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Georgetown History, Shopping and Culture

The Harbour, M Street, Georgetown University and JFK's former home
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.8 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview:  From a history lesson to plenty of shopping, this walking tour of Georgetown has a little something for everyone. Start at Washington ... more »

Tips:  What to wear: Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of sun screen, as the sun can be particularly harsh here in the... more »

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Points of Interest

Start your tour of Georgetown at the Washington Harbour, where you can watch boats go by on the Potomac River as you take in views of surrounding landmarks such as the Kennedy Center (to the left if you're looking at the water), Roosevelt Island (straight ahead) and the Key Bridge (to the right). Along the public boardwalk are a handful of... More

Two blocks away from Washington Harbour is the towpath for the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, once the city's primary shipping route during the 19th century. At the time, Georgetown flourished as a tobacco port; a 185-mile canal with 74 locks led from the Potomac River to western Maryland. If you'd like to do more, from this point you can either... More

Built in 1765, the Old Stone House is the oldest standing building in Washington, D.C. Constructed out of locally quarried blue granite and a surviving example of pre-Revolutionary American vernacular architecture, the house was used dually as a residence and shop until the U.S. government purchased it in 1953.

Today the modest building is about ... More

4. Riggs Bank Building

As you make your way through the high-end shopping and dining strip that is M Street, it would be hard not to notice this imposing gold-domed building. This is the former Riggs Bank Building, which is now a PNC Bank.

If you'd like to make a small detour and head up steep Wisconsin Avenue, there are several more shops and restaurants that way. You... More

5. MacNeil House and 'Exorcist' Stairs

Now that we've learned some of the history of Georgetown and gotten some shopping done, it's time for some pop culture fun. The flight of stairs that appears in William Friedkin's 1973 horror film "The Exorcist" is not far away. The stop is so popular that it actually appears as a landmark on some GPS units.

The MacNeil House (3600... More

The main gate of Georgetown University, a prestigious institution that has been around since 1789, is the next stop on our tour. The "Healy Gates," named for a former school president, mark the entrance to the 104-acre campus with 54 buildings if you'd like to take a detour and explore.
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37th and O Streets, NW

7. Cox's Row

Next, turn left onto N Street where you will find Cox's Row, a group of five Federal-style town houses between 33rd and 34th streets. Built by future Georgetown Mayor John Cox in 1817, the homes are unique because they are set back from the street, creating "door yards" and leaving little space for rear gardens.
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3327-39 N St., NW

8. JFK's Former Home

The final stop on our tour is the home where John F. Kennedy and Jackie Onassis lived as senator and wife from 1958 to 1960. JFK bought the home as a gift to Jackie after she gave birth to their daughter, Caroline, in 1957. The family lived here when JFK started his campaign for president and stayed in the home until he was elected president and... More