There are so many things to d in Washington DC at night. From museums to monuments to shows, restaurants and other hidden gems, DC is a great place to be after dark. Let’s take a look at the best things to do in the nation’s capital at night.
Things To Do Washington DC At Night For Family
There are so many activities the whole family can enjoy together in Washington DC, especially at night.
1. National Mall
First on our list is the iconic National Mall. This vast, sprawling park is more than just greens; it’s also home to some of the most famous landmarks and museums in the United States.
- A Beautifully Calm Setting: During daytime, the National Mall buzzes with energy. But as night falls, it is a much more calm place. Less crowd means more peace, allowing you to soak in all the history and culture.
- Magnificent Landmarks: Have you seen the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument glowing in the moonlight? If not, you’re missing out! They are breathtakingly beautiful, looking as if they’ve been pulled straight out of a storybook.
- Museum Galore: And then there are the renowned Smithsonian Institution museums. From art to history to science, there’s a museum for everyone’s taste.
- Tons of variety to explore and take in as you walk along the National Mall
2. Smithsonian Sleepovers
Ever fancied sleeping next to ancient artifacts or science exhibits? Well you and your child can do exactly that, thanks to Smithsonian Sleepovers!
- Unique Experience: This is not your regular sleepover; it’s more like a night filled with learning and fun.
- Choose Your Museum: You have the choice of setting up camp at the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, Air & Space Museum or the National Portrait Gallery. Each one providing a unique experience.
- Engaging Activities: From scavenger hunts to craft activities, there’s no time to feel bored during this sleepover.
- Important Info: Intended for children ages 8 to 14. There must be 1 adult (at least 21 or older) for every 5 children in any group that registers. No adults can sign up without children. All participants must pre-register.
These events book out very quickly so be sure to plan in advance. If you don’t want to sleep over, there are also certain nights of the week where
3. Illuminated Winter Wonderland At ZooLights
If you’re visiting Washington DC during the festive season, ZooLights at National Zoo is an absolute must.
- Dazzling Lights: Imagine thousands of vibrant lights decorating the entire zoo. It’s like walking in a glistening winter wonderland.
- Jolly Tunes: Add some live music playing in the background, making your walk even more enchanting.
- Festive Treats: Sip on hot cocoa or munch on roasted chestnuts, just to get into the holiday spirit.
It’s like a fairytale come true!
4. Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour – Best Option Overall!
The Washington DC monuments are truly mesmerizing at night. They have uplighting to highlight the structures throughout the city’s landscape. The Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour is a great option for families, couples and even solo travelers. This tour combines history and food. See famous landmarks under the stars and enjoy some good food.
- Moonlit Sightseeing: Admire monuments in the moonlight. Lincoln Memorial and other majestic views. Not only is it stunning visually, you will have the benefit of not having to deal with the intense crowds during the day. And, during the hot summer months, this is a great way to see the monuments without overheating.
- Gourmet Meals: Exquisite meals tailored to every palate. Enjoy each bite during your nighttime adventure!
Prepare for a delicious journey through history and culinary arts.
5. Escape Room Live DC
Craving some action-packed adventure? Look no further than Escape Room Live DC!
- Family Team Challenge: Escape rooms are not just about escaping. They are about working together, strategizing, and solving riddles before time runs out.
- Test Your Skills: Bring your A-game! Your problem-solving skills will be challenged like never before.
You can book your experience online and “unlock” some fun.
6. The Magic Duel
Last but not least, immerse yourself in the world of magic at The Magic Duel.
- Engaging Show: Witness a friendly duel between two magicians where sparks of laughter fly around just as much as the magical sparks do.
- Audience Participation: You and your family are not just spectators but integral parts of the show!
A grand dose of amusement and astonishment awaits you! Aren’t these exciting options to explore in Washington DC at night?
