Travel Destinations

Boating Destination: Washington, DC Riverfront

April 2018
Elnicki Wade

Winds of change bring a renaissance to the Washington DC riverfront

As the Boomerang pirate tour boat cruises past the Lincoln Memorial filling the air with lively music and contagious laughter, you almost expect Old Abe to vacate his big marble chair and walk down to the banks of the Potomac River to join the festivities. For nearly a century, Lincoln has sat in stony silence watching the shoreline evolve from grassy parkland to a waterfront bustling with activity.The swashbuckling party ship is part of changes happening downstream from his monument, where massive cranes are lifting heavy loads of glass and steel to erect residential and commercial buildings along the Washington DC riverfront. With the Washington Monument and Capitol Dome towering in the background, restaurants, arts venues and retail shops have opened their doors to welcome crowds of excited visitors. And local neighborhoods are thriving from the budding developments' influx of culture, commerce and cuisine.Within walking distance of the National Mall and Smithsonian museums, construction on the first of two phases at The Wharf is complete, creating a vibrant community along the Potomac River. To put this mile-long destination into perspective, take the elevator in Hilton's Canopy Hotel to the 10th floor and step out on Whiskey Charlie's rooftop lounge. While sipping craft cocktails, you get a panoramic view of the docks at the Wharf and the Capital Yacht Club and the new public piers jutting out into the Washington Channel, Hains Point and northern Virginia's skyscrapers. This bird's eye view gives you the lay of the land, so you can easily navigate The Wharf 's many amenities.If you want to catch a show, entertainment venues await from a concert hall featuring national acts to pubs with smaller stages for acoustic guitar and the area's beloved regional theater. Dozens of restaurants accommodate foodie wishes from fresh local seafood to sizzling steaks. Pick a hot bestseller at DC's favorite indie bookstore, Politics & Prose, or browse around the strip's boutiques and specialty stores including Anchor, a marine store that will deliver beer and wine to your boat.Amid the shiny new buildings is a must-see historic gem that's essential to DC's seafood cravings. America's oldest open-air market, Maine Avenue Fish Market, has provided bounty from the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways since 1805. Ten floating barges carry ice-packed displays of briny oysters, just-caught fish and crabs with claws still snapping. Restaurant chefs arrive early to snag fresh deliveries for their patrons. Watermen will wrap up your selections to prepare at home or steam them on site for a casual treat.Getting around the Washington area from the Wharf is easy with water taxis that run direct routes to Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria and National Harbor. The Jitney's ferry service shuttles visitors across the channel to Haines Point for leisurely fun at the golf course, tennis court, swimming pool and running paths. You can also use the bike share program to peddle around the waterfront or rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from the recreational pier at the Wharf.A quick jaunt east of The Wharf is another new development that is revitalizing communities along the Anacostia River. Commanding 10 square city blocks between the Nationals baseball stadium and U.S. Navy Museum is the new and improved Navy Yards. It's got a laid-back festive vibe, so you're more likely to encounter hipsters in T-shirts holding a dog leash than politicians in button-downs carrying a briefcase.Urban designers for the Capitol Riverfront Neighborhood Development loaded the space with retail shops, waterfront residences, office buildings and green spaces. Neighbors gather in dog parks, attend outdoor concerts or push strollers along the lovely Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, a 20-mile recreational pathway with terrific riverside views and access to the marina. A trapeze school fulfills fantasies of joining the circus by offering classes in trapeze, trampoline, acrobatics, juggling and other death-defying feats.Plenty of eateries sport outdoor patios that encourage guests to sample a variety of cuisines while relishing a cool breeze off the water. The diverse culinary scene ranges from fine dining establishments like Whaley's, Osteria Morini and Chloe to places with more informal ambience, including Salt Line and Agua 301. The Yards is also earning the reputation as a libation location thanks to newcomers Blue Jacket Arsenal Brewery, Gordon Biersch, District Winery (DC's first winery!) and Bardo Brewing, an outdoor beer garden that's open in the summer. And if you need to pick up provisions, Harris Teeter grocery store is within walking distance from the marina.


  • The Anthem (901 Wharf St., SW) This 6,000-seat, state-of-the-art concert hall premieres bands and performing artists from around the globe.
  • Pearl Street Warehouse (33 Pearl St., SW) Enjoy an intimate evening with music from all genres such as jazz, blues, rock and folk, with American cuisine and craft cocktails served on the side.
  • Arena Stage (1101 Sixth St., SW) Across the street from The Wharf, DC's foremost regional theater presents new and revived productions by America's top playwrights.
  • Union Stage (740 Water St., SW) The brand-new 7,500-square-foot, 450 capacity music venue set against the backdrop of the Southwest waterfront has a full docket of events lined up for 2018. The onsite Tap Room at the venue is slated to open this season.


