Named for historic Fort Washington, which is located on the south tip of the neighborhood overlooking the Potomac River, Fort Washington is a riverside neighborhood across the Potomac from Alexandria. Situated about 18 miles south of DC, Fort Washington is a picturesque, tranquil alternative to urban living. But don't confuse "tranquil" with boring -- sure, the postcard-worthy neighborhoods with tidy lawns and wide sidewalks are peaceful, but Fort Washington is also home to spectacular parks, sidewalk cafes, lots of shops and an outlet mall, the fascinating National Harbor, beaches and marinas, and hilltop vistas that will knock your socks off. Oh, and Fort Washington National Park is in your backyard. What's not to love?
Restaurants & Nightlife
For a terrific night out, head to the National Harbor. Here, you'll discover a variety of fantastic restaurants, including Elevation Burger, Granite City Food and Brewery, Public House National Harbor, Cadillac Ranch, Redstone American Grill, McCormick and Schmick's Seafood and Steaks, and the highly-recommended Walrus Oyster and Ale House. A hidden gem near the Olde Forte Village Shopping Center, Silvestre Chicken serves up Peruvian cuisine those in-the-know rave about. For Cajun seafood and spectacular waterfront views, head toward the park and Proud Mary Waterfront Restaurant and Bar.
Located off Fort Washington Road, Darrahs Cafe is another local favorite. Ideal for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even a casual dinner, this tiny restaurant is sure to become your go-to place after renting your apartment in Fort Washington. Brunch selections include a breakfast burrito, steak and egg platter, French toast, and Chicken Caesar Salad. Dinner entrees include ribs, Maryland Crab Cakes, filet mignon, surf and turf, and orange BBQ shrimp.
For something truly unique, head to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, near Washington Harbor. This convention hotel has a spa, several restaurants, terrific views, and a beautiful fountain. The views of the Potomac River from the 19-story glass atrium are a treat. Enjoy a "staycation" by staying at the resort and enjoying the spa, indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, and fitness center. Head up to the Pose Rooftop Lounge and enjoy a drink in a fantastic setting. Restaurants include the Old Hickory Steakhouse, complete with an outdoor cigar terrace, and the Pienza Marketplace, which is open for breakfast and lunch and features fresh ingredients from local farms. Other hotspots include the Belvedere Lobby Bar, the National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill, and the Cocoa Bean.
History & Culture
A walk through Fort Washington Park is like stepping through our nation's history. The story begins with President George Washington, who wrote to the Secretary of War, Henry Knox, in 1794. He requested a fort be built on the bluff overlooking the Potomac to defend the newly-formed capital. The money to build the fort -- $3,000 -- was authorized. Unfortunately, the money was spent trying to build a different fort on the Virginia side of the river. In 1798, Washington again requested the fort be built. It took a few years, but work on the fort finally began in 1805. That fort was named Fort Warburton. The only problem was the design: some military officials deemed it "untenable."
When the British invaded during the War of 1812, the soldiers stationed at the fort -- 56 men -- abandoned the fort and blew it up. They failed to keep the Nation's capital safe, and the British burned much of the newly-formed city to the ground. The captain was court-martialed for abandoning his post and destroying government property. After the war, a new fort was constructed out of fear of another British invasion. But while the plans were designed in 1816, work on the fort didn't begin until 1821. Finally, the new fort was completed in 1824. During this time, the fort was referred to as both Fort Warburton and Fort Washington. Eventually, it became known as Fort Washington.
Throughout its 200-year history, modern technology was added, combining wood and brick with concrete and steel. The result is a fascinating timeline that began with a somewhat haphazardly designed fort and ended with a beloved piece of American history. Today, the fort is a park, complete with scenic views, picnic areas, hiking and bicycling paths, historical reenactments, and fishing.
Because Fort Washington is a suburb of Washington DC, mass transit in the form of buses and the Metro train are readily available. Take the red or green line directly into the city, or hop on I-295 if you prefer to drive. Fort Washington is a very pedestrian-friendly town with a web of sidewalks connecting residential areas with neighborhood businesses, restaurants, and parks.
Fort Washington is a historic and beautiful town on the Potomac River, just minutes from Washington DC. The spectacular parks alone are enough to make this neighborhood desirable, but you add in the rolling hills, manicured lawns, and beautiful architecture and you'll realize living in Fort Washington won't come cheap. The average rent for apartments in Fort Washington is $1,710. If you want to buy a house, it will cost around $302,000 -- slightly more than the state average of $280,000.
When it comes to employment, some Fort Washington residents head into neighboring Alexandria, home of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, or to DC. With two trains whisking residents into the city, living in Fort Washington and working in DC is a popular option for many. Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is located directly north of Fort Washington, while Joint Base Andrews is to the east.
Residents of the DC area come to Fort Washington to shop at the Tanger Outlet National Harbor. This large mall contains a variety of well-known stores, including Oakley Vault, Michael Kors, Fossil Outlet, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Banana Republic.
Cross the river and spend time shopping in historic Downtown Alexandria, a beautiful shopping area with brick-paved sidewalks and breathtaking architecture. Or, head into DC and explore the art galleries, boutiques, and shops downtown.
The parks in Fort Washington are as spectacular as they are plentiful. Start at the National Harbor, where you can ride the Capital Wheel, take a spin on the carousel, and visit the awe-inspiring (and somewhat unnerving) sculpture, the Awakening.
Bordering the National Harbor, Potomac Vista Recreation Area is a large greenspace with tennis courts, picnic areas, and a playground. Just north of this park lies Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm. This national park includes a 19th-century plantation and operates as a living history museum complete with animals and hands-on exhibits. This park also features walking and bicycling trails, picnic areas, historical markers, a visitor barn, and hayrides.
Head south along the Potomac from the National Harbor and you'll discover Fort Foote National Park. This fort was built in 1863 and still contains two of the guns used to protect DC, as well as the remains of the earthworks. Farther down the river near Broad Creek, you'll find Harmony Hall Park, Riverview Recreation Center, and Potomac River Waterfront Park.
To the south of the neighborhood, Piscataway Park features a fishing pier, hiking trails, amazing river views, and two boardwalks. This 5,000-acre park is home to a variety of animals, including bald eagles, deer, foxes, and ospreys. This park also features the National Colonial Farm.
Of course, the crown jewel of Fort Washington is Fort Washington Park. Explore the three-mile hiking trail, do some bird-watching, watch a Civil War artillery demonstration, go fishing, or take the kids to the playground. Of course, the historic structure is the star of this park.