Georgetown Walking Tour, Washington D.C.

Georgetown Walking Tour (Self Guided), Washington D.C.

Overlooking the Potomac River, in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., lies a historic neighborhood called Georgetown. Those poetically inclined tend to compare Georgetown to "a tapestry of cobblestone dreams and timeless grace." Indeed, this part of Washington, D.C., replete with charming tree-lined, cobblestone streets, cultural landmarks, and a vibrant atmosphere, is a combination of history and scenic beauty.

Despite its proximity to downtown, this former port area has preserved much of its distinct character which makes it a popular destination, offering a unique experience within the capital.

One of the top attractions, loved by locals and visitors alike, is Washington Harbour – a waterfront complex renowned for its outdoor seating and lively vibe.

Many of Georgetown's buildings are over 200 years old. The Old Stone House is the oldest unchanged building in Washington, D.C.; constructed in 1765, it now serves as a museum.

In Georgetown, "old-world charm meets modern allure." Attesting to this saying is Blues Alley, a legendary jazz club operating since 1965. Many jazz enthusiasts visit Blues Alley to enjoy its unique ambiance and exceptional music.

Another key landmark is Martin's Tavern, a historic restaurant and bar that has been serving customers since 1933. This place is famous for its cozy atmosphere and association with various political figures, including John F. Kennedy.

"In Georgetown, the streets whisper tales of the past, while the present dances with sophistication," they say. If you want to hear some of these tales and feel Georgetown's embrace – an intoxicating blend of heritage and contemporary chic, embark on this self-guided walking tour.
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Georgetown Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Georgetown Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Washington D.C. (See other walking tours in Washington D.C.)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Washington Harbour
  • Old Stone House
  • Blues Alley
  • Martin's Tavern
  • Georgetown Lutheran Church
  • Tudor Place
  • Oak Hill Cemetery
  • Dumbarton Oaks
Washington Harbour

1) Washington Harbour

Nested along the banks of the Potomac River, Washington Harbour offers some of the most picturesque views of the river to be found, complete with the sights of the Kennedy Center, Washington Monument, Key Bridge and Roosevelt Island, also very impressive – a treasure trove for an avid photographer.

The Harbour is a part of historic Georgetown. Its shops, condominiums, and restaurants are the brainchild of Arthur Cotton Moore. In 1977, this famous Princeton graduate was honored by the American Institute of Architectures for the development of his own architectural style, hence known as “Industrial Baroque.” The Washington Harbour complex is among its most famous examples.

Upon visiting this site, one is quickly struck by the low-level construction in relation to the water level of the Potomac. You may also want to check out the flood gate system that helps to protect the area.

While marveling at the unique architecture, you may also want to partake of some of the good food at one of the four main restaurants within the complex: The Sequoia, Tony & Joe’s, Nick’s Riverside Grill, or Cabanas. After a lovely meal, try taking a river cruise aboard one of the small river boats departing from here every day.

Why You Should Visit:
Crowded but incredibly nice an area, elegant but not super fancy.
The perfect spot to culminate a self-guided walking tour of the Georgetown district.
You can watch all the watersports in the summer and feel the breeze with a nice drink in hand :)

There are tons of places to either grab a drink or a meal by the water.
If you'd rather enjoy a restaurant, most take reservations, so plan ahead, if you can.
Old Stone House

2) Old Stone House

The Old Stone House in Georgetown is the oldest surviving example of Pre-Revolutionary Colonial architecture in the United States that still stands on its original foundation, and as such, represents a portal back in time to the days when the U.S. did not yet exist and the Revolutionary War was not yet fought.

Part of the fun of visiting this fine old homestead is to get yourself wrapped up in the local folklore. The place is almost an urban legend. For many years, it has been contended that this place once served as the Engineering Headquarters for General George Washington. Another piece of folklore claims that the famous Suter's Tavern – frequented by the likes of George Washington and other notable residents, famed for being associated with the land deals leading to the establishment of Washington as the "Federal City" – was located here. Sadly, neither piece of this historic folklore has ever been substantiated.

