This story was written by Kit Reynolds
It felt as if the Wharf came out of nowhere. Long-time DC residents had heard only whispers of the construction through the grapevine but rarely got a glimpse of the cranes save for their Uber rides home from DCA. The southwest waterfront was merely a rumor until one fateful day in the fall of 2017 when your cool and “in the know” co-worker came in and demanded you go to go to this magical new marina neighborhood in the southwest quadrant. The Wharf is bright, shiny, and new. Laden with fresh cobblestone and long walk-able docks, there’s no how-to on this new scene, but there are plenty of ways to spend a day there.
For starters, you have to figure out how you want to get to the SW, if you live in any of the other three sections. I usually splurge on an Uber ride from the NW, but you can take the metro and walk about a half mile from either the Smithsonian Station, or L’Enfant to get to the main thoroughfare that runs parallel to Maine Avenue. There’s also a SW shuttle that is free and open to the public. This bus is a great way to get from the National Mall, or the L’Enfant plaza metro station.
To impress guests from out of town, you should start your day with a tour at ARTECHOUSE, an interactive digital art museum that can entertain even the people who “don’t like museums.” When you’re done you will feel sufficiently cultured and #artsy. From ARTECHOUSE, walk or cab down to the Wharf (about a quarter mile). Once you get to the waterfront you’ll be pretty hungry, so I recommend hitting up some tacos at Mi Vida (get one of those “La Frozen” margaritas while you’re at it) or Tiki TNT as a more casual/affordable option. For larger groups, head to The Brighton (the Dacha of the Wharf) or Officina for beautiful patio surrounds that make you feel like you’re day drinking in Miami.
If you have kiddos with you, walk over to the dock next to Cantina Bambina and play with the giant Connect Four. In the winter this dock doubles as an ice skating rink, also good for the children in your life. This is also where you can find the pick-up for the water taxi to Georgetown.
The other docks have activities, too, like swings big enough for two or three people, bonfire s’mores, and the occasional live band.
Speaking of music, you should try to get tickets to a concert at The Anthem. After the show I highly recommend grabbing a drink at 12 Stories–brought to you by the same people who did Mr. Purple in NYC–which offers a chic nighttime vibe with amazing views, or Whiskey Charlie if you want to sit outside on some lounge chairs. For something low-key, grab a treat at one of the classic dessert chains at the Wharf, such as Milk Bar mini, Ben & Jerry’s, or Dolcezza. If you’re there super late, I commend you, and you should head to La Vie to join the other night owls in their picturesque lounge.