Top 13 Things To Do In Washington DC At Night - Updated 2021

top 20 things to do in washington dc at night
John Read
Endorsed by Local Expert
John Read

The nation’s capital and backdrop to significant events in American history, Washington, D.C. has served as the hub of politics and decision making in the United States and has contributed to shaping the country’s culture, since its independence. While it may not be the city that never sleeps, it takes on another form at night. Walk among the shadows cast by the giant monuments erected to the people and ideals for which the city stands, while traversing the city’s active nightlife, seen in its top sights and entertainment clubs.

1. Lincoln Memorial (from USD 73.0)

Lincoln Memorial at Night
Source: Photo by user Intrepid00 used under CC BY 2.0

The Lincoln Memorial, located at the west end of the National Mall is a 12-foot (3.66-meter) monument, commemorating the 16th President of the United States and has a been a staple of the city since its completion, in 1922.

At night, lights illuminate the historical giant in a display much different than seen during the day. Visitors will likely run into smaller crowds in the evening, and, if visiting on a weekday you will likely be one of the few, if not the only visitor to the memorial. Visiting away from the distraction of the crowds will allow visitors to have a deeper reflection on the man, and the words spoken by him, inscribed on the walls.

Lincoln Memorial

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA

Website: Lincoln Memorial

Have a local guide tell you about the illustrious history of the monument by booking a tour!

Washington DC National Mall and Capitol Hill Small-Group Tour

Duration: 5 to 5.5 hours

Price: 135 USD

DC National Mall and Memorials Private Walking Tour

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

2. The Tidal Basin (from USD 7.0)

Take a stroll along the reservoir to be immersed in the city sights. Along the route, visitors will be treated to stunning sights of many of the city monuments, including the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the George Mason Memorial. For an even greater experience, plan to visit when the cherry blossoms are in season.

Tidal Basin

Address: Washington, DC, USA

Should it be your first time visiting DC, consider booking a tour to help you get oriented to the city before you explore it on your own later! The Tidal Basin, with its abundance of historical and cultural landmarks, is a good place to start.

Half-Day Grand Tour of Washington DC

Duration: 3 hours

Price: 58 USD

Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival Guided Bike Tour

Duration: 2 hours

10 reviews

3. Dupont Circle for the bar scene (from USD 70.0)

Dupont Circle Commute
Source: Photo by user Mike Maguire used under CC BY 2.0

No night trip to the nation’s capital would be complete without partaking in the wonderful bar scene, in Dupont Circle. This neighborhood, filled with 19th-century row houses, is rooted in history and credited as being one of the first communities to help establish LGBT identity in American culture. Whether your scene is a pub, sports bar, club, or anything in between, Dupont has something that will fit anyone’s taste.

Dupont Circle

Address: Dupont Circle, Washington, DC

Architecture buffs can also consider booking this tour to learn more about the Washington élite that built the impressive structures.

Dupont Circle and Embassy Row Architecture Tour

Duration: 2 hours

Price: 35 USD

Washington DC Food Tour: Italian Cuisine in Dupont Circle

Duration: 180 to 240 minutes

10 reviews

4. Bartholdi Park

Bartholdi Park at night
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sdkb used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Bartholdi Park is located on the corner of Independence and Washington Avenue and is situated across from the United States Botanic Garden. The garden features a large fountain as its centerpiece, designed by the artist Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who would later go on to design the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi Park

Address: 100 First St SW, Washington, DC 20534, USA

Website: Bartholdi Park

5. Sports games: The Wizards, Nationals, Capitals, Redskins and DC United

Whatever the season, Washington, D.C. has a team for any sports fan and they are guaranteed to enjoy the liveliness of the event. Choose to check out a game from the NBA Wizards, MLB Nationals, NHL Capitals, NFL Redskins, or NASL D.C. United in one of the sports arenas located around D.C. Games will often sell discount tickets for special events, so keep an eye out for cheaper seats.

Verizon Center (Capitals & Wizards)

Address: 601 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA

Website: Verizon Center

FedExField (Redskins)

Address: 1600 Fedex Way, Hyattsville, MD 20785, USA

Website: FedExField

RFK Stadium (D.C. United)

Address: 2400 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA

Website: RFK Stadium

Nationals Park (Nationals)

Address: 1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA

Website: Nationals Park

6. Blues Alley

Blues alley
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aude used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Blues Alley is modeled after the jazz clubs of the 20’s and 30’s and was founded in 1965. It is known as the oldest jazz supper club in the country. The venue hosts jazz performances from both local and national musicians and specializes in Creole cuisine, as well as steak and seafood dishes.

Blues Alley

Address: 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007

Website: Blues Alley

7. Pentagon Memorial

9/11 Pentagon Memorial
Source: Photo by user Heidi used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Pentagon Memorial was designed by the architecture firm Beckman and Kaseman, based out of Pennsylvania. The design was chosen from many submitted in a national contest to honor the 184 people on American Airlines Flight 77, who died during the 9/11 attacks. Otherwise difficult to visualize, the 184 illuminated benches that represent each of the victims, contrasted against the night, is a somber scene.

