Favorite places for new students and old hands to eat, drink, get fresh air, take in the arts and study.
By Ruth Steinhardt
After a busy week of new friendships, new classes and their first “Only at GW” moments, the George Washington University’s newly-arrived class of 2021 has a chance now to get to know their 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 among the incoming students or a returning GW expert looking for new outings, there’s plenty to discover on campus and off.
Below, a few favorite destinations to kickstart your D.C. adventure:
Eating and Drinking
Chick-Fil-A is one of several popular dining options on the lower level of District House. (Ruth Steinhardt/GW Today)
Washington, D.C., is packed with options for those looking for quick eats, cooking supplies or a sit-down meal. And luckily for GWorld card holders, more than 90 dining and grocery partners on and near campus accept Colonial Cash or Dining Dollars.
GW’s newest residence hall, District House, 2121 H St., NW, offers a range of cuisines, including Chick-Fil-A, Peet’s Coffee, Wiseguy NY Pizza and more. Food trucks serving local and global cuisine line H Street between 21st and 22nd streets at lunchtime. Options around Foggy Bottom are varied and numerous, but for a start, try new spins on healthy cuisine at José Andrés’ Beefsteak, 800 22nd St., NW, or locally-founded chain Sweetgreen, 2221 I St., NW. Stop into local favorite GW Deli, 2133 G St., NW, or sample locally-sourced dishes at District Commons, 2200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
José Andrés' Beefsteak in the Science and Engineering Hall. (Robert Stewart/GW Today)
GW Student Association President Peak Sen Chua likes Abunai Poke on 19th and L: “Poké is a Hawaiian raw tuna salad that hasn’t been commonly found around D.C. until earlier this year. The fish is fresh, and there are a bunch of tasty and healthy options you can eat.”
Into 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. On Wednesdays in the fall, spring and summer, the FRESHFARM farmers’ market brings healthy local produce, baked goods, cheeses and more to I Street. Students in need can also sign up for GW’s student-run food pantry, The Store.
The Store is packed with staples for students in need. (William Atkins/GW Today)
If you’re going out in Foggy Bottom, students recommend Tonic, 2036 G St., NW, and Stoney’s, 2101 L St., NW, which offer affordable happy hours, trivia nights and bustling social scenes.
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 Today)
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/GW Today)
It’s easy to take part in D.C.’s vibrant arts and entertainment scenes—especially with guidance from GWToDo, a weekly compilation of events on and near campus. 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.
The Smithsonian Institution's Natural History Museum. (Jessica McConnell Burt)
For a quieter cultural outing, walk or take Metro to the National Mall to take advantage of 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 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/GW Today)
The Smithsonian's newest addition is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (A timed pass is recommended for entry.)
The National Museum of African-American History and Culture's distinctive building shape was inspired by the three-tiered crowns used in Yoruban art from West Africa. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
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 (re-opening in September). 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. Take in a show at Lisner Auditorium, an exhibition at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery or one of the frequent student or department performances. Take a tour of the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum at 22nd and G streets, where upcoming exhibitions include “Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse,” opening Sept. 2. Or check the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design’s calendar for upcoming exhibits at the historic Flagg Building, 500 17th St., NW.
If you’re more in the mood for 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 on the Mount Vernon Athletic Fields.
GW Basketball at the Smith Center is perenially popular. (William Atkins/GW Today)
Students arriving from out of town may have their own hometown sports loyalties, but that doesn’t preclude a look in at local teams. Baseball fans can take in the current National League East leaders at Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol St., SE, and former Major League Soccer champs D.C. United host matches (for the moment) at RFK Stadium, 2400 E Capitol St., SE. As the seasons change, the Washington Capitals will host National Hockey League games at the Capital One 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.
Study seating in the Science and Engineering Hall. (Robert Stewart/GW Today)
GW students may not have every minute free for exploring, but they can take on even their toughest studies in relaxing environments. Some recommend the group study rooms and bright atrium of the Science and Engineering Hall, 800 22nd St., NW, while others perfer the study spaces and comfortable chairs inside Duquès Hall at 22nd and G streets—especially the balcony on the fifth floor. District House's lower levels are packed with individual seating and group study spaces, some of which are reservable through the Center for Student Engagement.
On sunny days students recommend taking a walk to the Lincoln Memorial, where a peaceful study and relaxation spot overlooks the Potomac River and the Virginia shore.
Sunny days make the Lincoln Memorial a beloved excursion destination. (Logan Werlinger)
On the Mount Vernon Campus, Eckles Library is a popular study spot, even offering free coffee during finals.
(William Atkins/GW Today)
And Student Association Executive Vice President Sydney Nelson recommends another reason to visit: “Sunsets on the Mount Vernon Campus are absolutely stunning. Even if you don’t live on the Vern, students should take the Vex to enjoy a picnic on the Vern and watch the sunset.”