Georgetown is the oldest part of D.C., with a colonial history dating back 50 years before the capital was even founded. It is also arguably the most famous neighborhood—for its high-end shopping and dining, quaint eighteenth and nineteenth century rowhouses lining cobblestone streets, sprawling estates, exclusive cocktail parties for the social and political elite, the glistening new waterfront harbor, as well as Georgetown University and the associated rowdy collegiate nightlife. Because of its age, independent history, lack of a Metro station, and its various roles as a one-time African American enclave or current-day exclusive enclave (both of which denote separation by their very nature), Georgetown feels quite separate from the city. This in contrast to the rest of D.C., where neighborhoods bleed into one another as one progresses from center to fringe to center. In effect, D.C. is a getaway for Georgetowners. It is one of the prettiest areas not only in the area, but in the entire country, and it's best explored on foot.
Georgetown sits on a hill overlooking the Potomac River. And there are consequently rather steep grades on streets running north–south, as well as great views over the Potomac. The famous "Exorcist Steps," which connect M St to Prospect St, were required by the topography. Several of these narrow colonial streets remain unpaved and cobblestoned. And nearly all are lined with tall, old trees and quaint eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings.
Founded in 1751, Georgetown predates Washington, and it remained a separate city from Washington until 1871. The name of town was either a tribute to King George II of Britain, or to George Gordon and George Beall, who owned most of the land at the time the city was founded.
In colonial times, Georgetown was at the northernmost navigable point on the Potomac River. As a port city it was an important center of Mid-Atlantic trade, particularly for tobacco and slaves. In 1789 Georgetown University was founded as the first Jesuit university in the nation. Thomas Jefferson and Francis Scott Key both lived here, and George Washington frequently came by for drinks. As the City of Washington grew, the Anglo-elite moved to newer homes in the burgeoning city, turning Georgetown into somewhat of an African American neighborhood.
The 1820s saw the construction of the $77 million C&O Canal along the left bank of the Potomac River, linking Georgetown to Ohio through Western Maryland. The project was a dramatic commercial failure, as the more efficient Baltimore and Ohio Railroad took its place before it even got off the ground, but its legacy exists today as a beautiful place to take a walk or bike ride. In the late nineteenth century, Georgetown's fortunes declined precipitously as both the Potomac and the canal became unnavigable due to increased sedimentation. The factories on the canal shuttered their windows, and Georgetown became a slum. This was all to the benefit of the modern era, though, as the local economic depression saved the area from development, and thus preserving its beautiful old architecture.
In the mid-twentieth century Georgetown's fortunes took a sharp turn, as well-educated residents moved in, drawn by its proximity to the city center and especially by its colonial and Victorian architecture. In the 1950s, then-senator John F Kennedy moved to 33rd and N St, and since everyone wanted to be at Jackie O's parties, the city's social and political elite returned to Georgetown. Since then, for better or worse, Georgetown gentrified into something akin to a waspy Beverly Hills for the Capital Region. For a vivid illustration of the turn about, what used to be a huge refuse incinerator has now been remodeled into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Today, Georgetown caters to a privileged, wealthy, international, powerful, and even somewhat aristocratic crowd, although the university presence provides an incongruous beer-soaked college town element thrust into this otherwise rarefied enclave.
For more information on riding the Metrorail in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get around.
There is no Metrorail station in Georgetown. Georgetown is an easy one-mile walk from either the Rosslyn or Foggy Bottom Metro stations and 1.5 miles from the Dupont Circle metro station. Walking to/from Rosslyn also guarantees some really nice views from the Key Bridge.
The following are the main bus routes operating in Georgetown, along with links to timetables and route maps. For more information on riding buses in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get around.
- D.C. Circulator Georgetown-Union Station Yellow Line runs along the length of Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown, then along M St towards the West End, where it passes by the White House and then into the East End on its way to Union Station 7AM-9PM daily, every ten minutes. The blue line bus runs between Rosslyn station in Virginia and Dupont Circle via M Street in Washington.
- #30n and #30s runs down Wisconsin Ave from Friendship Heights past the National Cathedral, then east through Georgetown along M St. #31 then goes south into Foggy Bottom and GW University (near the Kennedy Center) before continuing along Pennsylvania Ave to the National Mall, and then Capitol Hill.
Driving in Georgetown is not a pleasant experience. Streets are clogged, pedestrians are aggressive (that's right, the pedestrians), major arteries reverse flow and become one-way during rush hour.
Wisconsin Ave and M St are the major arteries. The Whitehurst Fwy from K St is a quick way to get in (not out) from downtown to M St. The Key Bridge from the west end of M St connects Georgetown with Arlington, Virginia, and continues towards Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) and Alexandria.
It is easy to find a taxi on M St or Wisconsin Ave any time of the day.
Potomac Riverboat Company operates water taxis from Alexandria to Georgetown ($13 one-way) with narrated tours of the monuments.
For information on bike-sharing programs in the Washington DC area, see Washington DC#Get around.
- Big Wheel Bikes, 1034 33rd St NW, ☎ . M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa-Su 10AM-6PM. Although it is expensive, this DC-area bicycle shop chain has the largest bike shop in Georgetown, with a wide selection of different styles of bikes available for rent. They are very used to accommodating visitors, and are happy to help you find a good route for exploring the area. $5-8.50/hour or $25-100/day. Weekly and monthly rentals are also available.