  • Cherry Blossom Festival - Each year, DC celebrates the gift of cherry blossom trees that symbolize the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. Take part in daily events from parades and digital art exhibits to live performances (March 20-April 15, 2018).
  • 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game - For the first time in its franchise history, the Washington Nationals will host the 89th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Nationals Park this summer (July 17, 2018).


  • The Wharf Gangplank Marina (202-554-5000) This marina is located in the protected Washington Channel with newly upgraded floating docks and piers and proximity to some of the capital's iconic sightseeing.
  • Market Docks (202-897-3868) Located at the Wharf, Market Docks is geared to transient visitors with slips for vessels up to 60 feet and 340 of side tie dockage with 50-amp power.
  • The District Pier (202-897-3868) A fixed pier with 450 feet of side tie dockage, located at The Wharf, with 200-amp, 3-phase electric.
  • The Yards Marina (202-484-0309) Located between Nationals Park and Washington Navy Yard, the marina can accommodate vessels up to 120 feet, giving boaters access to fine dining, retailers and provisioning in DC's trendy new neighborhood.



  • Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi (791 Wharf St., NW) Experience Spanish coastal dining in a sophisticated upscale setting with tapas, paella, grilled fish and more.
  • Hank's Oyster Bar (701 Wharf St., SW) Sample the region's finest oysters and seafood in an upbeat casual atmosphere.


  • Osteria Morini (301 Water St., SE) Executive Chef Ben Pflaumer serves up fresh northern Italian cuisine on the waterfront with outdoor seating.
  • Salt Line Oyster Bar (79 Potomac Ave., SE) Enjoy a laid-back waterfront vibe while nibbling on local catch from the Bay, steaks, sandwiches and salads.
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Camden, Maine

True boaters say the real Maine coast doesn’t start until you reach Penobscot Bay. This is “Down East” from Kennebunkport and Portland. The dramatic stretch of coastline from Camden to Mount Desert Island sparkles with granite shores, dotted with archipelagos of pine-tree covered islands and mountains cascading into the sea. This region offers some of the best cruising ground in the world.

Camden is a magical little seaside town in the heart of Maine’s mid-coast. It’s historic but hip. “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” is their moniker, as Camden Hills and 780-foot Mount Battie stretch down toward the bustling waterfront where this 1769 New England village sits, creating a postcard scene.

Photo Courtesy of Greg Burke

Camden is super foot-traffic friendly, starting at Harbor Park and the beautiful brick Public Library that graces the top of the bay by the Town Docks. Enjoy a picnic on the sprawling park lawn; there’s often a craft festival or free concert at the outdoor amphitheater. From the waterfront, stroll the quaint sidewalks leading to cafés, boutiques, craft stores and art galleries, pubs, and surprisingly trendy restaurants.

You can hike, bike or drive the toll road up Mount Battie in Camden Hill State Park, which encompasses 5,500 acres and 30 miles of trails. Your reward is spectacular panoramic views of the harbor and Penobscot Bay below.

Eaton Point, at the eastern entrance to the harbor, is home to a new Lyman-Morse yacht facility. Camden remains a working harbor with lobster fishermen, boat builders, ferries and tall-masted schooners taking folks out for scenic sails.

Camden hosts festivals throughout the summer season of jazz, film and its trademark Windjammers. In winter, the U.S. National Tobogganing Champion-ships are held at Camden’s namesake Snow Bowl – our country’s only ski area with views of the Atlantic.

Camden is an ideal boater’s gateway with all the services and shops you need in walking distance from the waterfront. Excursions from this protected harbor are countless and legendary. A quick cruise brings you to quiet Lasell Island for a sunset anchorage. Farther on you reach Maine’s Maritime Academy home in beautiful Castine, and the rustic islands of North Haven, Vinalhaven and Deer Isle. Ultimately you can cruise north and east through beautiful Merchants Row, or the more protected Eggemoggin Reach, to Mount Desert Island, home to famed Acadia National Park, Northeast, Southwest and Bar Harbors.


Camden Public Landing Town Docks

Contact the harbormaster for overnight slips, limited but in town, and moorings throughout the harbor.

Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer Marine

Across the harbor on Camden’s east shores, this revamped marina is a half-mile walk to town, with new docks and a marina facility, home of Lyman-Morse Boatyard and 30 slips plus moorings.


40 Paper

Relish artful cuisine locally sourced from farmers, fishermen and “foragers.” In an historic wool mill in downtown Camden, it’s comfy but chic. Savor octopus, lamb, mussels, salmon and more with fresh produce and creative sides. Save room for dessert made from scratch.

Peter Otts on the Water

Get your chowder and Maine lobster fix from Chef Peter. This classic setting overlooking the harbor is a Camden staple you “ott” not miss. Open for lunch or dinner.

