Washington, DC is known for its historical monuments and wonky politics – but there’s a whole other side to DC not many tourists have experienced.
Just outside the city, developers continue to invest in several booming areas of waterfront spots where locals eat, play, and even sleep.
From adult-sized wooden swings, to a make-your-own s’more station over a roaring fire on the boardwalk, these waterfront spots are a must-visit on your next trip to DC.
And even if you’ve already seen all the classic monuments and buildings and think there’s not much more to see in DC – you definitely need to add these waterfront spots to your bucket list and experience the District in a whole new way!
Old Town Alexandria
A favorite of DC locals, Old Town Alexandria is located just outside of DC in Virginia and is a classic historical stretch of more than 200 independents shops and restaurants.
Strolling down the cobblestone streets of King Street, you have your pick of every type of food – from a romantic dinner for two in front of a roaring fireplace at Il Porto, to a more casual choice of tacos and cocktails at Urbano 116 which serves authentic Mexican food.
And Old Town is a shopper’s dream with authentic boutiques and charming stores where you can buy accessories and legit souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re the artsy type, be sure to check out live art in action at the Torpedo Factory Art Center which often includes live music and exhibits from local artists.
As you make your way to the end of King Street, you’ll run into the Waterfront Park where you can continue to sample the best food DC has to offer and enjoy your meal along the water.
And the best part of all – after you’re done exploring Old Town, you can actually hop on a water taxi and check out DC’s other waterfront properties or take a sightseeing tour and see the DC monuments from a boat!
This mile-long boardwalk of restaurants, shops, hotels, and entertainment has put DC back on the map as a waterfront city.
Boasting some of the hottest restaurants in the nation, you can check out Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi – a two-level waterfront Spanish and seafood restaurant serving incredible eats like their famous seafood tower which has everything from oysters to octopus.
Looking for something more chill?
Kirwan’s Irish Pub was established by a former Guinness employee and serves up everything from crispy fish and chips, to bacon and cabbage – all with live Irish music!
And if music is your thing, The Wharf is known for their music scene – from live street performances to concert halls and everything in between, The Wharf is full of life and music all hours of the day.
And unlike some boardwalks that become dead during the fall or winter, The Wharf is open all year round.
If you visit this fall, check out Camp Wharf at the Firepit, which sells a “make your own s’more kit” for only $3 and then allows you to actually roast marshmallows over a bonfire on the dock and eat your freshly cooked s’mores while sipping their famous apple cider.
After you’ve made your s’mores, stroll down the boardwalk to recreation pier and swing on the adult-size giant swing, then warm up near the torch gas firepit at the end of the pier.
And during the winter, one area at The Wharf actually transforms into an ice-skating rink – so you can skate around outside before popping into one of the cafes for a hot chocolate or coffee to warm back up.
A New Way To See DC
So as you get ready to book your next trip to DC, think outside the box.
If you’ve not read our conservative’s guide to Washington DC, make sure you check out the best DC has to offer and soak in the rich history of our nation’s capital.
But afterwards, be sure to make time and check out these bustlin’ waterfront spots – and experience a whole other side of DC you never knew existed!
Whether you’re the type who likes to try new cocktails on a rooftop bar, a foodie looking to sample something exquisite, or simply want a laid-back evening outside near the water with live music and craft beer – these waterfront spots will not disappoint.
Have you been to any of these waterfront spots before?
If not, which one will you want to check out first? Tell us in the comments below and be sure to share this article with all your friends!