Skip to Content

15 BEST Things to do in Georgetown, Washington, DC

15 BEST Things to do in Georgetown, Washington, DC

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

Some say you can’t visit Washington, DC, without going on a sightseeing tour to see the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. But we think you can’t visit the capital of the United States without experiencing Georgetown. Located in northwest DC on the picturesque Potomac River, it’s our favorite place in the city.

Washington, DC’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown, is named after England’s King George II. Its history is visible in the beautiful Federal-style architecture and cobblestone streets. These streets are now home to upscale restaurants, fashion boutiques, and lively college bars. 

There’s so much to experience here, which you’ll soon realize as you read this list of the 15 best things to do in Georgetown. Choose between fun activities like a DC river cruise, a food tour, walking along the canals, and visiting historic attractions.

We were really impressed with just how much there is to do, and it’s hard to be bored in a place as charming as Georgetown. So, keep reading to fill your Washington, DC itinerary, and have an awesome time here!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite things to do in Georgetown, Washington, DC, include:

  1. See DC’s landmarks from the water on a tour with Capitol River Cruises.
  2. Sample James Beard-nominated tarts, award-winning pizza, and mind-blowing creme brulee on this food and history tour.
  3. Enjoy macarons and other treats during the high-tea experience at Ladurée.
  4. Visit the Old Stone House, the oldest building in Washington, DC, that’s still on its original foundation.
  5. Learn more about the neighborhood on this History of Black Georgetown tour.

Things to do in Georgetown, Washington, DC

1. Go on a river cruise

On a Capitol River Cruise in Washington Dc that leaves from Georgetown
Such a beautiful way to see the sights!
Baileu poses for a photo on a Capital River Cruise in Washington DC
I had a great time!

Georgetown is located at the junction of the Potomac River and Rock Creek. So take advantage of its waterfront location and enjoy a cruise with Capitol River Cruises. They have several sightseeing cruises available, depending on the time of year you go. Every tour runs for 45 minutes (with historical narration) and departs from Georgetown’s Washington Harbor.

The main Georgetown cruise is the Sightseeing Cruise which lets you experience so many of the city’s highlights in one go. Sit back, relax, and see sights from the comfortable and covered outdoor seats. Those sights include Roosevelt Island, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, and the Jefferson Memorial. It’s super easy to fit into your schedule since they have multiple departures daily between 12 pm and 6 pm.

The Sunset Sightseeing Cruise is the same, just at sunset. But let me just say the sunsets over the Potomac River are something else. If you’d prefer to see these landmarks lit up at night, join the DC Monuments by Moonlight Cruise. It leaves as soon as it gets dark, either 7 pm or 8 pm, depending on the time of year.

The final option is the Cherry Blossom Cruise, which I highly recommend if you’re visiting in the springtime. Beautiful blush-pink cherry blossom trees line the Potomac River, so you can see them along with the listed sights. Tours depart every hour on the hour from 12 pm to 6 pm. DC’s peak cherry blossom season is from the end of March to the middle of April, so this is the ideal time to go!

The cruise company does operate some special cruises as well. They have a Margaritas and Monuments cruise which sounds like a whole lot of fun! Who wouldn’t want to sip on tasty margs while taking in the sights? And if you visit on the Fourth of July, you can watch the fireworks from the water too.

Lincoln Memorial as seen from a cruise from Georgetown Washington DC
Lincoln Memorial as seen from a cruise from Georgetown, Washington, DC

A Washington, DC, sightseeing cruise is a great idea if you only have a short time in Georgetown. You can see many of the city’s historic landmarks in less than an hour. But honestly, my favorite part of our cruise was the running narration and learning about each place we saw.

Sightseeing cruises cost between $25-$30 USD and there are refreshments and snacks available for purchase on board. However, please note that Capital River Cruises closes between November and mid-March since it gets a bit too chilly! The sunset cruises also only run from mid-April to October and the Moonlight Cruise runs from mid-August to mid-October. You can learn more about each cruise and book directly through Capital River Cruise’s website.

2. Eat your way around on a food tour

Daniel enjoys a slice of pizza on a food tour in Georgetown Washington DC
Yum!
Bailey with a pizza in Georgetown Washington DC on a food tour
I was hungry!

Learn about Georgetown’s rich history while sampling its best food on this food and history tour. A local guide takes you on a walking tour of Georgetown as you sample dishes at 4 different eateries. Along the way, your guide will share stories about how the once-famous port city became the Georgetown we know today with a thriving culinary scene.

