Are you looking for the best things to do in DC at night? This guide has tons of things to do in the U.S.’ capital city after dark, from haunted tours to cocktail scenes to miniature bowling.
As the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. draws in over 22 million visitors every single year. And while they plan for all of the things they want to do during the day, including visiting Washington Memorial, exploring a few museums, and kayaking in the Tidal Basin, many forget to consider what sort of things to do in D.C. at night!
Luckily, D.C. is filled with tons of things to do, even after dark. Feel like going for a casual evening stroll along the Georgetown Waterfront Park?
Or perhaps you’ll want to do something more exciting, like riding on a colorful Ferris wheel over the Potomac River. No matter what your preference, this guide to the best things to do in DC at night will have something for you!
THINGS TO DO IN DC AT NIGHT: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Marvel At The Monuments At Night
One of the best things to do in DC at night is visit the monuments. While many visitors explore D.C.’s famous monuments during the day, after dark, these architectural marvels become all the more magical.
At night, these monuments are lit up and free of crowds, making them feel a little more reverential and a little less touristy.
During your adventure, you can visit the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the U.S. Capitol, and so many more iconic places.
Head To A Museum Or Two
After seeing the monuments, the second thing on most visitors’ D.C. bucket lists is to visit a few of the museums. And you can actually do this after dark as well!
While the days and hours are a bit limited, many famous D.C. museums, including the National Geographic Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, reopen or remain open until much later than you might expect.
*Pro tips for visiting Washington, DC – always check online or call to make sure what time the museums close.
Head To A Sports Game
If you’re a sports fan, heading to a sports game should be at the top of your list of things to do in DC at night. Because D.C. has over a half a dozen sports teams, including the MLB Nationals, the NFL Redskins, the NBA Wizards, and the WUSA Spirit, there’s bound to be a game happening during your visit.
So don the colors of your favorite sports team and buy a ticket!
Bonus: sporting events in the summer are always nice outside because the sun goes down and it gets a bit cooler out.
Explore The City’s Cocktail Scene
Did you know that once upon a time George Washington owned a whiskey distillery? And one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country at the time, no less! Needless to say, D.C.’s connection to cocktails goes back hundreds of years, so why not take a little bit of time to explore it?
From dive bars like Dan’s Café to upscale bars like Quill at The Jefferson, there are so many places to get a fantastic cocktail in the city. While you can of course explore the city’s cocktail scene on your own, consider taking a tour with a local guide, so you can experience the best of the best and get insider knowledge!
Delve Into The Haunted Side of D.C.
When the darkness sets in, that’s when the ghosts come out.
Enter into this paranormal world with a Washington, D.C. Haunted History Ghost Tour. Visit the Blair House, where President Harry Truman was nearly assassinated and where his near-assassinator is rumored to be haunting. Hear the spooky voice of Clover Adam, Henry Adam’s wife, at the Hey Adams Hotel.
And even walk past one of the most haunted buildings in all of D.C.: the White House.
Bonus: It’s not haunted BUT you can see the stairs from the movie The Exorcist in Georgetown!
Go For A Stroll At The Georgetown Waterfront Park
If you’re looking for a calmer activity than ghost hunting, head to the Georgetown Waterfront Park. While there, you can grab delicious food, listen to fantastic music, and end your night with a stroll along the promenade.
The combination of the fresh air and the fun environment will be sure to put a smile on your face.
If you happen to be visiting D.C. in the summer, the Georgetown Waterfront Park plans a few waterfront activities for those in the area. If you love health and fitness, consider participating in Georgetown Sunset Fitness in the Park for a series of free fitness classes.
Or if you prefer an activity that’s a little less energy-burning and a little more relaxing, keep an eye out for the Georgetown Sunset cinema for a series of free movies.
Try Your Hand At Miniature Bowling
You’ve heard of miniature golf, but have you head of miniature bowling? Also known as duckpin bowling, one of the best family-friendly things to do in DC at night is to go miniature bowling at The Eleanor.
This inviting, retro establishment is part mini bowling alley, part bar and grill. So while you feel like a giant as you knock over nine-inch-tall bowling pins, you can also grab a bite to eat.
If this is a must-do on your list of things to do in D.C. at night, be sure to make reservations in advance, because The Eleanor has a limited number of miniature bowling lanes available.
Experience ZooLights In The Winter
If you happen to be visiting in the winter, one of the most fun things to do in DC at night is experience ZooLights.
Each year, the Smithsonian National Zoo decks out its exhibits with the coolest and most colorful of lights, animal-shaped paper lanterns, laser light shows, exciting rides, and even a holiday market. When else do you get to celebrate Christmas while hanging out with elephants, giraffes, and zebras?
Head To An Interactive Exhibit For Your Instagram
Interactive exhibits have been popping up all over the world – and all over Instagram. Even the U.S.’ capital city has an interactive exhibit of its own, which is another one of the fantastic things to do at night in DC
D.C.’s ARTECHOUSE features modern artists who have pushed the envelope until it’s just about to burst. In the past, artists including Adrien M & Claire B, NONOTAK, and Julius Horsthius have been featured.
And the interactive elements don’t just stop at the artwork. For another cool little piece of interactivity, order a drink at the ARTECHOUSE bar. It’ll be served up using augmented reality.
Listen To Your Favorite Artist At The 9:30 Club
A visit to the 9:30 Club may be one of the coolest things to do in DC at night.
As a matter of fact, Rolling Stone named the 9:30 Club one of the best live music venues in the entire United States in 2018. This intimate 500-person venue has hosted iconic musicians, including Bob Dylan, the Beastie Boys, Adele, and Adam Lambert.
Basically, if one of your favorite musicians happens to be playing at the 9:30 Club while you’re in D.C., you should definitely snatch up a ticket as soon as possible.
Sway To Some Smooth Jazz
While a lot of popular artists have found their home at the 9:30 Club, there are tons of other venues around the city that have become home to blossoming jazz musicians.
As the birthplace of famous jazz musician and composer, Duke Ellington, D.C.’s current musicians are working hard to continue his legacy. Listen to some of the best jazz in the city at venues like Blues Alley, Sotto, and JoJo Restaurant & Bar.
Spend A Sophisticated Night Out At The Washington Ballet
Instagram-focused interactive exhibits and miniature bowling might not be the sophisticated type of evening activity that some visitors to D.C. are looking for.
Instead, head over to the Washington Ballet. This highly acclaimed ballet company performs a handful of shows each year. In the past, they have put on amazing performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tarantella, and Cinderella.
Ride On a Ferris Wheel Above The Potomac
Have you ever wanted an aerial view of Washington D.C.? The Capital Wheel at National Harbor can provide you with that opportunity. With 42 colorful gondolas, you can ride into the sky and catch amazing views of D.C.’s Potomac River, Washington Monument, Georgetown area, and so much more!
Curl Up With a Good Book At Kramer’s
There are a lot of exciting things to do in D.C. at night on this list. While concerts, cocktails, and clubs are all tons of fun, sometimes you just want a calm, quiet night. Luckily for you, D.C. has the perfect spot for that too: Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café.
Commonly known as Kramer’s, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café is a venue unlike any other. Open until 1 a.m. (or 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), Kramer’s lets guests purchase some food and curl up on a cozy chair with a good book. You can stay there into the wee hours of the night devouring all of the excitement that your newly purchased book has to offer.
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