Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C. Travel Guide
Georgetown and Foggy Bottom Summary
- Some of the city's best shopping along Georgetown's M and Wisconsin Streets
- Georgetown's cobblestone side streets, filled with charm and historical significance
- Tons of bars and restaurants in Georgetown (but not in Foggy Bottom)
- Close to the jogging trails in Rock Creek Park, the towpath along the C&O Canal, and the path along the Potomac River
- Georgetown is relatively far from prime tourist attractions in and around the National Mall.
- Metro system doesn't stop in Georgetown; nearest stop is GWU/Foggy Bottom, which can be a 10- to 20-minute walk from Georgetown.
- Few restaurants and little nightlife in Foggy Bottom
- Maddening and expensive parking, especially in Georgetown
What It's Like
Located along the southern and western edges of D.C. are the adjacent neighborhoods of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. Both have elite universities and are located along the Potomac River, but otherwise have distinct atmospheres and identities.
With its cobblestone streets, two- and three-story brightly colored brick rowhouses, and historic, treelined C&O Canal, Georgetown is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas in the city -- and has a history as rich as that of the Old Stone House on M Street, built in 1765, the oldest structure in the city. Once a shipping hub along the Potomac and C&O Canal, the area has since traded shipping for shopping and epicurean appeal. Come the weekend, sidewalks are jammed with people ducking into stores like Barney's Co-Op, Anthropologie, and Dean & Deluca, which line M and Wisconsin, the two main drags through Georgetown.
Some of the Hill's most famous power players have called Georgetown home for two centuries: Former residents include Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, J.F.K., and Jackie O. Current residents include Madeline Albright and John Kerry -- and 15,000 students from the heralded Georgetown University, known for churning out basketball players, presidents (Bill Clinton), Supreme Court justices (Scalia and former chief justice Edward Douglass White), and heads of State (current president of the Philippines and the prime minister of Lebanon), among others. Other highlights of the area include the 2,000 acre Rock Creek Park, a great place for a long, meandering run (as is true along the sandy C&O Canal towpath), the 75-step staircase known as the Exorcist Steps, Dumbarton Oaks museum and research library, and fishing farther upriver in Fletcher's Cove.
Somewhat isolated geographically from the rest of the city, Georgetown isn't connected via the Metro subway system, only taxi, buses, or the convenient DC Circulator, which means a 10- to 20-minute walk to the GWU/Foggy Bottom stop, depending on where you're located.
Even though it is geographically closer to D.C.'s primary tourist attractions and the real business of government, Foggy Bottom is decidedly sleepier than Georgetown. The main campus of George Washington University is in Foggy Bottom, as well as a number of monolithic government headquarters like the State Department, American Red Cross, and cultural icons like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Watergate complex, site of the famous burglaries that led to Nixon's resignation. On the border of Foggy Bottom and the White House is the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the World Bank. It offers little in the way of restaurants, cafes, or nightlife. It does have its fare share of hotel options, but leisure travelers will generally spend their touring time outside of the neighborhood.
Where To Stay
Two of the city's most expensive hotels -- the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton -- are located in Georgetown. Sleepier Foggy Bottom has a smattering of lower priced options like the Renaissance M Street, and the River Inn, which are more suitable for families, George Washington University parents, and government folks who need to be near the State Department and other offices in the area.