7. The Spy Museum
The Spy Museum is one of the few museums in Washington DC that offers some nights with later hours. Particularly on the weekend, the spy museum is open later until 8 PM. This is a great place for history buffs and also for families with young adolescents. Very young children and toddlers will not appreciate this museum. Here are some of the best parts of the Spy Museum that will be really fun for families to enjoy together.
- Get Your Cover Identity!: At the starting point of the museum visitors will receive an undercover identity. They’re encouraged to remember their cover story as they navigate the museum, making the experience interactive.
- School for Spies: This exhibit showcases over 200 gadgets, weapons, bugs, cameras, and vehicles used for spying throughout history.
- The Secret History of History: A series of galleries that dive deep into espionage from biblical times to the early 20th century. It delves into the roles spies played in crucial moments in world history.
- Spies and Spymasters: This exhibit provides insight into real-life spies, including their motivations, risks, and techniques.
- The 21st Century: Here, visitors can learn about espionage in the modern age, including cyber warfare and contemporary spy challenges.
- Espionage in Pop Culture: A lighter take on the world of spying, this section looks at James Bond, Maxwell Smart, and other fictional spies, showcasing how espionage has been portrayed in movies, TV, and books.
- The Berlin Tunnel: This is a reconstruction of the famous tunnel built by the CIA and British MI6 to tap Soviet phone lines during the Cold War.
Enjoy exploring the world of espionage.
Things To Do Washington DC At Night For Couples
Planning a romantic date night in Washington DC? Lucky you! The city is brimming with experiences that perfectly blend history, nature, and mouth-watering gastronomy.
Here’re five enchanting nocturnal escapades you can embark upon together.
8. Monuments By Moonlight – Self Guided
If you are looking for a date night that transports you back in time amidst iconic settings, then be sure to walk the monuments at night. While this is similar to the trolley tour mentioned above, a self guided night tour gives you and your date a little more privacy.
- Transformed Views: The uplight of towering monuments under the night’s sky is a new and exciting way to experience the DC monuments. It adds an element of mystery and romance that’s quite elusive during the daytime. Some of the most majestic monuments include the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Museum, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
- Fewer Crowds: An added advantage of visiting at night is the minimal tourist traffic. That means more space, more tranquility, and more privacy for you and your partner to relish landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial or Washington Monument.
- Shared Learning: What could be more bonding than learning about the nation’s history together? As hand-in-hand you walk under the moonlit sky, cherish the moments while absorbing valuable lessons of the past. History sure has an uncanny way of stirring up romance!
Be sure to wrap up your visit by 10 pm as this is when the area can become quite deserted especially in the colder months.
9. Artechouse – Modern Art With Interactive Cocktails
Artechouse has a few locations in the country, and there is also one conveniently located in Washington DC. During the day, families are welcome at this modern art and technology exhibit. At night, however, this exhibit is best suited for adults.
- Interactive Bar: After 4 pm, there is an interactive bar that serves cocktails and mocktails for you to enjoy. These drinks are tied in the perfect way to the theme of the exhibit that you are visiting.
- Unique Art Exhibit: The experience at Artechouse is unlike any other. The immersive experience changes themes each quarter so this is also a great option for people who frequently visit Washington DC as you can experience something new each time.
10. Stroll Down 14th Street
Washington DC’s 14th street is a total vibe. Begin your walk near the French restaurant Le Diplomate. From there make your way down to the several restaurants and bars that are usually buzzing with energy at night.
Grab a drink at “Le Dip” as it is called by locals and then head to Barcelona Wine Bar. This wine bar is very popular and can get pretty crowded during the weekends. Other popular spots along 14th street include Lupo Verde and the rooftop at Colada Shop. From happy hour to late night, 14th street is always busy and a guaranteed good time.
- Lots of options: With restaurants on every corner, ranging from exotic sushi to homely southern comfort food – there’s something here to intrigue every palate.
