“George Town” was founded in 1751 by Irish and Scottish immigrants who named the place after the king of England. Located on the Potomac River, George Town swiftly grew into a key tobacco shipping port.
Though most people today equate the neighborhood with wealth, fashion boutiques, and nightlife, Georgetown’s historic roots are here to explore, as well. The city’s oldest structure, the Old Stone House, is located on very busy M St. NW. Dating from the 1760s, the house was originally a woodworker’s home; today the National Park Service maintains it and conducts public tours.
Wander the backstreets of Georgetown and you’ll see charming, early 19th century brick townhouses, like those on N St., between 33rd and 34th, and stunning 18th century mansions that once belonged to prosperous merchants, like several on Prospect St. The country’s oldest Catholic university is here, Georgetown, founded in 1798, and old churches and historic house museums, like Tudor Place and Dumbarton Oaks proliferate.
Intersecting main streets, M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, are ever aswarm with fadmongers and their followers, popping in and out of high-end designer shops, chains and one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques. Some in the crowd are likely to be Georgetown U students, headed to The Tombs and other off-campus pubs. Local 20- and 30-somethings favor Georgetown’s chichi lounges, like the rooftop Observatory at the Graham Hotel, and its many restaurants.
1789 is a splendidly genteel restaurant, and the riverfront Fiola Mare serves fine Italian seafood along with a killer view of the Potomac. In fact, Georgetown increasingly is known for its waterfront and outdoor attractions: You can ice skate in winter or board a sightseeing boat in finer weather at the relatively new Washington Harbour development, where Fiola Mare resides; rent a kayak or canoe to paddle your own way on the river; and hike the towpath that parallels the nearly two century old C&O Canal.