20 Best Things to Do in Georgetown
When people say Georgetown, it’s usually Georgetown University that comes to mind. And while it’s true that this is a lively college town, its roots are grounded in wealth and gentility. History buffs will appreciate the historical significance of attractions like Dumbarton House, Old Stone House, Tudor Place, and the Historic Georgetown Walking Tour that bring history to life. Others may be more impressed with the shopping opportunities of Book Hill and Cady’s Alley. Still others will find the culinary scene to be the most compelling draw. Nature lovers will enjoy Georgetown’s many outdoor activities. No matter what the allure is, visitors will find an activity to love among these 20 things to do in Georgetown. Photo: Bill Perry/Fotolia
»Georgetown Waterfront Park
Georgetown Waterfront Park stretches along the Potomac River and links together 225 miles of parkland. It is a popular park with locals who appreciate both the unique park design and the views of the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Key Bridge. Visitors to the park come for both exercise and contemplation. Key features of Georgetown Waterfront Park include a labyrinth to encourage contemplation, an exquisite fountain that is a fun centerpiece to the park, and the river steps and steel cable pergola that are popular for picnicking and watching the action on the Potomac.
Cady’s Alley is Georgetown’s trendiest area with numerous small businesses dedicated to hip apparel and home design. It’s the consummate retail experience for in vogue shoppers. Visitors can expect exclusive brands and specialty shops that focus on fashion, design, furnishings, and accessories. It’s only natural that Cady’s Alley ambience reflects the design principles they tout. Surrounding the central courtyard and pedestrian-friendly alleyways, shoppers will find shops with lofted ceilings, exposed brick, and glass and steel elements. This is where the stylish reimagine themselves and their homes.
Photo: Cady’s Alley
Book Hill shopping area in historic Georgetown is named after the neighborhood’s Book Hill Park. It’s located just a few blocks north of Cady’s Alley, another Georgetown shopping district favored by the well-heeled. Book Hill is a collection of independent shops that cater to sophisticated tastes with offerings like the French Apartment home shop, David Bell Antiques, and Sassanova shoes and accessories. Looking as much like a Parisian neighborhood as a boutique shopping avenue, this historic area is known for its fashion apparel, art galleries, and home furnishings and antiques stores. The area is peppered with boutique eateries where visitors lounging between purchases may spot celebrity shoppers like Laura Bush or Gwyneth Paltrow.
»Chesapeake & Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C & O Canal) broke ground in 1828 when President John Quincy Adams ceremoniously dug the first shovelful of dirt. The canal’s hopes as an important trade route were dashed when railroads made the canal era obsolete. By 1961, the C & O was proclaimed a national monument by President Dwight Eisenhower. Soon, visitors can ride the canal in a historic replica canal boat through Georgetown’s C & O Canal after the completion of its renovation. The Georgetown Canal Plan will surround a one-mile section of the restored canal with a sustainable urban park.
Contact: 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-653-5190
The original Dolcezza first opened its doors in 2004. It was the dream child of owners Violeta and Robb, world travelers and hopeful entrepreneurs. The idea of opening a gelato shop came to them while eating the creamy dessert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They opened their shop in Georgetown without ever having made a single batch of gelato and turned it into their own little empire with a small factory and a dozen shops and farmers market sales outlets. Visitors to the Georgetown location can taste where it all began. Guests can expect the freshest ingredients from artisans and farmers in their delicious gelato and sorbetto.
Contact: 1560 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-333-4646
»Capital Crescent Trail
The Capital Crescent Trail is a paved, shared use hiking and biking trail. It follows the former 11-mile B & O Railroad bed, in use from 1910 to 1985, from Georgetown to Silver Spring, Maryland. It is part of the C & O Canal National Historic Park. Along the trail, users will encounter seven bridges and two tunnels, all with easy gradients. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail has been instrumental in the trail design and in coordinating government and National Park Service funding for its completion. Their ultimate goal is to pave the entire length of the trail with a two-foot wide stone-dust edging for jogging and to offer offer first-class trail amenities like water fountains, benches, kiosks, and other useful features.
Contact: 1400 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-234-4874
The Federal-style Dumbarton House built in 1800 tells visitors the story of what life was like in the early years of the nation’s capital. The Dumbarton collection includes over 1,000 paintings, ceramics, silver, textiles, and furnishings from the Federal Period, plus a collection of original documents describing nearly 300 years of history in the house and the area. The stately house sits on 1.5 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and terraces. Visitors will also want to tour East Park on the east side of Dumbarton House and the Herb Garden featuring over 40 plants that help tell the story of early America.