After meeting up with your guide, you’ll enjoy James Beard-nominated tarts, award-winning pizza, and mind-blowing creme brulee. I still think about all the food we tried on this tour! I love that our local guide also gave us insider tips. It made our stay in Georgetown that much better.

Running from Thursday to Sunday, this 3-hour tour starts at 1 pm and costs $129 USD per person. There’s a minimum of 2 people per booking (sorry, solo travelers), but there’s also a maximum of 8 on the entire tour, so it’s a personalized small-group experience. The price includes a professional guide and all tastings. If you’re getting hungry just thinking about it, reserve your spot on this food tour here!

Related Read: While you’re on the East Coast, go ahead and check out our favorite things to do in NYC.

3. Try a Mason’s Lobster Roll

Bailey with a lobster roll at Mason’s Lobster Roll in Georgetown DC
This is a must for seafood lovers!
A close up of a Mason’s Lobster Roll in Georgetown, Washington DC
How good does that look?

Speaking of mind-blowing food experiences in Georgetown, you can’t leave without trying a lobster roll from Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls. Yep, it says it all in the name! The founder, Dan Beck, opened the first restaurant in 2014, and the place exploded. Now, you can enjoy the famous lobster rolls everywhere from Georgetown to Seattle.

Beck insists his lobster rolls are as authentic as possible. So you can expect no bells and whistles, just lemon, butter, mayo, and lobster straight from Maine’s coast. As he says, there’s “Nothing extra to distract you. Just enough to seduce you.” You can’t go wrong with the Classic Lobster Roll, served chilled with mayo and lemon butter. 

You can also get New England Clam Chowder, Lobster Bisque, Lobster Grilled Cheese, and Lobster Mac and Cheese for something different. That last dish is as life-changing as it sounds. Pair it with Organic Maine Root Soda, and you’ll be transported straight to New England.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls in Georgetown is open daily from 11 am and is located right on Wisconsin Ave.

4. Go on a walking tour

Bailey looks at the canals in Georgetown Washington DC
Georgetown’s history is so interesting!

If you only have a couple of hours to see the best of Georgetown, I recommend this Historic Georgetown Walking Tour. You’ll see the neighborhood’s most prominent landmarks as your guide shares insightful information about its history, architecture, and transformation over the centuries.

The tour begins at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) Historical Park. Your guide will tell you more about canal boats as you see a lock (gate) in action, helping boats travel along the canal.

Then, you walk toward Old Stone House. Built in 1766, it’s Washington, DC’s oldest building. (We’ll discuss this landmark more below). Martin’s Tavern is another Georgetown institution and your next stop. Locally owned since 1933, it has a moody, nostalgic vibe with dark wood panels and black and white photos on the wall.

The tour ends at the prestigious Georgetown University founded in 1789. Here, you spend time seeing the towering Healy Hall spires and the statue of founder John Carrol. 

The tour moved at a really good pace, and we had enough time at each spot to take photos. Our guide was excellent and answered all our questions before we said goodbye. She also passed on helpful suggestions for what to do close by afterward. 

This 2-hour tour costs $65 USD per person, and there’s a minimum of 2 people per booking. During the off-season, there aren’t as many tours, but from March to November, there are tours offered daily. It often sells out, so I recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.

5. Enjoy a high tea at Ladurée

A selection of macarons at Ladurée in Georgetown Washington DC
So many macarons!
Bailey tastes a macaron from Ladurée in Georgetown Washington DC
Some of the best I have had!

You may have already heard of Ladurée, as they make some of the best macarons in Paris. Well, they’ve branched out, and you can now sample these delicious delicacies in Georgetown. The shop is located across the road from Old Stone House, meaning you can easily stop there while sightseeing in DC.

If you’re short on time, select different flavored macarons to enjoy on the go beside the nearby C&O Canal. But if you have time, the shop has a cozy cafe section featuring sparkling chandeliers. Here, you can enjoy breakfast, pastries for morning tea, or savory croissants for lunch. I always love coming here because it feels like a little slice of Paris right in DC.

The Teatime Menu is their signature high-tea experience. You can choose tea for 1 person, 2 people, or kids. All packages include a selection of macarons, marshmallows, pastries, and finger sandwiches. Enjoy your treats with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and get a gift box of more macarons to take with you. Note that the gift box is not included with the kids’ option. 

