The Foggy Bottom district, named for the fogs that collect above the Potomac River, was settled in the 1760s as a community of laborers and factory workers. Today it’s an urban residential district as well as a hub of iconic government buildings, including the US Department of State, the offices of the President and Vice President and a number of international embassies. The area has become so affiliated with State matters that the name Foggy Bottom is often used to mean the US Department of State.
While much of what happens in Foggy Bottom is Federal business and occurs behind firmly closed doors, there is still plenty to keep visitors happily occupied. Fans of political history can see the Watergate complex, site of the infamous Watergate burglaries that were the catalyst in President Nixon’s downfall.
Foggy Bottom is also an entertainment and cultural center of D.C. The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, one of the world’s premier arts venues, opened in 1971 and hosts more than 2,000 music, comedy, dance and theater performances each year. Head to the Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. for a free nightly performance. Not far away is the Cocoran Gallery of Art, which houses an extensive collection of American art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, as well as masterpieces from Rembrandt, Degas, Monet and Picasso. There’s also a whimsical collection of outdoor sculptures throughout the neighborhood.
Foggy Bottom has been the site of the George Washington University campus since 1912, and the large population of students ensures that the area’s bars, restaurants and accommodations are not geared solely towards visiting dignitaries and diplomats. Catch the sunset and the best views of the nation’s capital from the P.O.V. (Point of View) Rooftop Lounge at the W Hotel.
Foggy Bottom’s location, between the National Mall to the south and Georgetown to the northwest, makes it a great base from which to explore the city. You can catch the MetroRail to Foggy Bottom from Federal Triangle Metro Station, or the L1 bus from Chevy Chase Circle stop.