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Navy Yard Guide


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Studio--
1 Bed$2,502763 sqft
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3+ Beds--

About

If you visited the Navy Yard even 15 years ago, you would not recognize the dynamic stretch of southeast DC in front of you today. Once a heavy industrial area where breweries and a sugar refinery took advantage of the Anacostia River’s deep waters, the United States Navy had established the largest shipbuilding center in the country here, and during World War II, it used it as a marine production and ammunitions facility, employing as many as 25,000 people. But when the Navy consolidated its operations in the 1960s, the area fell into hard times. Thanks to the city’s major development initiatives, a remarkable transformation has recently taken place, and formerly blighted zones have been replaced by the Capitol Riverfront, Nationals Park, a new baseball stadium, and mixed-use office complexes. Restaurants, condos, and apartments in the Navy Yard have cropped up (many with prime vistas), providing brand-new, much-needed space to stretch out in the city and making this neighborhood something of a playground destination for young and old alike.

Residential options abound, primarily as apartments in the gleaming new buildings — a new one seems to spring up every few months. Filled with loads of high-tech amenities, they’re a far cry from the older, subdivided rowhomes in other parts of DC. This area is home to successful young professionals, most under age 40, with an average household income in the six figures; they simply can’t get enough of all there is to see and do here, and there sure is plenty — from pre-game tailgating at the Bullpen, which has live music and food trucks, to taking in a Championship-winning Nationals game or heading to The Yards, a waterfront oasis of shops and fine dining. The charming, tiered Canal Park and the riverfront Yards Park to get some steps in, or you can opt for an even higher-flying adventure at Trapeze School Washington DC. And while the naval base is closed to the public, visitors can tour the US Navy Museum for a fascinating look at the naval history of this area.

Getting Around

Today’s Navy Yard neighborhood is much more than the naval base; it extends as far north as M Street SE, to the west at S. Capitol Street SE, and by the Anacostia River to the east and the south. Developers made a point to make this a walkable (and joggable) part of town, with wide new sidewalks in great condition. You’ll find dedicated bike lanes on 4th Street SE, 1st Street SE, and along Water Street by the river.

The MetroRail Green Line stops in the area at Navy Yard-Ballpark station. Metrobus Routes 74, P6, V1, V4, A9, W9 cross through the neighborhood (fares begin at $2), as does the DC Circulator. You can even take a water taxi to get to the next Nats game. The Potomac River Company offers service from the Capitol Riverfront to National Harbor and Alexandria, departing as late as 20 minutes after the game from Diamond Teague pier.

Meanwhile, drivers can find public parking garages in the Navy Yard around Nationals Park and at The Yards.

Food & Drink

There are lots of great restaurants in the Navy Yard at every price point; most can be found by Nationals Park and in The Yards complex, with an emphasis on the freshest catches from the sea.

For upscale dining at its finest, head to Maialino Mare, the first DC outpost from famed NYC restauranteur Danny Meyer; it’s the sister restaurant of Maialino in the Gramercy Park Hotel. Here you’ll find Italy’s soulful flavors enveloped into seafood-forward entrees, like spaghetti with crab meatballs and seared Arctic Char with olives. Desserts include a fabulous tiramisu.

Anchovy Social, located on the rooftop of the Thompson Washington DC Hotel, is another offering from Danny Meyer’s Union Restaurant Group. It features lovely floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor patio with views of everything from the boats docked along riverfront to Nationals Stadium. Try the Anchovy House punch, made with rum, cognac, and Aperol — it’s made for sharing.

Hatoba, which means “wharf” in Japanese, serves up Sapporo-style ramen delicacies from Daikaya Group: their noodle shops, which include Daikaya, Bentam King, and Haikan, consistently generate good press. This restaurant is housed in a building that used to produce boilers that powered Navy ships, and the lantern-lit décor pays homage in a whimsical way.

For New England-style seafood, reserve a riverfront table at The Salt Line. Clam chowder, coddies, and lobster rolls fill the menu, and their enormous raw bar features fresh oysters from the Chesapeake’s waters.

For Puerto Rican comforts food in a beautiful, glass-enclosed setting, La Famosa is hard to beat. Think pressed sandwiches and breakfast served all day. Order the pork pernil with housemade adobo or the bacalaitos, cod fritters that are fried to perfection. There are coffees sourced from Ceremony Roasters in Annapolis and fruit-filled batidos. The coco shakerato, a blend of coffee and coconut milk, is a real treat.

Albi, which means “my heart” in Arabic, serves tasty Levantine cuisine hot from a wood-fired oven. Chef/owner Michael Rafidi uses only the freshest seasonal produce, and standouts include lamb kabobs served on cinnamon sticks and coal-fired branzino.