Franny’s Bistro

With a neighborhood feel, Franny’s serves up lobster fritters, crab cakes, shrimp dumplings and land-lubber faves, too. A fun menu in a cozy setting.

Bagel Café

For fresh-brewed morning coffee and daily “boiled then baked” bagels or breakfast sammies served all day.

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Jamestown, Rhode Island

Located on Conanicut Island, Gould Island and Dutch Island, Jamestown welcomes boaters to Narragansett Bay.  Its southernmost point is on Gould Island and marked by Beavertail Lighthouse and State Park. The northernmost point is marked by Conanicut Island Lighthouse.  While Conanicut Island is the second largest island on Narragansett Bay, it is near the western mainland in Kingston, and Newport lies to the east on Aquidneck Island.  Hop on the Jamestown Newport Ferry to get the lay of the land and sea.

Jamestown was settled early in colonial history and was named for James, Duke of York, who became King James II in 1685.  By 1710, many of Jamestown’s current roads were already in place and a lot of its early architecture is well preserved. Soak up some local history at the Jamestown Fire Memorial Museum, Beavertail Lighthouse Museum and Park, Jamestown Windmill, Watson Farm, Conanicut Island Sanctuary, Fort Wetherill State Park, and the Jamestown Settlement museum.

The main town, shops and restaurants are located on the eastern shore of Conanicut Island.  But even from the western side, Dutch Harbor and other attractions are easily accessed with a one-mile walk.


Conanicut Marina

This full-service marina has a ships store/chandlery, gift shop, extensive dockage and a large mooring field.  It’s located in the heart of town overlooking Newport and the Pell Bridge, but bring your fishing poles for the kids.

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard

Located on the west passage of Narragansett Bay, this small, local marina has good moorings, launch service and facilities.  At times, the harbor can be rolly from a SW wind up the West Passage.  The holding ground is excellent for anchoring, but the dinghy dock is by seasonal permit only.

Safe Harbor Jamestown Boatyard

Jamestown Boatyard is renowned for excellent workmanship on all types of boats.  It also has a large mooring field and is in a beautiful location on the East Passage.


Slice of Heaven

This family-owned café and bakery with an outdoor patio is an ideal spot for breakfast and lunch, especially if you’re looking for tasty gluten-free and vegetarian options.

J22 Tap & Table

This lively, year-round restaurant specializes in classic American cuisine and local seafood dishes such as New England clam chowder, lobster tail and seared yellowfin tuna while accommodating meat eaters with wings, burgers and steak tacos.

Village Hearth Bakery & Café

Take a seat inside this rustic eatery or outside on the patio to enjoy wood-fired bread, pizzas and pastries with a cool beer or wine.  To start your day with a smile, order a cup of the eco-friendly coffee.

Bay Voyage Restaurant

Inside the Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn, this casual dining establishment presents a seasonal menu of American cuisine standards and seafood with fresh ingredients and a stellar view of Narragansett Bay.

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Chesapeake Bay Calendar of Events

Summer is here, and it’s time to soak up the sun, visit bustling beaches, learn about boating history and relish the small-town charm around the Chesapeake Bay. Read on for hidden gems and tried-and-true events along the Bay, all the way from Havre de Grace to Cape Charles. Whether you’re a fan of watersports, arts and crafts, street festivals, or coastal cuisine, you’ll find something worth docking for a while.


Yorktown Market Days, Fun in the Sun Market

Yorktown, VA

July 16 - Fun in the Sun Market;

August 6 - National Farmers Market Week

Experience a coastal Hampton Roads market on the York River. Check out local produce, meats, seafood, gourmet dog treats, art and more every Saturday this summer, and stop by one of the dates above for a themed, family-friendly extended market.

Where to Dock: Riverwalk Landing

Spirit of America

Havre de Grace, MD

July 2

Enjoy this beautiful town through a mid-century Americana lens at the Independence Day festival. You won’t want to miss the Patriotic Pooch contest, 50s throwback entertainers and best of all, derby races on Pennington Avenue.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

Sea Glass & Beach Crafts Market at Annmarie

Solomons, MD

July 2

Kick off the holiday weekend at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center’s annual beach-themed market. Browse all things crafty and sea glass at over 50 booths!

Where to Dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Kent County Waterman’s Day

Rock Hall, MD

July 3

For the first time since 2019, stop by and celebrate watermen who dedicate their lives to working on the Chesapeake! Enjoy a day of family fun, including anchor tosses and a raffle, culminating in the infamous boat docking.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association’s 49th Annual Show

Easton, MD

July 7-10

Calling all car, truck and train enthusiasts! This multi-day show will be packed with steam and gas engines; antique tractors, trucks and cars; live steam train models; and even a horse pull.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge

Annapolis, MD

July 9 

Sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club, this open water race has something for all levels. Experienced paddlers can fight it out in the seven-mile Challenge, and recreational paddlers will enjoy the 3.5-mile Challenge or one-mile Just for Fun race.