- Boutique Shopping: There are also a handful of boutiques on 14th street that remain open into the later parts of the evening. Be sure to pop in and check out some of the locally made goods.
11. Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens
If serene beauty enveloping artistic brilliance resonates with your romantic notions, the Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens is your spot.
- Art Collections: The estate houses a wealth of intriguing art collections from diverse corners of the world, making it a delight for any art enthusiast.
- Botanical Charm: What amps up the charm of this place manifold are the tranquil gardens, blooming with flowers of every conceivable hue!
You can either stroll through these landscapes, finding a secluded spot to enjoy each other’s company, or satiating your artistic curiosity. The time here is bound to reel you into a world of romance.
Just across from the US Botancial Gardens is the Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens. While the The Conservatory at the US Botanical Gardens closes at 5 pm, the Bartholdi Gardens are actually open from dawn until dusk. So, depending on the season that you are visiting in, you could come here for a stroll as late as 8 pm.
- Nature’s Bounty: This is one of the best places for nature lovers to explore.
It’s a leisurely walk along the winding paths. You will discover unique plants from around the world and sit on one of the scattered benches. Absorb the calm and embrace the romantic atmosphere especially as the sun starts to set.
13. Comedy Shows
There are many comedy venues in both Downtown DC and in the surrounding areas of DC. Some of the places you can check out at night for a laugh are listed below:
- The DC Improv Comedy Club: One of the most well-known comedy clubs in the city, it has hosted big names in comedy since it opened in the 1990s.
- The Warner Theatre: While it’s a venue for various performances, it often hosts well-known comedians on tour.
- Drafthouse Comedy: This venue in downtown D.C. provides both stand-up comedy and other comedic performances.
- The Comedy Loft: Located above the Bier Baron Tavern, it offers a lineup of comedians from around the country.
- Capital Laughs: While not a physical venue, Capital Laughs hosts a variety of comedy shows in different venues around the city.
- Underground Comedy DC: Like Capital Laughs, it’s a group that produces comedy shows at various locations in D.C.
14. Late Night At The John F. Kennedy Center – Open Til Midnight!
The John F. Kennedy Center for the performing arts has one permanent exhibit that is open all the way until midnight. This immersive exhibit is called “Art and Ideals” is open from 10 AM to midnight, making it a perfect addition to fun things to do Washington DC at night.
- Art And Ideals Exhibit: Major permanent exhibit with free admission n the massive roof-level Atrium that explores Kennedy’s appreciation and promotion of the arts and why the Kennedy Center came to be the living memorial to him and his ideals.
Are you traveling alone and planning to explore Washington DC? DC is actually a great place for solo travelers. It’s very friendly and there are many things you can do to meet other people.
Here’s a comprehensive list of four spectacular nighttime activities that await your discovery in the Capital City.
15. Nighttime Bike Tour
If you enjoy bike riding, this is for you. A great way to see the city at night is by going on a fun nocturnal bike tour. This activity serves as an excellent medium of keeping yourself physically active while on your trip, plus it provides an exhilarating perspective for sightseeing.
- Experience DC Differently: Who says sightseeing is strictly about walking miles or switching buses? A bike tour allows you to cover more ground, imbibe more culture, while also spiraling your adrenaline.
- Monumental Highlights: As you pedal along, get ready to marvel at the famous monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Building. Their majesty under the twinkling stars lends an extraordinary charm to these historical landmarks.
- Flexibility on Wheels: The best part about touring on a bike is the freedom that comes with it. You can pause whenever you wish to capture the perfect photo, or simply stop by to breathe in the mesmerizing surroundings.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a helmet and jump on a rented bike for a dose of exercise blended perfectly with your sightseeing itinerary.
16. Phillips Collection
For those interested in art, The Phillips Collection in DC has some days with extended hours. This is different from many of the other history museums and art museums which usually close between 530 and 6 PM.
- Pioneer of Modern Art: As America’s first museum dedicated to modern art, this treasure trove proudly displays brilliant works from masters like Renoir, alongside contemporary artists.