Although, Georgetown is known principally for its pretty residential streets, shopping, and dining, it has some of the most historical attractions in D.C. Dumbarton Oaks is a highlight of any informed visit to the city, and is frankly a more rewarding destination than even some of the Smithsonian museums. A visit to D.C. would also be remiss without a stop at Georgetown University's beautiful Main and Dalghren Chapel quads, the notorious Exorcist Steps, and the C&O Canal.
- City Tavern Club, 3206 M St NW, ☎ . Built in 1796 as a neighborhood pub, the City Tavern is the oldest commercial structure in the city, and the second oldest building following the Old Stone House. The interior is a beautiful trip back to the 18th century, but it is closed to the public, save for private event bookings.
- Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd St NW, ☎ . Museum: Tu-Su 2PM-5PM, Gardens: Tu-Su 2PM-6PM (15 Mar-31 Oct), Tu-Su 2PM-5PM (1 Nov-14 Mar). Most famous for its role in 1944, when world leaders convened here to draw up the United Nations charter. But that's not why you should come. The extensive gardens are the biggest draw; they are extraordinarily beautiful—almost palatial—and peaceful, uncrowded. The best time to come is a Spring weekday, when the gardens are practically empty, and the trees are budding with bright pinks and purples. The mansion, built in 1800 for John Calhoun (one of the most powerful senators in American history), houses an extraordinary collection of pre-Columbian and Byzantine art. And rest assured a stroll around the mansion would be worthwhile even without the exhibits. Don't thank Sen. Calhoun for all this though; he was rather a boor. The second owners, the Blisses, a wealthy couple from the U.S. Foreign Service, are responsible for the magnificent landscaping and collections. If you are up for a little homework, look for Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, commissioned by Mrs. Bliss for their 30th wedding anniversary. Museum: free, Gardens $8, $5 in the summer for seniors 60+, students, and children under 13, free in the winter.
- Exorcist Steps (Between 3600 M St and 3600 Prospect St NW). Made famous by the movie, the "Exorcist Steps" run between Prospect and M St just west of where the Key Bridge deposits people into D.C. In addition to grisly ends to men and devils, the steps are popular among Georgetown students looking for a serious workout during their daily jog along the Potomac.
- Georgetown University Dalghren Chapel Quad (Behind the Main Quad, through Healy Hall). This quadrangle was the original land purchase upon the founding of the university. The chapel (1893) at the south end, beautiful inside and out, is best known to the world for its role in the Exorcist, where the priests discovered the defaced statue of the Virgin Mary. The oldest building on the quad is Old North (1795) on the north side, from which Abraham Lincoln gave his speech in 1861 to Union soldiers stationed here. The best time to visit is undoubtedly at the end of the cherry blossom season, when the petals are beginning to fall throughout the quad.
- Georgetown University Main Quad (Right past the main gates at 37th & O). It's hard to notice anything on this very large quadrangle other than the enormous National Historic Landmark of Healy Hall (1897), whose high-set Flemish-Romanesque towers loom over the neighborhood, and even the city. It is named after Patrick Healy, who had an impressive career of firsts: the first African-American president of a major U.S. university, the first African-American with a PhD, and the first African-American Jesuit priest. During the day you can wander inside the building to appreciate the interior—Gaston Hall at the north end of the third floor should be your main objective, as it is both beautiful and has hosted endless visits by foreign and domestic heads of state. In the summer, these visits are often free to the public and not very well attended, so you might be able to get in and talk foreign policy with a king or two. Check the university's events website.
- House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW (at the east end of Washington Harbor), e-mail: email@example.com. usually Th-Su 1PM-6PM. A striking, award-winning modern building (2006), currently home to the Swedish Embassy. Bills itself as the "crown jewel of the Swedish presence in the U.S.," hosting a large exhibition space open to the public and devoted principally to current international issues dear to the Swedes. Free.
- Mount Zion Cemetery, 2701 Q St NW. Mount Zion Church served Georgetown's once large African-American community (today the neighborhood is nearly 100% white outside of the university) which once offered free burials for Washington's African-American population. The church remains in operation (with only a handful of families still in the area; most of the congregation commutes to mass), and is located at 1334 29th St NW.
- Oak Hill Cemetery, 3001 R St NW, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-4:30PM, Su 1PM-4PM. The Gothic chapel and gates were designed by the same architect who designed the Smithsonian Castle. It was the original resting place of Abraham Lincoln's son, Willie, before he was reinterred with his father in Illinois, as well as other figures. In addition to being a cemetery, it is also a botanical garden well set for a leisurely walk. Free.
- Old Stone House, 3051 M St NW, ☎ . House: W-Su noon-5PM, garden: dawn-dusk daily. Built in 1765, this is the oldest original structure in Washington, D.C. For a while it was a used car dealership, but since the 1950s it has been operated by the National Park Service as a house museum showcasing pre-revolutionary colonial life in Georgetown, as well as a small English garden in the back. Free.
- Remains of the Washington Streetcar System. Remnants are visible on P St, at the façade of "The Shops of Georgetown Park," and at The Georgetown Car Barn (now an office for Georgetown University.) If driving on the insidious rails over the dilapidated cobblestone surface, aim to ride the rails—it's both a fun challenge and easier on your car.