Contact: 2715 Q Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-337-2288
Photo: Dumbarton House
»Dean & DeLuca Georgetown
The upscale specialty market of Dean & DeLuca opened its first shop in SOHO in 1977 with an incredible curated variety of foodstuffs and produce, many of which had never been sold in the United States before. Today, they still scour the world for the very best items, from prime meats to duck foie gras to 100-year-old Modena Vinegar Reserva. The store is a veritable vault of culinary treasures where visitors can stock up their own shelves and get their holiday shopping done for the year too. Nearly all of the Dean & DeLuca products are worthy gifts for even the most discriminating friends and family.
Contact: 3276 M Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-342-2500
Photo: Dean & DeLuca Georgetown
»Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
Dumbarton Oaks, once the home of Robert and Mildred Bliss, is a historic estate turned research library and museum in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. It is open to researchers who are welcome to study its documents, images, objects, and books. It is also open to the public as a museum and has world class art collections. Visitors can expect to see permanent Byzantine, textile, and pre-Columbian galleries, a Renaissance-inspired Music Room, a gallery for temporary exhibitions, and a rare book gallery and reading room. Dumbarton Oaks also hosts lectures and concerts in the estate’s Music Room.
Contact: 1703 32nd Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-339-6401
Photo: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
Georgetown University is a premier private research university in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. It has a reputation for being one of the leading academic institutions in the world. Built on a 450-year-old Jesuit tradition, Georgetown emphasizes teaching the whole student through exposure to worldviews other than their own and examining other beliefs, cultures, and faiths. The crux of a Georgetown education is to prepare students to be of service to others, particularly those who are the most vulnerable. Visitors can take a self-guided tour that begins at Georgetown College Deans Office, winds through the campus, and ends at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.
Contact: 3700 O Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-687-0100
»Grace Street Coffee Roasters
Grace Street Coffee Roasters, a locally-owned, independent coffee shop likes to keep things pure and simple. Their primary focus is on responsibly sourced, single-origin coffees that they roast in small batches to bring out each coffee’s unique aromas and flavors. In keeping with their philosophy on coffee roasting and brewing, their coffee shop bears a minimalist ambience. Industrial ceilings, wood floors, expansive windows, pop art, white brick walls, and potted succulents create a lively warehouse design. Hip hop music plays in the background, enhancing the urban vibe. Coffee favorites include matcha latte, espresso macchiato, and espresso cortado.
Contact: 3210 Grace Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-470-1331
Photo: Grace Street Coffee Roasters
»Hill & Dale Records
Hill & Dale Records was created as a place to celebrate, discover, and enjoy interesting music. It was designed with the intention of bringing back the social camaraderie and connection that old record shops used to have, before everything turned digital and a newly released album only needed a finger swipe to access. Hill & Dale is a place for music lovers to rediscover the excitement that comes from opening a new LP. They feature an eclectic array of music styles, genres, geographies, and traditions including rock, pop folk, country, electronica, jazz, and much more. Hill & Dale also showcases incredible photographs and posters that celebrate live performances and musicians.
Contact: 1054 31st Street, NW Washington, DC, Phone: 202-333-5012
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»Old Stone House
The Old Stone House is located along the infamous M street in Georgetown, it was built in the British colony of Maryland in 1765 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest building still remaining on its original foundation in Washington D.C., making it an incredible piece of architecture with a rich history. Visitors can take free self-guided tours of the house, which features a kitchen on the first floor, adult bedrooms on the second floor, and the children’s bedroom on the third floor all decorated in period appropriate furnishings. There is also a small gift shop where guests can purchase souvenirs to commemorate the experience.
Contact: 3051 M Street, NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-895-6070
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Situated on 5.5 acres of land, Tudor Place is an architecturally stunning neoclassical mansion featuring gorgeous 18th and 19th century American furnishings. The stately estate was built in 1816 by a son of Robert Peter, a prominent Scottish-born landowner, merchant, and Georgetown’s first mayor and his wife, the granddaughter of Martha Washington. Today, visitors can enjoy a lively guided tour of this impressive mansion and grounds, which feature a large collection of items that once belonged to George and Martha Washington. The knowledgeable tour guides enlighten guests on the cultural trends, personal stories, and broad national issues of the time bringing everything to life through the house and its collections.
