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How to Plan the Perfect Night Out in Washington DC

August 27, 2018 by Mary McKinny
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The fun doesn’t stop in DC just because the sun sets. If anything, America’s capital city lights up even brighter at night, providing the perfect backdrop for a memorable evening that could, depending on your proclivities, go any number of directions.

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Cultivate some culture
From the Kennedy Center to Arena Stage to Ford’s Theatre, there’s no shortage of places to catch a play, musical, ballet, or concert. You’ll have your pick of revered classics and up-and-coming new works, and many participate in last-minute ticket deals (for the spur-of-the-moment supporters among us). For some history with your tunes, head to Blues Alley, the oldest jazz supper club in the country. Keep an eye out for timely themes, such as Theatre Week, held Sept. 12-Oct. 7.

Play ball
Prefer your drama on the court? (or field, or ice, or whatever? We know sports.) DC has a plethora of sports teams, so depending on the season you could certainly take in a game or two. Though Washington Redskins mostly play during the day, the Wizards (NBA), Nationals (MLB), DC United (NASL), and Capitals (NHL) all have night games, encouraging competitive heckling and semi-competitive eating from their fans well after sundown.

Raise a glass
If you really want to toast to America’s capital, belly up to the bar and order a Rickey. DC’s native cocktail — made with gin or whiskey, lime juice, and club soda — was invented in 1883 at a bar favored by politicians and reporters. In 2011, legislators made it the city’s official drink. The Passenger and Columbia Room put DC on the map for cocktail culture, while Dupont Circle is widely regarded as the city’s bar central, and now you can duck into any number of intimate drinks dens and order up a classic — or let the bartenders mix up a bespoke favorite.

Take a night tour
Even if you trekked out to marvel at each monument during the day, hop a bus and head back out once the sun sets. It’s a completely different experience, with lights illuminating the famous structures and sculptures, and the crowds will likely be much, much smaller. Some monuments are even more poignant at night, like the Pentagon Memorial, which comprises 184 lighted benches to signify each person who lost his or her life during the 9/11 attacks. Enjoy the longer moments you’ll have to reflect on the nation’s history and the legacies that are currently being written, and appreciate that you might actually be able to read all the plaques and dedications without too much crowd interference.

Seek out the spirits
No, not more drinks. We mean the ethereal haunts who linger throughout DC and its surrounding area, and which you can learn about on one of many available ghost tours. You can see everything from morbid movie locations, like the famous Georgetown steps from “The Exorcist,” to the city’s most haunted house in Lafayette Square and J. Edgar Hoover’s final resting place at Congressional Cemetery. Bring comfortable walking shoes and a flashlight, and be prepared to be spooked.