To most, Georgetown is just a name of the local university, but this neighborhood of Washington, DC is full of history, fun and food – and cupcakes. It’s on the top of our list of places to see in DC – here you can find great shopping (to us, “Mall” means a big park with memorials), the oldest family run restaurant, the homes of celebrities and historical figures past and present. Whether a quick visit for a highlight tour or a full day of historic homes and gardens, you can find much to do in this quaint historic part of town.
Lonely Planet’s Washington DC Guide has a whole chapter on visiting Georgetown!
Georgetown is separated from the rest of Washington by Rock Creek. Though it was it’s own city well before the founding of the District of Columbia and the federal city we now call Washington, Georgetown is now just a neighborhood. Not designed to be part of this new city, it is still set apart and has a reputation of being difficult to get to, but with the shopping, dining and history – it is very accessible!
Technically, there is no Metro in Georgetown but that doesn’t mean it isn’t Metro accessible. The main strip of Georgetown, M Street NW, is about 15 minute walk from Foggy Bottom/GWU stop on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines. As you exit the Metro, turn left and walk one block up the hill to Washington Circle, follow the Circle left to Penn Ave NW and that will eventually become M Street NW after you cross over Rock Creek Parkway.
If you’re trying to get to the western side of Georgetown, you can also walk from Rosslyn stop on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines. You can say you walked all the way from Virginia! When you exit the station, head north (right if you’re exiting on to Fort Myer Drive and left if you’re on Moore St) to cross the Key Bridge. The bridge dead-ends on the far western part of M St NW.
There are many bus routes that service Georgetown, both down M St NW and northern areas of the neighborhood. Any of these routes will get you to Georgetown: 31, 32, 36, 38B, D1, D2, D5, D6, and G2. Visit the Trip Planner at WMATA to get specific directions from your location.
A privately owned bus with key routes in the city, the Circulator is only $1 ride or accepts SmarTrip cards. The Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn line runs from the Dupont Circle to the Rosslyn metro station, with stops along M Street. The Union Station-Georgetown line runs from Union Station to Georgetown via K Street and back to Union Station with stops on M Street traveling eastbound. These buses are distinctive red and black buses with similar looking signs at the bus stops.
Capital Bikeshare, you know the big red clunky bikes you see all over the place, has a stations throughout Georgetown. At the corner of K Street and 30th Street, at Wisconsin Avenue and O Street, at Pennsylvania Avenue and 28th Street, and at the 1000 block of Wisconsin Avenue, at South Street. Bikeshare daily rates are $7 for 24 hour use.
Hop in a cab and say “Take me to Georgetown” and he’ll probably drop you off somewhere on M St NW. It’s an awfully busy road so traffic can be rough and add to the fare – the traffic is worse between 29th St NW and 36th St NW – it’s often MUCH faster to get dropped off at one of these ends and walk the rest of the way.
by Trolley and Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus:
Several trolleys and hop-on, hop-off buses make stops in Georgetown. Click here to compare the different options.
Parking in Georgetown
Like many busy parts of the cities, parking in Georgetown can be difficult! There is street parking throughout the neighborhood. Street parking is $2/hr Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays and holidays do not have parking enforcement. When parking, look for rush hour restrictions – parking on Monday through Friday along M Street and on the 1100-1600 blocks of Wisconsin Avenue, NW from 7 to 9:30 a.m. and 4 to 6:30 p.m will resulted in a towed car! Parking on neighborhood non-metered streets is limited to 2 hours – legally, that is applicable to the whole of Zone 2 so moving your car from one spot to another in the same neighborhood may still result in a ticket.
Another easy way to park in Georgetown is through a service called Parking Panda. This website enables drivers to search for, compare, and purchase guaranteed parking spaces ahead of time in garages. They have a bunch of cheap options in Georgetown. Click below to take a look!
Guided Walking Tours
We quite partial to our Historic Georgetown tour for a highlight walk through the neighborhood. Our historic tour covers some of the well known residents and sites, but also some of those you may not know. For a darker side of the neighborhood, our nighttime Ghosts of Georgetown tour covers eerie coincidences and curses, as well as a few documented haunted houses! And join our newest tour, the foodie side of Georgetown: Georgetown Cupcakes & Desserts Tour.
If you can’t take advantage of our guided tour, then consider one of our themed self-guided tours of Georgetown
If you like the Georgetown neighborhood, you may also want to take our Self Guided Tour of Old Town Alexandria.