- Tudor Place, 1644 31st St NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-3PM, Su noon-3PM (tours on the hour). A stately mansion built in 1815 by the son of the first mayor of Georgetown, and the step-granddaughter of one George Washington. The manor hosts permanent exhibits of 18-19th century American furnishings, as well as a large collections of items owned by George and Martha Washington. The gardens in the back are lovely, and can be accessed separately from the mansion for $3. $8, seniors 62+: $6, students 7-18: $3.
D.C. has a surprising amount of outdoor opportunities for such an urban area, and Georgetown is one of the best places to jump off to enjoy them—thank the Potomac River. Theodore Roosevelt Island and its hiking trails are just across the Key Bridge, the canal is a great place for a walk or bike ride, and Georgetown is also becoming a major jumping off point for boats, from water taxis to kayaks. The relatively new Washington Harbor development at the south end of 31st St, is the center of maritime activity, as well as a favorite (if touristy) place for a stroll to take in the views of the city across the Potomac.
- Ice Skating @ Washington Harbor Ice Rink, 3000 K St NW. Nov–March: M-Th noon-9PM, F noon-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-7PM. D.C.'s newest ice skating rink it also its biggest (and makes a point to brag, for some reason, about being bigger than the one at Rockefeller Center in New York). Right in the center of Washington Harbor, the space serves out the warmer months of the year as the massive fountain centerpiece of the complex. Watch out for different closing times on holidays and around Christmas. $10/$7 adults/kids, $5 skate rentals.
- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, ☎ . The Georgetown portion of this 184.5 mile park stretches through the heart of the historic industrial center of Georgetown, just south of M St. Restored and renovated buildings line the path, offering a wonderful walk through history. In addition, one can take a mule-pulled barge ride through some of the still-working locks. The path runs northwest along the edge of the city, and eventually all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. The route is very popular with bikers, joggers, and anyone out for a stroll in a pretty setting. If you follow the route east past the end of the canal and head under the highway underpass, you can connect up with the paved waterfront jogging/bike path which runs by the Kennedy Center and then the monuments on the National Mall.
- Georgetown Waterfront Park. A 10-acre National Park that traces the path of the Potomac River from the Key Bridge to the Washington Harbor Complex. The park itself features an interactive fountain, water steps, lawns to relax upon, and walking/cycling paths. There are also scenic river overlooks and a labyrinth to explore.
- Jack's Boathouse, 3500 K St NW (Just south of Georgetown University), ☎ . Hours vary based on season. See website for details.. This is where the students all come to have the requisite boating experience on the Potomac. Jack rents single and tandem kayaks as well as canoes. Launches are "weather and water permitting"—the Potomac can be a rough river with very strong currents, and Jack won't let you go out when it's unsafe. Kayak: $14/hour; Paddleboard: $20/hour.
- Thompson Boat Center, 2900 Virginia Ave NW (south of the Whitehurst Fwy underpass), ☎ . Spring-Summer only: M-Sa 6AM-8PM, Su 7AM-7PM. Thompson's also rents bicycles. Accessible by car only via Virginia Ave from the West End. Single Kayaks: $10/hour or $28/day; Double Kayaks: $17/hour or $40/day;Sailboats: $10/hour; Bikes: $7/hour or $28/day.
Festivals and events
- Dumbarton Concerts (Concerts by Candlelight), 3133 Dumbarton St NW (Dumbarton Church), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Concerts usually Saturday 4PM,8PM. Dumbarton is a prestigious street in Georgetown, and prestigious acts perform at Dumbarton Concerts. Even if they did not, any candlelight performances of classical music in a historic Georgetown church would be reason enough to come. Get your tickets in advance, as they sell out quickly. ~$35, students: $30, seniors: $30.
Georgetown is upscale shopping central, although you won't find many discount or touristy stores here. You'll find many upscale local shops and boutiques as well many national and international chains. Along with Friendship Heights, Georgetown is one of two, highly upscale shopping areas in the District.
The Shops at Georgetown Park
, 3222 M St NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su noon-6PM. An enclosed upscale shopping mall. It's an oddly quiet place to walk through, having been outshined by the street-fronting competitors. Stores include upscale shops such as Express, H&M, J Crew, Ann Taylor, Sisley, Itermix, White House/Black Market, etc., but also a host of small boutiques and unique import/export stores. Garage parking is available ($18 daily).
If you like fashion, you will love shopping in Georgetown. You may also wind up in financial ruin due to the high prices (albeit with great closet riches).
National upscale clothing retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch (1208 Wisconsin Ave), Anthropologie (3222 M St), Banana Republic (3200 M St), BCBG (3210 M St), Club Monaco (3235 M St), Coach (3259 M St), Co-Op by Barney's New York (3040 M St), Diesel (3033 Wisconsin Ave), The Gap (1258 Wisconsin Ave), Hilfiger (3229 M St), Hugo Boss (1517 Wisconsin Ave), J Crew (3222 M St), Kate Spade (3061 M St), Limited (3276 M St), Lucky Brand Jeans (3273 M St), UGG Australia (1249 Wisconsin Ave), Ralph Lauren (1245 Wisconsin Ave), Urban Outfitters (3111 M St), Zara (1238 Wisconsin Ave), and many more are all located close to each other, especially on M St east (and two blocks west) of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Ave north of M. You can walk past them all in an easy fifteen minutes.
