I’ve always loved hiking and biking, but as the mom of two boys, finding spots where they can run free and spend some of their seemingly inexhaustible energy is a necessity. Thankfully, the DC region is filled with tons of beautiful parks and trails. One chilly, sunny morning, a friend and I decided to explore the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. As a frequent visitor to Yards Park, I had walked the trail past the Navy Yard many times but was curious what lay beyond the 11th Street Bridge.
We took a few moments to admire the spectacular view of the Anacostia River from the pedestrian lookouts on the bridge and remark on how the riverbank has changed over the last few years. And indeed, cranes still abound. I’ve always thought it was strange that most of DC’s waterfront areas seemed to be ignored. In other cities, the river or coastline is often the heart of the city and center of development and activity. But DC’s waterfronts had been mostly forgotten, particularly along the Anacostia River. No longer. We’re finally creating bustling, viable community and recreational spaces along the water. From the massive development of National Harbor in Prince George’s County to the complete overhaul of the SW Waterfront to the neighboring Navy Yard in SE whose development was spurred by the construction of the state of the art Nationals baseball stadium and soon to be built DC United soccer field.
We followed the trail along the banks of the river past the intersection of Good Hope Road and MLK Ave SE. We passed the National Guard at a brisk pace, then arrived at the base of the Frederick Douglass Bridge where we ascended the bridge via the pedestrian trail. More gorgeous water views. As we descended, I noticed a structure that looked like a brewery on the bank of the river between (and under) the bridge and Nationals Stadium. Upon closer inspection, it wasn’t only a brewery but a beer garden with funky reclaimed wood tables lined up along the water. Buildings were made out of shipping containers and any other pieces of furniture appeared to be used or handmade out of scrap wood lending a rough, base camp kind of feel to the place. It turns out that this is actually the new location of Bardo, the outdoor brew pub that used to be on Bladensburg Road. That location was shuttered since they scored this sweet, new location. I couldn’t contain my excitement to come back and enjoy a great brew by the water with the sun and a warm breeze on my face.
After peering through the bars of an eerily empty Nats Park, we realized we had worked up quite an appetite and headed back to Yards Park, across the fantastic pedestrian bridge, and grabbed a seat at Bluejacket. I couldn’t try Bardo just yet, but Bluejacket more than satisfied my beer craving. We decided to explore a few of the many IPAs on the menu and agreed that the Lost Weekend was our favorite. Then my friend ordered the Big Train burger with bacon, onion rings and jalapeño relish and I decided on some grilled kielbasa with rye bread, pickled cabbage and spicy mustard that left just the right amount of burn in my nose.
After such a satisfying lunch, we swung by Philz for a pour over coffee for me and a chai for my tea drinking friend. Next time, we’ll have to check out lunch and goodies on the other side of the river. It’s clear that there’s more exploring to do along the banks of the mighty Anacostia.