Explore Top Urban Waterfronts in and around Washington, DC

Cruise the Potomac River to discover the coolest waterfront hotspots around the nation's capital.

Potomac River water taxi
Water taxi on the Potomac River (photo courtesy Visit Alexandria)
The Wharf fish market, Washington, DC
The Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf in Washington, DC (photo courtesy Washington.org)
National Harbor, Maryland at night
National Harbor, Maryland
The Wharf in Washington, DC at night
Anthem Arena at The Wharf in Washington, DC (photo courtesy Washington.org)
Waterfront of Alexandria, VA
Waterfront dining in Alexandria, Virginia (photo courtesy Visit Alexandria)
Sailing through National Harbor in Maryland
Sailing and kayaking through National Harbor, Maryland
Potomac River water taxi
The Wharf fish market, Washington, DC
National Harbor, Maryland at night
The Wharf in Washington, DC at night
Waterfront of Alexandria, VA
Sailing through National Harbor in Maryland

Visit Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia in one day — or over several — with our Potomac River itinerary. From exciting accommodations and eateries to an expanding water taxi service, it's never been easier to discover the region’s thriving riverside cities: Washington, DC; National Harbor, Maryland; and Alexandria, Virginia.

The Wharf: DC’s Newest Neighbourhood

The Wharf is a more recent recreational development on DC’s iconic waterfront, bringing new hotels, more than 20 vibrant retail outlets and enviable entertainment facilities to the city shoreline. Enjoy a meal at several restaurants from some of DC’s most renowned chefs, followed by a show at the massive new music venue, The Anthem, or smaller clubs like Pearl Street Warehouse and Union Stage. Explore more than 10 acres of parkland, four public piers or rent a bike from one of the neighbourhood’s four Capital Bikeshare stations to further explore the city.

Not all is new at The Wharf. The Maine Avenue Fish Market is the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the US and a true DC landmark. Visitors can enjoy fresh or cooked seafood, including the region’s famous blue crabs, oysters, clams, shrimp and fish, from a variety of seafood barges. Popular modern additions to The Wharf include Thrasher's Rum from Potomac Distilling Company — complete with a three-storey, Polynesian-themed tiki bar — along with shops, boutiques and a spa.

Historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia: DC’s Oldest Neighbourhood

A nationally designated historic district and once part of Washington, DC, Alexandria boasts historic charm with its quaint streets and Colonial architecture, combined with views of the DC skyline. Stroll the cobblestone and brick-lined streets, exploring more than 200 independent restaurants and shops. Enjoy waterfront dining at Hummingbird, Vola’s Dockside Grill and the Hi-Tide Lounge Oyster Bar. Take advantage of the Key to the City Museum Pass for discounted access to eight historic sites, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Alexandria Black History Museum.

The Mount Vernon Trail beckons runners, walkers and cyclists with 18 miles of waterfront vistas, loads of green space and a route that runs all the way from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate to Arlington through Old Town Alexandria.

National Harbor, Maryland: Potomac River Resort Destination

On the Maryland side of the Potomac River, National Harbor is a playground of entertainment. Here you’ll find the Capital Wheel, a nearly 55-metre-high Ferris wheel situated on a pier over the Potomac River. Sip sundowners at great heights from the Flight Deck at Capital Wheel; an outdoor lounge offering bites, bubbly and local brews with uninterrupted views of DC and the Potomac shoreline.

The fun continues at MGM National Harbor, featuring a 3,000-seat theatre, luxurious hotel rooms, 14 distinct restaurants and a gaming floor that is bigger than The White House. Gaylord National Resort's waterfront location is steps away from downtown National Harbor's shops, restaurant, and attractions.

Families will enjoy The Carousel at National Harbor, an 11-metre Americana-themed carousel, as well as free seasonal concerts and outdoor movie screenings on the waterfront Plaza Stage. National Harbor is also a shopping mecca with more than 85 brand-name stores to peruse at Tanger Outlets, 160 retailers in the downtown district and luxury retail shops at MGM.

Getting Around: Water Taxis and Cruises

These three destinations feature marinas welcoming boaters from near and far. No boat? No problem! A scenic way to cruise the Capital Region, water taxis are both convenient and panoramic, offering visitors a unique perspective of the region’s iconic skylines.

The massive fleet at Entertainment Cruises offers dinner cruises and sightseeing tours aboard the Odyssey and Spirit ships, as well as private yacht charters. Potomac Riverboat Company transports visitors from the Wharf’s Transit Pier to five destinations throughout the Capital Region, including DC’s Georgetown neighbourhood, Old Town Alexandria and National Harbour, with an additional eight dockings planned.

The Potomac Belle and Nina’s Dandy offer a variety of charters connecting Capital Region waterfront ports with themed tours like the Washington by Water Monuments Cruise or the Mount Vernon by Bike and Boat Tour. If you’re looking for a more intimate journey, Embark DC offers private, custom-crafted cruises for up to six passengers. And if a professional ballgame or football match sounds like the perfect addition to your agenda, the Baseball and Soccer Boats are the best way to get to a Washington Nationals or D.C. United game, hands down!

Discover More

Explore the area's many beaches and waterways, plus waterfront attractions and destinations in and around Washington, DC. Want to learn even more about the Capital Region? Check out our latest holiday guide!

Related: 
Outdoors & Nature
Tours & Trails
City Adventures
Attractions & Family Fun

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