- CUSP, 3030 M St NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. The hip spin-off from Neiman Marcus, with an especially popular selection of dresses (which start at $300).
- Everard's Clothing, 1802 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . 10AM-6PM daily. They clothed the man with the coiffe, former presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards, as well as several Miss America finalists. This is one of D.C.'s most famous local boutiques, specializing in men's clothing, and a famous selection of designer ties.
- Lost Boys, 1033 31st St NW, ☎ . W-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. Spearheading a recent trend to get D.C.'s men well dressed, this is a high-end boutique specializing in helping the clueless become stylish, with a full-service but unpretentious and welcoming approach to outfitting. The general fashion sense on offer here is pretty classic, but stylish enough to be noticed—brands like Band of Outsiders, Rag & Bone, Theory, G-Star, etc. Any man who honestly has no fashion sense kind of owes it to himself to come to a place like this, to let owner Kelly figure things out for him, while perhaps relaxing on leather armchairs or meeting her French bulldog. The one downside that comes with this sort of service and fine clothing, of course, is expense!
- Lou Lou, 1304 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A small store of the local Lou Lou chainlet, with a pretty huge selection of funky jewelry and accessories in a wide range of prices.
- Sassanova, 1641 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Tu 10AM-6PM, W-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-5PM. For a small women's boutique shoe store, they pack a really wide selection of designer brands. The prices are high here, but if you find yourself browsing shoe porn sites when you're supposed to be working, this is probably the best place in Georgetown to satisfy your urges.
- Second Time Around, 3289 M St NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. Vintage might mean "last year," and consignment here means lower prices—not cheap. The clothes are nice, with similar labels to what you would find at, say, Anthropologie, and you won't have to hunt through them (a thrift store, this is not).
- Sherman Pickey, 1647 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Prepster boutique shopping. The store is named for the owners' shelter-rescued dog and cat, and you can get your pets gussied up with some upscale collars and leashes here as well.
- Urban Chic, 1626 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-5PM. If you are browsing Georgetown's boutiques, this is the one you should not miss. It is larger than the rest, and is a great stop for denim and dresses by high-end designers.
- Village Art & Craft, 1353 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. A funkier store than most in Georgetown, this little spot mostly sells Indian and some Middle Eastern style clothes, in addition to belly dancing outfits, and hookahs. Perhaps keeping true to the regions represented, you can actually haggle here if you like.
- Vineyard Vines, 1225 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. The preppiest of preppy stores in preppy Georgetown understands that smiley pink whales are the key. Even the store interior seems to be a whale. These be-whaled clothes are best left at home when heading out to a punk rock concert, but you'll be 100% ready for Martha's Vineyard.
Design and galleries
Georgetown has also become known as a center of modern interior design, with many stores and showrooms concentrated on the western edge of the neighborhood, especially between 34th and 33rd along M south to the canal. Even if you are not interested in design, some of those air conditioned stores have some very comfortable couches that you might stop in to "try out" on a hot day. There are a ton of small art galleries in Georgetown, which are 1) easy to miss, 2) sometimes just for tourists and the art-illiterate, and 3) fun to stop in, browse, and maybe pick up something special.
- Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 11AM-6PM. One of Georgetown's most prominent galleries, which exhibits mainly contemporary abstract painting, alongside the occasional display from their impressive inventory catalog of several internationally famous abstract expressionists.
- Anne C. Fisher Gallery, 1054 31st St NW, ☎ . Tu noon-3PM, F-Sa noon-6PM. The curator is both an artist and a practicing psychotherapist, she practices in the same space as the art gallery, viewing the two professions as rather complementary. This is a popular contemporary gallery, and occasionally has some very interesting sculpture for sale.
- Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 11AM-6PM. A fun pop art gallery specializing in art exhibits related to famous musicians, whether it be Elvis, Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, etc.
- MOCA DC (Museum of Contemporary Art), 1054 31st St NW (inside the Canal Square Galleries), ☎ . W-F 1PM-6PM, Sa 1PM-5PM. Don't be fooled—this is a gallery, not a museum, and one of the only galleries in Georgetown to actually feature and support local artists. This means the exhibits are less stodgy, and the artwork is a good deal more affordable. Opening parties on the first Friday of each month are well-attended and fun.
- P&C Art, 3108 M St NW, ☎ . Hours vary; call ahead. This is the most accessible gallery in Georgetown that still maintains artistic integrity. Works are contemporary, but overwhelmingly representative, as opposed to abstract. De gustibus non est disputandum, so buy what you like, but also caveat emptor—not all works here are created equal. Some may not appreciate in value, if that's what you are after.
- Parish Gallery, 1054 31st St NW (inside the Canal Square Galleries), ☎ . Tu-Sa noon-6PM. A gallery featuring sculptures and paintings by African and African-American artists. If you don't have thousands of dollars to spend on art, there are steals to be had here for far less.
For an upscale college town, Georgetown has an underwhelming selection of bookstores, but there are still a couple of good, small, independent stores, as well as a vast, three-story Barnes & Noble at M and 30th.
