Georgetown is a neighborhood in Washington, D.C., south of Upper Northwest and west of Dupont Circle. It is the oldest part of the city, with buildings dating back to 1751. The neighborhood is known for high-end shopping and dining, French-style cafes and cupcakeries, quaint 18th and 19th century rowhouses lining cobblestone streets reminiscent of Old Europe, sprawling estates, exclusive cocktail parties for the social and political elite, a glistening waterfront harbor, as well as Georgetown University and the associated rowdy collegiate nightlife. Several countries have embassies in Georgetown. Georgetown is physically separated by from the west of Washington by a ravine and the lack of a Metrorail station, and the feeling of separation persists in many ways to this day.
Georgetown is situated on bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. As a result, there are some rather steep grades on streets running north-south, as well as some great views over the Potomac. The famous "Exorcist Steps", which connect M St to Prospect St, were necessitated by the hilly topography. Several of these sloping streets remain unpaved and cobblestoned. Most of Georgetown's streets are lined with tall, old trees and quaint 18th-19th century architecture. Georgetown was formerly an industrial area and many of the former warehouses and factories were beautifully repurposed into apartments, hotels, and office buildings. In 2003, the former refuse incinerator was re-developed into the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel. Georgetown is best explored by foot.
Georgetown was previously settled by the Nacotchanke Indians, who called it Tahoga. The first written European record of its existence was by English fur trader Henry Fleet, who wrote about the settlement in 1632. It was settled by the British in 1696, who quickly expunged the local population. Incorporated in 1751, Georgetown predates Washington and it remained a separate city from Washington until 1871. The name 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 locally-grown 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 in Georgetown, and George Washington came over often to visit the popular taverns.
The $77 million Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was constructed in the 1820s along the west bank of the Potomac River, linking Georgetown to Ohio via Western Maryland. Due to the construction of the more efficient B&O Railroad and problems with flooding and silting, the project was a dramatic commercial failure, and operated at a loss, but its legacy exists in Georgetown today as a beautiful place to take a walk or bike ride. In the late 19th century, Georgetown's fortunes declined precipitously as both the Potomac and the canal became unnavigable due to increased sedimentation. The factories around the canal shut down, and Georgetown became a slum. As the city of Washington grew, the Anglo-elite moved to newer homes in the burgeoning city, while newly freed slaves fled the south and came to Georgetown. The black population of Georgetown almost doubled and it became a majority African-American neighborhood.
In the mid-20th century Georgetown's fortunes saw a rapid change, as well-educated residents moved here, drawn by its proximity to the city center and especially by its beautiful 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. Many houses were renovated and Georgetown became the most expensive part of D.C.
Today, Georgetown caters to a privileged, wealthy, international, powerful, and even somewhat aristocratic crowd, although the university presence preserves a unique mixture of beer-soaked college town and prosperous 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 Metrorail Station in Arlington or the Foggy Bottom Metrorail Station in the West End and is 1.5 miles from the Dupont Circle Metrorail Station. Walking across the Key Bridge to/from the Rosslyn Metrorail Station also offers some really nice views.
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 ($1) operates along Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown, then along M St towards the West End, where it passes near the White House and then into the East End on its way to Union Station in Capitol Hill. The bus operates 7AM-9PM daily, every ten minutes, with additional night service to McPherson Square.
- D.C. Circulator Dupont Circle-Georgetown-Rosslyn Blue Line ($1) operates between the Rosslyn Metrorail Station in Arlington and Dupont Circle via M Street.
- Metrobus #30N and #30S run down Wisconsin Ave from Upper Northwest past the National Cathedral, then east through Georgetown along M St.
- Metrobus #31 runs from Tenleytown-AU, down Wisconsin, and then along M St. then goes south into the West End and GW University (near the Kennedy Center) before continuing along Pennsylvania Ave to the National Mall, and then Capitol Hill. Unlike Metrobus #32 and Metrobus #36, which stop near the Foggy Bottom Metrorail Station (on Pennsylvania Ave, before the Circle near GW Hospital), Metrobus #31 picks up and drops off directly in front of the Metrorail station.
- Metrobus #32 and #36 run down Wisconsin Ave from Upper Northwest past the National Cathedral, then east through Georgetown along M St, then down Pennsylvania Ave to the National Mall.
- Metrobus #38B runs from Rosslyn, across the Key Bridge through Georgetown to Farragut Square.
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 between Georgetown and the West End or the National Mall. The Key Bridge at the west end of M St connects Georgetown with Arlington, Virginia, Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA), and Alexandria. The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway provides quick access between Georgetown and the neighborhoods along Rock Creek Park in Upper Northwest.
Street parking is close to impossible to find. Parking is available at the The Shops at Georgetown Park Parking Garage for $10/hour or $20/day or the less-convenient Georgetown University Southwest Garage for $3/hour or $20/day.
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 ($15 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, ☎ +1 202 337-0254. 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. $7-8.50/hour or $35-100/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 visit to the city. 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, ☎ +1 202 337-8770. 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, ☎ +1 202 339-6401. 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: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 60+, $5 for students, and children under 13; free for everyone in the winter (November 1 through March 14, open 2PM-5PM).
