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 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, and eating. 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 for its bard, but there are some 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 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. Other hot spots include Capitol Hill, Downtown, and the city's most-up-and-coming area, Shaw. The stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between 2nd and 4th streets has a half-dozen bars. Thanks to massive redevelopment, Penn Quarter/Chinatown is burgeoning with new bars and music venues orbiting the Verizon Center and Gallery Place. The newest center of gravity for D.C. nightlife is the H Street Corridor, still tricky to get to, but home to some of the city’s most dynamic venues.

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Washington, D.C. Nightlife

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  • Fodor's Choice

2 Birds, 1 Stone

  • Bars/Pubs

In a barely marked underground spot just off the city’s hottest strip you’ll find its hippest new cocktail bar, serving an ever-changing...

9:30 Club

  • Music Clubs

Consistently ranked as one of the best concert venues in the country, the 9:30 Club is also a favorite of many rock acts due to warm...

A&D Neighborhood Bar

  • Bars/Pubs

From the street, A&D is camouflaged with a front window brimming with houseplants and an old bicycle. Don't be fooled. Inside, you'll...

Black Cat

  • Music Clubs

Way before its stretch of 14th Street became the trendiest few blocks in town, the Black Cat was a destination for alternative music...

Black Jack

  • Bars/Pubs

A red-velvet, almost vaudeville-like interior around the bar offers a saucy experience upstairs from the highly rated Pearl Dive Oyster...

Blues Alley

  • Music Clubs

Head here for a classy evening in an intimate setting, complete with great music from well-known performers such as Mose Allison and...

Board Room

  • Bars/Pubs

Put down your smart phone and interact!" is the motto at this pub with 20-plus beers on tap, a full bar—try "The Bionic Woman"—and...


  • Bars/Pubs

A more mature Southern-tinged drinking and dining experience diverges from the typical Adams Morgan scene. Though you can dance on the...

Busboys and Poets

  • Bars/Pubs

Part eatery, part bookstore, and part event space, this popular local hangout draws a diverse crowd and hosts a wide range of entertainment...

Cafe Citron

  • Bars/Pubs

Mojitos are the specialty at this Latin bar and dance club, with no less than eight varieties available, from the standard to a spicy...


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