Just south of the National Mall and a short distance from Nationals Park, the Southwest Waterfront, referred to as simply “The Wharf,” offers a mini-escape from the heat and congestion of city life. Long a neglected and underutilized area of Washington, the city’s hidden gem has become the next big thing.

Main Avenue Fish Market. Photo by Megan McDonough

Maine Avenue Fish Market, a.k.a. "the Fish Wharf"

1100 Maine Ave. SW

You can smell the fresh fish before you actually spot the historic open-air market, tucked behind the Interstate 395 overpass. "The Fish Wharf" is open 365 days a year, and customers can have their catch cleaned, chopped, steamed and cooked on site.The best time to purchase crab? After Labor Day, when they are "the heaviest, the biggest and the cheapest," says Paul Harrison, a Jessie Taylor Seafood manager for 27 years.

Arena Stage. Photo by Megan McDonough

Arena Stage

1101 Sixth St. SW

This three-theater, deluxe performing arts center hosts one of the largest theater companies in the country dedicated to the production, presentation and study of American theater. Arena Stage's undulating glass exterior, developed in the 2010 $125 million renovation, is designed to show the "sensuality of theater," says Arena Stage's artistic director, Molly Smith. "Theater is about the flesh. So if you look to the building with your head turned, it looks like a woman's body." http://www.arenastage.org/

Cantina Marina. Photo by Megan McDonough

Cantina Marina

600 Water St. SW

Looking for a dog-friendly bar to cool off with your pup? Cantina Marina, the only dock bar in the city, hosts a summer "yappy hour" Mondays from 5 to 9 p.m. and, once a month, teams with the Washington Animal Rescue League to bring adoptable dogs onsite. While your pet enjoys the free Milk-Bone buffet, indulge yourself with fish tacos or crab nachos.


Women’s Titanic Memorial. Photo by Megan McDonough

Women's Titanic Memorial

Washington Channel Park, Fourth and P streets SW

The 13-foot-tall statue, erected in 1931, bears an uncanny resemblance to the iconic scene featuring actress Kate Winslet at the helm of the ship ("I'm flying, Jack!") in the 1997 film "Titanic." Annually, on April 15 (the anniversary of the 1912 sinking), the Men's Titanic Society hosts a private wreath-laying ceremony at the base of the memorial to pay tribute to the men who sacrificed their lives so women and children could be saved.

Blind Whino Arts Club. Photo by Megan McDonough

Blind Whino SW Arts Club

700 Delaware Ave. SW

In 2013, co-founders Shane Pomajambo and Ian Callender renovated this 138-year-old abandoned former Baptist church into a vibrant, colorful and inspired arts and event space. The building itself is a work of art: Murals by artists from across the country and abroad adorn the ceilings to the bathroom stalls, and a funky abstract mural wraps the exterior. The club offers workshops, exhibitions and concerts.

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