Founded in 1751, Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in Washington, D.C., predating the creation of “The District” by four decades. In 1791 the L’Enfant Plan combined Georgetown with the cities of Alexandria and Washington to become the District of Columbia, officially established in 1801 (Alexandria later voting to secede from the capital in 1846). Georgetown remained an independent municipality until 1871 when Congress enacted a unified government for the whole of D.C., and in 1895 Georgetown’s streets were renamed to conform with the rest of the capital.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in the 1960s, Georgetown today is home to an appealing mix of old and new, offering visitors a variety of opportunities to shop, dine, spend time outside, enjoy beautiful architecture, cafe hop, and learn more about its history.
Keep reading for your self-guided walking tour of Georgetown, DC.
- ~2.5 miles with optional detours and add-ons
- Largely flat
- Stroller and wheelchair friendly except for stairs to access the canal bridge after Fishmarket Square. Option to stay wheel-friendly: cross the canal at Wisconsin Avenue Northwest instead of directly from Fishmarket Square. This adds just .2 miles onto your route.
Baked & Wired | 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street Northwest
Fuel up for your walk at Baked & Wired with coffee, tea, or a sweet treat. I snagged a Pretty Bitchin’ “cakecup” made with chocolate cake and a crunchy peanut butter frosting.
C&O Canal Towpath Lock 4
The C&O Canal Towpath runs alongside the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal for nearly 200 miles, connecting Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Once used by mules while towing boats, the path is a popular spot for walking, running, and biking.
Lock 4 is just steps away from Baked & Wired and is especially scenic with its colorful brick homes.
Depending on when you visit, you may be able to take a canal ride. When I was in Georgetown in March of 2023, the canal was actually empty due to ongoing renovations. Initially expected to remain that way with no boat tours until 2025, it was unexpectedly refilled shortly after, with boat tours resuming May 5th and currently available through September 2023. Check in here for more info about tickets and updates on when the canal will empty again.
Georgetown Mural at Sweetgreen | 1044 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest
Pop up to the second floor of Sweetgreen to see this festive Georgetown mural by John Denapoli.
Bakeshop | 3210 Grace Street Northwest
The third outpost of this Virginia-founded mini chain is located in the Grace Street Collective, a multi-business space also home to a juice shop and restaurant. I was in town to see the city’s famed cherry blossoms, so I stuck with the theme of the trip and grabbed a cherry blossom macaron to go.
Cecil Place Northwest
This quiet street connecting Grace Street Northwest with Georgetown Waterfront Park is lined with picturesque row homes complete with charming shutters and brightly painted front doors.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
This 10-acre park offers riverside green space with kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, seasonal features including a splash fountain and ice skating rink, and free annual events like fitness classes and outdoor movie screenings.
You’ll pass through this square on your way inland from the riverfront. Once an industrial center home to a market and surrounded by mills and a jail, today you’ll find tables and chairs and a staircase leading to a pedestrian bridge across the canal.
Note: This is where you can detour over to Wisconsin Avenue Northwest to cross the canal if you’d like to avoid the stairs.
This pedestrian shopping area is largely home to upscale interior design stores, but the tucked away brick buildings are beautiful and I liked seeing the giant bicycle mural on the side of Big Wheel Bikes. You can also pop into District Doughnut at 3333 M Street Northwest while you’re here.
36th Street Northwest between O Street and P Street
Continuing toward the Georgetown University campus, I loved seeing this stretch of particularly colorful row houses.
37th Street Northwest across from Copley Lawn
Directly on the other side of the block, you’ll find another row of colorful homes facing Georgetown’s campus.
Optional Add-On: Dahlgren Chapel
This picturesque chapel on Georgetown’s campus is especially beautiful when framed by blooming magnolia trees in March.
The Wave Wall | 3510 O Street Northwest
Head back down O Street away from campus to see a John McConnell recreation of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave.
Call Your Mother | 3428 O Street Northwest
Just next door you’ll find the pretty in pink Call Your Mother deli. Founders Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dana started the business at local farmers markets, opening their flagship location D.C.’s Park View neighborhood in 2018. The mini chain has since grown to include a handful of locations across the D.C. area and in May of this year they opened a location in Denver.
Their best-selling sandwich is the Sun City: bodega-style local eggs, American and cheddar cheeses, and spicy honey with your choice of local bacon, pastrami, Impossible sausage, or no meat on an Everything bagel. Yes, please!
