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13 Things to Do in Book Hill

Antique stores, art galleries, independent boutiques and buttery croissants.

Book Hill – the historic neighborhood centered on Wisconsin Avenue from O Street to Reservoir Road – is known for all that and more, with a charming, European flair that beckons residents and visitors alike to shop, stroll, and stay a while. Whether you’ve got one hour or a full weekend, check out our insider tips below to start planning your Book Hill bucket list.

Say 'Oui' to a French Bakery

Patisserie Poupon – the charming bakery nestled in Wisconsin Avenue’s 1600 block – has been serving chocolate croissants, fruit tarts, macarons, and perfectly flaky Napoleons for more than 20 years. Grab a seat inside the cozy cafe or back patio for a cappuccino and treat, or stop by for lunch. The asparagus quiche and proscuitto baguettes are two favorites. During the holidays, try their traditional Buche de Noel Yule log.

Down the block, Boulangerie Christophe offers Southern French delicacies and is known for its Tropezienne – a filled brioche pastry created in the owner’s home town of Saint-Tropez. For something heartier, try the nicoise salad or spinach and goat cheese pastry in their cheerful courtyard. A hidden mural awaits.

Master the Art of Antiquing

Named Architectural Digest’s ‘Most Beautiful Independent Store in DC’ in 2018, Pillar & Post features an ever-changing collection of British antique furniture and decor, as well as modern home accessories, including barware, linens, ceramics, and home fragrances from leading British brands. They also curate a collection of art, including paintings by contemporary British artists, antique prints and engravings.

On the same block, three co-owners creatively run Oliver Dunn, Moss & Co., Catharine Roberts, with six rooms inside this row house featuring everything from French and American garden antiques and whimsies-jardinieres, to iron statues, trellises, chandeliers, and 19th-century to 1940s furniture. David Bell Antiques has been DC’s go-to source for furniture, objects, and style for more than 20 years – equal parts design laboratory and retail gallery. For a French or Swedish flare, Marston Luce’s owner curates unique furniture and decorative pieces found while splitting his time in France. Next door, Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries is known for its luxury textiles, offering antique rugs, antique-inspired rugs and original designs by master weavers. Founded in 1980, former clients include President Barack Obama and the Ritz Carlton.

Easily spotted on a colorful corner of Wisconsin Avenue and P St, L’Enfant Galerie is wall–to-wall with antiques from every century since the 1700s. Chinaware, paintings, furniture and large, free-standing decorations from dozens of countries are all on sale, collected mostly from local residents, as well as the occasional auction or dealers. One block down on O Street, Cote Jardin Antiques was born from owners Basil and Nopporn’s interest in French antique furniture and garden antiques. The seasoned gardeners have collected a wide range of pieces while spending time at their second home in Provence. On the 1400 block of Wisconsin Avenue, Christ Child Opportunity Shop is tied with Martin’s Tavern for the oldest operating business in Georgetown. Opened in 1933, the antique and consignment store sells a range of interesting artwork, furniture, jewelry and dishware, with all proceeds benefitting children in the DC area.

Go Gallery Hopping

Founded in 1993, Calloway Fine Art & Consulting specializes in contemporary art by local, regional, and international artists – from representational and abstract paintings and prints, to photography and sculpture. Archival framing and fine art consultation are also available.

Next door, Washington Printmakers Gallery features contemporary fine art prints, and has a membership of exceptional local and national printmakers. Every month the gallery hosts a group exhibit of members’ work, plus a solo show. The gallery – which as been in business for over 35 years – also houses bins and flat files with prints and a limited collection of artist books and portfolios.

Up the hill, seasoned artist Micheline Klagsbrun works out of Klagsbrun Studios on her mixed media paintings, as well as works on paper and sculpture that evoke flux and transformation. The space is occasionally open for studio tours; visit Micheline’s website for more.

Plan a Wedding

Book Hill is wedding-gown central. Carine’s Bridal Atelier highlights the artistry of design in bridal fashion, offering bridal gowns, evening wear and accessories from Fashion Week-name designers, in addition to trunk shows. Their head seamstress previously worked at Vera Wang for 25 years; rest assured your alterations are in good hands. Up the block, Lovely Bride DC features both modern and classic bridal gowns, catering in particular to the ‘bohemian, glamorous, creative bride’ interested in a non-traditional wedding gown.

