Dear PoPville – Can We Drink Alcohol at the Georgetown Waterfront Park?

Dear PoPville,

I wondered if you/your readers know if one can drink alcohol in the Georgetown Waterfront Park? It’s such a nice green space/area to watch the boats that a bottle of vino would go nicely with a picnic and the view!

The Georgetown Waterfront Park is part of the National Park Service and therefore I don’t think you can legally drink alcohol there. You can find all the regulations for the park here.

42 Comment

  • No, you can’t. That privilege is reserved for the wealthy jocks wearing pink polos and boat shoes that dock their yachts at the waterfront while their model girlfriends sun themselves in thong bikinis. Ask them if you can climb aboard and crack open a Rolling Rock.

  • PDleftMtP

    It is not legal. There are many ways to be discreet, and I don’t think the Park Service’s top priority is hassling people who are relaxing and bothering anyone if you’re not obviously a problem. [Insert mandatory digression on how profiling exists, it’s A Bad Thing, and your mileage may vary if you’re profilable.]

  • Just grab some extra cups from Starbucks and pour your drink in. No one will looks twice. Works like a charm in dupont circle.

    • So, drinking in the circles is illegal, too, I presume? Don’t recall thinking about this but now that someone raised the question…I get confused – different cities have different laws.

      • Yes, I recall getting extra cups from somewhere and sharing a discrete bottle of wine with friends in the circle several years ago. As long as you’re not flaunting it or getting wasted I don’t think anyone cares.

      • Just about every traffic circle enclosed “park” is jurisdiction of the Federal Parks Service. So if you see MPD while you’re sitting in the circle drinking from a Starbucks cup, you’re probably ok. Park Police, you might get hassled.

      • It’s easy to get confused – as you say, different cities have different laws, but here in good ol’ DC, different blocks have different laws, depnding on what police force has jursidiction. Most parks and circles are under the Park Police, but there are also DC Rec areas under the MPD. It’s all part of the fun!

        • Are you the anonymous poster that doesn’t come to PoP very often but every once-in-a-while so you don’t bother to list your moniker?

    • Or red wine in a soda can. Learned that one from Frank Reynolds.

  • Now, this is before my time but somewhere back in the 50’s or the 60’s, there was a moment of goddamn genius by some nameless smokehound who comes out the Cut-Rate one day and on his way to the corner he slips that just bought pint of elderberry into a paper bag. A great moment of civic compromise. That small wrinkled ass paper bag allowed the corner boys to have their drink in peace and gave us permission to go and do police work. The kind of police work that’s actually worth the effort, that’s actually worth taking a bullet for.

  • stuff like this doesn’t happen in hamsterdam…

  • Begs a question I was just going to ask on the forums – is there ANYPLACE in DC where one can have a BBQ which includes beer, ie the picnic areas in Rock Creek Park, etc (which I’m pretty sure don’t allow alcohol).

    • I have been at many BBQs in Rock Creek Park where beer was served. It’s illegal, but we just pour it into cups and have never had a problem.

  • Of course you can. What an absurd question.

  • It’s a lot like drinking at the beach. As long as you poor it into a cup, or use can koozies, and don’t act a fool, it’s highly unlikely that anybody’s gonna bother you, even if they know what you’re up to. You’re mileage may vary, but it’s kind of an unwritten law.

  • If you can’t figure out how to disguise your booze you don’t deserve to drink it.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Maybe they come from some place where they don’t need to disguise their booze and are checking to see if they need to here.

    • And on the other hand, if you have to spend this much time worrying about how to conceal your booze, then maybe you need to step back and examine your priorities.

  • Far be it from me to criticize, as I am far from a teetotaler myself, but I find a bit of irony in this question. Most of you talking about being discrete or expressing disappointment that you cannot drink in a park would be the same ones writing to POP or posting about the homeless or others who drink in the park out of a paper bag, or rallying against single sales. Just because you’re drinking craft beer and not colt 45 does not make it a better decision. You just can’t have it both ways.

    • Of course you are criticizing, and you have absolutely no irony – only ignorance if you can’t tell the (enormous) difference between -employed, taxpaying etc. etc. – people having a few cocktails with their picnic – and winos.

      Full disclosure – I’m not all that bothered by winos either!!

    • +1000

  • First world problem

  • So if I am reading this right – it’s A-OK?

    Sec. 2.35 Alcoholic beverages and controlled substances.

    (a) Alcoholic beverages. (1) The use and possession of alcoholic
    beverages within park areas is allowed in accordance with the provisions
    of this section.

    The rest of the section can be found:

    and do a search for alcohol.

    • sounds like it’s allowed according to that

    • That section also says that a park superintendent can decide not to allow alcohol in the park:

      “(3)(i) The superintendent may close all or a portion of a public use
      area or public facility within a park area to the consumption of
      alcoholic beverages and/or to the possession of [open containers].”

    • I read the same thing, but if you go to the “Superitendent’s Compendium”, which redirects to the Rock Creek Park section (I assume the overarching governance of the Georgetown Waterfront NPS area), you can see that it’s specifically prohibited by the Superintendent.


      (a)(3)(i) The following public use areas, portions of public use areas, and/or public facilities within the park are closed to consumption of alcoholic beverages, and/or to the possession of a bottle, can or other receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage that is open, or has been opened, or whose seal has been broken or the contents of which have been partially removed:

      Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from all park areas administered by Rock Creek Park, except Carter Barron Amphitheatre, Rock Creek Park Golf Course clubhouse and Rock Creek Tennis Stadium. Justification for alcohol closure in Rock Creek Park attached as appendix A.

      Unfortunate since I was hoping it was possible.

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