- Big Planet Comics, 3135 Dumbarton St NW, ☎ . M-T,Th-F 11AM-7PM, W 11AM-8PM, Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Big Planet is ground zero for comics in D.C., with all major publishers covered, indie/local comics, kid-friendly comics, collectibles, tees, etc.
- Bridge Street Books, 2814 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. A great little bookstore, conspicuously far from the university, which selects and presents its materials thoughtfully. The political and poetry sections are the big draws, although a specialist might be surprised to find their narrow subject covered comprehensively! Hosts occasional poetry readings, author events, etc.
- Georgetown University Bookstore, 3800 Reservoir Rd NW, ☎ . M-F 9AM-7PM, F-Sa 11AM-5PM. As a university bookstore, this does a particularly bad job of getting books to the students that need them. But it is very well set up for non-students, with a ton of Hoya merchandise, and shelves stocked with recent books by professors (mostly political).
- Appalachian Spring, 1415 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. This store is perhaps the city's best (but definitely not the cheapest) place to find gifts. It houses an eccentric collection of beautiful art glass, quirky teapots, upscale kaleidoscopes, jewelry and jewelry boxes, pottery, and all sorts of other interesting items.
- Georgetown Emporium, 2613 P St NW, ☎ . A new store as of 2012, but certainly one of the most intriguing in the neighborhood. Well off the beaten paths of Wisconsin and M, the store in its own words has an "engaging and sophisticated collection of one-of-a-kind pieces of original art, estate jewelry, vintage accessories, experienced furniture and decor—a cultivated collection of quality antique and vintage inspirations that irrigate creativity and transport experiences." Totally unique, and one of the most interesting shops to browse that you will find anywhere. The owner reputedly isn't in this for profit, and the prices are unusually low for what's being sold.
- Georgetown Tobacco, 3144 M St NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-8PM. As you might expect, Georgetown is exactly the kind of place where one buys fine cigars. The selection is excellent, the staff knowledgeable, and there are a couple comfy chairs in the back where you can have a relaxed smoke (rare in this city).
- The Phoenix, 1514 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. A unique Mexican imports store that has been here for over 50 years. Their collections of jewelry (also from Germany and Israel), artwork, and other designs make for great window shopping.
- Sterling & Burke, 2824 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 1PM-6PM. This exceptional shop is best known for its high-end bespoke luggage and related accessories, but it's more than that. They have nearly the complete current catalog of Penhaligon's fragrances, which you are free to sample, and upstairs has an impressive range of antique American flags among other various gentlemanly fineries Anglophile and otherwise. The store smells fabulous, and believe it or not, the Oval Office shops here. You may need to ring the doorbell if the door doesn't at first open.
Georgetown has one of D.C.'s best dining scenes, with loads of options on M St. The university presence ensures that there are a lot of good budget options, but it is the high end where Georgetown excels—from stuffy and traditional to modern and chic. For more affordable options, check the bars as well, where there are some excellent eats to be had (e.g., Martin's Tavern).
Cupcakes are serious business in D.C. and Georgetown is known for its 2 cupcake stores, both of which usually have lines out the door. Georgetown Cupcakes is the most famous because it is featured in a TV show, but Baked & Wired has won more acclaim from locals.
- Baked & Wired, 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, ☎ . M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-7PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Probably the city's best cupcakes and pour-over coffee. The cupcakes are huge and worth the $4 price. Unlike most coffeeshops in the city, this shop eschews the local coffee supply mafia, and has a rotation of really interesting, unique coffee options. Try the homemade granola called hippie crack ($4). No Wi-Fi and limited seating at peak times. $4/cupcake.
- Georgetown Cupcake, 3301 M St NW, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. This cupcake shop has its own national reality TV show: DC Cupcakes. Accordingly the lines are long, but the clientele is all tourists, as locals are more likely to frequent Baked & Wired (see above). The cupcakes do live up to the hype. $3/cupcake.
National fast food chain restaurants are rare in Georgetown. For those looking for cheap fast food, in addition to the restaurants below, try Five Guys Burgers & Fries or Chipotle's Mexican Grill. A Cosi's is available in the Leavey Center on the campus of Georgetown University.
- The Bean Counter, 1665 Wisconsin Ave, ☎ . M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa-Su 8:30AM-6PM. Want a sandwich? Come here and get your Cuban for $8—it's worth every penny. The seating area is a nice little cafe with "fair trade" coffee, and delicious brownies. $3-8.
- Booeymonger's Deli, 3265 Prospect St NW, ☎ . 8AM - 12AM. A local favorite for over 30 years. $6-8.
- George's King of Falafel & Cheesesteak, 1205 28th St NW, ☎ . Monday-Wednesday: 11AM-11PM Thursday-Saturday: 11AM-4AM Sunday: 12PM-8PM. Delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. One of the best values in Georgetown. $5-10.
- Georgetown Cafe, 1623 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 9AM-6AM, F-Su 24 hours. A standard grimy diner (with a few authentic Middle Eastern offerings for good measure) catering to the late night crowd. The food is a little overpriced, but it's Georgetown, and it's open all night. $7-12.
- Patisserie Poupon, 1645 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . Tu-F 8AM-6:30PM, Sa 8AM-5PM, Su 8AM-4PM. Pleasant outdoor seating on a relaxed section Wisconsin Ave, low prices, delicious croissants, quiche, and panini. This is a regular stop for just about everyone in Georgetown who knows the place. $2-10.
