The Top 8 Things to Do in Washington, D.C.'s Petworth Neighborhood

Home to stately row houses and hip restaurants, the Northwest neighborhood of Petworth is an easy commute to downtown Washington, D.C. This urban enclave is becoming one of the coolest dining destinations around (without the expense account needed for many D.C. hotspots). It's also a place where travelers can experience historic sights like President Lincoln’s Cottage. Keep reading for a list of ideas of what to see, where to go, and what to eat and drink while you are in this creative and vibrant neighborhood in the nation's capital. 

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    Lincoln Cottage, Soldier's Home, Wash. DC
    Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images

    See where Abraham Lincoln lived and worked away from the pressures of the White House by visiting his retreat, President Lincoln’s Cottage, a historic site and museum located in Petworth. Built in 1842, this is where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Tickets for adults cost $15 and include a guided hour-long tour. Make sure to book a ticket in advance, as space can be limited at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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    Buyenlarge / Contributor/Getty Images 

    At the edge of Petworth is a beautiful green space that's the final resting place for many famous Washingtonians. Located at Church Road and Webster Street, historic Rock Creek Cemetery is Washington’s oldest cemetery. It dates back to 1719, according to St. Paul's Rock Creek, and it spans 86 acres of green space with beautiful landscaping. The cemetery is a place for reflection, and the burial grounds are nondenominational and open to all. A map is available online so you can tour the grave sites of notable figures like author Upton Sinclair, First Daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler for 34 years and was the inspiration for the 2013 movie The Butler. Many of the graves here feature striking statues, sculptures, and mausoleums, including the haunting Adams Memorial grave marker by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

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    Petworth Jazz Project/Facebook 

    For almost a decade, neighbors in Petworth have planned their weekends around Petworth Jazz Project, the Petworth Rec Center's free outdoor jazz performances. During May through September at the recreation center's 8th and Taylor Street NW location, there's a free show on the last Saturday of each month. Each show starts with a performance geared toward kids and then the Petworth Jazz Project musicians take over. The great lawn is accessible from the Georgia Avenue and Butternut Street entrance.

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    Get a Coffee or a Cocktail

    Qualia Coffee/Facebook 

    Petworth is home to Qualia Coffee, one of the District's longest running artisan coffee houses. It began in 2009 with an in-house roasting and brewing operation. Find Qualia at 3917 Georgia Avenue NW, and buy a bag of coffee to take home.

    If you need something with a stronger kick than just caffeine, Petworth is home to many bars and watering holes. The Looking Glass Lounge is a laidback spot for happy hour, as is DC Reynolds (don't miss this tavern's outdoor drinking space). Another low-key neighborhood bar is the Reliable Tavern. Meanwhile, Hank's Cocktail Bar is "a cocktail playground" for DC restaurateur Jamie Leeds and her team of bartenders, with options like table-side punch. 

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    Get a Bite to Eat

    Petworth has become a full-fledged destination for Washingtonians who love to eat. The no-reservations restaurant Himitsu garnered national press (and the long lines that go along with that). Try this spot for creative Japanese cuisine like hamachi crudo, shrimp toast, fried chicken, and charred octopus with crispy potatoes. 

    Nearby is Ruta del Vino, a Latin American wine bar and restaurant that's beloved for its yucca fries, and across the street at is popular Mexican spot Taqueria Del Barrio. If you're craving pizza, Timber Pizza Co. serves up pies like the Green Monster with pesto, fresh mozzarella, feta cheese, and kale. The owners there just expanded into another carb category, opening up a bagel place and deli named Call Your Mother in fall 2018. Another Italian option is Little Coco's, a hip spot with rooftop drinking. For chicken and waffles and more comfort food, check out Slim's Diner in a building that is historic to the neighborhood. Hitching Post is also a long-running favorite for Southern dishes like macaroni and cheese and fried chicken. It's been in the neighborhood for almost 50 years.

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    Find Your Next Great Read

    Upshur Street Books/Facebook 

    Petworth is a literary neighborhood. Independent bookstores thrive here: there's the stylish Upshur Street Books. Find everything here from picture books to zines to bestsellers to cookbooks and tomes from D.C. authors. This is also a spot for author talks too. Another local bookshop is Wall of Books, where you can find used books at discounted prices—along with community events, story time in English and Spanish, and readings from local authors. The newly renovated Petworth Library is another favorite destination for readers.  There's even a library-themed bar in Petworth Citizen's The Reading Room, where bartender Chantal Tseng dreams up a menu based on an author or theme as part of her Literary Cocktails series.

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    EatsPlace/Facebook 

    Try what could be the next big food craze at EatsPlace, a food incubator and restaurant accelerator in Petworth. The space includes a commercial kitchen that food entrepreneurs can rent out to launch their businesses, along with a pop-up space with a dining room and full bar. Check EatsPlace's website and social media for information on pop-up events.

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    Near Petworth is BloomBars, a creative space for the community. BloomBars is a place where you can go for children's concerts, yoga, ballet class, indie films, and much more. It opened in 2008 in a 100-year-old former print shop, and it's a vibrant destination for families in the neighborhood. Check the BloomBars website and Facebook page to see what's happening when you're visiting.

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