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Georgetown Cupcakes are just one of the many amazing desserts in this historic neighborhood. There are macarons, ice cream, homemade fudge, and a collection of sweets for you to try. Take our self guided tour through this historic neighborhood to learn more about the stories of famous soirees, dinner parties, and history of these tasty shops.
You cannot talk about food in Georgetown without mentioning one of its more well known foodies, Julia Child. Her house is not near anything else however so its not included on this tour route, but you’ll find details and stop at the end of the tour. It is on the east end of Georgetown so on the way to or from Foggy Bottom Metro Station if you’re walking from there.
To start the tour, we recommend beginning at Baked & Wired. This is very much not “saving the best for last” as Baked & Wired is nearly every locals favourite spot. Its not longer a secret, even though there is not a TV show about it, so expect to wait in line – but its worth it, promise!
A. Baked & Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
Baked & Wired has been here since 2004, so it is one of the original dessert locations in Georgetown before the “cupcake craze” hit Washington DC. The store was opened and is run by the Velazquez – fueled by mom’s love of baking, dad’s love of coffee and the kids behind the counter. It is now much more than a family run bakery but it still has that family feel to the establishment.
In an 8 week hunt to find best cupcake in the city, Post named it one of the best. I’m quite partial to their “OMG” which are very aptly named. If you like S’mores, try these! The Elvis Impersonator Cakecup made the Thrillist Bucket List of things to eat in DC. Their desserts are all delicious so you cannot go wrong but don’t fill up here as we still have a lot more to go!
One of the best photo spots for your visit to Georgetown is here along the Canal. An old canal boat is permanently docked here with the small colorful canal houses along the waterfront. From Baked & Wired cross over the canal and turn left (west) to walk along the canal keeping the old canal boat to your left.
Find a place to stop along the towpath for our next stop. We’ll be turn left at the next intersection on 31st Street NW.
B. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath
The C&O Canal was an effort to continue bringing industry to the Towne of George. Once the Potomac River silted up and ships were no longer able to easily traverse, Georgetown risked losing its status as a port city.
The groundbreaking on July 4, 1828 happened on a hot and humid day without the desired fanfare. President John Q. Adams had been toasted, dined and escorted up the Potomac River only to hit rocks when he first tried to break ground. It took a couple of tries and throwing off his jacket in order to be successful but this was a sign of the difficulties that lay ahead. It would not be completed until 1850.
It was meant to run from Georgetown all the way to Ohio, but made it as far as Cumberland, Maryland. The C&O Canal was a site of contention during the Civil War where both sides blocked the waterway, burnt the ships, and claimed it as their own. The battle lines crossed back and forth over the canal through the war.
Today the C&O Canal is 184 miles with 74 locks as you head west to allow canals to travel in both directions. Up until the late 2000s, mule driven canal boats would take tourists up and down the canal.
When you get to the first road intersection of 31st NW take the crosswalk across the street but turn left to stay on the road instead of the canal towpath. You’ll get Water Alley on your right, if its not blocked this is a nice shortcut. If you’d rather not (though its perfectly safe), take your next right on South Street Northwest and then back right up 32st NW. On the corner of 32st St NW and Grace Street NW, you’ll see the next stop, Dog Tag Bakery.
C. Dog Tag Bakery
3206 Grace St NW
Open 8am-6pm. CLOSED MONDAYS
This is a great place for more savory snacks if you think you’ll be at risk of a sugar high at the end of the tour. There are tables and chairs if you want a sit down break along the way.
This new bakery on the block comes with a mission and a hashtag: #bakingadifference. Dog Tag, Inc gives veterans a work study program to help them get back to civilian life in coordination with Georgetown University. The six month program in business administration culminates in on the job training in small business operations here at Dog Tag Bakery where they manage, work with customers and in the kitchen.
This building still retains the industrial character of its original purpose. You’ll see an old tabulating machine in the corner. Georgetown industrial complex here along the waterfront was the home to Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. The headquarters was actually on 31st NW a few blocks away. The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company would later become the International Business Machines, or IBM.
There is also a dog tag chandelier made of 3456 dogtags honoring military veterans.
Exit Dog Tag Bakery heading toward your left. Grace Street will continue along old warehouse buildings until it dead ends at a little park along the waterfront. When you’re in the park with the canal to your back, notice the large white warehouse with the stars.
D. Bomford Flour Mill:
This is now an office building, as most of the warehouses have been turned into in this revitalized area. The building was built by George Bomford in 1832 as a flour mill. Not long after it was burned down. When he rebuilt it in 1840s, he made it a cotton mill because there was less competition in the cotton market. It had a water wheel, over 100 looms and 3000 spindles and employed over 100 men and women worked here until after the Civil War when cotton dried up. In 1866 it was bought and converted back to a flour mill. This was last remaining working mill until it closed in the 1960s. It was owned by Wilkens and Rogers from 1916 until they moved to Ellicot City in Maryland, where they still run a flour company. It is sold today as Washington Flour.
Cross over the canal on the wooden steps – work off those desserts from earlier stops! You’ll find Olivia Macaron shop facing the alley on your right.
E. Olivia Macaron:
3222 M St NW
The first question most people ask is … Wait! These aren’t Macaroons. You are right, they are not. Macaroons are a coconut dessert, these are Macarons (pronounced mac-a-ron) which are a french pastry made of almond flour and buttercream filling.
Named after one of the owners daughters and occassionaly you can see Olivia behind the counter. Ana Claudia had the business savvy and Michel, who studied in France, had the recipes and together they opened this dessert shop in 2013. You’ll notice that the storefront isn’t very large and in fact, the macarons are made in Fairfax and brought in each morning.
