Washington D.C. may be known foremost as the nation’s capital, but the Southwest neighborhood and The Wharf are adding to the city’s charms and appeal as a cultured destination. The waterfront destination serves as a haven for the culinary inclined and a cultural center for music, history, and the arts. Pairing these stimulating attractions with gorgeous waterside views is a winning combination for travelers looking for a picturesque setting filled with everything an urban environment offers. Here’s what’s in store when you visit.
Tempt your tastebuds with fresh cuisine
For seafood fans or anyone interested a deeper sense of place, a trip to experience the atmosphere at the Municipal Fish Market is a must. Steeped in tradition, it’s the nation’s oldest continuously operating, open-air fish market. Whether you crave crabs, fish, or other seafood delights, you can find it there.
But seafood isn’t the only way to satiate your palate here. Colada Shop focuses on authentic Cuban dishes such as empanadas and pastelitos, which are filled with a range of tropical flavors. Order a cocktail—we suggest the Riviera Highball, a mix of gin, St. Germain, lime, and huckleberry—and dine in a stylish setting with a view at La Vie. Or simply grab a coffee and pastry (Key Lime Pie doughnut, anyone?) to go at District Doughnut.
Del Mar brings Spanish flavors from the far-flung island of Mallorca to the coastline of North America in a two-story restaurant with James Beard Award-winning Chef Fabio Trabocchi at the helm. For three different dining experiences in one location, pay a visit to Officina. With Nicholas Stefanelli guiding the menus, this eatery channels the chef’s Italian heritage via the first-floor gourmet market, second-floor restaurant, and rooftop bar. And no one serves locally grown oysters quite like Rappahannock Oyster Company, which aptly occupies a restored oyster shed at The Wharf.
Plan a water(side) adventure
Among the many piers along The Wharf, Transit Pier is perhaps the most active. You can catch the water taxi there, and it hosts events including yoga sessions, movie viewings, and live concerts. Plus, an outdoor area is home a miniature golf course in the summer and ice skating in the winter. To explore the waterway by boat, board a City Cruises vessel.
The appropriately named Recreation Pier facilitates adventures on the water. Rent a kayak or paddleboard from The Wharf Boathouse, enjoy the swings, or catch the Wharf Jitney, a free ferry that heads to East Potomac Park where visitors can play mini golf, enjoy a round of tennis, or let kids explore the playground.
Soak in the music scene
Beyond concerts at Transit Pier, there’s an abundance of other ways to experience live music in venues along The Wharf and Southwest Waterfront. With 6,000 seats, The Anthem books bigger names but has a more intimate feel than an arena. From ‘80s stars like Blondie to modern-day entertainers including Lorde, it’s a spot that’s known for hosting first-class acts.
The Pearl Street Warehouse provides an even cozier atmosphere where patrons are never more than 25 feet from the performance stage. Here you can listen to live music while sipping a cocktail and dining on casual fare. Get a ticket to see musical theater on the Arena Stage if you prefer your music to accompany a well-crafted storyline.
Surround yourself with sustainability
As a waterside destination, The Wharf focuses on doing good for the environment while maximizing its sustainability efforts. Constructed out of durable materials that will stand the test of time, it’s the recipient of multiple LEED (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design) awards from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Wharf also boasts 14 acres of parks and public spaces, a 600,000-gallon underwater cistern system, 340 square feet of floating wetlands, 300 new and preserved mature trees, and onsite sustainable energy conservation. What’s more, the neighborhood is walkable and reachable via public transportation, and includes multiple bike racks and electric car charging stations to empower its visitors to be as eco-friendly as it is.