Lonely Planet Writer

Washington, DC's brand-new wharf has been unveiled

After years of construction, the District Wharf officially debuted on 12 October in Washington, DC, bringing a whole new level of coolness to the nation’s capital. A dazzling array of chic restaurants, local boutiques, indie music halls, upscale hotels and water activities along the historic Southwest Waterfront, the $2.5 billion project promises to establish Washington, DC, as a true waterfront city.

DC's new super-trendy Wharf District opens
The Anthem music venue is pictured during the opening ceremony of the Wharf complex along Maine Avenue, SW, on October 12, 2017. Photo By Tom Williams CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

“The Wharf is not just a reinvigorated hometown neighborhood, but a new, world-class DC destination for residents and visitors,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) at the grand opening.

The mile-long destination and community district, which comprises Phase I, was founded on the iconic Municipal Fish Market, the only establishment surviving the waterfront’s overhaul. It also includes more than 20 eateries ranging from high-end dining to casual snacking. Look for Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi, Requin by “Top Chef” alum Mike Isabella, and Jamie Leeds’ Hank’s Oyster Bar. Among several music venues, the showpiece is The Anthem, a state-of-the-art, 6,000-seat concert hall headed by the longtime owners of DC’s edgy 9:30 Club.

The Wharf is surrounded by 10 acres of parks and recreational piers with kayak and paddleboard rentals and ice skating in winter. And if you’re still bored, a year-round slate of outdoor concerts and festivals events provide more ways to spend a day—or weekend.

There are three brand-new hotels, including North America’s first Canopy by Hilton; and several upscale condos and apartments (at least 20% is flagged for affordable housing). And don’t forget the shopping, featuring regional shops along the lines of A Beautiful Closet by a former World Bank staffer, and Politics and Prose, a branch of the popular NW bookstore.

Shuttles, jitneys and a high-tech ferry system connect District Wharf with the rest of the city, and the Waterfront Metro is a five-minute walk away. If all this isn’t enough, additional businesses continue to open on a rotating basis. And Phase 2, slated to create an additional 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use space, is expected to be completed in 2021. “This is only the beginning,” said Shawn Seaman, PN Hoffman’s District Wharf Project Director, at the grand opening. “We are going to astound you.”

More information on The Wharf can be found at www.wharfdc.com.

By Barbara Noe Kennedy