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Neighborhood Guide to the Wharf in Washington DC

Updated: February 11, 2023

Washington D.C.’s newly redeveloped neighborhood, The Wharf has a lot to offer for a visitor and a local.

If you’re looking to take a nice waterfront stroll or check out a few lesser known sites, there’s a lot to see. Maybe you want to have a bite to eat and catch a concert or a play.

Perhaps you want to shop at some local spots, like Shop Made DC or Politics & Prose. You’ll find it all and more in this conveniently located neighborhood.


How to get to the Wharf

Our recommendation is to take public transit, walk, or take a scooter or bicycle if you have the option.

Located about a ten minute walk from the Smithsonian Castle or from the Jefferson Memorial, the Wharf area is fairly accessible. It's a great place for lunch after our morning National Mall and Tidal Basin tour.

There is the Southwest Shuttle which runs daily from L’Enfant Plaza to the National Mall, to near the Spy Museum, and then to two locations along the Wharf.

SOUTHWEST SHUTTLE HOURS

Monday–Thursday: 6:30am–8:30pm
Friday: 6:30am–10:30pm
Saturday: 9:30am–10:30pm
Sunday: 9:30am–8:30pm

If you take Metro, the Smithsonian, L’Enfant Plaza, and Waterfront stations are all within about a ten minute walk of the Wharf.

With ever increasing protected bike lanes, cycling is getting safer and more convenient in Washington D.C. There is a path that parallels the Wharf, and you can find some areas to park and lock your bike. There are also multiple Capital Bikeshare docks at or near the Wharf, if you choose to use that service.

In the warmer months, you can even visit the Wharf by a water taxi that goes between Georgetown, Alexandria, National Harbor, and the Wharf.

If you are driving, there is garage parking at the Wharf as well as at the nearby L’Enfant Plaza. We suggest reserving a spot in advance via the SpotHero parking service.

Where to Eat

Hank’s Oyster Bar (https://hanksoysterbar.com/)

A popular local spot to get seafood, you can also enjoy a variety of cocktails and beers. Check out their bar for happy hour on Monday through Friday.

Lupo Marino (https://www.lupomarinodc.com/)

Southern Italian street food? Absolutely. This cozy spot is a great place to share a meal with friends.

Grazie Grazie (https://graziegrazie.com/)

Pizza, sandwiches, and maybe some risotto balls to get your appetite ready? Enjoy it here at this Italian deli.

District Doughnut (https://www.districtdoughnut.com/)

Variety is the spice of life, and District Doughnut takes that to heart. Changing up flavors throughout the year, they offer up a wonderful assortment of doughnut options.

Mi Vida (https://www.mividamexico.com/)

A higher end spot that serves some classics with a twist, you can also enjoy a very nice Monday through Friday happy hour at the bar.

Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company (https://www.tikitnt.com/)

Great cocktails and some tasty bar snacks make this a great stop. On nice days, try the rooftop.

Falafel Inc. (https://www.falafelinc.org/)

Need a quick recharge and don’t mind eating outside or on the go? Try some takeout here. It’s good, fresh food and it won’t break the bank.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar (https://www.rroysters.com/rappahannock-oyster-bar-fish-market-washington-dc.html)

Dine in a restored, historic oyster shed with small plates, craft beers, and of course, oysters.

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade (https://www.boardwalkwharf.com/)

Get a little taste of that Ocean City or Santa Monica boardwalk style at this spacious bar and “entertainment experience.” You can enjoy hot dogs, pizza, and other classic beach foods along with your beer or cocktail. Then hit the arcade for some fun.

Bistro Du Jour (https://www.bistro-dujour.com/)

Try a little taste of Paris in D.C. Bruch, lunch, or happy hour, make sure to grab a little something from the Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery.


Music & Theater Venues

The Anthem

Since the Foo Fighters helped open The Anthem in October of 2017, it has hosted countless acts big and small. It’s a great place to catch a show.

The Washington DC area brings in some big artists and bands throughout the year.

Arena Stage

Founded in 1950 and at its current location since 1960, Arena Stage was the first integrated theater troupe in Washington D.C. See a show here and experience one of the jewels of our city.

Pearl Street Warehouse

You can grab a burger, a beer, and catch some rock, country, folk, soul, bluegrass, or rhythm & blues at this relaxed venue. A nice place for a laid back evening.


Nearby Attractions:

The Wharf and surrounding neighborhoods have plenty to offer.

Boat Tours, rentals, and the Water Taxi

In the warmer months, you can rent boats or take boat tours of the Potomac. There is also the Water Taxi which runs from March to December and goes between Alexandria in Virginia, The National Harbor in Maryland, Georgetown and the Wharf.

We have a whole article about What DC Boat Tours are Best to find out more about these options.

Maine Lobsterman Memorial

This bronze cast of an original statue by Lebanese immigrant and artist Victor B. Kahill was brought to Washington D.C. with the help of the Camp Fire Girls of Cundys Harbor, Maine. It was modeled on a real Maine lobsterman, Elroy Johnson.

The International Spy Museum

Between the National Mall and the Wharf, just above L’Enfant Plaza, stands The International Spy Museum. The unique building houses an equally unique museum that has become a favorite of visitors and locals.

Read more about the International Spy Museum...

Titanic Memorial

A memorial dedicated to the men who gave up their lives so that women and children could be saved during the Titanic disaster, this granite statue was moved to its current home near the Wharf when the Kennedy Center was built.

ARTECHOUSE

Art, technology, and cocktails. That sounds pretty D.C. to me. You can read more about this museum on our ARTECHOUSE page.

Rubell Museum

One of the world’s largest private collections of contemporary art is only a few blocks from the Wharf. (If you’re a DC resident, you can visit for free!)

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | I'm a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. I have written for HuffPost Travel and have been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. I've also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. I am the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. I am an authority on D.C. history, and have led tours in the city since 2011. I currently resides in DC, but have also lived in London and South Korea, and have traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. I homeschool my 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC. Read More...
Updated: February 11th, 2023
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