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The Wharf

In the Neighborhood: Your ultimate guide to Washington D.C.’s The Wharf

Come for the waterfront views and stay for the exceptional food and retail in Washington D.C.’s hottest new neighborhood, The Wharf.

By Cassandra Brooklyn | June 23, 2023

Get a map of The Wharf

Previously known exclusively for being the best place to find fresh crabs (which you can still do), The Wharf is now a trendy neighborhood doubling as a food and culture hotspot in the nation’s capital. You’ll find numerous shops and waterfront restaurants – local seafood is a must – along the Potomac River, or take in the city views from the water by renting a kayak.


Considering The Wharf has some of the best waterfront views in the city and the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the country, it’s no surprise that so many of its best restaurants are known for their delicious oceanic dishes and stunning views. Try:

- Hell’s Kitchen: Savor steak and lobster pan-seared scallops, vegan risotto and over-the-top desserts for a unique culinary experience.

- Ilili: Walk through the mini waterfalls flanking the entrance of this eatery for elevated Lebanese food from acclaimed chef Philippe Massoud in an elegant indoor garden atmosphere.

- Hank’s Oyster Bar: This woman-owned seafood institution is the ideal place to enjoy New England-style clams, calamari, crab cakes and lobster rolls with sweeping waterfront views.


Home to 17 acres (6.8 hectares) of parks and urban green spaces and four piers, The Wharf is the ideal mix of outdoorsy activities — kayak or paddleboard around Recreation Pier, anyone? — paired with picture-perfect photo ops and picnic stops. Enjoy:

- Waterfront Park: Lounge under willow trees or play a round of bocce on the gravel courts before visiting District Square, the epicenter of The Wharf’s retail and restaurant scene and home to the District Square water fountain and District Pier.

- Unlimited Biking: Rent a bike to explore the neighborhood on your own or join one of the guided bicycle or Segway tours available.

- Live-K Karaoke Bar: Choose from a seemingly endless list of American and international songs to belt out in one of the private rooms (or on the main stage) at this futuristic-themed space.


Explore The Wharf’s buildings and dip into the alley-like side streets where you’ll find a curated mix of international and local shops and boutiques. Venture inside:

- Politics and Prose: This independent bookstore is full of interesting reads, children’s games and cultural offerings. They also host numerous author events, literary classes and in-house book groups.

- Shop Made in DC: You’ll find over 5,000 unique products made by local artists and entrepreneurs, including jewelry, chocolates, dishware, clothing, bath salts and even artisanal beef jerky.

- A Beautiful Closet: This store may just look like a clothing boutique from the outside, but inside you’ll find fashion essentials sold alongside unique Italian lipstick cases, designer throw pillows and handwoven baskets from Rwanda.

From the marvelous marina views to the hyper-local shopping, The Wharf is a destination in its own right. Explore on foot, by bike, in a kayak or even on a Segway to really capture the magic and spirit of this vibrant Washington neighborhood.

Cassandra Brooklyn is a freelance writer and guidebook author specializing in travel, accessibility, sustainability and all things outdoors. Originally hailing from the Midwest, she now lives in New York City but escapes to adventures around the world as often as possible. As the caregiver of a disabled parent - and as a hyper involved auntie of three - Cassandra is especially passionate about accessible, inclusive and multi-generational travel. She's the author of the cycling guidebook, Cuba By Bike, has contributed to multiple guidebooks about Egypt, Portugal and the United States, and has bylines in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Forbes, The Daily Beast and Lonely Planet, among others.