Your Official DC Nightlife Guide by Neighborhood

By Woody Wilson| February 16, 2016

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DCs Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife

DCs Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife

Washington D.C. is not as formal as you think—the grey buildings and conservative dress are just for daytime work hours. Turns out, D.C. has a very vibrant nightlife, spun across all different neighborhoods that cater to just about anyone: hipsters, conservatives, tourists and college students. There’s a lot to explore in this great city with your new interns buddies.

Whether you’re new to D.C. or want to find alternative places to go out, here is a comprehensive guide to the best nightlife in 5 major neighborhoods in our nation’s capitol.

Columbia Heights

This evolving neighborhood where Martin Luther King Jr spoke at a local High School, and All Souls Church where Angela Davis spoke. The neighborhood is transforming from gritty to inviting, and has a wide array of dive bars, family-run bakeries and mural-covered side streets.

Find it at: 16th Street to the west; Spring Road to the north; Sherman Ave to the east; and Florida Avenue to the south. Metro stop is Colombia Heights.

Check out:

The Wonderland Ballroom – Live music venue, comedy shop and dive bar

The Raven – Dive bar with a killer jukebox

Lou’s City Bar – Washington Post named this the Best NFL & College Football Bar

Room 11 – Quaint wine bar

DCs Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife

Dupont Circle

Perfectly manicured streets, home to Embassy Row, with more locals than tourists and a thriving daytime outdoor scene and farmer’s Market can be found here. Be sure to come back for Sunday brunch.

Find it at Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Avenues, at P and 19th Streets. Dupont Circle Metro station.

Check out:

Eighteenth Street Lounge – Charming old row house with a living-room feel that you can dance in

Circa – Great for happy hour or dinner

Science Club – hipster vegetarian hangout

The Front Page – great for happy hour

The Big Hunt – subterranean dive bar

Dirty Martini – if you want a classic cocktail

Lucky Bar – where to watch sports

Café Citron – dancing

Madhatter – Alice in Wonderland themed bar

Sign of the Whale – D.C.’s famous dive bar from the ‘70s

Public Bar – sports bar

DCs Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife


Historic row houses, fraternities and cobblestoned streets can be found here. Older than D.C. itself, this neighborhood keeps its old-world charm while staying fresh and young. Georgetown University is here and many high end shops and restaurants.

Find it at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M streets. Metro stop is Foggy Bottom-GWU.

Check out:

Blue’s Alley – blue and jazz music venue

Daily Grill – starting point for great drinks

Bourbon – pub

Breadsoda – pool hall

The Tomb’s – Great for Halloween

U Street Corridor

It wasn’t until the ‘90s that this area grew out of its shady post-MLK riot phase. Now, this creative area has plenty of live music: including jazz, alternative rock and hip-hop. Amongst the row houses, you’ll find some of the city’s best Caribbean and soul food joints.

Find it from 9th Street on the east to 18th Street and Florida Avenue on the west. Metro stop is U Street corridor.

Check out:

The 9:30 Club – the best bands visiting D.C. go through here

Bar Pilar – gastro pub

Café St. Ex – check out the bar in the basement

The Gibson – speakeasy

Dickson Wine Bar – to take a date

New Vegas Lounge – dance to funk all night

Churchkey – good for beer lovers

Nellie’s – gay sports bar

Blackcat – music venue for smaller/indie bands

The Saloon – Great beer selection

Marvin – great for outdoor drinking when weather is nice

Vinoteca – wine bar / patio area

Solly’s Tavern – dive bar

Local 16 – great deck outside

Dodge City – biker dive bar

Chi-Cha Lounge – hookah bar

DC9 – indie music venue

DCs Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife

Adam’s Morgan

If you’re looking for a rowdy, fun night out, look no further than Adam’s Morgan. Barhop and then enjoy one of the many late-night pizza shops throughout the neighborhood. Leave the suit or heels at home.

Find it at the intersection of 18th Street and Columbia Road. Metro stop is Woodley Park–Zoo / Adams Morgan.

Check out:

Dan’s Café – dive bar

Madam’s Organ – multi-level jazz and dance club

Habana’s Village – 3-level Cuban dance club

Rendezvous Lounge – Hole-in-the-wall favorite with locals

Bourbon – Pub

H-Street Corridor

This neighborhood features cool little bars and restaurants, and has certainly become a local favorite with its eclectic vibe.

Find it at Maryland Avenue and 13th Street NE. Closest Metro stop is Union Station.

Check out:

Biergarten Haus – Authentic German biergarden

Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar – New Orleans flair

Church and State – speak easy

Star & Shamrock – Jewish deli and tavern

Rock & Roll Hotel – music venue / bar

The Pug – dive bar

Granville Moore’s – Belgian gastropub

Your stay in DC certainly includes your internship by day, but enjoy a little nightlife fun at night in DC’s hottest neighborhoods.

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