A local’s guide to Petworth/Park View, Washington, DC

April 27, 2018
Rob Rolling

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Petworth, as most people refer to the area (but more precisely Park View), is one of the up-and-coming neighbourhoods in Washington, DC. Having lived here since 2005, I’ve seen a lot of change. In fact, the real estate prices in this area have soared to top of the nation in recent years, and lots of small shops, bars, bookstores and cafés are beginning to pop up around the area. And while all of Washington, DC itself is great for walking, everything you need from food to entertainment is easily accessible by metro from this area.

Like all of the neighbourhoods within DC, Petworth/Park View has quite a bit of history to it. A surprise to most is that our most famous summertime resident was President Lincoln. So, history buffs, this is one area you’ll want to explore!

Why you should visit Petworth/Park View

To see Lincoln’s Cottage

Located about a 15-minute walk from the metro is Lincoln’s Cottage. Unbeknownst to most people, Lincoln spent nearly a quarter of his presidency at a hideaway located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (aka the Old Soldiers’ Home). President Buchanan had recommended this summer retreat to Lincoln and his family to not only escape DC’s extremely hot and humid summers (as the cottage is located on top of a high breezy hill), but also to help get some relief from the daily mobs of visitors at the White House, which Lincoln referred to as the “Iron Cage.”

exterior of Lincoln's Cottage

Lincoln was a summertime resident of Petworth | Photo by Washington, DC Urban Adventures

Accordingly, Lincoln would spend his summers going back and forth the three miles from the cottage to the White House, alone, via horseback. The commute was a risky one, and Lincoln’s aversion to having security guards accompany him made it even more dangerous. In fact, at one point, John Wilkes Booth and his men conspired to shoot Lincoln along the route.

While the cottage was meant to provide some solitude to the president, it was impossible to escape the tragedies of war, as the grounds of the cottage was surrounded by wounded and dying soldiers and disabled veterans, many which were buried in the nearby cemetery. At the same time, it was there at the cottage that Lincoln was inspired to draft the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring freedom of slaves in “rebel territories” during the Civil War.

#localsknow tip: As the cottage itself is void of any furniture except a replica of the desk where Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, I recommend the free option of simply walking around the beautiful grounds and exploring the Robert H. Smith Visitor Center and gift shop. Moreover, to see the inside of the cottage you must go on a one-hour guided tour, which is primarily geared towards elementary school students (even if your tour is all adults) by focusing on emotional stories of how we should be brave like Lincoln. In fact, “home for brave ideas” is their motto. That said, if you do decide to take a tour, they recommend reservations in advance. Bring ID to get onto the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

To visit the Soldiers’ Home

Located on the same grounds as the Lincoln Cottage is the Soldiers’ Home, or the Armed Forces Retirement Home. If you want to make your visit even more memorable, I recommend volunteering at one of the many free social activities sponsored by Friends of The Soldiers Home (FOSH). It’s a fun and easy way to honour our veterans by taking part in activities like happy hour, bowling, saloon night, bingo, Spring Fling (outdoor concerts, drinks, food and games), and more.

In fact, my wife and I have volunteered several times and have met a lot of great vets, including a few spunky gals who were US Marines (nicknamed “Marinettes”) and served in WWII.

tour guide in front of the Soldiers' Home in DC

Local guide Rob outside the Armed Forces Retirement Home | Photo by Washington, DC Urban Adventures

My top things to do in Petwork Park View

On Georgia Avenue, heading south (downhill towards CVS), technically Park View neighbourhood:

  • Looking Glass Lounge is one of my favourites. A great local bar with a nice back patio and good burgers and wings.
  • Reliable Tavern was previously a hardware store, and today is a cool bar worth checking out.
  • Eats Place is a pop-up café with a rotating selection of food (try the haiyo hot dog!).
  • Mom ‘N Pop is an antiques shop. Bill, the owner, is super friendly.
  • Walls of Books is a nice new/used bookstore, and owner Pablo is a terrific guy.
  • Midlands Beer Garden is a wonderful outdoor/indoor garden of picnic tables for casual mingling.

On Georgia Avenue, heading north (uphill):

  • Qualia Coffee is a popular local coffee joint (well-renowned) but a bit small.
  • Homestead is a new restaurant with a cool atmosphere and great food.
mural on a metro station wall

Mural of DC’s own “Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown, located right outside the Georgia Avenue metro | Photo by Washington, DC Urban Adventures

If you walk further North on Georgia Ave, towards Upshur Street, you’ll find other retail popping up:

My favourite area within walking distance is along the 11th Street NW corridor:

  • The Coupe (my personal favourite) is a bar and café serving mostly locally sourced products.
  • RedRocks is a great firebrick pizza joint with outdoor seating.
  • Meridian Pint serves modern-rustic-style American cuisine and has rotating draft beer and pool tables.
  • Room 11 is a wine bar with a nicely sized patio perfect for people-watching.
  • Wonderland Ballroom offers “dining, dancing and delirium.” It’s an eclectic dive bar with live DJs.
  • BloomBars isn’t actually a bar, but a community performance venue. Note they don’t serve food or drinks.

How to get to Petworth/Park View

Georgia Avenue/Petworth is easily accessible on the yellow/green metro line and is located in NW, DC. Lincoln’s Cottage and the Old Soldiers’ Home is about a 15-minute walk from the Georgia Avenue/Petworth metro stop.

About Rob:

I’ve been a tour guide on and off since 2001 in various parts of the world. I’ve lived in DC since 2005 and began working for Washington, DC Urban Adventures in 2016.


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