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The Southwest Waterfront neighborhood is a best bet for experiencing the arts and local history, with promises of more excitement to come
Southwest Waterfront is one of the most historic areas in the city. It’s home to the nation’s longest continually operating open-air fish market, house boats and a vibrant riverfront community offering panoramic views, ample recreational activities and easy access to Washington DC’s most beloved monuments and memorials. At the same time, it’s also poised to become one of DC’s hottest neighborhoods as it undergoes revitalization and introduces The Wharf in 2017, a new waterfront destination with dining, water access and shopping.
An oasis in the city, Southwest Waterfront is home to the East Coast’s largest population of “liveaboards,” or people who domicile on boats year-round. Many are docked at Gangplank Marina, side-by-side with DC cruise boats like the Odyssey. In warm weather, expect to catch free outdoor movies, yoga and other workout programs here. In cold weather, during the holidays, the Waterfront attracts a procession of brightly illuminated boats, as part of the Parade of Lighted Boats, which begins in Old Town Alexandria.
With two hotels nearby, the luxurious Mandarin Oriental and new Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall, the Southwest Waterfront is within walking distance to renowned sites including the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden and the U.S. Capitol. The neighborhood features beloved waterfront landmarks of its own, including a two-century-old seafood market, and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, a cultural powerhouse showcasing the best of American theater.
The neighborhood offers an eclectic collection of architecture, from 18th-century Federal to Mid-Century Modern, and everything in between. Four buildings were designed by I.M. Pei, the architect for the stunning prism outside of The Louvre. Catch a $5 jazz and blues concert on Friday nights at Westminster Presbyterian Church, or chill with the hipsters at the Capitol Skyline Hotel's outdoor pool. Pay tribute at the Titanic Memorial, an inspiration for the Academy Award winning movie. Join the locals at restaurants like Muze East West Kitchen, an Asian-fusion restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental, Masala Art for Indian cuisine and Cantina Marina, a riverfront bar with unparalleled views.
Southwest Waterfront is in transition, as major redevelopments promise the opening of five new hotels, more than a dozen restaurants, acres of recreation, retail and two world-class museums. Today, the neighborhood offers a strategic home base for enjoying sublime views of the Potomac River and gaining easy access to the National Mall. While this close-knit community experiences a renaissance and redevelopment, they welcome visitors to sample an authentic DC lifestyle and culture.