In 1953, the land and the home were purchased by the United States Government. The Old Stone House has been established as a museum and is now cared for by the National Park Service. It is open for visits every day, from 11 am to 7 pm, except for major holidays, such as New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, when it is closed. Consider this when planning your visit.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Blues Alley

3) Blues Alley

Blues Alley, founded in 1965, is a jazz dinner-and-nightclub. Exclusively jazz musicians are booked into Blues Alley for approximately 360 nights out of the year. Throughout decades, many of the world's greatest jazz and blues players have graced with place, including Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Byrd, Maynard Ferguson, and Eva Cassidy. In 1975 Earl Fatha Hines spent a week, during the afternoons while the club was closed, making an hour-long solo film for British TV entirely in Blues Alley, prominently featuring Frank Hart, Blue's Alley's famous “clean-up man”.

Blues Alley also has a non-profit jazz arm, called the Blues Alley Jazz Society, dedicated to jazz education and outreach for young performers in the local area. Education and outreach programs include the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and Blues Alley Jazz Summer Camp.

Blues Alley honors its most popular performers by allowing them to create dishes and have them as a regular part of the restaurant's menu. Phyllis Hymans jumbo shrimp dish is one of the most popular items on the menu. Not all performers have this honor and it is shared with the greats, such as Nancy Wilson and John Williams.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Martin's Tavern

4) Martin's Tavern

Established in 1933, Martin's Tavern is the oldest family-owned restaurant in Washington, D.C. Situated one block north from Wisconsin Avenue, in the heart of Georgetown, the tavern was founded by former Major League Baseball player William Gloyd "Billy" Martin. Over the years it has hosted pretty much every U.S. President, from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush.

Back in the day, Martin's Tavern seemed more like a place for the older, well established, famous, and overall somewhat stodgy people. Today, this Georgetown classic, albeit seemingly unchanged for decades, appeals to the much broader crowd, and in a rather comforting way, with its dark wooden bar, oak paneling, booths, stained glass light fixtures, paintings of old-time DC and signed retro photos. Every booth within this place has its own memories, sometimes bronze plaques, and often carved initials. Booth #3 near the door is famously where, on June 24, 1953, Senator John F. Kennedy (then 36) proposed marriage to Jaqueline Lee Bouvier (aged 24) and she said yes. The young Jack Kennedy lived just two blocks away and used to come here often, on Sundays after services.

Martin's menu is a mix of American and pub food (potato skins, fish and chips, etc.), and while it isn’t life-changing, you’ll probably get a good history lesson here while eating it. Otherwise, this place is great for people watching, especially in good weather, as there are lots of outside sidewalk tables. It is very fun and surprisingly less expensive than some of the nearby Italian joints.

There are private back rooms under the stairs reserved for people with security issues (it is Georgetown after all, mind you).
Georgetown Lutheran Church

5) Georgetown Lutheran Church

The Georgetown Lutheran Church is one of the oldest Lutheran congregations in the United States, and is the oldest Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. You would have to travel a long way to a place like the Holy Trinity Church in Delaware to find much more history for the followers of Martin Luther.

The church was built in 1769. The original German immigrants that founded it came to the Potomac Valley to become farmers, and were enticed to settle here by offers of inexpensive land (made possible by Lord Baltimore).

The congregation itself was served for many years by itinerate preachers of the German Lutheran Church. The group officially formed into a church in 1766. Colonel Charles Beatty donated the land for the first building. The church was erected at the corner of Fourth and High Street, with its cornerstone laid in 1769.

Despite four revisions that this church had gone through over the centuries, it managed to retain a great deal of history to it, which is well worth seeing. The old bell from the church, which was given away in the 1870s, now sits in the front yard after being salvaged from a junk yard in 1937.
Tudor Place

6) Tudor Place

Tudor Place is a mansion in Washington, D.C. that was originally the home of Thomas Peter and his wife, Martha Parke Custis Peter, the step-granddaughter of George Washington, who left her in his will $8,000 with which this property was purchased in 1805. Located at 1644 31st Street, N.W., the mansion was well worth it, comprising one city block on the crest of Georgetown Heights and affording an excellent view of the Potomac River. The gardens and the historic house museum's collections are as rich and interesting as the home itself.

