Washington, D.C. can be a very confusing city if you are visiting for the first time. It is tempting to stick close to the Capital or Smithsonian museums. However, the neighborhoods are where you will feel most connected to the people that make up the nation’s capital, and with so many things to do in Georgetown, you don’t want to miss a thing.
Georgetown is where you will find multi-million dollar homes residing next to some of the best restaurants and shops in D.C.
Wander the streets on a Saturday morning. You will bump into locals meeting up with friends for brunch, suburban moms treating themselves to some city shopping on M Street, and runners getting in their miles along the Potomac River.
Shopping in Georgetown
Take the time to stroll along M Street, the main drag through the neighborhood. Georgetown features shops that can fit any budget. Chain stores like Banana Republic, H&M, Kiehls and Kate Spade New York line the sidewalks.
Turn left or right onto Wisconsin Avenue NW for the Apple Store, Nine West, Tory Burch, Gap and Tumi Luggage.
Off Wisconsin Ave NW you will find cobblestone streets and alley ways that surprise you with local shops, or just an unexpected stop at Crumb & Whiskers, a cat café for those in need of a furry hug.
Running trails in Georgetown
Washington, D.C. was made for runners. The relatively flat terrain makes it easy to put in a few miles before brunch. Best of all, you pass some of the city’s greatest sights. Take a 3-mile round trip jog along the Potomac River from Georgetown to the Lincoln Memorial.
If you want to add in a few more miles, keep running along the Mall until you get to the Washington Monument or the the Capital building. Bring your phone with you. Chances are you will want to stop to catch your breath and snap a few photos.
Walk along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal
One of my favorite things to do in Georgetown is grab a coffee and cupcake from Baked & Wired, and head down the C&O Canal towpaths that run through the neighborhood. It’s quiet and gets you away from the throngs on M Street.
Discover Historic Georgetown
It’s easy to book a walking tour of Historic Georgetown or go on a self-guided tour of the oldest neighborhood in Washington, D.C. There are even biking trails you can tackle that will wander you along Georgetown Waterfront Park, across the canals, and through the heart of the District.
Visit the Old Stone House
Built in 1766, the Old Stone House is the oldest structure on its original foundation in D.C. This home has been in the neighborhood before D.C. was even formed and the U.S. was still part of Great Britain.
People once thought that George Washington stayed at the Old Stone House, but in fact, he stayed at Suter’s Tavern, which was owned by the father of the man who owned the Old Stone House location. Naturally family lure and history confused the two, but the record has since been set straight.
You can spend as much or as little time as you like at this historic home. It’s hard to miss if you are leisurely walking through Georgetown, yet many visitors pass it by not recognizing the significance of the property.
Tour Dumbarton Oaks Museum & Garden
Dumbarton Oaks, once the home of Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss (Dumbarton House), was given to Harvard University and turned into a research institute, library, museum, and garden.
The museums houses the Bliss family’s collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian for all to enjoy. Those who enjoy wandering through a beautifully planned garden will want to carve out enough time to tour the grounds as well.
Step through time at Tudor Place Historic House & Garden
Meet the descendants of Martha Washington at Tudor Place Historic House and Garden. Bought in 1805 by Martha Washington’s granddaughter (who was born at Mount Vernon!), Martha Custis Peter and Thomas Peter, the Peter family owne and lived in the house from 1805 until 1983. The final owner decided it should be a museum for all to enjoy and learn from the history the property had scene over two centuries.
Visitors are welcome to book tickets to tour the home and garden. Just make sure you get tickets as they do sell out during high season.
Restaurants in Georgetown
While Georgetown Washington DC may not have a wildly popular food culture like New York or Seattle, there are chefs cooking up some great flavors in this neighborhood. The over 21+ crowd flocks to El Centro on Saturday mornings.
Bottomless brunch—an endless supply of mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, tacos, guacamole and churros– is where it’s at. Another hot spot for couples and families is Farmers Fishers and Bakers. Make sure you get a reservation well in advance. Walk-ins are welcome, but you will avoid the long line if you call ahead for a table.
