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15 Best Night Tours in Washington DC Showcasing Iconic Monuments

best night tours in Washington DC

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When the sun sets and the lights come on, it’s time to embark on the best night tours in Washington DC !

Of course, we all know about the exciting things to do in Washington DC during the day; but in the evening, you’ll be treated to a whole new side of the city – its history, its secrets, and its unexpected beauty.

Check out my top picks if you’re interested in a tour with a classic trolley, a guided visit that will take you to the top 10 attractions, or a spooky ghosts tour. If you want more options, scroll further down the page or use our table of content to explore every offer available!

1 – Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley

Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley

Rating: ⭐️ 4.7/5 ( 3380 reviews )

“Great experience- would highly recommend! Yet, but we learn some great trivia behind some of the worlds, most beautiful monuments and historical sites.” CANDACE. Viator

This charming treat from Historic Tours Of America brings you to all the best sites, but the mode of transportation itself is half the fun!

With open sides to give you the best views, this trolley putters through town with ease, so you can sit back and savor the views – and the guided commentary that goes along with it!

And let’s face it, the scenery is pretty great; after all, you’ll be passing by such beloved spots as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Capitol Building.

Gaze at monuments lit up in gorgeous fashion, and enjoy the ride!

Summary of the experience:

  • Passing by over 100 points of interest
  • Custom app available in 7 languages

This trip will let you get up close and personal with many of the city’s coolest monuments – including some underrated gems!

With great information, a fun-filled atmosphere, and an accessible mode of transportation, this is one trolley you’ll want to ride again and again!

Read more: Best Washington DC Monuments Tours

2 – Small Group National Mall Night Tour with 10 Top Attractions

Small Group National Mall Night Tour with 10 Top Attractions

Rating: ⭐️ 5/5 ( 1108 reviews )

“Great experience! Rich was our guide and driver and he did a great job of giving us information and giving us time to see the monuments. For an overview of some of the greatest sights in DC this was a perfect tour!” LESLIE. Viator

Personalized attention is always nice, especially when you’re exploring an iconic city!

And with this gem from See DC Today , you can enjoy a truly unique experience of the capital, exploring each of your stops in greater depth.

See the glorious angles of buildings and structures silhouetted in the darkness, and enjoy ample time to take pictures.

And with glimpses of the Smithsonian Castle, the National Archives, and the headquarters of the FBI, you can enjoy a comprehensive view of the city and its landmarks.

You’ll learn a lot, and get some great shots for your vacation album…. It’s a win-win!

  • Transportation between attractions included
  • Planned photo stops
  • check offer

This is the ideal adventure if you want to see it all in a short amount of time!

Thanks to the quieter streets, you’ll be able to cover lots of ground, and your guide will have great factoids for each and every stop.

Read more: Best Tourist Attractions in Washington DC

3 – DC Ghosts By US Ghost Adventures

DC Ghosts By US Ghost Adventures

Rating: ⭐️ 4/5 ( 329 reviews )

2Our guide was very personable and fun. His pace was good, he included everyone in the evening. We enjoyed the stories and even the jokes!” EMELYNN. Viator

A little bit creepy, a little bit educational, and a lot of fun, this is the perfect option for an adventurous group with a love of the supernatural!

Join your guide for an entertaining jaunt around town, where you’ll see some of the most famous homes and historic sites in town – and hear about their haunting residents!

From the Dolley Madison House to the Treasury Annex, each stop provides its own fascinating tales of strange goings on.

Be sure to keep an eye out for a ghoul or two with DC Ghosts By Us Ghost Adventures !

  • Spooky and entertaining stories by a professional guide
  • Secret gems that aren’t usually included in regular city tours

This short and sweet trip is ideal if you want to soak up a lot of history and culture in a short amount of time – especially if you like to see the weirder side of things!

You’ll get to see classic buildings in a whole new way, and enjoy some nice local legends as part of the bargain.

4 – Washington DC by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour

Washington DC by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour

Rating: ⭐️ 4.5/5 ( 1,550 reviews )

“Our tour guide was wonderful. He gave us so much information about the monuments. We were able to take pictures and have time at different monuments.” ALLISON. Viator

If you like your trips to be a little more eco friendly, Intrepid Urban Adventures – USA has the ideal vehicle for you to see the sights with.

The electric cart is small, zippy, and open-air, serving as the perfect chariot to enjoy the sights and sounds of the capital, with all the monuments perfectly lit up in an ethereal glow.

