No one knows local life like our guides. That’s why we’ve asked them take us around their favourite ‘hoods and offer their insider tips on seeing the city like a true local. If you like Rob’s tips, hop on Washington, DC tour with him and his team!
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!
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.”
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.
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.
On Georgia Avenue, heading south (downhill towards CVS), technically Park View neighbourhood:
On Georgia Avenue, heading north (uphill):
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:
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.
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.
See Washington DC on our unique electric vehicles that can get you around both the main sites and the hidden secrets that only locals know. Great stories, great history, and great local knowledge from our local expert are what set us apart from the other Washington DC tours. Don’t waste your day walking miles between the sites – take an Urban Adventures tour and make the most of your time in DC!