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13 Things to See & Do in the Southwest & The Wharf Neighborhood

Sunny Fall Day at The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront - Dining, Shopping and Entertainment Destination in Washington, DC

Explore Southwest & The Wharf, a vibrant neighborhood with an array of arts and entertainment options, a historic fish market and The Wharf.

A renaissance is happening along this riverfront community, and the new development is called The Wharf. Despite big changes, this historic neighborhood maintains many important remnants of its past including its historic seafood market, world-class theater, leisure cruise boat pier and riverfront promenade along the Potomac River. Here is a list of the current happenings in the Southwest & The Wharf neighborhood.

1 Spend the day at The Wharf

Family at The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront - Dining and Shopping Destination in Washington, DC

The dynamic, groundbreaking waterfront development opened in October 2017, encompassing 24-acres of land and 50-acres of water. Spanning the length of the shoreline from the Maine Avenue Fish Market to Fort McNair, The Wharf features three hotels, retail, as well as plenty of restaurants from the District’s most prestigious chefs.

2 Experience American theater at Arena Stage

Arena Stage Washington DC performance

The second-largest theater complex in Washington, DC has inspired the revitalization of the neighborhood. A breathtaking renovation was completed in 2010, preserving the original theater-in-the-round and adding two new stages for experimental productions and theater education. The Mead Center encloses the stages with views of the waterfront from its floor-to-ceiling windows.

Explore the neighborhoods of Washington, DC - Local experiences in Washington, DC

3 Sample the catch of the day at the Maine Avenue Fish Market

Maine Avenue Fish Market at The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront - Historic fish market in Washington, DC

Established in 1805, this DC landmark is the oldest continuously operating open-air seafood market in the nation. Several vendors sell prepared and raw seafood – some from floating barges. It’s a great place to sample the region’s iconic Chesapeake Bay crabs and oysters.

4 Set sail from a marina

Entertainment Cruises - Romantic Cruises in Washington, DC

The Gangplank Marina is a commercial marina serving Washington’s premier sightseeing cruises. See the Jefferson Memorial and other DC landmarks from the glass-enclosed luxury of Hornblower Cruises' The Odyssey, featuring elegant multi-course meals, and the Spirit of Washington, which is known for popular brunch cruises. The Washington Marina was established in 1951 and remains a vibrant home of many “live aboards,” or owners of boats who reside here year-round. 

5 Check out Culture House DC

@allisonllansverk - Blind Whino SW Arts Center in Southwest DC - Performing arts in Washington, DC

Housed in a former 19th century Baptist church, Culture House DC, previously known as the Blind Whino SW Arts Club, is dedicated to bringing an "accessible arts environment with multiple experiential opportunities" to the community. These experiences come in the form of avant-garde productions, edgy events and an art annex with a gallery open to the public on Wednesdays and on weekends.

6 Catch a show at The Anthem or Pearl Street Warehouse

Patrons at Bar Overlooking The Anthem at The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront - Dining, Shopping and Entertainment Destination in Washington, DC

With the opening of The Wharf comes two new music venues in this happening neighborhood. The Anthem is the acoustically optimized, 6,000-person concert hall operated by I.M.P. (of 9:30 Club fame), while Pearl Street Warehouse is a cozy venue that allows you to get up close and personal with your favorite rock, country or blues artist. Both venues promise a musical experience you won’t soon forget.

7 Hang out at Hains Point

Washington DC skyline from Hains Point

This scenic peninsula between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River is a recreational haven with golf, swimming and fishing, as well as trails for running and biking. There are plenty of activities to spend the whole day with family and friends in this perfectly Instagrammable park.

8 Embark on your own spy mission

Visitors in the Decision Room at the new International Spy Museum - Museums and attractions in Washington, DC

Formerly a fixture in DC’s Downtown neighborhood, the International Spy Museum has moved to a new, purpose-built facility in L’Enfant Plaza. The state-of-the-art museum offers enough spy-related intrigue and interactive family fun to fill an entire day. Explore the museum's expansive exhibits, test your spy skills on an undercover mission and so much more.

9 Explore the dining scene at The Wharf

Diners outside at Requin seafood restaurant at The Wharf - Restaurant on the Southwest Waterfront in Washington, DC

The Wharf’s phase one will bring more than 20 new restaurants and bars to DC opening now through spring 2018, including new concepts from award-winning and Michelin-starred chefs, fast-casual favorites and even a distillery. And what would waterfront dining be without oysters? Slurp down bivalves at local favorites Hank’s Oyster Bar and Rappahannock Oyster Bar. But that’s not all – there are plenty more dining destinations you can expect to find at The Wharf.

10 Enjoy impressive stained glass works at St. Dominic Catholic Church

St. Dominic's interior chapel

Built in 1875, this neighborhood gathering place has an impressive illuminated steeple and 24 stained glass windows illustrating the life of the church’s patron saint, Dominic. On Sunday evenings, the church hosts religious movie seminars.

11 Stop by the Women's Titanic Memorial

Private bike tour with DC Cycling Concierge - Fitness excursion for meetings and conventions in Washington, DC

Located in Washington Channel Park, this memorial was authorized by Congress in 1917 and funded by donations from 25,000 American women honoring the men who died during the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. You may remember Kate Winslet, striking a similar pose, in the Academy Award winning movie “The Titanic.”

12 Walk along Wheat Row, a historically charming street
Walk along Wheat Row, a historically charming street NCinDC via Flickr

This charming street claims some of the oldest homes in Washington, DC. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, these late Georgian-style row houses date back to the 1700s and were designed by a Washington architect William Lovering.

13 Kick back and relax at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa
Kick back and relax at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

Considered one of the most luxurious spas in DC, choose from a half- or full-day spa experience with face and body treatments, health education, as well as fitness activities.

There are many exciting neighborhoods in the District – explore them all and pick your next adventure.