For an armchair tour of the area, check our Georgetown BID’s Photo Tour of Georgetown.
Trolley/Hop On-Off Tours
Many of the cities trolley and bus tours drive through Georgetown, with a few select locations to hop on/off. Click here to compare the different options.
Founded in 1751 in the colony of Maryland, the town of George was founded as a tobacco port city on the Potomac River. Georgetown as we know it today is much larger than the original town boundaries. What is now N St NW (formally Gay Street) was the northern boundary of the city, the rest was bordered south by the river, east by Rock Creek and west by what is now the University. When the founding fathers were decided where to put the new federal district, the port of Georgetown was included in the boundaries. In 1800, it became Georgetown, DC – still it’s own city. This changed in 1871 when Washington city expanded and Georgetown lost it’s autonomy. The streets were renamed and the city council disbanded. The small town grew with the success of it’s merchants until the mid 1800s. With the growth of the federal city, the stress of the Civil War, the silting of the Potomac River and the failing of the C&O Canal, Georgetown fell into a decline that lasted decades. After the New Deal-ers moved into the affordable neighborhood, cemented by the presence of the Kennedy’s, Georgetown became once again a neighborhood of businessmen and politicians. Diverse is not the word you’d use to describe Georgetown today, but through it’s history it has been the home of leading political figures and simple merchants and their slaves, full of Scottish and German immigrants, a thriving community of freedmen at Herring Hill. It went from mansions to slums and back again. A walk through this pre- Revolutionary neighborhood takes you through 250 years of history through it’s architecture and the stories of the people who once and still live there.
If you’d like to learn more, our guide, Canden, has had two books published on Georgetown! Wicked Georgetown: Scoundrels, Sinners and Spies and Images of America: Georgetown. Both available on her Amazon author page!
With such a focus on preserving the history of not just the neighborhood, but the nation as a whole – Georgetown has a wealth of historic homes and museums. Some we visit on our Historic Georgetown tour, from the outside only, and some we talk about. These sites in Georgetown are on our MUST-SEE list!
Have a bit more time or specific interests? There are some great off-the-beaten-path sites in the neighborhood.
As the oldest and one of the most affluent neighborhoods in DC, Georgetown is home to some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in the city. There are many hotels to choose from, but here are some of our favorites.
Capella Washington, D.C. Georgetown: 1050 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – $$$$
The Melrose Georgetown: 2430 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037 – $$$$
Georgetown Inn: 1310 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007 – $$$
Best Western Georgetown: 1121 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037 – $$
Looking to learn more about accommodation in DC? Check out the following posts:
If you’ve ever been on Canden’s Georgetown tours, you’ll hear her talk about one and only one restaurant. By far all of our favorite places to eat in Georgetown, Martin’s Tavern is Canden’s only recommendation. It has great food (their grandmother’s recipe crab cakes are amazing), but what we love most is it’s history. Martin’s Tavern opened in 1933 by an Irish immigrant, Billy Martin and is still run by his great-grandson, also Billy Martin, who can sometimes be found behind the bar. If you go there and tell them DC By Foot sent you… nothing will happen, they have no idea who we are but we highly recommend it!
Martin’s Tavern: 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC – American Tavern $$
Shanghai Lounge: 1734 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007 – Dumplings/Chinese $
Sequoia: 3000 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – American $$$
Filomena: 1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007 – Italian $$$
Old Glory BBQ: 3139 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – BBQ $$
Moby Dick House of Kebab: 1070 31st St NW – Mediterranean $
Join our newest tour, the foodie side of Georgetown: Georgetown Cupcakes & Desserts Tour.
If you have any interest in desserts, you’ve likely heard of TLC’s “DC Cupcake” television show. It is based on the shop, Georgetown Cupcakes on M St NW.
Fan of the show? By all means, go visit the shop. There will be a line – they even have a bouncer! If you follow them on Twitter/Facebook, the first 100 guests to order the cupcake of the day by name get it for free!
But Georgetown Cupcakes is not the only place dessert place in Georgetown.
Thomas Sweet’s Ice Cream & Chocolate: 3214 P St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – Homemade ice cream and fudge
Dolcezza: 1560 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007 – Argentinean Gelato
Sprinkles: 3015 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – Also known due to a TV show – Cupcakes
Baked & Wired: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007 – our favorite – delicious desserts of all kinds!