The Wharf, Washington DC
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The Wharf reestablished Washington, DC, as a waterfront city and destination. This remarkable, mile-long stretch along the Potomac River comes to life with restaurants, retailers, residences, and businesses—all complemented by monumental views and a vibrant culture.
With the first phase of The Wharf complete and thriving, it’s easy to forget how much time and effort went into making it happen.
The revitalization of DC’s historic Southwest & The Wharf neighborhood has led to one of the city’s hottest destinations for dining, shopping and entertainment – all on the water.
Where DC Meets the Waterfront
Opened in 1805, the Municipal Fish Market is the longest continually operating fish market in the United States. For a time known as Maine Avenue Fish Market, it served as the inspiration for the redevelopment project. The fish market and other businesses on the waterfront were relatively prosperous throughout the 19th century, but by the early 20th century, the area was in decline. By 1945, the Southwest Waterfront had become a target for urban renewal, and the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act allowed the U.S. federal government to acquire a property using eminent domain. The federal government removed twenty-three thousand residents, primarily African Americans, from their homes and demolished a majority of the structures. The cleared land was redeveloped into housing complexes and federal office buildings and was used for the construction of highway I-395, which now runs between the waterfront and the National Mall.
Be energized by the constant buzz of activity by living at the Wharf. With the Anthem concert venue right downstairs, and the activity in this thriving neighborhood is impressive and endless. The Wharf is redefining waterfront living in D.C.
From modern condominiums to stylish apartments, brand new residences offer spectacular water and monumental views—for a lifestyle you won’t find anywhere else in the District. Local restaurants will tempt your taste buds and a carefully curated mix of shops and boutiques–from internationally known brands, to local one-of-a-kinds–against the beautiful backdrop of the Potomac turns shopping into a vibrant, sensory experience for residents and visitors alike.
In addition to amazing restaurants and shops, The Wharf offers countless things to do and see—on and off the water. Take a stroll along the piers, rent a kayak to paddle past some of DC’s most famous attractions, or catch a concert at one of the many live music venues.
The Wharf’s piers and waterside promenades not only provide opportunities for leisurely riverfront strolls but a real connection to water recreation and even transportation. From scenic marinas and convenient water taxis to kayaking, paddle boarding, and so much more, The Wharf turns the Potomac into a playground for all water enthusiasts.
A View of The Wharf
Things to Do
The Anthem hosts prominent rockers and hot hip-hop stars in their acoustically optimized, 6,000-seat concert hall.
Maine Avenue Fish Market
Without the Maine Avenue Fish Market, there would be no Wharf. Crab- and oyster-stocked barges have been serving up fine seafood here since 1805.
The Wharf Boathouse
On Recreation Pier you can catch some rays in lounge chairs, take a seat at any of the outdoor desks or swoop back and forth on a architecturally designed swing sets. For even more adventure, head over to The Wharf Boathouse and rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to get out on the water.
The bustling launch pad of Transit Pier has plenty of fun and games. In summertime, the pier features a mini-golf course, which becomes a skating rink in winter. Grab a seat in the built-in steps of the pier and rock out to entertainment on the Floating Barge.
The Torch is DC’s take on a lighthouse, offering an official greeting to vessels slowly passing through the no-wake zone and pier-goers who crowd around The Torch and marvel at the 14-foot gas-powered flame.
DC’s famed indie bookstore is a cultural hub with a continual line up of author visits, book signings, and an on-site coffeehouse.
Nearby Attractions to Explore
No other city in the United States has as many monuments and museums as Washington, DC. Located just south of the National Mall, The Wharf is within easy reach of most of the attractions of our nation’s capital.
The National Mall: Stretching from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, and from the White House to the Jefferson Memorial, the National Mall is among the top visitor destinations in Washington, DC. In spring, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a big draw along the Tidal Basin. In summer, the Mall serves as backdrop to dozens of events, including Fourth of July Fireworks.
Smithsonian Museums: The Smithsonian is a collection of 19 world-class museums, galleries, gardens, and a zoo. All Smithsonian establishments are free and open year-round. The following Smithsonian museums are located within a mile of The Wharf: National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of African Art, National Museum of American History, National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of Natural History, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) and Smithsonian Gardens.
Nearby Museums: Besides the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, visitors to The Wharf are also within blocks of the following world-class museums: Holocaust Memorial Museum, Museum of the Bible, US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Arena Stage: Across the street from The Wharf is Arena Stage, DC’s flagship theater dedicated to the production, presentation, development, and study of American theater. Their three stages feature a year-round collection of diverse and innovative plays and musicals. Arena Stage has earned multiple Tony Awards (most recently for the world premiere of Dear Evan Hansen) and garnered many other accolades, including being the first regional theater to transfer a production to Broadway. Arena Stage offers performances almost almost every night of the week.
East Potomac Park & Hains Point: Right across the Washington Channel—accessible via The Wharf Jitney or a quick trip across the bridge—lies East Potomac Park. This 300-acre man-made island has a surprising amount of amenities, from a public golf course, driving range, and miniature golf course to a public swimming pool, tennis courts, and several athletic fields. It is also a popular destination for fishermen, cyclists, walkers, inline skaters, and runners.
Nationals Park & Navy Yard: Just a few blocks east of The Wharf, baseball fans can cheer on their team at the Nationals Park—or root for their favorite president in the traditional Presidents Race during the fourth inning. The surrounding Navy Yard neighborhood invites visitors to explore the historic naval facility that is its namesake, as well as a park with views of the Anacostia River and a variety of shops and restaurants.
Fun Fact For Your Next Trivia Night
Born in the Southwest Waterfront, Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer who helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s. He earned the nicknames “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul” before his untimely death at the age of 44. During a hiatus from music, the 31 year old Gaye set out to become a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. The Lions’ coach, Joe Schimdt, didn’t want to put the singer in harm’s way and refused to let him try out.
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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