Nightlife in the capital is rollicking and diverse. You can play bocce at Black Jack on 14th St., head to U Street to dance your heart out at Marvin, take a turn at karaoke at Hill Country Barbecue in the Penn Quarter, or settle in for top-notch jazz at Blues Alley in Georgetown. Internationally renowned performing-arts venues like the Kennedy Center host performances by top theater and dance companies, while smaller theaters such as Studio Theatre stage bold new productions. Washington’s nightlife scene offers something for everyone.
The truth is that D.C. nightlife is not only vigorous but also competitive. One third of the city’s population is between 20 and 35; thanks to the capital’s strong economy, most people have jobs and are ready to party. And then there is everyone else, from Hill staffers to expense-account attorneys, many of whom seek entertainment after a long day at the desk. Whether you’re trying to score tickets to The Tempest at the Shakespeare Theatre or nab a seat at the bar at The Observatory, success requires a get-there-first strategy.
The best neighborhoods for nightlife are Adams Morgan; the U & 14th streets NW crossroads (U St. between 16th and 9th sts., and 14th St. btw. P and V sts.); north and south of Dupont Circle along Connecticut Avenue; all over the Penn Quarter; Georgetown; the Atlas District; and Columbia Heights, an area east of Adams Morgan and north of the U Street district, and the Southwest Waterfront, where the new Wharf complex has fast become a night and day destination.
Most of D.C.’s clubs and bars stay open until 1 or 2am Monday through Thursday and until 3am Friday and Saturday; what time they open varies. It’s best to call ahead or check the website. Note: The city allows establishments serving alcohol to open early and stay open until 4am for certain holidays, such as the 4th of July, and special events such as the World Cup. For current concert and club offerings, check the Washington Post’s online “Going Out Guide” (www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide), which covers all entertainment options, including nightlife, reported minute by minute, venue by venue, by the paper’s “going out gurus.”Available for free at Metro stations and newspaper racks is the Post’s weekday tabloid publication Express (www.washingtonpost.com/express), which focuses on local news and fun; the Thursday edition highlights nightlife and entertainment. Another free and excellent resource is the Washington City Paper, available at restaurants, bookstores, and other places around town, and online at www.washingtoncitypaper.com. (The printed version is easier to read, so it’s worth getting your hands on one.)
One last note: Be sure to look closely at the calendars for all those places you visited during the day. Fun after-hours events are taking place at all sorts of unlikely venues, from the Library of Congress to the National Gallery of Art, many of them free or inexpensive to attend.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.