The southern sectors of Washington do not have as many tourist attractions as the rest of the city, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to visit. These areas are old residential and industrial sections which still contain ties to that history. The dividing line between the north and south areas of the District is East Capitol Street and the west and east areas are separated by South Capitol Street. While the Southwest and Southeast are serviced by the Green, Blue, Orange, and Silver Metro lines, some of the locations listed below are not within easy walking distance of stations. The good news is that their remoteness means that parking is often available for self-drivers.
East Potomac Park is the peninsula that separates the Potomac River from the Washington Channel and its point – called Hains Point – marks the end of the Anacostia River as it flows into the Potomac. This 1 ½ mile long sliver of land is home to the East Potomac Golf Course, a miniature golf course, and a long, cherry tree-lined path with river views. The park is pleasantly quiet and connects via trail to the Tidal Basin, but it is sadly in an underwhelming state with bald spots in the grass and holes in the pathways.
Across the Washington Channel is an area that is receiving lots of attention and will continue to do so for a few more years. Called “The Wharf,” it is planned to be a mixed-use space with commercial offices, retail stores, dining, and entertainment areas adjacent to the marina in the channel. Unfortunately, phase one of the project is not set to be completed until late-2017.
South of the marina – at the intersection of P St SW and the Washington Channel – is the surprising Women’s Titanic Memorial. We call it surprising for two reasons: for one, most wouldn’t expect to find a memorial to the ill-fated ocean liner in Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to the men who died so that women and children could have their spots on the lifeboats and was commissioned by the “Women of America.” The second surprising thing? The statue depicts a woman in a pose shockingly similar to that struck at the bow of the ship in the famous Titanic film, despite the statue being erected in 1931.
Directly adjacent to the Titanic Memorial on P Street is Fort McNair, the nation’s 3rd oldest Army post. Much has changed since its opening in 1791, but parts of Grant Hall have recently been restored – specifically a courtroom on the 3rd floor, which was the site of the 1865 trials of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. They were later hung in the yard outside. At the southern tip of the fort is Greenleaf Point and Roosevelt Hall, the former War College. Visitors to Fort McNair must present government-issued identification and submit to basic questioning such as place of residence and reason for visiting. Both Fort McNair and the Titanic Memorial are about a ½ mile from the Waterfront Metro station (Green), although the southern end of Fort McNair is a further ¾ mile.
Moving over to Southeast D.C., 1500 S Capitol St SE is where you will find Nationals Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals. Opened in 2008 and built specifically for the Nationals, the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol dome can be seen from the upper decks on the first base side. For tickets to a baseball game, check their website at washington.nationals.mlb.com – the season traditionally runs from April into October with the playoffs following that. Start making plans now to attend the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, which has been awarded to Nationals Park.
A few minutes of walking east along a boardwalk on the Anacostia River brings you to the Navy Yard, which was established in 1799. A former shipyard and ordinance manufacturing facility, it is now home to the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Sea Systems Command, and many other integral Navy functions. Several naval advances including pre-Civil War nautical cannons and shipboard airplane catapults were designed and tested here. The National Museum of the US Navy – located in a former Naval gun factory – contains displays on the history and important events of the Navy and is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
In between the Navy Yard and Nationals Park is a relatively new shopping and dining district known as The Yards. It makes a great place for a meal or a drink while in the area and also contains a riverfront park. The Yards, Nationals Park, and the Navy Yard are all within a few blocks of the Navy Yard Metro station (Green).
A few blocks northeast of the Stadium-Armory Metro station is Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, commonly called RFK. It has been in use since 1961 and used to be where the National Football League’s Washington Redskins played (until they moved to suburban Maryland in 1997). RFK has hosted college football bowl games, FIFA World Cup matches, and the January 12, 1992 NFC Championship game, won by the Redskins before going on to win the Super Bowl. Today RFK is the home of Major League Soccer’s DC United, although a soccer-specific stadium is being planned near Nationals Park. The American soccer season runs from March through October – for tickets visit the D.C. United website.