Pentagon Memorial

Address: 1 N Rotary Rd, Arlington, VA 22202, USA

Website: Pentagon Memorial

8. ZooLights

ZooLights 2010 - Holiday Lights at the National Zoo (5308914880)
Source: Photo by user Cliff used under CC BY 2.0

If you happen to be in the city between November 25th and January 1st, the national zoo is host to the annual ZooLights event. Take a tour on the trackless train, where you can see the animal enclosures and surrounding areas, decorated in an array of colorful lights in the shape of animals. Afterward, take a ride on one of the world’s only solar-powered carousels, with its 58 animal figurines.

ZooLights at the National Zoo

Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA

Website: ZooLights

9. Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial at night
Source: Photo by user Photographer’s Ma... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Take a seat on the steps and watch the calm scenery of the Potomac River, with the Washington Monument in the backdrop, as you pay tribute to one of the main writers of the Declaration of Independence at this memorial, located along the Tidal Basin. The interior walls of the memorial are adorned with quotes from the founding father and feature a museum beneath the memorial where visitors can learn how Jefferson influenced the nation he helped build.

Jefferson Memorial

Address: 701 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, USA

Website: Jefferson Memorial

10. Georgetown Waterfront (from USD 21.0)

USA-Georgetown Waterfront Harbor
Source: Photo by user Ingfbruno used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Part of the 225 miles (362.1 kilometers) of connected parkland along the Potomac river, Georgetown Waterfront is very scenic, at any time of day. At night, catch glimpses of the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument, and boats passing along the Potomac River.

Washington Harbour

Address: 3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Website: Washington Harbour

Hop aboard a riverboat and cruise along the Potomac River to get an entirely new perspective of the city’s monuments and landmarks that we’ve mentioned earlier.

Water Taxi from Wharf or National Harbor

Duration: 2 hours

10 reviews

11. Ghost tours (from USD 20.0)

A great way to tour the city, while taking in a spooky history lesson, is to participate in a ghost tour of D.C. and its surrounding area. The area’s history dates back to the Indian tribes that inhabited the land that later became the nation’s capital, so it goes without saying that the city has a deep, and at times dark, history. On the ghost tour, visitors will be taken around to various points in the city where they will learn about the history of supposedly haunted locations.

Haunted DC Walking Tour on Capitol Hill

Duration: 1.5 hours

Price: 20 USD

Washington DC Haunted Houses Walking Tour

Duration: 2 hours

5 reviews

12. Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Night Cruise (from USD 28.0)

The Potomac River stretches throughout Washington D.C. and passes closely to many prominent city attractions. Logically, seeing the city by boat is one of the best ways to see it. There are many companies in the area that sell tickets for cruises on the Potomac, with options to ride by day or night.

Treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime, classy dining experience on a sightseeing lunch or dinner cruise along the Potomac River!

Washington DC Odyssey Dinner Cruise

Duration: Varies.

Price: 79.67 USD

Spirit of Washington DC Sunset Dinner Cruise with Buffet

Duration: 3 hours

Price: 122.23 USD

Spirit of Washington DC Scenic Lunch Cruise

Duration: 2 hours

Price: 69.03 USD

Washington DC by Moonlight Night Cruise

Duration: 1 hour

10 reviews

13. 9:30 Club

Broken Social Scene, 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C., 9/19/17
Source: Photo by Flickr user Theresa C. Sanchez used under CC BY-ND 2.0

This nationally recognized nightclub and concert venue first opened in D.C. in 1980 and since opening has sold over 200,000 tickets. The venue has hosted top performing artists such as Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Eat World, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more.

9:30 Club

Address: 815 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

Website: 9:30 Club

Travel tip by Washington Local Expert - John
Posted on: Feb 19, 2021

If you are looking for a great concert venue, the 9:30 Club will not let you down! With a second level that surrounds the stage, you can feel up close and personal to your favorite performer in this small venue. I highly recommend grabbing tickets to a show at the 9:30 Club!

Why sleep in Washington DC?

Washington DC is a bustling city, be it day or night. And with so many different night activities to choose from, from ghost tours to sightseeing, why would any tourist choose to sleep when they can stay up all night in D.C.?

Are you covered?

Have a worry-free holiday and purchase an affordable travel insurance to cover your needs during your trip. Atlas Travel Insurance provides two plans you can choose from, depending on the type of trip you’re going on, so that you get the extensive coverage you need if something goes wrong.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.
This article has been endorsed by Washington local expert John Read

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Stephen is a freelance writer based out of Northern Virginia where he studied English at Marymount University. His travels include The United State's east coast, Israel, Palestine, Canada, and...Read more

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