The Anacostia River’s Summer Entertainment

Dock 79 Plaza/Park

The dog days of summer are here, and if August is anything like July we will all be looking for a little bit of relief from the heat and humidity. Our city on two rivers is certainly challenged with both heat and humidity due to that waterfront proximity – but the water can also bring much needed relief through a variety of activities.

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail System

There always seems to be a breeze when walking or sitting by the river, and the 16-mile (and growing) Anacostia Riverwalk Trail offers routes on both sides of the Anacostia River for use by walkers, runners, and cyclists alike. As an avid power walker and sometimes runner I have often enjoyed the Anacostia Park trail after crossing the local 11th Street bridge. The views from this side of the river back to the Navy Yard campus and the Capitol Riverfront are compelling and unique. The National Park Service’s Anacostia Park is a wonderful linear park with a well-kept trail and numerous features such as athletic fields, skating pavilion, picnic pavilions, public swimming pool, and fitness stations.

Yards Park Marina

Capitol Riverfront visitors are now able to dock and dine in the neighborhood at the new Yards Marina. Developer Forest City Washington has recently completed this marina, located directly in front of the Yards Park boardwalk. With 51 boat slips in multiple finger piers, the marina spans from the east end of the iconic pedestrian bridge in Yards Park to the border of the adjacent Washington Navy Yard.

Half of the planned boat slips are designated for short-term transient use (less than 10 days) and the other half are for long-term use on a seasonal contract basis. Each boat slip has a utility pedestal with convenient electrical outlets and a water supply hookup. The walkway and dock surfaces are floating concrete structures with direct connections to the Yards Park boardwalk.

The Yards Marina also features a water taxi dock, a paddler dock for kayakers and other human-powered watercraft, and an education dock for use with river-focused experiential instruction. The marina was designed by Moffatt & Nichol, a nationally noted consultant for waterfront infrastructure, and is being operated by Living Classrooms. For more information on the Yards Marina visit

Ballpark Boathouse

Rent kayaks, canoes, and hydro bikes starting at $16/hour at Ballpark Boathouse, located at Diamond Teague Park in the Capitol Riverfront at Potomac and First Avenues SE. Classes and twilight tours are also available. Boathouse hours are from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) hosts Paddle Nights and Canoe Tours from the Anacostia Community Boathouse, and Pontoon Boat Tours from the Diamond Teague Park Pump House as part of the Anacostia River Discover Series throughout the summer. All events are free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and RSVP is required. Visit the AWS calendar for a full list of event dates.

Anacostia Riverkeeper is hosting its Friday Night Fishing at Diamond Teague Park every Friday through Aug. 26. From 5 to 8 p.m. enjoy free catch-and-release fishing. All gear and bait are provided, and instructors are on site to assist children unfamiliar with angling and the necessary gear.

Dock 79 Plaza/Park

MRP Properties is rapidly completing its new residential project, Dock 79, located directly on the Anacostia River at Potomac Avenue. Part of the site work for this 305-unit apartment building is the construction of a riverfront plaza that acts as a companion open space feature to the Diamond Teague Park entry walk and plaza. The plaza will include the following features:

  • Pavilion bar – an outdoor bar situated in an abstract sculpture will be an entertaining and thirst-quenching functional art piece.
  • Interactive waterjet feature – running in a north/south configuration and inviting visitors to come to the river’s edge.
  • Shaded seating area with string-light canopy – a grove of trees providing shade and a “green” communal gathering space for visitors to the river and Nats Park.
  • Lawn terrace – additional shade trees and a lawn area providing more “outdoor living room” space along the river.

These improvements will lead directly to the next phase of the Riverwalk Trail system that MRP will construct in front of the Dock 79 building and restaurants. This segment of the trail system will include the esplanade, the wood deck promenade, a biofilter garden, and the River Garden. Ultimately it will be extended to the new South Capitol Street Bridge and pass underneath to the Buzzard Point subarea of our neighborhood. When the segments are completed, DC United soccer fans will be able to take the riverwalk trail to the new stadium in Buzzard Point and enjoy a walk along the river.

Dining on the River

There is an appeal to having a great meal adjacent to a body of water such as the Anacostia. Our riverfront offers numerous dining options, with several others under construction:

  • Osteria Morini (open in Lumber Shed Building)
  • Whaley’s Seafood (open in Lumber Shed Building)
  • Agua 301 (open in Lumber Shed Building)
  • Due South (open in Lumber Shed Building)
  • Ice Cream Jubilee (open in Lumber Shed Building)
  • District Winery (under construction overlooking Yards Park)
  • Salt Line (under construction in Dock 79)
  • All Purpose Pizzeria (under construction in Dock 79)

More fast casual dining will arrive next summer in the retail bays beneath the overlook at Yards Park.

Every Summer Deserves a Boardwalk

Yards Park has been open to the public for almost six years. One of its wonderful features is the wooden boardwalk that runs from the canal basin water feature all the way to the Navy Yard campus gates. Over a quarter of a mile in length, the boardwalk serves as a promenade for walkers who want a little exercise or quiet time while enjoying views of the Anacostia River. The boardwalk stroll is enhanced with ice cream from the Ice Cream Jubilee shop in the Lumber Shed Building.

Canal Basin Splash Park

Parents and children long ago discovered the canal basin water feature, water wall, and dancing waterjets of Yards Park, so much so that it has become the splash park of Ward 6 and the SE/SW quadrants, along with the 42 dancing waterjets and water scrim in Canal Park. Water is magic, especially for children, and there are few better ways to cool off on a hot summer day than at our park’s water features. Adults have been known to join in the water fun as well.

Friday Night Concerts

Friday night concerts at Yards Park are in full swing, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Great Lawn space. There is no better way to ease into the weekend than with a picnic dinner and a free concert with the Anacostia River as your backdrop.

Yes, we are in full-blown summer with sometimes stifling heat and humidity, but the options listed above provide relief by the river. Summer and its accompanying heat waves are nature’s way of suggesting that we all slow down a bit, find some shaded spots by the river, and enjoy a more languid pace. Every summer also deserves a beach, and while we do not have official beachfront property we do have a wonderful riverfront asset in the lands and amenities that front the Anacostia River.

Michael Stevens is president of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.

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