Nightlife & the Arts in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C. Nightlife

From buttoned-down political appointees who've just arrived to laid-back folks who've lived here their whole lives, Washingtonians are always looking for a place to relax. And they have plenty of options when they head out for a night on the town. Most places are clustered in several key neighborhoods, making a night of barhopping relatively easy.

Georgetown's dozens of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants radiate from the intersection of Wisconsin and M streets, attracting crowds that include older adults and college students. Many restaurants here turn into bars after the dinner crowd leaves. Georgetown is one of the safest neighborhoods in D.C., with a large police presence on weekends.

Those seeking a younger and less inhibited nightlife may prefer the 18th Street strip in Adams Morgan, between Columbia Road and Florida Avenue, which offers a wide variety of places for dancing, drinking, eating, and everything else you can imagine. The best part of Adams Morgan is that there are so many bars and clubs around 18th Street that if you don't like one, there's another next door. At night the streets are so crowded you will have trouble weaving your way through the swarms of revelers. AdMo, as it's affectionately called, is best known as a drinking hot spot, but there are some underappreciated restaurants that make the strip worth the trip for those in search of a good meal.

The U Street Corridor (U Street NW between 9th and 17th streets NW), historically D.C.'s hippest neighborhood and a regular stop for jazz greats, has undergone a revival and is now the hottest spot in town, with bars that appeal to all types. Down 14th Street you will also find an explosion of new bars and restaurants, spilling revelers out on the street on weekends. Wine bars, dive bars, hipster bars, gastropubs, and dance clubs make for a full night out.

For serious dance action, head to Northeast D.C. Huge crowds and loud music, ranging from hip-hop and Latin to techno and trance, await you at the ever-popular warehouse-turned-mega-clubs like Love and Ibiza. This is a rougher part of town, so be cautious.

Other hot spots include Capitol Hill and Downtown. The stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between 2nd and 4th streets has a half-dozen bars. And thanks to massive recent development, Penn Quarter/Chinatown is burgeoning with squeaky-clean new bars and music venues. The newest center of gravity for D.C. nightlife is the burgeoning H Street Corridor, home to a historic jazz club and bars with the most personality in town. Difficult to get to, H Street remains undiscovered except to those in the know.

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