You can gaze at the brilliance of the White House all lit up, or stand in awe of the massive statue of Lincoln, uninhibited by usual massive crowds.

There’s tons of great information to be had on this trip, including some of the lesser known details about various hotspots in town.

But of course, it’s the awesome vehicles that really put this over the top; you can enjoy a world-class tour and help the planet, all at the same time!

Read more: Best City Tours in Washington DC

5 – Glass-Top or Open-Top Convertible Bus Tour of DC

Glass-Top or Open-Top Convertible Bus Tour of DC

Rating: ⭐️ 4.5/5 ( 56 reviews )

“Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. Bus was on time and guide always had her occupants in mind.” Genia. Viator

If you want to get to know the Beltway beyond the main attractions, this is the trip for you!

While you’ll still see many of the capital’s coolest spots, you’ll also get to venture a little further with this trip from USA Guided Tours , and enjoy the U.S. Air Force Memorial and U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, located in Arlington, Virginia.

Then it’s off to Maryland for a walk along the picturesque National Harbor, where you have the option to ride the towering Capitol Wheel, which has some pretty spectacular sights of its own!

Talk about a trip with a little bit of everything!

While this is longer than most of the other tours on this list, it’s well worth it to take in all the amazing attributes of the surrounding area.

And because it’s another small group excursion, you can really make the most of each stop!

Read more: Hop on Hop off Washington DC Bus Tours vs Trolley Tours

6 – Washington DC Monuments by Night Bike Tour

Washington DC Monuments by Night Bike Tour

Rating: ⭐️ 4.5/5 ( 163 reviews )

“This tour was the highlight of our trip to DC. The monuments at night were magnificent and cast the memorials in a new light (pun intended).” LEAH. GETYOURGUIDE

Trade in those walking shoes for a bike helmet, as you set off on a pedaling adventure with Unlimited Biking formerly Bike and Roll DC !

You’ll cover even more ground, and get a bit of exercise along the way, as you visit the Potomac Tidal Basin and the National Mall.

You’ll even get to check out the patch of grass where the president’s helicopter takes off and lands!

Free of the hustle and bustle of daytime, you can focus on enjoying the views, and get to see each site like never before.

If you want to try something outside of the normal drives and walks, this lively tour gets you into the thick of the action!

Covering more ground and offering a whole new vantage point on the city, it’s a lovely way to get to know the area.

7 – Washington, DC: Scenic Monuments Night Tour by Open-Top Bus

Washington, DC - Scenic Monuments Night Tour by Open-Top Bus

Rating: ⭐️ 4/5 ( 331 reviews )

“We have traveled to DC many times, but never done the night tour. It was great fun and many monuments are on the route. It made our anniversary evening very special.” Scott. Viator

With the breeze in your face and the city before you, this trip from Big Bus Tours – USA is a drive to remember!

This double-decker delight will show you all the best parts of town, including the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

And along the route, you’ll see artifacts from every era of the capital’s history, right back to its earliest roots at the very beginning of the nation itself.

Dive into amazing stories and jaw-dropping architecture, and get up close to take the best photos – it’s a truly irresistible opportunity!

With a variety of languages and ample time at all of the best stops, this is the perfect option if you’re new to town, or speak a language other than English.

Riding around in comfort and style, you can enjoy all that the city has to offer, and wonderfully attentive staff to help answer any questions!

8 – Epic Evening e-Scooter Tour

Epic Evening e-Scooter Tour

Rating: ⭐️ 5/5 ( 71 reviews )

“Super fun! The electric scooter rides were a pleasant rush and the tour guide was a fun guy with a wealth of insider info. Definitely recommend. No crowds at night, either!” SARA. Viator

Here’s another novel way to get around town – by scooter!

While these two-wheeled delights have been taking over many major cities, they’re also an awesome way to see the sights, as you can traverse both bike lanes and footpaths with ease.

Of course, this trip from BiPartisan Tour Company also provides plenty of chances to enjoy the many highlights of the area, and get a fun form of exercise as part of the bargain.

And with their big wheels and steady pace, they’re perfect for discovering the wonders of the National Mall in style.

If you want an alternative to the classic bus and trolley tours, but still want to use a vehicle to get around, this is the perfect trip for you!

And thanks to smaller groups and the peaceful aura of nighttime, the city will feel like it’s entirely your own!