Albi’s sister restaurant, Yellow, is a bakery that perfectly melds Middle Eastern and French techniques. Try the morning buns topped with Moroccan spices or the coffee cake filled with golden dates. Specialty lattes, wood-fired pita sandwiches, cookies, and pastries, like the delectable orange-blossom croissant, round out the menu — and it’s hard to choose which to eat first.

One of the first places to put Navy Yard cuisine on the map, Bluejacket was designed to be a “brewery without boundaries,” which enables brewmaster Greg Engert (a James Beard nominee) to create an array of suds across the spectrum, from hoppy IPAs to lagers, porters, and stouts. The building itself is noteworthy; it used to be a Navy munitions factory.

And at Lot 38 Espresso Bar, you can sip a smooth single espresso or a frothy latte made with illy beans in a lovely, bi-level coffee setting. It’s located in a hundred-year-old building next to the Courtyard by Marriott.

For dining at home, you can get your groceries in the Navy Yard at Harris Teeter on M Street SE. Or a little further up H Street SE, there’s a Whole Foods. And during the warmer months, the FRESHFARM Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday from 10 am - 2 pm at the southern end of Canal Park.

Shopping

The place to indulge in some retail therapy at the Capitol Riverfront is at The Yards.

Steadfast Supply has the coolest DC-themed stuff from RBG mugs to cookbooks, custom jewelry, craft cocktail mixes, and handmade body washes from local vendors. It’s the best spot to find a gift for that hard-to-please loved one.

If you’re in need of a good pair of shoes — or an entire outfit — to keep pace with the area joggers, Pacers Running will not disappoint. In addition, there’s a Lululemon athleisure store on Tingey Street.

At the time of the writing of this guide, there aren’t many additional clothing boutiques in the neighborhood, but we suspect it won’t be long before that changes. In the meantime, you can head to Capitol Hill or Shaw for some great independent boutiques, like Boutique on the Hill or Lettie Gooch.

Things to Do

The Navy Yard’s renaissance really took off with the development of Nationals Park. In 2005, the Montreal Expos moved to DC and became the Washington Nationals; just one year later, Nationals Park opened a new, modern-looking stadium that blends well with its contemporary surroundings. The baseball team must have liked it; they won the World Series just a few short years later. In addition to offering loads of premium seating, stadium developers incorporated views of the Washington Monument and made sure to include local restaurants, like Ben’s Chili Bowls, as food vendors. Gameday features include the delightful Racing Presidents, and a large kid’s zone ensures a good time for fans of all ages.

When the Nats are at home, the Bullpen is open. Just a few steps from the stadium, it’s where fans can gather before the game and partake from Truckaroo, a gathering of food trucks. Adding to the fun are BBQ pits, which serve up sizzling hog dogs and burgers, a “Daq Shack” daiquiri bar, and several outlets that sell beer — plus, half-priced drink specials begin during the game’s final innings. Bands play here, and Sundays are Family Fun days; it’s an all-around convivial atmosphere and definitely worth checking out.

Canal Park was built on the former site of the Washington Canal, which had been filled in and repurposed as a parking lot for DC school buses until the year 2000. Three blocks of sculpture-filled greenspaces designed to mimic the barges that once floated up the canal now await visitors, making it a lovely place for yoga, lolling around, or walking your dog. The fountain at the park’s southern edge becomes an ice rink in the winter.

Located along the Anacostia River, The Yards is a 72-acre residential and retail complex that was once an annex to the naval base. It has green acreage known as The Front Lawn, dancing fountains, and a futuristic looking bridge. The boardwalk serves as a waterfront connection between the Washington Navy Yard, Nationals Park, and the riverfront piers known as Diamond Teague Pier, where you can catch a water taxi to points around town. There are free Friday night concerts and other fun events here, and next door, there’s even a Trapeze School, giving you many high-flying options to let loose and have fun.

The Washington Navy Yard is an active military base — its most recognizable landmark is the beautiful Latrobe Gate. This white Greek Revival design was one of the few structures to survive when the British burned the area during the War of 1812. This gate was once used as the Navy Yard’s main entrance, but today’s visitors will need to go to the Visitors Center located at 11th and O Streets SE. A photo ID is required, and the vetting process will consist of photo taking and fingerprinting. Visitors will receive a pass with a scannable barcode designating which areas of the Navy Yard they are allowed to enter, such as “Museum only” for the US Navy Museum.

The US Navy Museum’s exhibitions are worth the effort it takes to get in. It has Trieste, a manned research submarine which in 1960 landed at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, a whopping 35,800 feet beneath the surface. There are galleries devoted to Naval achievements spanning the Revolutionary War, WWII, and the Cold War, and objects on display include mines and missiles. Best of all, it’s free.

Colleges & Universities

There aren’t any colleges in the Navy Yard, but that doesn’t stop newly minted graduates and successful young professionals from seeking out this neighborhood as one of DC’s hottest destinations to live, work, and play, with loads of restaurants and bars, riverfront sights to enjoy, and free activities to fill one’s calendar.

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