Navy Yard/Southwest Waterfront
District residents may have rolled their eyes when The Wharf first debuted three years ago. But it’s hard to deny that the city’s newest tourist haven has become a hot spot for those seeking waterfront views and splashy names in food, drink, and entertainment.
Where to stay: The rapidly growing development at The Wharf means there’s a new tasting menu restaurant, top-notch cocktail bar, or luxury hotel is seemingly every time you turn around. So lean into that and check out one of the new hotels overlooking the Potomac River like the Intercontinental, which is gold-plated from top to bottom and is located just steps from all the bars and restaurants nearby.
Things to do: Between The Wharf and Navy Yard, there are plenty of lowkey outdoor activities to fill up your entire weekend. Yards Park has an Instagram-famous bridge you can explore and a water basin that pays homage to the historic canal that once ran from the Anacostia River to the Capitol Building. You won’t find greener pastures than Yards Park, but if you leave in search of them, get a scoop at Ice Cream Jubilee -- arguably the best cone in the District. If you’re looking to set your activities in stone, The Anthem has quickly become a destination for national musical acts and Nationals Park is sure to be abuzz with fans rooting for the home team, aka world champions. Even though you’ll pay way too much for a domestic beer, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Best restaurants: You’ll find that DC chainlets like TaKorean and District Doughnut abound near The Wharf, so use this opportunity to grab lunch at one of them. But when it comes time for your main meal, the restaurants here are designed for the expense account set, but some are worth the extra dollar signs. Kith + Kin has an Carribean and West African inspired menu that wows inspired by Chef Kwame Onwuachi, who has become a celebrity chef in his own right. And another local culinary star, Fabio Trabocchi, plays with Spanish seafood in a dreamy spot called Del Mar that will make you feel like you took a quick flight to Mallorca. Speaking of seasides, La Vie is a coastal haven that is worth a trip just to take in the sprawling chandeliers.
Bars and nightlife: Rooftop bars are hardly few and far between, and lucky for us, many are concentrated along the rivers that wrap around Southwest DC. Officina, a three-level Italian market, restaurant, and bar megaplex, is one of the few year round spots. When the weather warms up, hotel bars redeem themselves with rooftops boasting incredible views. 12 Stories, the gleaming cocktail bar atop the InterContinental, is always a great choice, while Whiskey Charlie features sleek fireplaces and classic cocktails. If you’d rather run the gamut of tastings, hit up Bluejacket’s massive taproom and District Winery, which was the first commercial winery in DC, before heading to Tiki TNT to sample Thrasher’s Rum from Potomac Distilling Company and tour the distillery on select days.