The Wharf seamlessly blends the nation’s oldest continually operating open-air fish market with the most modern cuisine at hot new restaurants.

No one is more excited about the summer than a family with teenage children, and for them, summer officially kicks off when the vacation begins. Summer vacations have an effect on the entire household. It's not just the kids – the entire family goes in a wanderlust mode and a festive mood. 

I have four kids, and our excitement borders on madness. Every year before vacations begin, we make plans as to how to make the most of summer, and every year the plans fall apart because there is never a consensus on where we want to go. We end up doing the same things and going to the same places.

This Summer we have finally agreed on a plan. The idea is to explore hidden gems of the DMV area every week – places we have never been to before. Every week, someone from our family has to pick a place they recommend and want to explore. And since we are almost a democracy, I picked the first destination. 

The Wharf seamlessly blends the nation’s oldest continually operating open-air fish market with the most modern cuisine at hot new restaurants. It offers year-round entertainment which includes an acoustically optimized, 6,000-seat concert hall, “The Anthem,” featuring big stars every week.

Besides food and music, The Wharf will keep you endlessly entertained on and off the water. You can stroll along the piers, rent a kayak, and even shop at designer outlets.

If you live in the suburbs, the best way to get to The Wharf is aboard the Water Taxi from Old Town Alexandria. Adults pay $18, and kids pay $12.60 for a round trip that takes you through scenic views of the nation’s capital from the Potomac. The service starts at 6:40 a.m. and lasts until 9:20 p.m., so be sure to return to the pier by 9 p.m. at the latest or you can literally miss the boat. 

My favorite part about taking the Water Taxi is the grand entrance when you arrive at The Wharf. You disembark right in the center of The Wharf. The walk is mesmerizing, the view is majestic, and the festive vibes are infectious.

If you are coming from the pier, my suggestion is to turn right and take a stroll first. Inhale the ambiance and save the best for the last. There is too much to see and too many things to do; the stroll will acclimatize you and will help you decide what to do next. My recommendation is to start at the 12 Stories. Located atop The Wharf’s luxurious InterContinental Hotel, it offers stunning panoramic views of the Washington skyline via its 13-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terrace. 

If you have kids and are looking for adventure, head over to The Wharf Boathouse and rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to get out on the water. I also highly recommend lazing around on Recreation Pier, marveling at the sun setting on stunning views of the Washington Channel – all while swooping back and forth on modern swing sets.  

Not to be missed is The Maine Avenue Fish Market at the left corner of The Wharf when coming from the pier. Opened in 1805, it is the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in America. This place serves some of the best fresh or cooked seafood in the DMV area, including heaping bushels of blue crab, shucked oysters, clams, shrimp, and freshly caught fish. Try fried soft-shell crabs with onion rings or drop by Captain White’s Seafood City.

The Wharf boasts more than 20 restaurants and bars, including unique concepts from award-winning and Michelin-starred chefs, fast-casual favorites for the kids, and even a distillery. There is so much more to do and devour at The Wharf: learn more by clicking here.

We left Old Town Alexandria at 3 p.m and were at the dock at exactly 9 p.m.

So what is the verdict? How many stars for The Wharf? I asked my family, they all shouted FIVE out of FIVE. Finally a consensus!