- Quick Pita, 1210 Potomac St NW, ☎ . Su-W 11:30AM-3AM, Th-Sa 11:30AM-4:30AM. The reigning champ in Georgetown's pita rivalry serves food into the late hours. Wash down a soujouk with an Ayran, or marvel at the Quick Pita special, stuffed with fries. It's busiest around 3-4AM—lunch can be more pleasant, if less entertaining. $4-6.
- Sweetgreen, 3333 M St NW, ☎ . M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa-Su noon-10PM. The best and freshest salads you ever overpaid for. Try the champagne dressing! $9/salad.
- Wisemiller's Grocery & Deli (Wiseys), 1236 36th St NW, ☎ . M-F 7AM-11:30PM, Sa-Su 8AM-11:30PM. Chicken Madness! Rumor has it that some students go through four years at Georgetown eating this sandwich alone. And it is indeed delicious, topped with all sorts of melted cheese, bacon, tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers. It's take-out only, so wander over to a bench on the main quad to get your fingers messy. Don't give money to the Wisey's bums—they're a bunch of sleazy frauds and they don't at all need your money. $4-10.
- Zenobia Cafe, 1025 31st St NW, ☎ . M-Th 9AM-11PM; F-Sa 10AM-2AM; Su 10AM-11PM. A small Middle Eastern cafe and bookshop, serving Lebanese and Syrian specialties. In back, there is a patio/lounge where hookah is available. $5-10.
- Cafe Divan, 1834 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM. The standard advice for Turkish dining is to order a bunch of mezes and skip the boring kebabs altogether. This small triangular-shaped restaurant puts this advice on its head—the kebabs are fantastic, with an especial nod to the iskender and the yogurtlu kebabs, while the mezes are almost uniformly a disappointment. If you do want an appetizer regardless, get something that will go well with the great hot bread, like the taramasolata. Serves a fine cup of Turkish coffee and some great desserts. $12-25.
- Cafe La Ruche, 1039 31st St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F 11:30AM-1AM, Sa 10AM-1AM, Su 10AM-midnight. Palatable French food at a great price. Terrace seating when the weather permits is something hard to find in Georgetown at any price. Try the Torte aux Courgettes, a flaky zucchini pie, a traditional quiche, salad, or sandwich. Brunch on the weekends includes an entree, mimosa or OJ, and fresh French pastry for dessert. Great coffee any time, but skip the wine. $6-20.
- La Chaumière, 2813 M St NW, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-10:30PM; Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. A traditional, country-style French restaurant. It's a bit off the main section of the M St strip, and tends to attract mostly locals living in those pretty townhouses you've seen while walking around. $16-30.
- Kafe Leopold, 3315 M St NW (Cady's Alley), ☎ . Su-Tu 8AM-10PM, W 8AM-11PM, Th-Sa 8AM-midnight. This amazing Austrian cafe features modern European cuisine, desserts, wine and atmosphere galore. A solid beer, wine, and cocktail selection makes it a viable option for happy hour as well. Quite fond of the color orange, which lends the place a sleek but entirely unstuffy vibe. $15-30.
- Mai Thai, 3251 Prospechttp://bangkokbistrodc.comt St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 11:30AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11:30PM. Upscale Thai's best representation in Georgetown, with a fairly funky atmosphere. Reservations are necessary on weekends. $18-35.
- Peacock Cafe, 3251 Prospect St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-10:30PM, F 11:30AM-midnight, Sa 9AM-midnight, Su 9AM-10:30PM. An excellent upscale breakfast option, but make sure you have reservations for dinner, or you won't get in. Contemporary American cuisine. $12-35.
- Vietnam Georgetown, 2934 M St NW, ☎ . lunch: M-Th 11AM-2PM, 3PM-11PM; F 11AM-2PM, 3PM-11:30PM; Sa 11AM-11:30PM, Su noon-11PM. A neighborhood establishment that punches way above its price range. The decor is nothing to write home about, but the crispy spring rolls and seafood dishes are, particularly the soft shell crabs. Skip the pho, though. $12-24.
High end dining in D.C. for a long time meant Georgetown. While the rest of the city has had a culinary awakening, a bunch of the city's most famous restaurants are still to be found here, and they are famous with good reason—the food and wines are world-class.
- 1789, 1226 36th St NW, ☎ . M-Th 6PM-10PM, Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5:30PM-10PM. Elegant French-inflected American dining in what is easily one of D.C.'s finest restaurants, near Georgetown University. Jacket & tie required for men. Ask to be seated in the main dining room. A pre-theater reduced price prix-fixe menu is available early evenings on weekdays with advance reservations. $44-60.
- Bourbon Steak, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW (inside the Four Seasons), ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, dinner: Su-Th 6PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. One part traditional Washingtonian power dining, two parts fashionable contemporary American restaurant, using seasonal and regional ingredients. Some of the highest points on the menu are surprises and not steak—the root beer float, believe it or not, will knock your socks off. $35-65.
- Cafe Milano, 3251 Prospect St NW, ☎ . M-Tu 11:30AM-1AM, W-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F-Sa 11:30AM-2:30AM, Su 11:30AM-11PM. Power lunches among the diplomatic and political elite, late night dinners for local and international celebrities. This Italian restaurant has excellent service and an extensive wine list, but merely average food—you come here to see and be seen. It is possible to keep your bill comparatively low here if you choose your menu selections carefully and avoid the expensive alcohol on offer. $35-80.
