All About The Wharf, Washington D.C.'s Hottest Neighborhood

The Wharf has four distinct piers for recreation and transportation. Shown here is the Recreation Pier, where guests can enjoy the swings and the sun, or rent a kayak or paddleboard to get onto the water. // Photography: Matt Turner

When The Wharf opened up just under two years ago, it became Washington D.C.’s first waterfront neighborhood. We recently traveled to the nation’s capital to check out what all the hubbub is about — and we found great restaurants and bars, plenty of public programming and an impressive hotel in the InterContinental Washington D.C. — The Wharf.

The Wharf (officially District Wharf) is lively, with plenty of Millennial and Gen X friends and couples walking along the cobblestoned waterfront; we also saw families with young children enjoying the area, as well as a few older couples. It was a great mix of locals and travelers.

Guests can take in great views of the Potomac River from the King Premier Riverview rooms at InterContinental Washington D.C. — The Wharf. // Photo by Matt Turner

Free Luxury Travel Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to The Dossier

Luxury Travel Advisor’s only newsletter, covering unique destinations and product news for affluent travelers. Delivered every Tuesday & Thursday.

Three main piers at The Wharf host events from festivals and complimentary yoga to ice skating and outdoor concerts on a floating stage. The Anthem is an indoor concert venue whose upcoming schedule includes Peter Frampton, Bloc Party, The B-52s, Zedd, The Black Keys, Bon Iver, Sara Bareilles and Deadmau5. Other events at The Anthem include Rupaul’s Drag Race and “An Evening With Dr. Jane Goodall.” 

Consider yourself a foodie? The Wharf has plenty of options. Our favorite was Kith / Kin, the InterContinental’s restaurant by James Beard-winning executive chef Kwame Onwuachi, who serves Afro-Caribbean food — but more on this later. For breakfast, stop at Dolcezza Gelato & Coffee. Yes, they do have great gelato in fun flavors (like blueberry lavender, strawberry tarragon and avocado honey orange), but they also serve excellent breakfast sandwiches on house-made biscuits and croissants. Blue Bottle Coffee is another option. For lunch, we would visit the Maine Avenue Fish Market, which is the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the U.S. For fun drinks and bites, you can instead stop at Tiki TNT, a Polynesian-style Tiki bar that always had a crowd. To start your evening, head to 12 Stories, an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar with fantastic views of the Potomac and a just-as-impressive cocktail menu. Top Tip: Make reservations for sunset, which goes right over the water.

Tiki TNT is a three-story Polynesian-style Tiki bar and modern watering hole at The Wharf. // Photo by Matt Turner

Bonus: A retro Airstream camper was converted into a food truck and is now dishing out s’mores. District Donuts serves a wild variety of donuts that makes for a great snack or quick (but definitely sweet) breakfast. We particularly enjoyed the crème brûlée donut, which is torched by the order (so have your camera ready!).

To burn off all the calories, running and bike paths are set up through the neighborhood. The 7th Street Park is a green space that can be used for exercising. 

A retro Airstream camper was converted into a food truck and is now dishing out s’mores. // Photo by Matt Turner

Exploring D.C.’s museums, monuments from The Wharf isn’t difficult, either. In borderline-walking distance (about 20 minutes) is the National Mall. Adjacent to The Wharf is Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, D.C.’s largest not-for-profit theater. Nationals Park, home to Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, and Audi Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer team D.C. United, are just a short drive away. 

If you’re traveling with kids, we suggest the brand-new International Spy Museum. You can learn about real-life spies, as well as some of our favorite fictional heroes (i.e. James Bond). Each guest is even given a secret identity and can complete tasks throughout the museum to solve a mystery. Other games test guests’ cunning, willpower, strength and bravery. We wouldn’t be great spies, we learned.