- During first Thursdays for Phillips after 5, general admission ends at 5 pm; tickets may be purchased to attend Phillips after 5 from 5-8:30 pm.
- During Third Thursdays of the month, this museum has extended hours with free admission from 5-8 pm.
So, if you are craving a delightful blend of time-honored and contemporary art, this place promises to satiate that hunger!
17. Evening Stroll Around Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin area of Washington DC is most famous for the cherry blossom festival. However, it is also a nice evening stroll. This is best done before it gets too dark as this area can get a bit deserted once the sun goes down.
- Stunning Visual Feast: This man-made reservoir, nestled amid the city’s cacophony, offers panoramic views of magnificent memorials mirrored in its calm waters.
18. Cocktail Bars & Lounges
After a day filled with exploration and adventure, relax and unwind with a drink at one of Washington DC’s fun rooftop bars. Enjoy taking in the panoramic views of Washington DC’s awe-inspiring skyline while enjoying a cocktail.
- Abundant Options: Some popular options are the rooftop at the Conrad Hotel, the rooftop at the Pendry Hotel, and the more casual rooftop at Colada Shop on 14th street.
- For Great Cocktails: Check out Bar Mini, Silver Lyan, and Service Bar on U Street.
Nearly every neighborhood in Washington DC has a fantastic cocktail bar you can try. For a historic vibe, check out The Fountain Inn in Georgetown. For late night, visit Silver Lyan inside the Riggs Hotel.
Things To Do Washington DC At Night For Culinary Enthusiast
Culinary enthusiasts, rejoice! Washington DC is a haven for food lovers. In the last decade, the food scene in Washington DC has completely exploded. There are several world renowned restaurants here and several which have Michelin stars. From avant garde to classic cuisine, foodies will love eating their way through DC.
With its diverse cuisines and lively nights, you’re in for a treat. Get ready for mouthwatering experiences and unforgettable memories!
19. Adams Morgan
Let’s start in Adams Morgan. This is a bustling neighborhood near Georgetown and GW University that has many restaurants that highlight different world cuisines. Your taste buds will love it!
- Tons of options: So many international restaurants here. Ethiopian Injera, Asian street food, and more. Your tongue will travel the globe!
- Exciting nightlife: DC’s energy shines at night. Bars, pubs, and live music venues are everywhere. Experience the city’s vibrant vibe!
- Try a Michelin rated restaurant! Two very popular restaurants Reveler’s Hour and Tail Up Goat are located in this neighborhood. Both of these restaurants are highly regarded as some of the best food experiences in Washington DC. Be sure to reserve a spot online through their reservation system ahead of time.
Prepare for a flavorful journey and electric atmosphere!
20. Spirit Of Washington Dinner Cruise
Next up is the Spirit of Washington Dinner Cruise. A spectacular dining adventure awaits. Delight in a delicious meal on a luxury cruise! The entire experience is something to take in as this is a really fun way to see the city from a different perspective.
- Hearty Buffet: Enjoy a variety of dishes in the buffet. Something for everyone, so dig in!
- Amazing Views: Sip, savor, and marvel. See Washington’s landmarks from the water. Unforgettable sights as you glide along the river.
Get ready for an unmatched dining experience!
21. Union Market
During your time in Washington DC, don’t miss Union Market. This market is a foodie’s paradise with over 40 local vendors. Here you can taste some of the amazing local cuisine that DC has to offer all in the span of a few thousand square feet. Union Market also has a rooftop that is seasonally open where you can enjoy the food and the weather.
Just outside Union Market there is a small area with cute boutique stores, shops, and other more formal restaurants. You can head to one of these for a post dinner cocktail or dessert after you have explored Union Market.
- Local Gems: Discover local culinary talent. Food stalls and artisan products galore. Support small businesses!
