This is such a famous and iconic Washington landmark that I hate to discourage anyone from stopping by. Let me just prepare you for what you'll find.
The complex extends all the way from the Potomac River up to New Hampshire Avenue, a distance of about three regular city blocks, and then reaches almost to the Kennedy Center. The curving shapes of the towers are somewhat pleasing from a distance, but as you close in you realize this is not a human-sized or human-friendly place.
There is a long, broken arcade along the street, with a bank, a post office, and a few high-end shops, all rather overshadowed (literally and figuratively) by the concrete masses above. At the intersection of Virginia and New Hampshire there is a broad opening, also curving, for those driving up for valet parking or to drop off a passenger.
The back side (facing the Kennedy Center) is a more-or-less closed campus for those who own or rent apartments in the building, but it does offer underground parking (at exorbitant fees) and a pedestrian entrance to the central courtyard.
The courtyard has several giant concrete saucers that form a cascading fountain. Rather than seeming cheery, this structure is like something out of "1984," and it accents how unfriendly the marble pedestrian plaza is, with its hard stone benches, metal tables, and Neaderthal-browed eateries and shops that ring it.
There is a sad little Safeway store buried in one nook on this level, a nice but crowded little bistro for the lunch crowd, a CVS drug store, a Chinese take-out place, and a liquor store. I have occasionally needed to buy something at CVS or Safeway, and Watergate Liquors has booze if you are desperate and willing to pay more than at places a few blocks away, but I always feel a sense of relief when exiting the Watergate. FYI.
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