Think Georgetown and you probably think prime hangout for American University, George Washington University, and, of course, Georgetown University students. Countless bars and restaurants are to thank for this steady influx of youngsters that keep the area lively and engaging. Yet, that is not all there is to Georgetown, a neighborhood that has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark since 1967.
Before Washington even became a thing, 1751 Georgetown was already housing lumber yards, cement works and flower mills. Like many other historic neighborhoods, Georgetown is a conglomerate of cobblestone streets and 18th and 19th century architecture. The Old Stone House and the City Tavern Club are two of the olden-day buildings that are still standing tall.
Dumbarton House, a preserved, fully-furnished Federal period house is one of Georgetown’s many notable architectural pieces. Tudor Place is another important landmark housing the famous Mt. Vernon collection, as well as a public garden spread across five acres. For extra points, the home was built by Martha Custis Peter, a.k.a., Martha Washington’s granddaughter.
The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, also built in the Federal style, used to be John C. Calhoun’s home. This is the same home where the United Nations charter came to be in 1944. You know what else is here? Washington’s famous cherry blossom trees!
The neighborhood has enjoyed an extensive cohort of famous residents, including Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy. In fact, there’s even a self-guided Kennedy walking tour you can take. And if walking is your thing, there’s also an African-American Heritage Trail you can venture out on. A major stop to look out for is Herring Hill, known for housing migrating African-American families after the Civil War.
And let’s not forget showbiz. You can visit the iconic “Exorcist” stairs, as well as the bar and restaurant from “St. Elmo’s Fire” during your self-guided film sites tour. There’s also the Blues Alley, the oldest still-functioning jazz supper club in the U.S. The club’s doors have received icons like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Tony Bennett. They can also receive you.
If you were planning a vacation any time soon, Georgetown might be just the place.