- Fahrenheit, 3100 South St NW (inside the Ritz Carlton), ☎ . Breakfast: M-F 6:30AM-noon, Sa 7AM-noon, Su 7AM-11AM; lunch: noon-2:30PM daiy; dinner: M-F 6PM-10PM, Sa-Su 6PM-11PM. A very fashionable restaurant featuring regional New American cuisine. Sophisticated attire is a must. $28-40.
- Filomena, 1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . 11:30AM-11PM daily; lunch/brunch buffet: F-Su 11:30AM-3PM. One of D.C.'s most beloved restaurants and a Clintonian favorite, with plenty of overdecorated Italian kitsch right up to the Italian pasta-making grandmas on display. Yes, it's touristy-looking, but the pastas are indeed excellent, the portions very generous, and you are almost certainly guaranteed a fun, memorable experience. $34-52.
- Sequoia, 3000 K St NW (in Washington Harbor), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-12:30AM, Su 10:30AM-12:30PM. Spectacular views of the Potomac and the Kennedy Center, with outdoor seating right on Washington Harbour. People come here for the views (especially in the summer) and to see and be seen with the Georgetown elite, not for the overpriced, mediocre food and terrible service. $35-50.
There are many, many places to drink in Georgetown, from upscale, exclusive bars to college joints. In addition, many places are restaurants-by-day, bars-by-night. M St is the main drag for drinking, and you won't have to walk far to stumble in and grab a beer. The nightlife in Georgetown is crowded and plentiful, but a good deal less fashionable than in less-touristy hotspots like the U St Corridor and Adams Morgan. The booze may be overpriced, but it is nice to have some drinks in a neighborhood where you can walk the side streets intoxicated at night without any fear of getting mugged.
- Modern, 3287 M St NW, ☎ . W-Th 8:30PM-2AM, F-Sa 8:30PM-3AM. Georgetown is not the part of the city where one goes clubbing. But if you are in the area and want to have some drinks and dancing, this is a very laid-back, but still classy option that is more popular in the neighborhood than Blue Gin (which attracts people from throughout the city). Music varies by night—Saturdays are geared for wide-appeal, while Thursdays see the regular break-beat party. Covers usually $10.
- Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave NW (in the alley), ☎ . 1.5-2 hour sets at 8PM & 10PM daily. One of the world's great jazz clubs, playing host nightly to mostly national and international acts. The atmosphere is wonderful, in a brick building off Wisconsin in an actual "Blues Alley." The venue is tiny and packed full; patrons are respectful and do not talk during performances (if you want conversation, go elsewhere). The range of music, however, has become a little wider than jazz purists would like—check the website calendar to make sure you'll hear music to your taste. Seating is not by RSVP, so get in the line early, which starts to form one half hour before shows. Cover: $20-40, drink minimum: $10.
- Saloun, 3239 M St NW, ☎ . Su-Th 4:30PM-2AM, F-Sa 4:30PM-3AM. Cheap beer, free popcorn, and live music—mostly jazz, blues, and rock—are all good reasons to come to this crowded dive bar. Audible conversations are not. Covers: $5-10.
Two steps into a bar in Georgetown and you'll have encountered The Hoyas. "The Hoyas" are any and all of the Georgetown University sports teams, but the name can apply more broadly to anyone affiliated with Georgetown, or really anyone who decides to root for the home team. Their blue and gray colors are all over the place, and so is their merchandise. While the term can be applied to anyone and anything Georgetown, it's most commonly understood to refer to the university's famous basketball program, which has produced a long line of NBA stars in recent years, such as Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, and Dikembe Mutombo, and which continues to be one of the NCAA's most competitive teams.
Truly, you don't need a guide to find a sports bar in Georgetown, but here are a few especially noteworthy options:
- J Paul's, 3218 M St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F-Sa 11:30AM-3AM, Su 10:30AM-2AM. Only a run of the mill Georgetown bar—large, noisy, homogeneous clientele—except for the fact that it has a very impressive, oyster-heavy raw bar.
- Rhino Bar & Pumphouse, 3295 M St NW, ☎ . 4PM-2AM daily. This is not a good bar, but everyone tends to wind up here nonetheless. It's basically a run-of-the-mill, overcrowded sports bar with expensive beer (although some of the microbrews on tap are excellent and reasonably priced), located near the university. If you like very crowded "bump 'n grind" frat-boy dance floors, cough up the $5 cover for the weekend parties.
- The Tombs, 1226 36th St NW, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-1:15AM, F 11:30AM-2:15AM, 11AM-2:15AM, Su 9:30AM-1:15AM. Appropriately named for being in the tomb-like basement of 1789, the Tombs is the unofficial Georgetown University watering hole. Popular with students and faculty alike—graduate courses often relocate here directly after class. Th-Sa nights are extremely crowded, and the bartenders might ignore you. Opt for an afternoon, a weeknight, or better yet a Sunday brunch instead. 1985 "Brat Pack" movie St. Elmo's Fire revolved around a group of students who had just graduated from Georgetown—the bar that much of the film takes place in is based on The Tombs.
