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12 Things to See & Do on the Southwest Waterfront

Explore the Southwest Waterfront, a vibrant neighborhood with an array of arts and entertainment options, a historic fish market and a major development underway.

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 Waterfront neighborhood.

1 Experience American theater at Arena Stage
Experience American theater at Arena Stage Arena Stage

The second-largest theater complex in Washington, DC has inspired the revitalization of the Southwest Waterfront. 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.

2 Sample the catch of the day at the Maine Avenue Fish Market
Sample the catch of the day at the Maine Avenue Fish Market The Wharf

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.

3 Coming Soon: The Wharf
Coming Soon: The Wharf The Wharf

The dynamic, groundbreaking waterfront development set to open in October 2017 encompasses 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 will debut three hotels, retail, office and residential buildings, as well as plenty of restaurants from the District’s most prestigious chefs.

4 Set sail from a marina
Set sail from a marina Entertainment Cruises

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 Entertainment 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 the SW Arts Club at the Blind Whino

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Housed in a former 19th century Baptist church, the 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 Spend the day 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.

7 Play 18 holes at the East Potomac Golf Course

East Potomac Golf Course - Washington, DC

Located on Hains Point, this 18-hole public course is run by the National Park Service, with three courses that offer varying degrees of difficulty. During the summer, the mini-golf course, clubhouse and driving range are in full operation. The White Course welcomes players to try FootGolfDC, on weekdays anytime, and on weekends after 2 p.m.

8 Sip a margarita dockside at Cantina Marina

Cantina Marina - Restaurant and bar on the Southwest Waterfront - Outdoor places to eat in Washington, DC

This dockside, tiki-style bar welcomes guests to hang out by the marina and sip tropical drinks. Snack on local seafood and listen to live music while enjoying a mesmerizing view of the sunset.

9 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.

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

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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.

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