Where Locals Go After the Metro Closes in D.C.
Just because Metro’s shutting down early these days doesn’t mean night owls have to, too. If you’re out in D.C. after midnight you don’t have to go home, because you can stay here:
The National Mall
If you want the monuments to yourself, the best time to go is after midnight. The Mall is open 24 hours a day, and the monuments are lit. Find nighttime solitude among the water installments at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and feel chills at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, where larger-than-life soldiers are illuminated. You can also watch the sunrise from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Remember the scene in “The Exorcist” when a priest falls down the steps while fighting the demon? You can see the famous staircase for yourself a few blocks from Georgetown University’s campus. Carving a steep path from Prospect St. down to Canal Road below, these steps are at their eeriest late at night—and you also won’t have to move aside for the runners who use this staircase to train.
Singing gets decidedly easier as the hours tick by. Muzette in Adams Morgan and Wok and Roll in Chinatown carry D.C.’s karaoke banner late into the night. You can belt out the latest hits at the bar or get a private room until 2am.
Dance to Live Music
If you’d rather have someone else do the singing, you’re in luck. Some of D.C.’s beloved live music venues carry the dance party late into the night. For a fun mix of Motown and Top 40 songs, head to Vegas Lounge, an institution on the city’s nightlife scene. Jojo Restaurant & Bar is another favorite place to round out the night, with a live jazz scene at this U Street venue that stays open until 3am on weekends.
Need an activity to keep the night rolling? Lucky Strike in Chinatown amps up the bowling experience with DJs, a bar and an all-around club-like feel that goes until 2:30am on Friday and Saturday nights. No fighting with kids for the lighter balls, because this game is for ages 21 and over.
Buy a New Book
Can’t sleep? Snuggle up with a new book from Kramerbooks & Afterwords. Not only does this bookstore serve have a full-service restaurant and bar, it stays open late 1am on weeknights and 24 hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Gearing up for an all-nighter? Don’t worry, there’s a coffee shop here, too.
Bars! Bars! Bars!
Closing time in D.C. is 2am, though it’s really the weekends when the nightlife scene gets going. Not sure where to go? Most of the late-night action is concentrated along a few key neighborhoods: the 14th and U Street district, H Street NE, Dupont Circle, and Adams Morgan. Keep in mind that last call at many bars is around 1:30am, so the demand for a ride home starts spiking around that time.
Sit Down for a Meal
Don’t assume your favorite kitchen closes at 11pm. A handful of D.C. restaurants stay open late, and they’re not just diners. Mockingbird Hill serves its ham and small plates menu until 1:30am on weekends, while Old Ebbitt Grill stays open until 1am weeknights and 2am weekends, dishing out a special late night menu with oysters and more. If it’s really late, make your way to New Big Wong, a Chinese food joint that stays open until 5am on weekends and is a favorite among Washington chefs like José Andrés and Adam Goldman.
Get Food to Go
To many Washingtonians, late-night food is embodied by two words: jumbo slice. Sure, you can get a slice of pizza the size of a small child, but there’s plenty of other options, too. The Surfside taco stand in Dupont serves some of the District’s best tacos 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Over on 14th Street, Amsterdam Falafel not only serves the post-club crowd until 4am on weekends, it has an unlimited toppings bar. And if you’re craving pizza, Wiseguy NY Pizza in Shaw wins top marks and keeps New York hours by staying open until 5am on weekends.
Photo credit: Jason Pratt