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Is There Waterfront Living in Washington DC? Here’s What You Need to Know

For most of us, Washington D.C. conjures images of stately government buildings, fantastic museums, and historic homes. It is often easy to forget that the capital city is located between 2 rivers, the Potomac River and the Anacostia River. As such, there are neighborhoods within Washington D.C. that are home to beautiful and coveted waterfront properties. What’s more, each of these waterfront communities offers unique history, character, and personality. If you find yourself drawn to any of them, it might be time to start taking a look for a luxury apartment on the D.C. waterfront.

Southwest Waterfront

Southwest Waterfront
Photo Courtesy of Thrillist
The Southwest Waterfront is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. This historic area was a part of the city's original design in 1791 and was strategically planned as an inland harbor, which would allow the young nation to establish trade and a busy seaport.
Throughout every stage of Washington's history, the Southwest Waterfront has had an important role. The nation's oldest fish market is located here and is still in operation today. During the Civil War, formerly enslaved individuals found refuge here, and soldiers mustered for battle. By the early 20th century, the Southwest Waterfront was in a state of decay and decline and desperately needed revitalization. Modest improvements were accomplished, but even with these efforts, the population of the area was declining and investment in the area was flagged. Interstate development left the Southwest Waterfront sadly isolated from the rest of the metropolitan area.
Today, all that has changed. Southwest Waterfront is enjoying the benefits of the most extensive neighborhood revitalization in all of Washington, D.C.'s history. The District Wharf, approximately one mile of upscale shops, restaurants, apartments, and condominiums, began redefining the neighborhood in 2017. Southwest Waterfront real estate has been transformed. Now, this urban area is a hub of variety, where urban DC-ists are flocking to the neighborhoods for the chic luxury apartments and condos on the D.C. waterfront. Local renowned chefs have opened brand new restaurants, celebrating the best of D.C.dining while offering patrons wonderful international options as well. There is a fun outdoor boardwalk with swings, an outdoor music theater, a skating area, a bonfire area, a marina, and a launch for water taxis to other DC, MD, and VA waterfront neighborhoods. Multiple entertainment venues and nightclubs focusing on live music keep Southwest Waterfront real estate vibrant and full of character once more. There are fun free events like yoga, dance parties, and concerts scheduled regularly along the waterfront. And for those who wish to get away from the lively cityscape, they can just head across the river to scenic East Potomac Park, which offers golfing and other outdoor recreation.


Georgetown is known for its charming Federal and Victorian-style brick houses, narrow cobblestone streets, international flair, and the first Catholic university in America. The community’s roots date back to colonial America, and Georgetown was an independent town until it was annexed into Washington, D.C. in 1788. The community was spurred in its development by the construction of the C and O Canal, an early means of transporting goods to and from inland farms for trade. Today, boat tours use the canal, and the path alongside it serves as a jogging and cycling path through the beautifully preserved village.
Georgetown is an active, vibrant, neighborhood with two main thoroughfares of upscale and local shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars converging at the intersection of M and Wisconsin Streets, NW. International and US tourists as well as DC locals alike can all be found perusing the shops or hunkering down for a conversation, cocktail, and bite on any given day. The popularity of this community is reflected in a smaller inventory of available houses to purchase, and higher-than-average prices. Along with a wide range of tiny two-bedroom townhomes to vast luxurious detached mansions, luxury condos, coops, and apartments along the Georgetown waterfront are in high demand.

Capitol Riverfront

Capitol Riverfront
Photo Courtesy of Washington DC
Sports enthusiasts will not be able to get enough of the Navy Yard, located on the Anacostia River. This neighborhood is home to the Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals, and  Audi Field, home of the Washington Spirit and D.C. United Soccer.
The Capitol Riverfront was initially designated as a naval base — the first in the United States — by President George Washington. The presence and long history of the US Navy cannot be ignored in this district. The U.S. Naval Academy is located in the region and the National Museum of the US Navy chronicles and archives Naval history. Early in the Navy Yard's history, it was the largest shipbuilding facility in our country. There was a shift by 1852 in the Navy Yard’s primary function, and it became a base for technology development, testing, and production. In the 1960s, the Navy Yard was abandoned from its original purpose, and the space was converted into offices.
Today, the area is the home to the US Department of Transportation and has a fun walkway highlighting the history of transportation in the US. The area has a gorgeous, walkable boardwalk/park system along the Anacostia River, lined with mixed-use shopping, casual and high-end restaurants including Michelin-star rated Albi, and residential areas heading north beyond it. There is a popular wading pool and spray park area to cool off on a hot day, and a large stepped grassy area is perfect for picnicking and catching the free Friday summer concert series.
The majority of the housing stock in this neighborhood are rental units in newer large buildings with lots of wonderful amenities like concierge services, security, rooftop decks and pools, party rooms, workout rooms, and even indoor bowling!  There are some townhomes and condos that are available to purchase, and they range from slightly more moderately priced than some of their fellow D.C. waterfront neighborhoods, to the very high price per square footage for larger units with water views, outdoor patios, and parking and the like.

Choosing the right neighborhood

Had the image of endless concrete and towering high-rises left you discouraged about the prospect of a move to a city? Hopefully, now you can see that there are many options for waterfront neighborhoods with great personality and amenities to suit a wide range of interests and budgets, right in the heart of our nation’s capital city.
If you’re looking for help navigating the market and answering all of your questions, reach out to the experienced and knowledgeable local agents of the Jeanne Phil Meg Team at (202) 255- 8401. Whether you prefer the colonial charm of Georgetown, the sports and naval history of the Capitol Riverfront, the trendy music-centric Southwest Waterfront, or something else altogether, the Team will help you find the perfect place to call home!

*Header photo courtesy of The Crazy Tourist

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