s blood! What does mandrake root do? The American mandrake, also known as podophyllum, is used to treat warts and is found in a cancer drug.

2. Time travel like a Gryffindor

Image credit: Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (left); (right)


Like Harry and Hermione, you too can time travel. Be transported back to 1792 to one of the oldest pharmacies in America and see thousands of curious objects, herbs and remedies intact as they were in 1933 when the apothecary closed. Famous historical figures who made purchases from the apothecary include Martha Washington, Nelly Custis and Robert E. Lee. These elixirs may not have promised luck to the user, but many were considered “cure-alls” in their time. The apothecary’s gothic-style architecture is also reminiscent of many scenes from Harry Potter.

3. Try to spot the trapdoor

Stabler_Leadbeater_Apothecary_trap_door_CREDIT_M_Enriquez_for_Visit_Alexandria2Image credit: M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

While on the Apothecary Museum tour you’ll head upstairs where the majority of the Harry Potter ingredients are housed. On your way be sure to look down to see the trapdoor that was used throughout 1800s as a freight elevator. Don’t worry, Fluffy’s nowhere to be found.


4. Test your magic, create a potion

Image credit: B Fink for Visit Alexandria

For those desiring an even more magical experience, the apothecary offers an hour-long “Potions and Lotions” program for groups. Visitors tour the museum and then mix their own bottle of lotion to take home using a mortar and pestle. The program is perfect for everything from birthday parties for kids to a girl’s day out for teens or adults.


5. Attend Harry Potter’s birthday party

Family outing in Alexandria, Virginia.

Image credit: R Nowitz for Visit Alexandria

Visit the museum every July for a celebration of Harry’s birthday. Details will be available online at

To learn more about the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, visit or call 703-746-3852.

Header image credit: M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

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