Contact: 1644 31st Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-965-0400
Photo: Tudor Place
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»Historic Georgetown Walking Tour
DC by Foot is the number one ranked walking tour in Washington, DC. Founded in 2007 by a group of young, fun-loving guides with an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for the nation’s capital, this tour group offers 21 types of tours led by a team of a dozen area experts. The Historic Georgetown Walking Tour leads visitors through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown where they’ll learn about the presidents who’ve lived in the genteel neighborhood as congressmen, the historic churches that have served the neighborhood, and the tavern where the country’s Founding Fathers planned out the city. It showcases the notable sites and residences of Georgetown that reflect 300 years of historical class and dignity.
Contact: 1740 18th Street #304, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-370-1830
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»Washington Monuments Cruise
One of the most attractive things about Georgetown are the many historic monuments that dot the city. Often visitors simply travel by foot to see these iconic sights, but Washington Monuments Cruise set out to create an entirely new experience with their sightseeing tours. Visitors can hop aboard one of their comfortable cruise ships and listen to the narration of one of their knowledgeable guides as they glide along the Potomac River. Along the way they’ll spot many of the most prominent sights, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the Washington Monument.
Contact: 3100 K Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 877-511-2628
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»Baked & Wired
Baked & Wired is an unparalleled bakery in Georgetown that has received numerous national media shout-outs and has been listed among the 16 best bakeries in the country. The proof is in the raspberry cream cheese fudgy brownie, or maybe the chewy peanut nougat shortbread, or possibly the Big Ass and Little Ass Cookies with a buttercream seasonal message. The choices of delectable bars, brownies, cookies, and infamous cupcakes are mind-blowing. Hand-crafted coffees and espressos crafted by talented baristas add to the deliciousness. Guests can enjoy these sweet treats in a hip and edgy urban setting or on the shop’s tranquil outdoor patio.
Contact: 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 703-663-8727
Photo: Baked & Wired
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»Big Wheel Bikes
Big Wheel Bikes’ philosophy on life goes a little like this: “Work to eat. Eat to live. Live to bike. Bike to work.” With that kind of dedication to biking, vacationers can be sure they’ll find the best selection of bike rentals in Georgetown at this retail bike shop. In fact, they have an extraordinary fleet of used and rental bikes alongside their new bikes. They rent road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, and performance hybrids – no one size fits all choices here. Even better, you can rent bikes by the hour, day, week, and month. Top this off with a great location next to the popular C & O Canal bike path for the perfect biking solution.
Contact: 1034 33rd Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-337-0254
Photo: Firma V/Fotolia
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»Oak Hill Cemetery
History buffs may want to make time to visit Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery. Located near Dumbarton Oaks along Rock Creek, the 19th century garden park cemetery sits on 15 acres surrounded by a commissioned iron enclosure. Numerous notable professionals, including a master engineer, architect of the Smithsonian, and esteemed horticulturist, participated in the design and execution of the cemetery and Gothic Chapel. Visitors will see numerous elaborate gravesites and grand mausoleums. Notable gravesites include Philip and Katherine Graham who were Washington Post publishers, Dean Acheson who was Abraham Harry Truman’s Secretary of State, and even Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.
Contact: 3001 R Street NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-337-2835
Photo: Oak Hill Cemetery
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20 Best Things to Do in Georgetown
- Georgetown Waterfront Park, Photo: Courtesy of avmedved - Fotolia.com
- Cady's Alley, Photo: Cady’s Alley
- Book Hill, Photo: Courtesy of Kristina - Fotolia.com
- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Photo: Courtesy of Tupungato - Fotolia.com
- Dolcezza, Photo: Dolcezza
- Capital Crescent Trail, Photo: Courtesy of lctrail - Fotolia.com
- Dumbarton House, Photo: Dumbarton House
- Dean & DeLuca Georgetown, Photo: Dean & DeLuca Georgetown
- Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Photo: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
- Georgetown University, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Grace Street Coffee Roasters, Photo: Grace Street Coffee Roasters
- Hill & Dale Records, Photo: Courtesy of thenikonpro - Fotolia.com
- Old Stone House, Photo: Courtesy of lunamarina - Fotolia.com
- Tudor Place, Photo: Tudor Place
- Historic Georgetown Walking Tour, Photo: Courtesy of lunamarina - Fotolia.com
- Washington Monuments Cruise, Photo: Courtesy of sborisov - Fotolia.com
- Baked & Wired, Photo: Baked & Wired
- Big Wheel Bikes, Photo: Courtesy of Firma V - Fotolia.com
- Oak Hill Cemetery, Photo: Oak Hill Cemetery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Bill Perry - Fotolia.com
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