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One thing is for sure about summertime in D.C.—it is hot! And whenever the temperature starts to increase, people can’t help but head straight to the water. Lucky for D.C. residents and visitors, the District is situated right off the Potomac River, providing several waterfront areas to drink, dine and simply enjoy the views (and the breeze) all day and all night.
This year will be District Wharf’s very first summer on the scene. And if the crowded sidewalks and restaurants this past weekend are any indication at all, it is going to quickly become the city’s newest hot spot—both during the day and at night. This centrally located waterfront neighborhood is easily accessible by car, bike, boat and even public transportation, making it an easy choice for visitors to spend an entire day. While there, you can take part in one of the several activities that are available daily. If you’d like to spend time in the water, you can sail, kayak or paddleboard. There are also entertainment cruises that provide dinner and other experiences, as well as a Dragon Boat Club that promotes community participation in the sport.
If you’d prefer to enjoy the water from land, you can from one of the 10 acres of parks, such as Seventh Street Park or Waterfront Park, or one of the many piers in the area, such as District Pier or Transit Pier. The Wharf comes alive thanks to the various live music options throughout the area. There’s The Anthem, an acoustically advanced concert venue that features major acts and lesser known artists, Union Stage and Floating Barge, a floating stage anchored right off Transit Pier. There are also street performances and restaurants that host their own live music.
No hot spot would be complete without a variety of shops and restaurants for visitors to spend countless hours enjoying. District Wharf has more than two dozen dining options, most with a great view of the water, and more than a dozen local shops. In honor of their first summer in business, expect District Wharf to host several events throughout the season. Stay up to date on the latest news and activities by their website (https://www.wharfdc.com).
This summer, National Harbor will celebrate its 10th anniversary on the D.C. scene. For a decade they have given D.C.-Maryland-Virginia residents and visitors alike a new way to experience the Potomac River. Their most recognizable attraction, the Capital Wheel, makes you feel like you’re on top of the world while providing incomparable views of the National Cathedral, the Washington Monument, the Masonic Temple, the City of Alexandria, Prince George’s County and the lush parklands throughout the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region. Standard general admission tickets are $15 and should be purchased in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during the weekend.
Although you can rent paddleboards, kayaks and pedal boats at National Harbor, the most exciting activity is actually one that will cost you nothing. Here, you can enjoy a “movie on the Potomac” for free Thursdays and Sundays. Patrons are encouraged to pack chairs from home, grab food to go from one of the local establishments in the area and enjoy an evening under the stars. You can also catch live performances by the bands from our nation’s Armed Forces through the Salute the Sunset Series, happening all summer long. The MGM luxury resort and casino recently opened near the National Harbor, bringing an entirely new nightlife vibe to the area.
Both the MGM and the area with the Capital Wheel have more than 60 dining options for whichever mood you might be in. National Harbor also hosts a year-round line up of exciting events and unique attractions—right on the gorgeous waterfront! So be sure to check their website for events as there is always something happening (https://www.nationalharbor.com).
The Washington Harbor-Georgetown
The Washington Harbor in Georgetown serves as the city’s most iconic waterfront. For more than 30 years it has been the place where residents and visitors have been able to enjoy the Potomac River while dining and shopping. There are significantly fewer options here compared with District Wharf and National Harbor, but the quality is just as high (if not higher) and the scene is always vibrant and bustling. Although I wouldn’t suggest spending an entire day here, it’s the perfect place to end your afternoon after exploring the ultra-luxurious streets of Georgetown. Be sure to stay tuned on their website for upcoming events and attractions (https://www.thewashingtonharbour.com).
Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.