The International Spy Museum gives guests an opportunity to discover the world of espionage.  // Photo by Matt Turner

For the food scene outside of The Wharf, we have two must-visits for you: Supra, a Georgian restaurant, and Columbia Room, an upscale cocktail bar. At the former, be sure to order the Ajaruli, bread stuffed with melted cheese with a raw egg whisked into it tableside (again, have your camera at the ready!); the latter is a great spot to grab some pre- or post-dinner cocktails, or you can make reservations for their four-course, seasonal tasting menu. 

We stayed at the InterContinental Washington D.C. during our visit, where the Constellation Suite is a standout. This duplex penthouse (on the 11th and 12th floors) has a wraparound terrace with views up and down the Potomac. An open living space is bordered by a kitchen and dining area. Downstairs is the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom (with a fantastic, separate soaking tub). 

We also really like the Anchor Suite, which has a blue-topped pool table in the living space. Like the Constellation Suite, it’s located on a corner of the hotel, meaning plenty of natural light and river views from its floor-to-ceiling windows (a standard throughout the hotel). We’re told this room is very popular for grooms. Alternatively, we hear The Knot Suite is most popular for brides. The remaining top suite is the Compass Suite. 

InterContinental Washington D.C. — The Wharf’s Constellation Suite a duplex-inspired penthouse suite with a wraparound balcony. // Photo by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts

Luxury travel advisors can contact Max Noyes ([email protected]), reservations manager at InterContinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf.

The hotel houses just the second L’Occitane spa in the U.S.; it has four treatment rooms (one couples room), a nail salon and lounge. The Deep Tissue Intense Relief treatment just after arrival definitely energized us for our stay. One of the signature treatments is the Shea Fabulous Face and Body Massage, a 90-minute holistic massage that combines Balinese and Swedish techniques. Contract Quandra Lee ([email protected]), the spa manager, for bookings. Good to know: The 24-hour fitness center has Peloton bikes if you don’t want to miss a workout. The InterContinental also partners with the nearby Yoga Factory DC to host classes.

The rooftop pool has a great bar (Waves), and works well for that Instagram-worthy photoshoot or simply enjoying drinks during sunset. 

Hungry? Kith / Kin is a must. Full at almost all hours with hotel guests and locals alike, there wasn’t a single thing on the menu that we tried that we didn’t like (and we tried almost all of it). Executive chef Kwame Onwuachi pulls from his heritage, blending Caribbean flavors, Creole cuisine and African accents, all while using local ingredients. Some highlights from his dinner menu includes Mom Dukes Shrimp, Jerk Chicken and the Whole Fried Snapper. For reservations, reach out to Pierre Morzinkowski ([email protected]), director of restaurant and bar. 

The Kith/Kin restaurant has a unique menu of Afro-Caribbean cuisine. 

The Nook, just off the lobby, is a small seating area that general manager James Ryan, formerly of InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C., says may become home to a popup bar in partnership with Moët Hennessy. The idea is to offer a variety of Hennessey batches and the bartender will have full reign to chat with the guest, learn about their tastes and create a cocktail for them on the spot. An upscale coffee bar may also be coming to the lobby in the mornings to help guests start their day, Ryan tells us. 

The Wharf is one of Washington D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods, offering new restaurants, year-round entertainment and impressive water views. // Photo by Matt Turner

Good to know: Water taxis just outside the hotel can take you to Mount Vernon, Georgetown and National Harbor. And while not available just yet, InterContinental is hopeful it can set up a water shuttle directly from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which is just across the river and can be seen from the rooftop.

Related Articles

Rosewood Washington, D.C. Reopens With New Dining, Public Spaces

Pendry Hotels & Resorts Heads to D.C.’s Wharf Neighborhood

Now Open: Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Lexus Off-Road Adventure Program Launches at Blackberry Mountain

Suggested Articles:

ASTA and other travel industry organizations applauded the American Recovery Act but noted additional relief is still needed. Read more here.

Internova has named Gabe Rizzi as president, reporting to J.D. O’Hara, chief executive officer. It's also named a new chief information officer.

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has unveiled its new collection of private beach pool residences after a $5 million renovation. Learn more here.