Favorite places for visitors and old hands to eat, drink, enjoy nature and the arts and study.
By Ruth Steinhardt
Admitted students to the George Washington University’s class of 2021, the bicentennial class, will visit campus in the upcoming weeks—and in between making new friends, sampling lectures and gaining their first “Only at GW” moments, visitors will have a chance to get to know their potential new neighborhood. GW’s location in a vibrant world capital offers scores of restaurants, museums, enclaves of natural beauty, music venues and study spots with breathtaking views. Whether you’re a visitor making the most of your time in the District or a GW expert looking for new outings, there’s plenty to discover on campus and off. Here, a few favorite destinations to kickstart your D.C. adventure.
Eating and Drinking
Leo's GW Delicatessen, a.k.a. the GW Deli, has been a back-to-basics favorite for generations of GW students. (Robert Stewart)
Washington, D.C., is packed with options for those looking for quick eats or a sit-down meal. GW’s newest residence hall, District House, 2121 H St., NW, offers a range of options including Chick-Fil-A, Peet’s Coffee, Wiseguy NY Pizza and more, and food trucks serving local and global cuisine line H Street between 21st and 22nd streets at lunchtime.
District House's basement is open to the public and contains several casual dining restaurants. (Logan Werlinger)
Sample locally sourced dishes at Founding Farmers, 1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, try new spins on vegetarian cuisine at José Andrés’ Beefsteak, 800 22nd St., NW, or stop into local favorite GW Deli, 2133 G St., NW, the runner-up in @GWTweets’ ultimate GW bracket.
José Andrés' Beefsteak in the Science and Engineering Hall. (Robert Stewart)
Prefer cooking for yourself? Pick up groceries and supplies at Trader Joe’s, 1101 25th St., NW, Whole Foods, 2201 I St., NW, or GW alumni-owned FoBoGro, 2140 F St., NW, which offers sandwiches and supplies. Students in need can also sign up for GW’s student-run food pantry, The Store.
Alumni-owned grocery FoBoGro offers sandwiches and supplies. (Photo: Robert Stewart)
If you're going out in Foggy Bottom, students like Tonic, 2036 G St., NW, and Stoney’s, 2101 L St., NW, which offer affordable happy hours, trivia nights and bustling social scenes.
Photos from GW's and Foggy Bottom's past line the walls of Tonic, a converted pharmacy. (Robert Stewart)
Nature in the City
The U.S. Botanic Garden (100 Maryland Ave., SW) is an indoor-outdoor oasis highlighting regional plants and sustainable practices. (Zachary Marin)
GW is known for its urban pedigree and campus in the heart of Washington, D.C., but for those in search of pastoral ambience, opportunities to commune with nature are never far away.
Joggers, cyclists and walkers can take their exercise routines to the tree-shaded trails of Rock Creek Park, just blocks away from the Foggy Bottom Campus. Theodore Roosevelt Island is a nature preserve and memorial site only a 10-minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro Station. And the National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave., NE, is a must for azaleas in the spring, foliage in the fall and bird watching year-round.
Arts, Culture and Entertainment
The Kennedy Center doesn't just offer plays and concerts. Visitors also can ascend to the terrace to take in a different kind of show: the panoramic view across the Potomac. (William Atkins)
It’s easy to take part in D.C.’s vibrant arts and entertainment scenes. See a concert at a legendary venue like the 9:30 Club, 815 V St., NW, or U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St., NW. Take in slam poetry at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V streets, NW. For champagne taste on a diet-cola budget, catch the complimentary shuttle from the Foggy Bottom Metro to the Kennedy Center, where the Millennium Stage offers free shows daily.
For a quieter cultural outing, walk or take Metro to the National Mall to take advantage of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (A timed pass is recommended for entry.) The NMAAHC is the newest addition to the legendary Smithsonian Institution, which includes 20 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoo. All are free and open daily except for Dec. 25.
The Smithsonian Institution's Natural History Museum. (Jessica McConnell Burt)
The National Gallery Sculpture Garden, part of the National Gallery of Art, features free jazz concerts in the summer and ice skating in the winter. (Zachary Marin)
If you’re on the Mount Vernon Campus, the historic Foxhall neighborhood includes lesser-known gems such as the Kreeger Museum, 2401 Foxhall Rd., NW. And a 15-minute drive from GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Va., is the Udvar-Hazy Center, a companion facility to the Air and Space Museum that features an IMAX theater and the space shuttle Discovery.
Culture vultures don’t even have to leave campus. Start with a tour of the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum at 22nd and G streets, where current exhibitions include a look back at Ebony magazine’s glamorous Fashion Fair. Then check the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design’s calendar for upcoming exhibits at the historic Flagg Building, 500 17th St. Or take in a show at Lisner Auditorium or an exhibition at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery.
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. (Robert Stewart)
For those more into athletics than artifacts, GW sports are in the ascendancy. Cheer on GW's own Colonials at the Charles E. Smith Center, 600 22nd St., NW, or get into local teams. The Washington Capitals host National Hockey League games at the Verizon Center, 601 F St., NW, which also serves as the home of D.C.’s women’s and men’s professional basketball teams, the Mystics and the Wizards. As the seasons change, take in Major League Baseball at Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol St., SE, or former Major League Soccer champs D.C. United at (for the moment) RFK Stadium, 2400 E Capitol St., SE.
GW's Charles E. Smith Center. (Robert Stewart)
Study seating in the Science and Engineering Hall. (Robert Stewart)
Students who choose to come to GW may not have every minute free for exploring. But students find they can take on even their toughest studies in relaxing environments. Some gather around tables on the lower levels of District House after the lunch rush clears. Others recommend the group study rooms and bright atrium of the Science and Engineering Hall, 800 22nd St., NW. Discerning business students recommend the study spaces and comfortable chairs inside Duquès Hall at 22nd and G streets—especially the balcony on the fifth floor. On the Mount Vernon Campus, Eckles Library is a popular study spot, even offering free coffee during finals.
And on sunny days students recommend the winner of the GW bracket: the Lincoln Memorial, where a peaceful study and relaxation spot overlooks the Potomac River and the Virginia shore.
The back of the Lincoln Memorial offers a calm space for work or relaxation. (Zachary Marin)