Washington D.C. has a distinct reputation, laden with stoicism and grace as the capital city of the United States of America. But to those who live there and those who take it upon themselves to visit, D.C. has another side – one that comes alive as the sun sets. Here are 10 best things to do in Washington D.C. at night, activities that stand out from the other nightlife of the nation’s capital.
Washington D.C. has a set of distinct monuments that are dear to the hearts of many, which can be found around the Tidal Basin, a short distance from the National Mall. When night falls, each of these monuments – the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. monument – are cast in soft light. Visitors can walk around the basin as evening approaches and see each one, with ducks on the basin’s waters adding another touch of nature. This is even more enjoyable when the cherry blossoms bloom, in the springtime.
See the Memorials at Night
Address: Tidal Basin and Ohio Drive NW, Washington DC, DC 20003
Washington DC Guided Night Tour
Duration: 3 hours
Price: 54 USD
Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Night Tour by Trolley
Duration: 3 to 8 hours
Price: 43 USD
Washington DC After Dark Wonder Tour
Duration: 3 hours
Price: 49 USD
2. Georgetown Waterfront Park
This park is fairly new – it was completed in 2011 and is now part of the National Park registry as well as being part of the Georgetown Historical District. It covers about ten acres (four hectares) and links parkland across the Potomac River, between Maryland and Virginia. Many come here in the evening to jog, get in a kayak ride or to simply stroll along the water’s edge. One key point of interest are the river steps, preserved from the days when the area was home to commercial shipping, until the riverbed gained too much silt, in the 1820’s.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Address: Water St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Website: Georgetown Waterfront Park
3. Drinks at the Jefferson Hotel
The Jefferson Hotel is one of Washington D.C.’s premier hotel properties, and also one of the oldest. It has been in the same Beaux-Arts building since 1923 and became a hotel for luxury guests in 1955. That same grandeur exists in the Quill, which is the bar and lounge for the hotel. The intimate space implements many elements inspired by the former president the hotel is named after, Thomas Jefferson. Patrons can settle in for the elaborate cocktails that make this space so popular. In fact, it is best to check beforehand to see about space availability. One other feature is that the Quill has an outdoor patio, making it perfect for when the weather is reasonable.
The Jefferson Hotel
Address: 1200 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Website: The Jefferson Hotel
4. See a show at The Hamilton
Tucked into downtown D.C., not far from the White House, is the Hamilton. The Hamilton first gained popularity as a fine restaurant, done up in modern classical style. But it has also become an elite venue for top-notch performers. The stage is on the lower level and at times can be quite packed with concertgoers. But that leaves visitors some leeway to sample some of the sumptuous menu items from the restaurant, along with great cocktails.
Address: 600 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Website: The Hamilton
5. Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar
If kitschy dive bars are one of your go-to activities when you visit a city, Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar fits the bill, with a unique twist. Located on the revived H Street corridor, in the northeastern part of D.C., Little Miss Whiskey’s employs a bit of New Orleans ambiance in its surroundings, even showing New Orleans Saints football games, during the season. At night, the bar and lounge become a meetup place for the fun and quirky, with live bands on certain nights, amid a constant purple glow.
Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar
Address: 1104 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Website: Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar
6. The Howard Theater
The Howard Theater is a key part of the entertainment landscape of D.C., as well as being part of its history. It was built and opened in 1910, as the only major venue for performers of color, during the period of widespread segregation, in the city. These included legends like D.C. native Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, to name a few. After many years of success, it fell into disrepair until efforts by local government and advocates in the community helped it reopen, in 2012. From then, the Howard has become a jewel of the city’s nightlife, with sweeping balcony seating and a restored façade that is striking to passerby. There are a variety of shows in which visitors can see world-famous performers, of all genres, on an almost daily basis, with ample room to mingle.
The Howard Theater
Address: 620 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Website: The Howard Theater
Tropicalia is one of the few dance club venues in D.C. that gets you as close to the massive party atmosphere found in places like Ibiza, Spain, while still being in America. The club makes its home on U Street and has an easy décor that gives it a classy beach mansion feel – with potent beverages that have caught the attention of partygoers in the city, who visit frequently. Parties and DJ sets pack the house, sometimes to the point where you will be guaranteed to sweat.
Address: 2001 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
One of my favorite photos from the upstairs bar. Love this @cas_stoPosted by The Gibson on Friday, 24 March 2017
For those who want to revel in an environment that takes you back to the era of the speakeasy, the Gibson captures that vibe, with ease. The bar is ensconced within a busy block on the U Street corridor and comes with a rather lengthy wait if you don’t call ahead to make reservations. But once inside, patrons are treated to a drinking experience with an extensive cocktail menu that offers up majestic options with colorful names. The environment is full of polished oak and ornate elements that evoke a Prohibition-era feel, that’s comfortable.
Address: 2009 14th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20009
Website: The Gibson
If you’re up for a thrilling adventure, then check out this haunted pub tour!
Haunted Evening DC Pub Tour
Duration: 2.5 hours
Price: 25 USD
9. The Rock and Roll Hotel
While the name can be misleading – it’s not a hotel – the Rock and Roll Hotel does offer patrons a good deal of fun. The indie music venue used to be a funeral parlor. But in 2006, the property was bought and became the Rock and Roll Hotel and part of the revitalization of the H Street corridor. The space has three levels, including a rooftop deck and there’s normally live performances held on the main floor. There’s even a food menu available for those who want a bite, with bar snacks and sandwiches, served up family-style.
The Rock and Roll Hotel
Address: 1353 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Website: The Rock and Roll Hotel
10. DC Improv
It’s the nation’s #1 location for comedy improv: the DC Improv, in Washington, DC! This comedy club has seen its fair share of talented, original comedic acts take the stage over the past decades, and has since its opening built a steady entourage of loyal supporters. Become the Dc Improv’s newest satisfied guest, when you book your visit to one of the city’s unsung gems. A diversity of headline acts thrill locals and visitors alike at regular intervals. When the sun sets in DC, the DC Improv becomes the absolute go-to source for an easy laugh in the metropolitan region. Whether it’s the local talent, the scheduled main acts, or simply the buzzing atmosphere that surrounds the club itself, it’s high time you made your way to the DC Improv!
Address: 1140 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Website: DC Improv
For those enjoying D.C. at dusk
Travelers who visit Washington D.C. are well aware of the rich traditions associated with the government, seen all around the city. But this shouldn’t deter anyone from seeking out the bustling evening scene. From eclectic clubs that celebrate a global atmosphere to pastoral settings, a night out in D.C. can be quite memorable.
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