Its not only a delicious stop, it is very Instagram-able! Salted Caramel is one of the most popular flavors but there are so many to chose from. These hold well and are packaged nicely so if you don’t think you’ll be able to visit everything in, get these to go and save them for later.
F. Georgetown Market
3276 M Street NW
If you were visiting Washington in the 1800s you’d find proper markets throughout the city where farmers, bakers, butchers all sold their wares throughout the week. The Archives on Constitution Ave NW stands where Central Market used to be and the only market that remains standing as an independent market is Eastern Market (a must visit!) in SE DC.
A market has been at this location since 1790 but this building dates to 1865. The Georgetown Market still stands but today it is a Dean & Deluca – which is actually a violation of its lease. In 1996, Congress declared it an historic site with the requirement that it operates as a market. In someways, Dean & Deluca counts!
Cross over M St NW to walk north along Potomac Ave NW. You’ll see a storefront that says Georgetown Cupcakes with no line! Don’t get too excited – this is just where they keep their delivery orders. The actual storefront for the public is later on the tour. When you get to N St NW turn right and walk until the corner of Wisconsin Ave NW and N ST NW.
G. Martins Tavern
1264 Wisconsin Ave NW
Martin’s Tavern, sometimes just called Billy Martin’s to the neighborhood folks, opened in 1933 – the day after prohibition ended (so you know what he was doing during prohibition!). It was opened by Billy Martin and is still run by Billy Martin – just the fourth generation. It is the longest family run restaurant still in operation in DC.
The joke is – if you eat at Martin’s, you might be come president. Lyndon B. Johnson, the Trumans, Nixon liked the meatloaf. JFK used to eat there as a bachelor and later when he was dating Jackie. Martin’s will tell you that in Booth 3, JFK proposed to Jackie. (A hotel in Boston claims that and some people say he proposed over telegram) but they did at least celebrate at Martin’s!
Martin’s also holds the right to say that they’ve served every President since they’ve opened. Except Obama. Nothing political there, its just that secret service changed regulations since Obama became president and Martins doesn’t have the required number of exits.
From Martin’s Tavern, continue north up the hill of Wisconsin Ave NW. You’ll want to cross the street at some point and at the corner of P St NW and Wisconsin, look for the bright awning of Thomas Sweets.
H. Thomas Sweets
3214 P St NW
Thomas Sweets is known for a number of flavors of both their ice creams and homemade fudge. Started in 1979 in NJ, the local store opened in 1984 in Georgetown. When they opened, Thomas Sweets allowed guests to pick a flavor of ice cream and a topping to mix in. This might sound commonplace today but it was relatively unheard of in the 1980s.
If Obama hasn’t been to Martin’s, he has been here. The girls treated him to ice cream on Father’s Day in 2011.
We recommending grabbing a small (or large!) ice cream and taking it with you as you walk as it can get crowded inside the small shop.
You will want to continue west along P St NW by crossing Wisconsin Ave. P Street does not cross the street directly so you’ll have to walk down the hill a bit to get back onto P Street.
I. Ambassador Bruce House
1422 34th St NW
Built in 1815, The home’s most famous residents were Ambassador David K.E. Bruce and his wife, Evangeline Bell Bruce. One of America’s most popular postwar diplomats, Bruce served every president from Harry S. Truman to Gerald R. Ford. He was the U.S. envoy to France, Germany, Britain, China and NATO. Evangeline Bruce turned heads with her beauty and fashion. Considered one of the best dressed women in the world, Evangeline had a line of maternity wear created for her by Dior. Although she disdained the term “hostess,” she was a Georgetown socialite without peer. The parties she and her husband held at this home were the highlight of the Washington social scene. Most of the entertaining was done in the 34-foot ballroom the Bruce’s added in the 1970s. Now the ballroom is a drawing room – the space has 12-foot ceilings, three Jefferson windows that open to the garden and a large fireplace with a carved wooden mantel.
Keep heading south down the hill of 34th Street NW until you reach Prospect Street NW. Here you have a decision to make: cupcakes or pie…. or both.
If you want cupcakes, turn left along Prospect to the next block – 33rd Street. Because of the often long line, it saves you some backtracking to walk down to Georgetown Cupcakes from 33rd and Prospect. Turn right on 33rd and make your way to the line. Don’t worry if its pretty far from the store, they’ll come by with menus.
J. Georgetown Cupcakes
3301 M St NW
This needs no introduction. The well known TV show – DC Cupcakes – is based on this shop. Run by two sisters, Katherine and Sophie, and opened in 2008, it is one of the more well known cupcake shops in Georgetown. As you’ll see based on the line out front. On some days they even have a bouncer at the door.
The key to their cupcakes is the icing. Rather than the standard buttercream, Georgetown Cupcakes uses vanilla cream cheese. There are over 100 flavors but each day there is a special off the menu flavor. You can find it on their social media sites – and the first 100 people to order it by name get it for free!
If pies, both sweet and savory are more your style, keep heading down until M St NW and turn right onto M.
K. Pie Sisters
3423 M St. NW
Sunday & Wednesday: 11am-7pm
CLOSED MONDAY & TUESDAY
Also a family business, Pie Sisters is run by three sisters who grew up baking pies. Known for both sweet and savory pies this could be a final dessert stop or a chance to get something more substantial. Their Classic Apple pie is better than grandmas.
Julia Child’s House (optional side trip)At the end of Olive Street at the far east end of Georgetown, you’ll find a wooden house the color of butter. This was the home of Julia and Paul Child after their time in France in the late 1950s. It was at this house where Julia tested recipes that would become her famed “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
She would host dinner parties where local ladies would come to try their hand at cooking. Katherine Graham, owner of the Washington Post, was a member of these weekly dinners. The husbands were invited under two conditions – the men had to eat everything on their plates and could make no complaints.