If you have a wedding dress that’s been passed down through the generations, head a few doors down to Diana’s Couture and Bridal. For more than three decades, owner Diana My Tran has expertly modernized heirloom dresses, while starting from scratch with other brides to recreate a family look.

Further down Wisconsin Avenue, Modern Trousseau’s flagship Georgetown location uses couture measurement methods to ensure a customized, perfect fit. Want sleeves? Wish the gown was strapless? No problem. Tucked away on charming P Street, family-run Wedding Creations & Anthony’s Tuxedos serves grooms and groomsmen, bridesmaids, and the bride who’s looking for an informal gown, with tuxedo rentals available in one hour.

 

Grab a Bite

In just a few short blocks, Book Hill has an impressive range of cuisines for all your cravings. For authentic Vietnamese food served with a side of humor, head to Simply Bahn-Mi’s laid-back cafe for a sandwich and soup, and check out their website for a good laugh. A few doors down, Oki Bowl Ramen is a quirky noodle house serving delicious, heaping bowls of ramen in perhaps the most colorful restaurant in Georgetown.

Tucked away along the same block, Jaco Juice & Taco Bar is a favorite among Georgetown University students, with a cute outdoor patio for those enjoying a (somewhat) healthy breakfast or Mexican street food.

A few blocks down, you’ll find Officina. Chef Nicholas Stefanelli has curated a shopping and dining experience highlighting fine wine, artisanal pastas, specialty snacks, preserves, and more favorites for the finest in Italian gastronomy in an inviting neighborhood space.

For another upscale meal, Lutece by Bonaparte is bringing rich French cuisine in spades, from foie gras with raspberry vinegar labneh, to chanterelles and fresh truffle in smoked potato cream. Homemade bread and jam are a bonus.

Visit an Old-School Ice Cream Shop

Thomas Sweet is a classic, old-school ice cream shop serving more than 40 flavors of small-batch ice cream, blend-ins, soft frozen yogurt, chocolate, and even fresh fudge. Try the coffee Oreo in a chocolate-dipped cone, and sit outside at one of their picnic tables on a nice day.

 

Wine Down After a Long Day

Arguably the most affable wine purveyor in DC, Bacchus Wine Cellar owner Bassam Al-Kahouaji makes new customers feel like old friends. He has the perfect bottle of wine or liquor for every occasion, and has been known to initiate an impromptu tasting when the mood strikes. Neighboring business owners and Georgetown residents can often be found nestled into his front window seat on breaks or after hours, chatting and sharing a drink.

Hunt for a Fashion Find

At the top of Book Hill, Pretty Chic is pretty charming. Step inside the Insta-worthy row house and you’ll never know what you may find – from a vintage Prada bag, to consignment dresses, and new jewelry. Head to the back of the narrow shop and take a peek at the adorable patio.

Reddz Trading is another neighborhood favorite for designer consignment finds, owned by Wendy Ezrailson of former Commander Salamander retail fame. A few doors away, LiLi the First features one-of-a-kind pieces from independent designers around the world – ‘unusual fashion for unusual women.’ If you’re still on the hunt for more second-hand finds, Ella Rue features high-end women’s designer clothes, shoes and bags that are rotated seasonally.

A few blocks down, visit The Phoenix, a third-generation family run business originally inspired by a trip to Mexico. More than 65 years after opening, Mexican folk art remains, but the fashion-forward clothing hails from the U.S. and Europe.

If you’re shopping for little ones, the woman-owned Mini Me Little Boutique offers curated gifting for mommies and minis. In addition to adorable baby gifts, pick up mother-daughter matching outfits, vintage toys, European clothing, novelties, and self-care products like candles and body butter.

For additional clothing and accessory stores, visit Village Art & Craft and Jaryam.

Get Lost in a Used Bookstore

Run by Bryn Mawr alumnae volunteers, The Lantern Bookshop was founded in 1977 and has an eclectic assortment of donated hardbacks, paperbacks, classical and popular vinyl, and compact discs. The P St location was purchased through a ‘call for angels’ – alumnae donations pouring in to keep the store alive. Proceeds support women’s education, so you can feel extra good about adding to your home library.