- Exorcist Steps (Between 3600 M St and 3600 Prospect St NW). Made famous by the 1973 horror 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 (Just past the main gates at 37th St & O St NW). It's hard to notice anything on this very large quadrangle other than the enormous Healy Hall (1897), a national historic landmark, 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 which once offered free burials for Washington's African-American population. It was very popular since church was legally the only place that large groups of African-Americans were allowed to congregate. The church, at 1334 29th St NW, remains in operation with only a handful of families still living in the area; most of the congregation commutes from other areas.
- Oak Hill Cemetery, 3001 R St NW, ☎ +1 202 337-2835, 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, ☎ +1 202 426-6851. 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 Potomac Aqueduct Bridge (Water Street - look for the stone archway next to the Potomac Boat Club, then climb the stairs). The bridge opened in 1889 and was used to transport boats between the C&O and Alexandria canals. The bridge was demolished in 1933, after the construction of the Key Bridge and the closing of the canals. Now, it is a grassy, peaceful area with great views of the Key Bridge and some unique graffiti!
- 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, ☎ +1 202 965-0400. 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. Adults: $10, seniors 62+ & college students: $8, students 7-17: $3.
D.C. has a lot of outdoor opportunities for such an urban area, and Georgetown is one of the best places to enjoy them. Theodore Roosevelt Island and its hiking trails are just across the Key Bridge (free ranger-led tours on weekends at 10AM), the C&O 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 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-Tu 12PM-7PM; W-Th 12PM-9PM; F 12PM-10PM; Sa 10AM-10PM; Su 10AM-7PM. An 11,800 square feet outdoor ice rink that operates in the winter months. In the summer, it is a colorful fountain. Adults: $10; children: $9; skate rental: $5.
- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, ☎ +1 202 653-5190. The Georgetown portion of the 184.5 mile Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical 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.
- Book Hill Park, Intersection of Reservoir Road and Wisconsin Avenue NW (behind the Georgetown Public Library). A park on what was formerly a reservoir, the hilltop is now a great place to get a view of Georgetown University.
- Jack's Boathouse, 3500 K St NW (Just south of Georgetown University), ☎ +1 202 337-9642. 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), ☎ +1 202 333-9543. 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), ☎ +1 202 965-2000, 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 since 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 in Upper Northwest, Georgetown is one of two highly upscale shopping areas in the District.
Georgetown has many modern interior design stores and showrooms concentrated 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.
The Shops at Georgetown Park
, 3222 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 342-8190. 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 ($20 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), Brooks Brothers (3077 M St), Club Monaco Ralph Lauren (3295 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), Gap Athleta (3229 M St), Hugo Boss (1517 Wisconsin Ave), J Crew (3222 M St), Limited (3276 M St), Lucky Brand Jeans (3273 M St), Lululemon (3265 M St), Nike (3040 M St), Ralph Lauren (1245 Wisconsin Ave), UGG Australia (1249 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, ☎ +1 202 625-0893. 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 (between S St & T St), ☎ +1 202 298-7465. 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.
- Lou Lou, 1304 Wisconsin Ave NW (between N St & O St), ☎ +1 202 333-3574. 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, ☎ +1 202 471-4400. 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, ☎ +1 202 333-2355. 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 (between Q St & Reservoir St), ☎ +1 202 333-4212. 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 (between Q St & Reservoir St), ☎ +1 202 338-5398. 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, ☎ +1 202 333-1968. 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 (between M St & Prospect St), ☎ +1 202 625-8463. 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.
For an upscale college town, Georgetown has an underwhelming selection of bookstores, but there are still a couple of good, small, independent stores.
- Bridge Street Books, 2814 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 965-5200. 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, ☎ +1 202 687-7482. 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).
- Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave NW (between Q St & Reservoir St), ☎ +1 202 338-5180. Tu-Sa 11AM-6PM. One of D.C.'s most prominent galleries, which exhibits mainly contemporary and impressionist abstract paintings.
- Appalachian Spring, 1415 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 337-5780. 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. 4 locations in the D.C. area.
- Georgetown Emporium, 2613 P St NW, ☎ +1 202 944-8449. 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, ☎ +1 202 338-5100. 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, ☎ +1 202 338-4404. 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, ☎ +1 202 333-2266. 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 and pies are serious business here and it is common for people to wait in line for a long time to buy them.
- Baked & Wired, 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, ☎ +1 202 333-2500. 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 cafes 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.
- Crumbs & Whiskers, 3211 O St NW (Just west of Wisconsin Ave), ☎ +1 202 621-7114. Closed on Mondays; T-F: 1:00PM-8:30PM; F-Sa: 11:00AM-6:30PM. This café is famous for the 20+ cats that run around the café, all of which are up for adoption. A great place for cat lovers! Cookies: $3/each; Slice of cake: $7.