- Fun Events: Cooking demos, tastings, and more. There’s always something happening at Union Market!
Head here to experience the best of DC’s food scene all under one roof.
22. Georgetown Waterfront Park And Dining
Experience chic dining in Georgetown. Walk through the charming cobblestone streets and discover the upscale food scene. After your dinner, enjoy a stroll along the lovely waterfront.
- Fine Dining: Upscale restaurants offering international dishes. Treat yourself to a luxurious meal!
- Waterfront Views: Dine by the beautiful waterfront. A romantic experience you’ll never forget!
Indulge in exquisite food and picturesque views.
23. Check Out Washington DC’s Ramen Scene
If you are looking for authentic ramen right in the heart of Washington DC, then check Washington DC’s very popular ramen scene. There are so many great ramen restaurants all over the nation’s capital that you can explore. Some of the most popular ramen restaurants include:
- Daikaya: Located near the Chinatown and Penn Quarter neighborhoods, Daikaya offers two distinct experiences: the ground floor serves as a bustling ramen shop with Tokyo-style ramen, while the upstairs izakaya provides a different menu and ambiance. The ramen shop’s menu is simple, but each bowl is crafted with care.
- Bantam King: From the same team behind Daikaya, Bantam King focuses on chicken ramen. Housed in a former Burger King location, it boasts a unique ambiance. The ramen here is known for its rich broth and flavorful toppings.
- Toki Underground: Located on H Street NE, this spot offers Taiwanese-style ramen and has been a favorite among D.C. residents for years. With its hip vibe and solid menu, it’s a must-visit for ramen enthusiasts in the city.
If you want a full list of all the great ramen restaurants in Washington DC, a full list can be found here.
24. Rooftop Restaurant And Rooftop Bars
Cap off your evening at a rooftop restaurant. Rooftop restaurants are a favorite in DC. Sip a drink and eat while enjoying the view. It’s a beautiful way to end your night. The views from the top are breathtaking. You see the magnificent skyline. Landmarks and monuments are also visible. Some of the most popular rooftop restaurants are listed below:
Ciel Rooftop Bar
This visually stunning rooftop has both indoor and outdoor spaces. The design is ultra chic and the views are amazing. The food options here are limited so it’s best to come here for a cocktail and a light bite rather than a full meal.
Conrad Hotel Rooftop Bar
Another popular spot amongst locals is the rooftop at the Conrad Hotel. This is a great spot for large groups as the venue has large seating areas that can accommodate large parties. Starting from happy hour, this spot starts to buzz and get busy. On the weekends be sure to make a reservation online. If you need more food, then there is a full restaurant on the third floor of this hotel.
Looking for some great Mexican food and an open air vibe? Then the hip atmosphere at El Techo is for you. This restaurant doesn’t have the panoramic views that some of the other rooftops have since its only a few floors high, but it has really good food at a good price.
Rosewood Hotel Rooftop
If you are in the Georgetown area and looking for a luxury experience, check out the Rosewood Hotel Rooftop. Not only are the views really beautiful, but this rooftop bar has a small pool that hotel guests can use. From this rooftop you can have a direct view of the Kennedy Center.
DC’s rooftop bars and rooftop restaurants are perfect spots for taking in the city from a different perspective. They’re perfect for relaxation as well as food. Many of them also offer stunning views. A full list of them can be found here. Visit one to cap your night!
Things To Do Washington DC At Night : Live Performances
If you love live music and live performances, then there is no shortage of places to experience this. Many Washington DC locals will head to these venues at night for a fun time after dark.
25. Blues Alley
If jazz music excites you, visit Blues Alley. It’s a special place in Georgetown. It started in 1965. Blues Alley is America’s oldest jazz supper club. You should check it out!
- Every night, soulful jazz fills the air. Top musicians perform live as you dine. You enjoy yummy food with good melodies. Your meal becomes special every night.