Thunder Burger is a meat-lovers paradise, especially on Wild Wednesdays when Chef Ryan Fichter grills up some truly exotic meats (alligator ribs or boar sausage anyone?). The menu regularly features grass-feed beef, elk, bison and boar, and a particular favorite– the Pig in a Cow Suit (a cheeseburger topped with pulled pork and crispy onions).
Happy Hour in Georgetown
There is no end to places you can grab a drink in Georgetown. A few do stand out as spots to see the beautiful people or just grab a bar stool with friends to unwind after a long day.
The Graham on Thomas Jefferson Street NW has two bars– one on the roof and one in the basement called The Alex– that is making cocktails worth sipping. The Strawberry mule at The Alex has the power to warm you up in winter or cool you down in summer.
Eno Wine Bar, next to the Four Seasons, has an extensive white, rose, red and sparkling wine list. It also has a small food menu. If you can’t decide on your favorite glass, go for a wine flight. Several are on the menu, which allows you to find new wines to love without the cost (or hangover) that comes with multiple glasses.
When you need to show off a little and look your best, step into The Rye Bar at Capella. The onyx bar and leather chairs pair nicely with an American rye whiskey.
Georgetown Coffee Shops
Caffeine might as well be labeled as the fourth meal of the day in D.C. Lobbyists, politicians, and consultants have to bring their A-Game 24/7.
Surprisingly, until a few years ago, D.C. didn’t have a great coffee scene. Coffee was merely a vehicle to help you work into the wee hours of the night.
Thankfully that has change and Georgetown wasn’t left behind.
Disabled vets are being trained in small business practices at Dog Tag Bakery (don’t skimp on the chocolate chip cookies!). Patrons line up on cold winter nights for a warm latte to go with their cupcakes from Baked and Wired.
Italian-gelateria Dolcezza is home to some of D.C.’s best gelato, and with gelato must come fine Italian coffee. If you want to get into the student culture at Georgetown University, pop in for a cup at Uncommon Grounds.
Students work in the shop, display their artwork and host live performances.
Read more in our guide to the Best Coffee Shops in DC.
Ice Skating near Georgetown Waterfront Park
When it is winter in Washington, D.C., we love to go ice skating. It’s a cheap and easy way to work up a sweat, and Georgetown ice skating has some great views and food to enjoy on and off the ice.
Check out more spots to go Ice Skating in DC
Image courtesy of the Graham Georgetown
Stay at a Georgetown Hotel
There are plenty of hotels around the sights in D.C., but if you want to get into a neighborhood that is within walking distance of most of those same sights, you need to stay in Georgetown.
The Graham Georgetown is a luxury boutique hotel that strives to make you feel like family. Although the décor may feel more like a couples or girlfriend getaway retreat, families are welcome.
The Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown is great for any type of travel group looking for a bit of extra care. Club level brings added value through a full breakfast and evening hor d’oeurves.
One of the best spots to watch the Fourth of July Fireworks is on the rooftop lounge and infinity pool at the Capella Washington D.C. Their signature Personal Assistants can help you plan your arrival, help you sort out things to do while in town and give you insider tips on the best places to eat.
The hotel’s location on the C&O Canal keeps the noise of M Street out of your room, but close enough to all of the action the neighborhood can provide.
Looking for a Washington DC Hotel?
- Hotel Hive – Affordable, trendy, pet-friendly hotel
- Eaton Hotel – Stay in the heart of DC
- Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC – DC luxury at it’s best
- Kimpton Hotel George – Great for families and pets
- Willard InterContinental Washington – Historic hotel right near the White House
Need a car? Get the best rental car rates HERE.
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Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.
Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.
Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.
Looking for Washington DC Rentals? Check HERE for the best location, size and rates.
Washington DC Rental Car
If you just flew in , you probably need a rental car. Although you can certainly take the Metro most places, especially if you fly into DCA, you may want a rental car to get out and explore. Find the best priced and availability HERE.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered.
We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.
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