Trying out the high tea is such a fun experience to enjoy in Georgetown. But anytime you visit is a complete delight and Laduree is open from 10 am to 7:30 pm daily. I recommend making a reservation in summer, as it gets busy.

6. Listen to live music

A band plays live music in Georgetown Washington DC
The live music outside Baked and Wired!

Georgetown is known for its live music venues. Founded in 1965, Blues Alley Club is America’s oldest jazz supper club. One of the city’s most popular live music lounges, it’s the place to go for live jazz and blues in an intimate space. It’s open from 6 pm – 11 pm and is located on the aptly named Blues Alley.

Another option for live music is Georgetown Piano Bar, which is conveniently located just a few blocks from Blues Alley. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 5 pm, it hosts live piano music every night. But the dueling performances (two pianists performing together) on Friday and Saturday after 9 pm are something to behold and definitely my preferred time to visit!

Established in 1965, Mr Smith’s of Georgetown is home to the Karaoke Piano Bar. Every Friday and Saturday from 9 pm, anyone can make a song request, take the microphone, and become the next Georgetown Idol. It’s closer to the river but still within walking distance from the other two jazz clubs. You could easily hop from one to the other and make a whole jazz club night out of it!

If you want to listen to live music on the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, head to Baked and Wired (see #8 below). The best buskers congregate in this area.

7. Walk or float along the canals

A Georgetown Boat tour travels down the canals in Washington DC

Visiting C&O Canal is one of the top things to do in Georgetown. Opened in 1850, the canal runs nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) into Maryland but begins here. 

The C&O Canal was designated a National Historical Park in 1971 and is one of the most impressive examples of the nation’s canal-building era still standing. The historic attraction is now a peaceful urban oasis popular with locals. 

A cycling and walking path runs alongside the C&O Canal, passing several heritage homes. There’s also plenty of space under shaded trees for locals to take lunch breaks. I think the combination of shade and waterfront makes it one of the best things to do in Washington, DC in summer.

Another way to experience the C&O Canal is via a one-hour guided historical boat tour with Georgetown Heritage. The tour operates from 10 am to 4 pm, Wednesday to Sunday, from May to October.

You’ll learn about the canal’s history, technology, and culture as you cruise along its tranquil water. Your guide will also share stories about the people who have lived and worked along the canal.

8. Try a cupcake from Baked and Wired

Selection of cupcakes from Baked and Wired in Georgetown Washington DC
The famous cupcakes!
A close up of a cupcake from Baked and Wired in Georgetown Washington DC
How good does that look?

If you prefer cupcakes to macarons, I’ve got you! Baked and Wired is one of Washington, DC’s most famous bakeries. Established in 2001, this hole-in-the-wall family bakery makes all its baked goods in small batches using the finest ingredients and family recipes. So you know every bite is going to be top quality.

You can choose from bars, cakecups (like cupcakes but better), their signature homemade granola, and cookies. I personally fell in love with the Red Velvet cakecup you see above!

The OMG bar is worthy of its name because it pairs a graham cracker crust with homemade caramel, marshmallow, and a bittersweet chocolate glaze. OMG, right? But if you like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as much as I do, you must try their cakecup that has chocolate cake with a crunchy peanut butter frosting. No cupcake will compare!

Pair your baked treat with handcrafted coffee from some of the top roasters nationwide. Baked and Wired is located by the canal and is open from 8 am daily. But you can also visit their website to order online in advance.

9. Visit the Old Stone House

Georgetown Old Stone House in Washington DC
Can you believe it’s that old?
Window at the Old Stone House in Georgetown Washington DC
Historic and photogenic!

Built in 1766, the Old Stone House is the oldest building in Washington, DC, that is still on its original foundation. It’s taken on many roles over the centuries, but the building was a car dealership until 1953 when the federal government purchased the property for historic preservation. It’s a rare example of pre-Revolutionary architecture that’s actually open to Georgetown visitors.

You can visit the Old Stone House for free from 11 am to 7 pm daily. The home’s front room is a store today, and it’s been some type of retail space since the 1800s. Staff are on hand for purchases and to answer questions about the historic property.

Visitors can also check out exhibits in the house’s former kitchen. One exhibit shares a timeline of events, one displays the house’s history, and another one shares who has previously lived in and owned the house. 