Smith Row | 3255-3267 N Street Northwest
Continue down O Street and take a right at 33rd Street Northwest for a quick detour to see this row of Federal-style townhouses. Much of this street – like so many in Georgetown – is lined with beautiful historic homes. Continue toward Wisconsin Avenue Northwest and take a peek at 3245 N Street Northwest on your way by.
Shop Made in DC | 1304 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest
Take a left onto Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, the neighborhood’s main shopping and dining drag, and pop in to this colorful shop for gifts and souvenirs made exclusively by DC artists. With four locations across the city, Shop Made in DC features thousands of products from over 200 DC makers ranging from jewelry and art prints to stationery, clothing, and more.
Boulangerie Christophe | 1422 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest
Continue along Wisconsin Avenue Northwest for another block or so until you hit Boulangerie Christophe. At this point in my walk it was raining and I enjoyed a delicious crepe for lunch while sitting outside on their partially covered patio enjoying views of their giant French-themed trompe l’oeil.
Cross the street and head south (back in the direction of Shop Made in DC) to continue your walk.
Georgetown Theatre Sign Compass Coffee | 1351 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest
I always love a theater sign! Though the building is now home to luxury apartments and a Compass Coffee on the ground floor, the neon sign first hung in 1945 is still there after being briefly removed in 2015 for restoration by the same company that originally made it.
Cafe Georgetown | 3141 N Street Northwest
This cozy spot with a full coffee menu, baked goods, sandwiches, and wine bar is known for their printed lattes featuring everything from evil eyes and Thanksgiving turkeys to the Mona Lisa and Winnie the Pooh. I stopped by for a mocha and baklava mid-walk.
Levain Bakery | 3131 M Street Northwest
Levain was founded on the Upper West Side in 1995 and has since grown a cult following for their indulgent cookies. I popped into this location on M Street to admire the Libby VanderPloeg murals.
Old Stone House | 3051 M Street Northwest
The city’s oldest structure on its original foundation has a souvenir shop in the front room, a small exhibit area in what was once the kitchen, and a garden in the back yard. Built in 1766 and acquired by the National Park Service in the 1950s, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. 85% of what you see today is original to the 18th century structure.
Bridge Street Books | 2814 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Founded in 1980, this independent bookstore has been serving the Georgetown community for more than 40 years.
Tiny Red House | 1222 28th Street Northwest
The construction date of this petite one bedroom cottage is debated by multiple sources, some who claim it’s one of the oldest homes in Georgetown and others who believe it was built in the mid 1800s. For 65 years it was the home of Ann Caracristi, a former deputy director of the NSA.
Alfred Pope and Hannah Cole Pope Residence | 2900 O Street Northwest
Part of Georgetown’s African-American Heritage Trail, this iconic blue home was the residence of Alfred Pope and Hannah Cole Pope, who met and were married while enslaved by South Carolina Congressman John Carter. Freed after Carter’s death in 1850, the pair advocated for the Black community and became active in local public affairs and real estate.
Optional Add-Ons: Tudor Place, Book Hill Park, and Dumbarton Oaks Gardens
Tudor Place, a Federalist style mansion at 1644 31st Street Northwest, was the home of multiple generations of Martha Washington’s descendants. With deep roots in slavery, the museum is dedicated to taking “an honest look at the past to realize a better future.”
Book Hill Park is located at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue Northwest and Reservoir Road Northwest, offering panoramic views of Georgetown and the Potomac River. Just steps away is the Georgetown branch of the DC Public Library system as well as the entrance to Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Park, and Gardens.
If you love spring blooms as much as I do, the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens at 1703 32nd Street Northwest are a must, especially during wisteria season. From March 15th to October 31st, they’re open Tuesday through Sunday from 2 to 6 pm. Admission is $7 and tickets must be purchased in advance because they are not sold at the gate.
From November 1st to March 14th, the gardens are open from 2 to 5 pm and are free to visit. The adjacent museum, with a focus on Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, is always free to visit and is open from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm Tuesday through Sunday.
There’s so much to see and do in Georgetown and this tour only scratches the surface, but I hope it will give you a solid overview of the neighborhood and inspire you to explore it even more!
Use this map to guide your walk.
Note: The two colorful row house streets (36th Street Northwest between O & P Streets and 37th Street Northwest) are noted here as “Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security” and “Amazon Locker – Samia” to help direct you to the right stretch of homes.
Have you been to D.C. and/or Georgetown before? What are your favorite spots? Let me know in the Comments!
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