A focal point of Tudor Place is the collection of over 100 objects that belonged to George and Martha Washington. Enriched by 180 years of Peter family ownership, both the home and the gardens offer a rare glimpse into the American cultural and social history. In 1960, the place was declared a National Historic Landmark, and is now open to the public.

Opening Hours:
February through December: Tue-Sat 10am – 4pm; Sunday noon – 4pm.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Oak Hill Cemetery

7) Oak Hill Cemetery

Established by an Act of Congress in 1848, Oak Hill Cemetery is a 22 acre historic graveyard, botanical garden, and mausoleum. It is also home to the famous Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel. Collectively, this site, in use since 1849, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cemetery was founded by W.W. Corcoran who was a banker, philanthropist, and businessman. Corcoran founded the Riggs National Bank and was an instrumental part in keeping the U.S. financially solvent during the Mexican War.

Mr. Corcoran purchased land for the cemetery from George Corbin Washington and Lewis W. Washington (both related to the first President.) Over the years, the beautiful pieces of architecture, both the buildings and grounds, were put into place courtesy of architects George F. de la Roche and James Renwick Jr (of Smithsonian fame).

The styling of the cemetery resembles that of some of the best English gardens, Gothic chapels, and 19th century Romantic Art. But perhaps the biggest draw of this cemetery is the Civil War burial sites situated within, the most notable to be found in Washington, D.C. The maps of the plots are there to help to appreciate better the historic value of this 19th century cemetery.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Dumbarton Oaks

8) Dumbarton Oaks

Sitting at the highest point in the historic Georgetown neighborhood, Dumbarton Oaks is a must see location in Washington, D.C. This 53-acre estate is the legacy of Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred, philanthropists and collectors of art.

In 1920, after a long and careful search, the couple purchased an old-fashioned Federal-style country house then standing in rather neglected grounds. In 1929 they added a Music Room, and some years later, built a wing to accommodate their famous Byzantine art collection. Another wing was added to hold Mr. Bliss’s collection of Pre-Columbian art.

In 1921, the Blisses hired renowned landscape gardener Beatrix Farrand to create an English garden to surround the whole property. Working in close collaboration for almost thirty years, Mildred Bliss and Beatrix Farrand had planned every garden detail, each terrace, bench, urn, and border, and eventually produced a beautiful oasis within the city.

In 1940, the upper sixteen acres were transferred to Harvard University to establish a research institute for Byzantine studies, Pre-Columbian studies, and studies in the history of gardens and landscape architecture. Around the same time, there was also a Garden Library added to accommodate Mrs. Bliss’s collection of rare books on the history of gardens.

Today, the entire estate is run by the Trustees of Harvard University. Its art collection has been on a long term loan to the National Gallery of Art.

Why You Should Visit:
The Museum is home to a world-class collection of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art; the old music and rare books rooms are fascinating to walk through. From the tapestries and paintings in the Renaissance-inspired Music Room to the graceful lines and natural sunlight of the Philip Johnson Pavilion, visitors can admire art dating back to antiquity, as well as innovative special exhibitions.
You can easily spend a few hours wandering through the gardens and discovering every hidden corner.
Everything is well-kept up – space, lighting, staff, historical rooms, terraces, gardens, and security.

Make sure you get the booklet and follow the suggested garden route as it helps to understand the layout. Also look out for birds and small mammals.

Opening Hours:
Museum: Tue-Sun: 11:30am-5:30pm
Garden: Tue-Sun: 2-6pm (Mar 15–Oct 31); 2-5pm (Nov 1–Mar 14)
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Washington D.C., USA

Create Your Own Walk in Washington D.C.

Create Your Own Walk in Washington D.C.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Federal Buildings Walking Tour

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Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
DC Monuments and Memorials Walking Tour

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Indeed, those remembered in Washington, D.C. – the renowned statesmen, politicians, fallen soldiers, and other distinguished persons – had their years filled with life to the brim. What they left behind is a great legacy manifested in historic...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 Km or 3.2 Miles

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