Those are the only two spaces currently open to visitors, but the grounds are also open from sunrise to sunset. There’s a landscaped garden where anyone is welcome to sit, and I love coming here when I need to rest my legs while sightseeing. Since it’s one of the best free things to do in DC, there’s really no reason to miss out on this Georgetown landmark.

10. Take a history tour

Historic canal in Georgetown Washington DC
Historic canal in Georgetown, Washington, DC

See a different side of the neighborhood on this History of Black Georgetown tour. Before Georgetown became the affluent area it is today, it was a bustling port focusing on tobacco exportation. As such, the history is super fascinating, and a tour is the best way to learn all about it!

Your guide on this walking tour will tell you about Georgetown’s black history and how the area was once an active slave trade site. They’ll also share stories about former black residents who shaped the neighborhood.

A few of the notable stops on the tour include Healy Hall (named after Georgetown University’s only black president) and Mount Zion United Methodist Church, which is one of Georgetown’s oldest black congregations. I also enjoyed walking through Rose Park, where Georgetown’s black community has hosted several political rallies and gatherings.

This 2 to 2.5-hour tour starts at 2 pm and costs $30 USD per person. However, it only occurs once a month. So, you should definitely make a booking now to make sure you get a spot.

Related Read: Philadelphia is another U.S. city that’s full of history. We have an entire guide to the best things to do in Philadelphia including the top tours!

11. See The Exorcist Steps

The Exorcist Steps in Georgetown, Washington, DC
The Exorcist Steps in Georgetown, Washington, DC

Snug between Prospect St NW and Canal Road NW, you’ll find what locals used to call the M Street Steps. Today, they’re known as The Exorcist Steps, thanks to the infamous 1973 film. 

The movie’s major climatic event between the self-sacrificing Catholic priest and the demon possessing a 12-year-old girl happened on this steep set of stairs. Even if you haven’t seen the film, The Exorcist Steps are naturally spooky, as they’re narrow, dark, and surrounded by ivy-covered walls.

The iconic film is actually a big part of Georgetown’s history, as many scenes were also filmed around Georgetown University. Give it a watch before your visit (if you dare).

12. Take a break at Crumbs & Whiskers Cat Cafe

A cat from Crumbs & Whiskers Cat Cafe in Georgetown Washington DC
I am mildly allergic, but the cats are just too cute not to go!

Can you tell I have a thing for baked goods? I’d apologize, but I know you’ll thank me for sharing all these spectacular Georgetown treats.

Crumbs and Whiskers is Washington, DC’s first cat cafe. It’s a special place housing 25 adoptable cats rescued from the risk of euthanasia. Most of the cats are between 6 months and 2 years old. 

The space is an Instagrammer’s dream, with fluffy seating on both the floor and tables so you can comfortably cuddle the cat that steals your heart. Enjoy your cuddles with a coffee and a freshly baked pastry.

Visit the Crumbs and Whiskers website to book your spot. You can choose between 30 and 70-minute bookings ($25-$45 USD), and each ticket goes towards caring for the cats.

It’s open every day but Tuesday from the late morning to about 8 pm. The staff recommends visiting at the beginning of the day if you want to have fun with playful kittens. If you prefer to cuddle, book a slot in the middle of the day.

13. Dumbarton Oaks Museum

Dumbarton Oaks Museum outside
Another historic place!
Dumbarton Oaks Museum inside display
The displays are impressive!

Dumbarton Oaks Museum is known for its specialized and world-class Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art collections. 

The Byzantine collection includes vessels used to celebrate the Eucharist, late Roman jewelry, illuminated manuscripts, textiles, and Byzantine art. Meanwhile, the Pre-Columbian gallery includes over 700 objects like stone sculptures, ceramics, and textiles. The museum is free to visit and open 11:30 am to 5:30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday.

Just as important as the museum itself is the garden. Renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand designed the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens to be an urban oasis. It includes 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of terraced gardens, orchards, wooden pathways, meadows, and kitchen gardens.

You can explore the garden on a free 30-minute guided tour. The tour starts at 2:10 pm year-round (except August) from Wednesday to Saturday. Your guide will show you select areas while sharing insight into the garden’s history, design, and development. The tours are limited to 10 people and operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Gardens are open from 2-5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free in winter (November 1 to March 14), but daily tickets cost $7 USD during the rest of the year (March 15 to October 31).