Looking for more specialized, local reading? The Peabody Room at Georgetown Neighborhood Library is home to a special collection of Georgetown neighborhood history. Head up to the beautiful third-floor space and ask for Jerry!

Practice Sun Salutations & See the Future

Providing a space for yoga students to reset, heal, grow and connect, Uprising Yoga Center was created for the main purpose of building a strong community of individuals, and empowering them to be their most authentic selves. Sure, it sounds a little ‘woo woo’, but we could all use a little more of that. From meditation to vinyasa, check out their range of classes.

Once you feel more centered, head to The Chakra Room by Mrs. White of Georgetown and delve even deeper into your spiritual side. Using candles, homemade oils, crystals and jewelry from South America, Mrs. White will do palm, tarot, psychic and chakra readings, as well as meditation and chakra balancing. She’s also available for parties and events, so grab a group of friends and find out who’s getting that big promotion or surprise engagement in the next five years.

 

Follow the Sneakerhead Trail

Sneakerheads flock to MAJOR, the first sneaker and street wear boutique in DC, for high-end sneakers, plus skater apparel, hats and bags. Owner Duk-ki Yu hails from the world of hip hop, and has a career history as interesting as the store’s shoe collection. Nearby, Solbiato is another boutique option for men’s clothing and sneakers.

Across the street, Prince & Princess has been many Washingtonians’ go-to for sportswear for decades – offering sneakers and athletic wear from the likes of Adidas, Timberland, The North Face, and New Balance.

 

Wander Charming Side Streets & Historic Homes

The quiet, tree-lined streets on either side of Wisconsin Avenue are filled with homes dating back as early as the 18th century and ranging from modest row houses to large estates. Georgetown has been home to many famous and influential people, from politicians and presidents to journalists and celebrities, and is often used as the backdrop for movies set in DC.

Many small parks – including Book Hill, after which this charming section of Georgetown’s commercial district was named – are tucked away in the residential neighborhood. Nearby, don’t miss three historic homes and museums. A Georgetown landmark for nearly two centuries, Dumbarton House showcases household furnishings, art, and décor from the early years of the republic. Tudor Place, an 1816 National Historic Landmark estate built by Martha Washington’s granddaughter Martha Custis Peter, is home to the extensive Mt. Vernon collection and historic 5.5 acre garden, allowing visitors to explore 180 years of American history. Nearby, Dumbarton Oaks Library and Gardens is a Federal-style house featuring the former owners’ Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art collections. Former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun once lived there, and the United Nations charter was outlined there in 1944. The property contains 10-acres of trees, including Washington’s famed cherry blossoms, as well as flowers and ornamental garden fixtures.

Get Pampered

Sitting at the top of uber-charming Book Hill, Meridian Health and Relaxation has locals raving about their affordable Chinese accupressure, with 30-minute massages for just $25. Walk in during your lunch break for a full-body massage and foot reflexology.

After you’re feeling ultra-relaxed, get glam at Own Your Wonder – a full-service makeup bar that offers a monthly membership and à la carte services. A few doors down, DC Lash Bar is DC’s premier eyelash extension bar, specializing in eyelash extensions, eyelash perming and eyelash tinting.

For hair services, ILO Salon & Spa has been the salon of choice for politicians and visiting celebrities since the late 70s, serving every White House staff since Reagan. Illusions Salon of Georgetown, Luigi Parasmo Salon and Spa, David Rios Salon & Spa, and Salon Pejman Georgetown are other Wisconsin Avenue hair-care favorites, while Wisconsin Barber & Hair Styling provides – you guessed it – barber services.

For additional beauty and wellness services in Book Hill – from nails, to tanning and waxing – check out Bespoke Aesthetics, Fringe Hair Studio, Glow Tanning Salon, Kim’s Nails / Charming Nails, Casabella Salon, Lumen Salon, Mon Salon, Nello’s Hair Salon, O Salon, Polished, Salon L’eau, Salon Upstairs, Salon Rive Gauche, Take Care, Vicky’s Nail Boutique, Violet Salon, and Wisconsin Nails & Waxing. 

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