Where to Dock: Eastport Yacht Center

Plein Air Easton Art Festival

Easton, MD

July 17-24

Plein air painters express their craft from life instead of the studio, so you’ll see artists from across the country painting all around town. Also attend lectures and workshops, and buy art and other goods downtown all week. 

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

14th Annual Hampton Heat

Hampton, VA

July 23

Dock at the transient slips in downtown Hampton, then join the landlubbers at Langley Speedway, one of NASCAR’s best weekly tracks, for the annual Hampton Heat races.

Where to Dock: Bluewater Yachting Center

Southern Maryland Boat Club Bash on the Bay

Leonardtown, MD

July 29-31

Since the Calvert Marine Museum opened an exhibit on the golden era of powerboat racing in 2013, this vintage boat club has put on several races a year. Make your way to the historic Leonardtown Wharf to see vintage powerboats in action.

Where to Dock: Combs Creek Marina

2022 Snakehead Summer Slam

July 30

Annapolis, MD

Things are sure to heat up at the fourth of five tournaments in the 2022 Snakehead Championship Series at Anglers Sport Center. Anglers in kayak/shoreline and boating divisions will be up for all kinds of prizes, including one from the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasive Count.

Where to Dock: Podickory Point Marina

Annapolis Yacht Club Two Bridge Fiasco Race

Annapolis, MD

July 31

Cruise to the southern Chesapeake to witness this pursuit style race starting between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Severn River Bridge. Look out for all types of boats in the competition, and even a foiler or two if you’re lucky.

Where to Dock: Annapolis Yacht Club


Annual Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival

Cordova, MD

August 5-7

Embrace the Eastern Shore summer lifestyle at this family-friendly festival. Feel the adrenaline rush of hot air balloon rides and keep the thrill going on the mechanical bull and bouncy house on land.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

A Day of Celebration & Remembrance of Harriet Tubman

Cambridge, MD

August 6 

Celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life, bicentennial and antislavery activism on the Underground Railroad just miles from where she lived as a child. Join the commemorative parade through the streets of Cambridge and enjoy local vendors and entertainment at the festival.

Where to Dock: Cambridge Yacht Basin

Pirates & Wenches Weekend

Rock Hall, MD

August 12-14

Presented by Main Street Rock Hall, you can dock at a local bayfront marina ready for an immersive, family-friendly weekend. The whole family will love the marketplace on Main Street, pirate and mermaid performers, and costume contests, and there will be no shortage of grub and grog.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Solomons Dragon Boat Festival 2022

Solomons Island

August 13

Cruise to scenic Solomons Island to watch 30 dragon boat teams compete for glory on the Patuxent River and explore the local vendor village. Arrive the week before and you might catch a Dotting of the Eye Ceremony or even a flash mob.

Where to dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Leo Wardrup Memorial Cape Charles Cup Regatta

Cape Charles, VA

August 20-21

Make your way to Virginia’s Eastern Shore for two days of racing on the Chesapeake. While you’re there, lounge on the Cape Charles town beach, stroll around the retail district and check out Victorian homes in the historic district.

Where to Dock: Cape Charles Yacht Center & Marine Services

7th Annual Coastal Craft Beer Festival

Virginia Beach, VA

August 27

Spend your Saturday at the waterfront Neptune’s Park, tasting your way through 60+ beers, ciders and seltzers from 30 breweries. Learn about all Virginia breweries have to offer or branch out with some regional or national craft brews.

Where to Dock: Rudee's Inlet Station Marina


The Waterfront Festival

Havre de Grace, MD

September 9-10

Cruise to the northern Bay to round out your summer with this annual festival, kicking off with a lighted boat parade. Enjoy fun for the whole family with fresh crab and seafood, beer gardens, live music, hot air balloons and a youth fishing derby!

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

2nd Annual Portsmouth Paddle Battle

Portsmouth, VA

September 10 

Whether you kayak or paddleboard as a novice or a pro, or enjoy waterfront live music, food and drink, there’s a place for you in the Paddle Battle on the Elizabeth River. Proceeds will support the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and Lightship Portsmouth Museum.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Yacht Marina

TrawlerFest Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

September 27-October 1

Close out your summer season with Passagemaker’s annual boat show held at Harbor East Marina in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The show hosts impression in-water selections of new and pre-owned long-rang cruisers, coastal cruisers and of course, tons of trawlers. Free seminars and educational demonstrations are held throughout the weekend.

Where to Dock: Harbor East Marina

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