- The food is something to love. The menu is very diverse. It offers Southern-style dishes. These dishes are mouthwatering. Personal favorites are there too. Sample different dishes on your visit.
- The setting makes Blues Alley special. It’s cozy and comfortable. Every visit feels personal. Close-up performances make it unique. It’s like you’re part of the show!
Make your meal an unforgettable experience. Visit Blues Alley and feel the music!
26. Live Concerts At The Anthem
If you love live music, then check out The Anthem. This awesome venue at the DC Wharf always has a fun show going on. After the show you can head to one of the many fun restaurants or bars on the Wharf. There is a lot of activity going on at the Wharf especially on the weekend nights.
27. Live Concert At Echo Stage
This venue is a little bit outside the main part of the city so you will likely need to take a taxi there. Echo Stage has hosted many famous artists from David Guetta to FKJ (French Kiwi Juice). The venue is well known for its awesome sound system and it keeps music lovers returning for more.
28. Musical Performances At Capital One Arena
Capital One Arena is a venue that hosts many different things. From sporting events to musical events, there is always something going on here. There are many restaurants and bars in this area as well so you can plan to grab some food and drink either before or after your event.
29. National Symphony Orchestra
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is a famous orchestra from Washington, D.C., started in 1930 by a cellist named Hans Kindler. They mainly perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Besides their regular concerts, they play at special events like the National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth. The NSO also has programs to help people learn about classical music. They offer learning materials for families and teachers and even have scholarships for high school students who are really good at music and want to make it their career.
30. Live Music On U Street
The part of the DC area known as U Street is a very lively neighborhood. From fun dive bars to music venues there’s no shortage of things to do here, especially at night.
Several establishments here offer live music as well as guest DJs who come to play. One particular spot is called the 9:30 Club. This is a hotspot for contemporary music and live bands. Another popular place is called Flash which often has guest DJ’s and is well known for having a great sound system.
31. Ford’s Theatre
Ford’s Theatre is a great place to visit not just because of the live performances but also because of its history.
- Historical Site: Ford’s Theatre is best known as the site where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. The theatre is preserved as a historical site where visitors can learn about Lincoln, his presidency, and the events surrounding his assassination.
- Working Theatre: Apart from being a historic site, Ford’s Theatre is also a working theatre that hosts various performances, including plays and musicals. Their programming often includes works that reflect America’s diverse and complex heritage.
- Museum: The basement of Ford’s Theatre houses a museum that displays exhibits about Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War era.
- Petersen House: Located across the street from the theatre, this is the house where Lincoln was taken after being shot, and where he eventually died. It’s part of the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site and can be toured by visitors.
Things To Do Washington DC At Night For Sports Lovers
Just as you would expect with any major city, the US Capital is also home to a number of sports teams. From baseball to hockey you will find plenty of games to watch as someone who enjoys sports.
31. Baseball Games At Nationals Park
Nationals Park is a great place for baseball enthusiasts. Located very close to the Navy Yard area of Washington DC, you can catch a baseball game and then head to one of the many popular bars and restaurants in the area.
32. Hockey Games At Capital One Arena.
The Capital One Arena is where the NHL’s 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals play. If you enjoy hockey, this team is a lot of fun to watch.
33. Basketball Games At Capital One Arena
The Washington Wizards are an NBA team from Washington, D.C. The Wizards are in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. The team plays its home games at the Capital One Arena, in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. an arena they share with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Georgetown University men’s basketball team.
Things To Do Washington DC At Night: Summary
Whether you are traveling as a family, couple or as a solo traveler, there is plenty to do at night in Washington DC. From viewing the monuments at night to exploring the vibrant nightlife scene, there is something for everyone to enjoy after dark. Some of the free museums are also open later on certain days. Take in the sights on a night time monument tour or enjoy some Michelin rated cuisine. You can also see a live performance whether its music or comedy, there are plenty of venues for performances. Washington DC has so many great places to visit during the day and at night.