gtownFrom the varied bar scene of Adams Morgan to the hip restaurants of Chinatown, D.C. has plenty to offer in its neighborhoods. It can be quick to dismiss Georgetown as a mere stretch of upscale stores and townhouses but a closer look reveals a collection of local destinations you might not have expected.

Every car driving over Key Bridge gets a great view of the city, but how about a view from the river? Jack’s Boathouse tucked beneath the bridge at the end of K Street offers hour-long kayak rentals for $12. Boaters can paddle to the right of the docks for greener surroundings or to the left for sweeping urban vistas. For a scene reminiscent of summer camp, return to shore and picnic with friends on the colorful adirondack chairs overlooking the waters.

For even more natural beauty, you can take a walk to the beautiful Dumbarton Oaks mansion and grounds on R Street. After a quick stroll, you’ll see why the botanical garden and landscape have drawn picnickers, joggers and dog walkers for years. First commissioned by a Georgetown millionaire in 1922, the sprawling gardens have also witnessed history at work, when preliminary discussions of the United Nations were held at the property in 1944. The house also boasts a large collection of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art work. You may go there for an art history field trip.

Georgetown in the heat of D.C.’s notoriously humid summer, cool off at Volta Park Pool, only a short walk from campus at 34th and Volta Place. Admission is free with a GOCard or District license, so this place gets pretty crowded on the weekends — go when it opens if you want a lounge chair. While it may not be the best place to brush up on your breast stroke (do that at the pool in Yates Field House), it makes for a great lazy afternoon with friends.

To decompress after a draining paper or a stressful week without leaving campus, check out the tiny but secluded Observatory Garden, complete with a calming pond and perched high on campus right by Yates Field House. Astronomy fans can gush over the garden’s namesake, one of the most powerful telescopes of the 1800s that now sits deserted, save an astronomy class or two. Looking to spend green insteaof look at it? Even off of M Street you can find some overlooked spots.

If you keep walking past the massive Barnes and Noble Bookseller’s, you’ll pass Bridge Street Books, a quaint, independent bookstore that remains a favorite of many English professors. Around the corner on 29th Street, Bartleby’s Books houses the best in rare books, welcoming history buffs and curious students alike. Fashionistas have plenty of options in Georgetown — but if you’re not willing to shell out for M Street shops like Coach, Juicy, or Diesel, to name a few, there are less expensive options. Most students flock to Urban Outfitters, Vineyard Vines, H&M, J.Crew and Zara, or for athletic wear, Lulu Lemon, Georgetown Running Co. or City Sports. But if you’re looking for a truly unique outfit, consider vintage. Annie Creamcheese (3279 M st. NW) is one of the District’s chic-est and quirkiest vintage boutiques. You can find dresses dating back to the 1940’s, great ’80s costume jewelry, as well as more recent designer wear. Nearby Second Time Around (3289 M St. NW) is the dumping ground of many a rich Georgetown housewife; it’s more grown up than Annie and chock full of designers like Dior, Chanel and Gucci, as well as more moderate brands such as J.Crew or Express.

On Thomas Jefferson Street, off of M, you can finish up your afternoon by swinging down to Baked & Wired for a cupcake far superior to the ones you’ll find at Georgetown Cupcake or Sprinkles and with no obnoxiously long line full of tourists looking for face time on an overrated television show. Also note that their coffee is fair trade, and milk organic so your bleeding heart will thank you. Ask for a Single Drip Pourover, the handmade process produces a delicious flavorful brew, and kicks Starbucks’ commercial butt. If you’re hungry for something more substantial than a cupcake you could ask any group of Georgetown students for directions to the best sandwich shop around, and you’re sure to incite an argument over the answer. Nearby Wisemiller’s and Booeymonger’s take the spotlight, but Jetties is a rare treat.

A sandwich and ice cream shop inspired by old-fashioned Cape Cod and Islands fare, the eatery boasts a mouthwatering turkey sandwich that will remind your taste buds of Thanksgiving. Expect a large crowd on the weekends and a lengthy walk on Reservoir Road and left on Foxhall, but you’ll be returning for more after the first visit.

Also worth checking out for a lowkey afternoon is Zenobia Lounge on 31st. Smoke hookah with a group of friends and indulge in some tasty Middle Eastern fare and tea. You’ll feel far away from the city without even having to go anywhere.

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