I met Heather Daniels when we both lived in Charlotte, North Carolina in our twenties. We became quick friends and stayed in touch after we moved away from the Carolinas (Heather and Joel to Knoxville, Graham and me to California). Since then, the Daniels family has lived in Boston and now the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (We’ve taken advantage of these cool cities and visited them in both places). One thing I admire about Heather is how quickly she acclimates to change. This girl blooms where she’s planted and is teaching her three children to do the same. Welcome to the blog, m’dear! I can’t wait to have you show us around your neighborhood.
by Heather Daniels
A little over two years ago, my husband was accepted into a Ph.D. program at Georgetown University. I assumed that we would live in the ‘burbs of either Virginia or Maryland while he got his degree, but to our great surprise, my husband was also offered a position with Campus Ministry as a Chaplain-in-Residence. We soon moved our two children (and one on the way) to a college dorm apartment. Yes, we are a family of five and live on a university campus!
I realize how crazy this may sound—we honestly question our sanity every week as we wash 8 loads of laundry in a laundry room that we share with over 400 students—but living on campus was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in Washington, D.C. and is only a few miles from the downtown area. I am still discovering hidden gems of architecture and history every day!
Georgetown University was built on a hilltop overlooking the Potomac River and is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the country. Founded in 1792 with roughly 40 students, Georgetown is now home to over 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students. All visitors are required to take a selfie in front of Healy Hall that is lauded as the most beautiful and historic building on campus.
The front of campus opens into the neighborhood on O Street where the quaint brick sidewalks invite you to explore and observe markers of this town’s history, offering a glimpse into the lives and stories of those who once called Georgetown home. The streets in Georgetown have a certain charm and appeal with lovely brick row houses, colorful doors, cobblestone streets, and vintage gas lanterns. Plaques and markers share a story and ignite curiosity.
As you continue through the neighborhood, you will find many quaint coffee shops; Saxby’s, Patisserie Poupon, Via Umbria, and Blue Bottle are among my favorites. If you have children in tow, you will want to consider the coffee shop with the best treats and closest proximity to activities. Many people have heard of a certain cupcake shop in Georgetown that always has a line out the door and up the sidewalk, but you won’t find locals there. Instead we have all lined up at Baked and Wired where you can enjoy great coffee, local yogurt, gluten-free pop tarts, and delectable cupcakes and pastries. I took our boys there last weekend for an early morning treat: pumpkin donut muffins and iced mint and nectarine tea—we were not the only ones with this idea!
After you order your caffeine and treat of choice, feel free to just sit and enjoy, but our routine is to walk down to the Georgetown Waterfront Park. For those visiting without small children, there are several excellent restaurants with outdoor seating overlooking the Potomac (our favorite is Farmers, Fishers, Bakers). You can also explore the waterfront through kayaking, paddle boarding, or a river cruise, but we can usually be found running through the fountains or feeding the ducks. We actually had our daughter’s birthday party there this summer!
Once you have enjoyed the waterfront and cooled off in the fountains, you absolutely must head up to M Street for some shopping and perhaps more coffee (is it bad that my two-year-old knows how to say coffee?). Anthropologie, Banana Republic, J. Crew, H&M, TJ Maxx and many, many more are all on the same heavenly street! The city actually blockades parking lanes on either side of M Street on the weekends to make more room for tourists and pedestrians. There are countless restaurants and shops that make for a fun evening out.
If you are like me, I absolutely love city living, but I also thrive on enjoying the beauty of nature. Georgetown actually has several lush green spaces including Dumbarton House and Dumbarton Oaks Library and Garden, Tudor Place, and Georgetown Waterfront Park (mentioned above). Located on the edge of Georgetown, Rose Park is one of my favorite outdoor spots and hosts a lovely farmers market every Wednesday afternoon from May through October. The fresh produce, bread, pastries, and wood-fired pizza attract families for an easy weeknight dinner among friends.
Like any good day of walking, one must end the journey with another treat (I am pretty sure we’ve earned it. Georgetown is built on a hill after all.). Located on the corner of Wisconsin and P Street, Thomas Sweet is a neighborhood favorite for delicious ice cream, homemade fudge, and ice cream sandwiches. My go-to flavor is Coffee Oreo, but I can’t resist trying the seasonal flavors. This fall’s Pumpkin does not disappoint!
Next time you visit our nation’s capital, I hope you’ll make a day trip to Georgetown. I promise that walking these charming streets will connect you to our country’s history and this vibrant neighborhood.