- Birreria Paradiso, 3282 M St NW, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa 11:30AM-midnight, Su noon-10PM. Beer heaven for beer lovers! Paradiso keeps a healthy rotation of excellent brews on tap, expertly poured. Unlike most of the middling brews on M St, the prices are fair. Note to Mexicans: no roasted goat served—the brewery uses an Italian name to highlight its world-class gourmet pizza. Pizzas: $10-20.
- Degrees, 3100 S St NW (in the Ritz Carlton), ☎ . M-Th 2:30PM-1AM, F-Sa 2:30PM-2AM, Su 2:30PM-1AM. Probably Georgetown's classiest bar, Degrees is absolutely beautiful, stylish, and has top-notch service to deliver its expert cocktails and appetizers. As you might expect, this is also one of the most expensive options around, and drinks start at around $14.
- Martin's Tavern, 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ . M-Th 11AM-1:30AM, F 11AM-2:30AM, Sa 9AM-2:30AM, su 8AM-1:30AM. Martin's Tavern is at once both a famous destination spot and just a low-key neighborhood pub. If you like to drink in good historical company, every president from Truman through the last guy has stopped in for a beer. (JFK in particular loved it here.) If you are willing to settle for less than a president, this is a good place to spot senators, former secretaries of state, pundit hackerati, etc. It's also a good place to have a burger and a beer. Entrees: $12-40.
Georgetown is expensive. If you want to stay in one of Georgetown's finest hotels, you will find them here. If you want to stay in Georgetown on a budget, either look for deals, or head over the bridge to Arlington, where you'll escape the dreaded D.C. hotel taxes.
- Georgetown Inn, 1310 Wisconsin Ave NW, toll-free: . A newly renovated, attractive hotel, with a great location. The service, however, is a bit below what you would expect for these prices. $180–360.
- Georgetown Suites Hotel, 1000 29th St NW & 1111 30th St NW, toll-free: . Studios, one- and two-bedroom suites, and two-story townhomes located in a ritzy section of Georgetown, with private entrances and penthouses with outdoor terraces. Suites are individually designed with contemporary decor, and have fully equipped kitchens. The location is a little out of the way, at the extreme southeast of the neighborhood, but is a short walk to the Kennedy Center. $180–240.
- Hotel Monticello, 1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, ☎ . An all-suite hotel, with a business center, meeting facilities, and concierge services. The location is pretty ideal—just off the busiest section of M St, and two blocks from Washington Harbor. $225–300.
- Latham Hotel, 3000 M St NW, ☎ . A small, upscale hotel that prides itself on having a "European atmosphere." More importantly, it has a rooftop swimming pool, and is home to one of the best restaurants in the D.C. area, Citronelle. $190–290.
- Four Seasons Washington D.C., 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☎ , fax: +1 202 944-2076. Almost impossibly luxurious, with legendary service—you will receive pretty much anything you request. The one stumble is the location, which is fine but not ideal for exploring Georgetown on foot. Then again, if you are staying here, you probably won't mind paying a little extra for cabs or private cars. From $600.
- Ritz Carlton Georgetown, 3100 South St NW, ☎ , fax: +1 202 912-4199. Rivaling the Four Seasons to be D.C's most luxurious hotel, located on a quiet street between some nice restaurants on M St, and the Washington Harbor. The history of the building could not be more incongruous with the present—it was Georgetown's refuse incinerator, in the heart of the neighborhood's smoke-filled industrial waterfront. The bar and restaurant inside are humorously named after this inauspicious beginning: Fahrenheit and Degrees. On-site spa. from $530.
Most, but not all of the cafes in Georgetown offer free WiFi.
If you don't have a computer or smartphone, the following libraries offer free access to computer terminals:
- Georgetown University Library, 3700 O St NW, ☎ . Open to the public, and has numerous public terminals on the first and third floors. All you need is a photo ID.
- Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St NW, ☎ . M,W,F-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Tu,Th 1PM-9PM. The newly reopened Georgetown library is in a beautiful old building perched atop Book Hill Park, with views over the neighborhood and across the river to Arlington.
- C&O towpath and park is a 184.5 mile trail that starts in Georgetown. A few minutes into your walk or bicycle ride, you are in the middle of a green and verdant linear park alongside the banks of the Potomac. As freeways and highways in the area aren't allowed to have billboards, you won't experience visual pollution as you traverse (although you will see and hear cars and planes). Nonetheless, much like Rock Creek, it's a great walk alongside nature.
- Arlington, Virginia, originally part of D.C. proper, is a 10-15 minute walk or even shorter bike ride over the beautiful Key Bridge. After crossing the Key Bridge to Arlington, you can take the stairs on the east side at the end of the bridge to get on the Mount Vernon Trail, which heads east to the quiet refuge of Theodore Roosevelt Island, which sports some magnificent views of its own. Further along the trail, bikers and joggers enjoy spectacular river views of the monuments, going past the airport, Old Town Alexandria, and all the way to George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon.
- Looking for less collegiate-style nightlife? Catch a cab east to Dupont Circle or even further to Adams Morgan for the city's trendier clubs and divier bars, as well as the city's main live music venues. Or head north up Wisconsin to Glover Park and Woodley Park for quieter neighborhood bars serving a slightly older (better-mannered) crowd.