14. Georgetown Park

Georgetown Park is not the kind of park you might expect. It’s a collection of premier retailers inside historic brick buildings along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, Georgetown’s two main streets parallel to the C&O Canal.

The five main shops calling Georgetown Park home are Anthropologie, H&M, J. Crew, Vuori, and TJ Maxx. I loved that so many of my favorites were in one handy spot. And if you’re in search of uber-soft, cozy joggers, I can personally vouch for Vuori’s! I love wearing mine on long flights.

You’ll also find places to grab a bite, like Olivia Macaron and Pinstripes, an Italian-American restaurant with bowling and bocce. Here, you can enjoy an Italian salami sub before a game of bocce.

15. Visit Washington Harbour

Bailey at Washington Harbor in Georgetown DC
Bailey at Washington Harbor in Georgetown, DC

I might’ve saved the best for last because I loved Washington Harbour. Here, you’ll find luxury condos, office spaces, retailers, restaurants, and underground parking. It’s also where Capitol River Cruises depart.

It’s located directly on the Potomac River with walking and biking trails connecting it to Georgetown Park next door. Arthur Cotton Moore designed the complex, which opened in 1986, in the postmodern architectural style. It includes two covered towers with three attached buildings. 

If you’re looking to grab a bite to eat here, my top picks are Fiola Mare, which pairs fine Italian coastal cuisine with scenic waterfront views, and Guapo’s Restaurant, which serves classic Tex-Mex dishes.

But Washington Harbour’s crowning glory might just be its seasonal outdoor ice rink. Each year the fountain transforms into a 12,000-square-foot (93-square-meter) rink. That’s even larger than the rink at Rockefeller Center. DC’s largest outdoor rink is open from mid-November to the end of February.

The rink looks even more magical at night as decorations and twinkling lights surround it. Skate rentals and lessons are available, and you can skate in 90-minute increments. It costs about $11 USD for adults, and the skate rental is $7 USD.

Where to Stay in Washington, DC

the pool at Pendry hotel in Washington DC
The pool at the Pendry is so nice! Photo Credit: Pendry Washington DC

Now that you’ve learned all about Georgetown, you’ll probably need a place to stay in Washington, DC! This city has loads of options. To help you narrow it down, we’ve highlighted our top choices. We’ve included everything from budget hostels to luxurious hotels, so you’re bound to find something you like!

Pendry Washington DC – $$$

For the ultimate luxury and convenience, opt for the Pendry Washington DC. This 5-star hotel has free bikes, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, a fitness center, a rooftop bar, and a large terrace overlooking the wharf. It’s a 15-minute drive up the river to Georgetown. The rooms are spacious, modern, and super comfortable.

There’s a wide range of room options, ranging from $260 USD to over $1,000 USD, depending on what you choose. However, you’ll find the best deals when you book your stay in advance.

Hotel Madera – $$

Hotel Madera is a great mid-range accommodation in the heart of DC. You can have a taste of American comfort food and cocktails at their on-site restaurant – or grab a complimentary glass of wine at the bar. It’s also located close to many bars and restaurants, and just a 5-minute drive or 20-minute walk to Georgetown.

Rooms are quite large and well-equipped, and some come with balconies to view the city. Prices start at $170 USD which is a great value for what you get! Snag this deal by booking online here.

Duo Nomad – $

Duo Nomad is our top choice for budget accommodations in DC. It’s a clean place with complimentary breakfast, a garden, a terrace, and a shared lounge to meet other travelers or relax after a day of sightseeing. It’s located just off Capital Hill and it’s a 20-minute drive to Georgetown.

Prices run from $39-$59 USD for a bed in a shared dorm. However, if you’re two people traveling, get a 2-bed shared dorm, and voila – it’s your own private accommodation! If you’re on a budget, reserve a bed at Duo Nomad on Booking.com or through Hostelworld.com.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel takes a selfie in Georgetown Washington DC
Thanks for reading!

It should come as no surprise that there are lots of historical sites in Georgetown, Washington, DC, but we absolutely love the neighborhood’s charm and its culinary scene as well. Don’t visit Washington, DC for a few days without spending some time in this picturesque area.

If you’re traveling to more United States cities, be sure to check out our other USA blogs. Or you can check out some of our popular blogs below.

The 10 BEST Washington, DC History Tours for First-Time Visitors

25 BEST Things to do in New York City when it Rains

The 3 BEST Niagara Falls Tours from New York City