The Jaunt: Weekending in the Wharf

What to do, eat, and more in D.C.'s hottest neighborhood.

the wharf dc weekend getaway

Recreation Pier at the Wharf. | Photo:

Though CNN might have you thinking otherwise, Washington is actually an enjoyable place to spend time in right now. It’s kind of like adult
Disneyland, where everything is modern, shiny, and conveniently located — if perhaps just a tad too meticulously market-researched.

Case in point: the Wharf, an entirely new neighborhood on the southwest waterfront. In between hotels, high-rises, and light winds coming off the Potomac, you’ll find a sampling of the city’s most popular restaurants, bars, music venues, and more.

Where to Stay

the wharf dc intercontinental

The lobby at the Intercontinental | Photo: Juan Carlos Brinceno

The Intercontinental is a recent build, so its little touches of luxury — in-suite Nespresso machines, Peloton bikes in the gym — feel fully caught up to 2018. Downstairs, Kith/Kin is the opposite of everything you know about tourist-trap hotel restaurants. The Ethiopian hot chicken sandwich on the Afro-Caribbean menu overseen by Top Chef wunderkind Kwame Onwuachi will make you completely forget about the Shake Shack around the corner.

What to Do

Daytime fun can center on the water: Rent kayaks, cruise to Georgetown or Alexandria via water taxi, or ogle fresh-caught crabs at the fish market. Later, it’s all about entertainment. The Anthem only opened a year ago, but it’s already replaced older sister the 9:30 Club as the best spot for live music in the city. Across Maine Avenue, there’s Arena Stage. Catch Tony Award-winning, politically conscious plays underneath the cantilevered roof.

The Eating and Drinking Sitch

the wharf dc del mar seafood

Seafood paella at Del Mar. | Photo: Del Mar

Fabio and Maria Trabocchi are D.C. fine-dining royalty, and Del Mar is their Spanish crown jewel. You’re coming here for extravagance: The tonic in the Te Quiero gin and tonic is presented in an herb-filled infuser, and the $98 lobster-and-tiger-prawn-dotted paella is plated table-side. If you’re in town with friends, the ivy-draped velvet banquettes at La Vie are the perfect backdrop for your Instagrams.

The Can’t-Miss List

1. Politics & Prose

A new outpost of the indie bookstore chain; Michelle Obama hosted a D.C. book signing at the home branch.

2. The bench swings on the pier

(Maybe bring your new book.)

3. Boutique shopping (Remember boutiques?)

D/eleven has fashion-forward two-piece sets and structured bags; Diament Jewelry has vintage baubles; Patrick’s Fine Linens & Home Decor has leather-clad bar kits and equestrian-themed china.

4. East Potomac mini golf course

Take a river jitney to get there. (It’s one of the few putt-putt courses on the National Register of Historic Places.)

5. L’Occitane’s luxe spa

It’s opening this month at the Intercontinental and is only the second of its kind in the country.


Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story recommended Taylor Gourmet, which has since closed all of its D.C. area stores. The reference has been removed to reflect this update.

Published as “The Wharf” in the October 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.