- Dog Tag Bakery, 3206 Grace St NW (Just west of Wisconsin Ave, near the river), ☎ +1 202 407-9609. This establishment makes a point of hiring and supporting veterans. The ambiance is patriotic and welcoming.
- Georgetown Cupcake, 3301 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 333-8448. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. This cupcake shop is the subject of the reality show on TLC called DC Cupcakes. The cupcakes do live up to the hype. $3/cupcake.
- Pie Sisters, 3423 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 338-7437. A cafe specializing in pies; operated by 3 sisters. Slice of pie: $5.
- Sprinkles Cupcakes, 3015 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 450-1610. No seating, but the cupcakes are very sweet. Try the red velvet cupcake. $3.75/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, ☎ +1 202 625-1665. 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, ☎ +1 202-333-4810. 8AM - 12AM. A local favorite for over 30 years. $6-8.
- George's King of Falafel & Cheesesteak, 1205 28th St NW, ☎ +1 202-342-2278. 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.
- Moby Dick's House of Kebob, 1070 31st St NW, ☎ +1 202 34333-4400. Iranian food. A great budget option. $7.
- Patisserie Poupon, 1645 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 342-3248. 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, ☎ +1 202 338-7482. 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.
- Simply Banh Mi, 1624 Wisconsin Ave NW (between Q St & 33rd St), ☎ +1 202 333-5726. A great hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving cheap Vietnamese sandwiches. Sandwiches: $6.50.
- Sweetgreen, 3333 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 337-9338. 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, ☎ +1 202 333-8254. 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.
- Bistro Francais, 3128 M Street, ☎ +1 202 338-3830, fax: +1 202 338-1421, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. F-Sa 11AM-4AM, Su-Th 11AM-3AM. Nice and efficient French cuisine. $20 lunch menu.
- Cafe Divan, 1834 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 338-1747. 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.
- Chez Billy Sud, 1039 31st St NW, ☎ +1 202 965-2606. 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.
- El Centro DF - Georgetown, 1218 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 338-1784. Mexican food. A very popular place due to the Latin dance music on weekends after 10PM. No shorts or sneakers on the dance floor.
- La Chaumière, 2813 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 338-1784. 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's, 3315 M St NW (Cady's Alley), ☎ +1 202 965-6005. 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 Prospect St NW, ☎ +1 202 337-2424. 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, ☎ +1 202 625-2740. 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.
- Pizzeria Paradisio, 3282 M Street NW, ☎ +1 202 337-1245. M-Th: 11:30AM-11PM; F-Sa: 11:30AM-12AM; Su: 12PM-10PM. There is usually a long wait for the pizzas at this restaurant. The restaurant also features a great selection of exotic beers. $15.
- Thunderburger, 3056 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 333-2888. Gourmet free range burgers. Specialty burgers include kobe beef, elk, bison, and boar. $15-30.
Georgetown is the place to go for high-end dining in D.C. The food and wines are world-class.
- 1789, 1226 36th St NW, ☎ +1 202 965-1789. 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), ☎ +1 202 944-2026. 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, ☎ +1 202 333-6183. 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.
- Filomena, 1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 338-8800. 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), ☎ +1 202 682-9555. 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.
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.
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 such as Shaw 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.
For dancing, El Centro DF, listed above, is a very popular option.
- Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave NW (in the alley), ☎ +1 202 337-4141. 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 assigned, so get in the line early, which starts to form one half hour before shows. Cover: $20-40, drink minimum: $10.
- Degrees @ The Ritz Carlton Hotel, 3100 S St NW (in the Ritz Carlton), ☎ +1 202 912-4100. 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.
- Georgetown Piano Bar, 3287 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 798-8842. Great drinks. "Come sing along with us" is the slogan
- J Paul's, 3218 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 333-3450. 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.
- Martin's Tavern, 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 333-7370. 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.
- Ri Ra Irish Pub: Georgetown, 3125 M St NW, ☎ +1 202 751-2111. Features a very classy whiskey room. Try the Guinness stew!
- The Tombs, 1226 36th St NW, ☎ +1 202 337-6668. 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.
Georgetown is generally expensive. If you want to stay near Georgetown on a budget, either look for deals, or head over the Key Bridge to Arlington, where you'll find better options and save a couple percent on hotel taxes.
- Avenue Suites, A Modus Hotel, 2500 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 333-8060, e-mail: email@example.com. Large rooms, restaurant, free WiFi and 24-hr fitness center. From $162.
- Georgetown Inn, 1310 Wisconsin Ave NW, toll-free: +1-888-587-2388. 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: +1-800-348-7203. 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.
- The Graham Hotel, 1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, ☎ +1 202 337-0900. 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.
- Capella Washington DC - Georgetown, 1050 31st St NW, ☎ +1 202 617 2400, fax: +1 202 617 2499. An ultra-luxurious five-star hotel with fine dining restaurants, a rooftop lounge, spa services, and meeting rooms. From $695.
- Four Seasons Washington D.C., 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 342-0444, 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, ☎ +1 202 912-4100, 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, ☎ +1 202 687-7452. 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, ☎ +1 202 727-0232. 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.