Not too long ago I got married and headed out to the USA for a 3 week honeymoon. Flying to the states from the UK the first stop was at Washington D.C. on the east coast.
I’ve always been a fan of the big productions centred around Washington D.C. such as the epic House of Cards and Designated Survivor from Netflix along with the Hollywood productions like Olympus has Fallen. Visiting Washington D.C. was therefore an easy choice.
Where is Georgetown?
My lack of knowledge and to be honest, excitement of visiting the US capital city meant that my research fell short and I completely overlooked that Washington D.C. is a city of 2 halves, with both a business focus and of course the more relaxed neighbourhoods but in particular the beautiful Georgetown.
A relaxed and quirky neighbourhood
Located in the Northwest of Washington D.C., Georgetown has a very different feel to everywhere else in the city. It’s as if you’ve left Washington D.C. completely and evokes many of the same feelings and gives a similar view as when you explore The West Village in New York City.
There is a real suburban feel to Georgetown with its low level buildings, pedestrian crossings and series of quirky bars and chain shops along the high street. Throw in the students from Georgetown university and you have a pretty vibrant place to live.
Being a university district it’s not surprising that Georgetown has developed in the way that it has; it certainly made me jealous of those who lived here for their university experience as the whole area seems to cater extremely well to university life!
An historic tobacco port
Georgetown has a long history as a tobacco port dating back to the 1740s. Now in the absence of me doing Georgetown justice with a correct interpretation of its history, I found an information board that offered some interesting information around its background:
Georgetown began in the 1740s as a tobacco port, where ships departed for Britain, Europe and he West Indies filled with flour, lumber, coal, grain and, above all, tobacco. The fine harbor brought visitors and goods and, with them, prosperity and acclaim. Warehouses and mills flourished here, but eventually the waterfront became saturated with noxious odors, soot and waste as industries produced an unsightly collection of abandoned warehouses, just yards, salt piles and parking lots. In 1949 construction of an elevated highway required demolition of several historic structures. Dismay at the loss of these buildings hastened passage of the Old Georgetown Act of 1950, which preserved the character of Georgetown above M Street – but not below. Finally, in 1967 the Georgetown waterfront was designated a National Historic Landmark, but misuse and neglect continued for years until the courts allowed rezoning.
A number of creative architects and developers responded by preserving and adapting the remaining old buildings with imaginative designs. Architect Arthur Cotton Moore was one of the first. In 1970 he converted a derelict 19th-century warehouse on 31st Street to the lively office and art center known as Canal Square. In 2003 developer Anthony Lanier, with architects Gary E. Handel and Shalom Baranes, preserved the brick incinerator across the street by wrapping a hotel lobby around its 130-foot-tall smokestack. The Washington Harbour complex behind you, in Moore’s signature “Industrial Baroque” style, was newly constructed as a modern complement to the many renovated K Street structures that have made the Georgetown waterfront a popular tourist destination and scenic place to live.
Flavio Italian restaurant
I only had the opportunity to spend a quick couple of hours in Georgetown but it was certainly enough to get a good feel for the neighbourhood. I started off by heading to Flavio Italian for a bite to eat; I would totally recommend it too as their food was ace!
I got the most amazing pepperoni pizza but in my hunger, didn’t take a single food photo for the Ambition Earth blog – a blogger sin, I know! You’ll just have to trust me on this one that it looked and tasted fantastic!
Fuelled on pizza I then explored the area along the canal. I had absolutely no idea that Georgetown had a canal until I arrived so it was great to be treated to that little surprise.
The canal is lined with some gorgeous houses and there are information boards along the tow-path to bring the canal more to life and offer some insight into its history.
Georgetown M Street
The canal led naturally to M Street that runs through the centre of Georgetown. I took some time to absorb myself into the local life here and headed into a couple of shops.
What I loved about the main street here was just how chilled out it all was. Being a guy who works in London, heading to a city that not only has a lot of space to it, but isn’t so overwhelmingly busy that even the thought of shopping brings you out in a sweat was great!
I loved everything here from the building architecture to the tree lined roads offering a much softer feel the road. The choice of shops here was incredible too with all of the usual brands and chains present but also a number of premium brands thrown in too. A shoppers paradise!
If you’re curious as to what’s available here, take a look at the street view scene below and navigate around the road.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
With the shopping experience finished I ended my trip to Georgetown by walking down to the Georgetown Waterfront Park where there are cafes, bars and if a hot day like my visit, an open fountain and if you are feeling brave enough, you can run through it – it’s not just for the kids, right!?
The walk around the Waterfront Park was a great way to finish the day as it was then around a half hour walk to the Lincoln Memorial where I continued my exploration of the city.
Georgetown was such a great experience because it offered something completely different to the rest of Washington D.C. which was very grey and corporate. The relaxed nature of the neighbourhood, its history and modern shopping made for a really enjoyable couple of hours and I would happily go back to see more. With any flying visit you can only really fit in so many things but based on the things I saw and places I experienced I certainly felt like I got a good experience of the overall vibe of what Georgetown has to offer. Being so close to the centre of Washington D.C. I would absolutely advise that you head out here to take a look for yourself and hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience as much as I did!
Are you heading to Washington D.C. this year? We’d love to hear your plans, let us know in the comments below!