9 – Ghosts of Georgetown Night-Time Walking Tour

Ghosts of Georgetown Night-Time Walking Tour, Washington DC

Rating: ⭐️ 4.5/5 ( 179 reviews )

“Learned many new interesting facts that we didn’t know and looking forward to see the neighborhood in the daylight next time we visit.” GERALD. Viator

Join Visit DC Tours for an unforgettable adventure into the heart of one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods – and take a gander at some wonderful spectral spots!

Given that this area grew up alongside the city itself, it’s little wonder that it has its fair share of legends – and some famous former residents that may have kept hanging around long after their deaths!

As you tour all of these elegant spots, you’ll get some wonderfully spine-tingling tales to sweeten the deal!

We recommend this for anybody that likes to really familiarize themselves with a community – the good, the bad, and the bizarre!

You can really get a feel for all the nuances of Georgetown, and there are plenty of wonderfully eerie tales to mix in with the more commonplace tales.

10 – Washington DC:Gourmet Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey

Washington DC - Gourmet Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey

Rating: ⭐️ 4.3/5 ( 430 reviews )

“It was an enjoyable experience. I had a fantastic time. The food was very good.” CAROLY. GetYourGuide

After all of the fun on land, why not head out on the water for some sightseeing in style… and a meal thrown in too?

City Cruises offers an irresistible sailing trip, where you can drift along the Potomac and watch the city drift by… and that’s just the start!

Because while you’re watching the world go by, you can also keep an eye on the delicious meals appearing on your plate, with three courses of seafood, salad, ravioli, and other mouthwatering delights – and dessert, of course.

Add in some classy background music, and you have the perfect atmosphere for a floating feast… and some unforgettable backdrops!

If the gorgeous riverside views don’t persuade you to climb aboard, the amazing service – and delicious food – certainly will!

With courteous service, amazing cuisine, and breathtaking vantage points of the capital combine to make this a float to remember, and the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion!

11 – Private Washington DC Night City Tour with Stops at 6 Top Sites

Private Washington DC Night City Tour with Stops at 6 Top Sites

Rating: ⭐️ 5/5 ( 20 reviews )

“One of the most memorable things about our tour was the guide Jorge. He did a phenomenal job explaining things and answering any questions we had. He has a perfect itinerary that has no need to modify. No better tour in DC!” MICHAEL. Viator

Come along with Black Hawk Sedans on this rollicking ride through town – and enjoy some personalized attention all throughout the trip.

While your driver takes care of the navigation (and the relaying of fun facts, of course), you can enjoy all of the coolest monuments in town – and even stop to snap some pictures!

And you also have the option to customize your trip, so if you want to see something that’s not on the standard itinerary, just let your guides know!

You’ll really feel like you have the city to yourself on this trip… and the guides, too!

The flexibility and personal attention are what really make this option shine, and the tour is just long enough for you to linger at interesting sites.

So go ahead and give yourself the elite treatment!

12 – Free night tour: DC Monuments by Moonlight

Free night tour - DC Monuments by Moonlight

Rating: ⭐️ 4.3/5 ( 6 reviews )

“Such a good way to interact with a local guide and hear their take on Washington DC. Enjoyed the tour.” ELIZABETH. GuruWalk

Taking advantage of the smaller crowds, this memorable stroll offers you a closer look at some of the big spots in the area, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean Veterans Memorials.

But it also shows off some sites you might not have thought of, like the Albert Einstein Memorial.

And did we mention that this tour is free? Talk about value!

While you’re roaming around, your guide will regale you with awesome stories, and also provide some cool local perspectives on this fascinating puzzle of a town.

  • see price & reviews

Between the fact-filled local guide and the budget-friendly setup, this tour is perfect if you’re new to town and want to save some cash… without skimping on the cool sights or exciting information!

It’s the perfect way to spend an evening in the capital, and stretch your legs a bit while taking in new knowledge with each step.

13 – The National Mall at Dusk: Washington DC Private Evening Tour

The National Mall at Dusk - Washington DC Private Evening Tour

Rating: ⭐️ 4.7/5 ( 4 reviews )

“The private walking tour was the best tour I have ever been on. Our guide, John was fabulous.” AILEEN. Viator

From the ripples of the reflecting pool to the stunning silhouette of the Capitol Building, this is a wonderful journey through the heart of a national treasure – and with plenty of neat little details!

The jaunt comes courtesy of Travel Curious , and it offers a nice mixture of daytime and nighttime benefits; you get to enjoy the shifting views of sunset, and see the monuments in all their bright evening finery.

Take plenty of pictures, and enjoy the unique stories and leisurely pace!

The city will be all lit up by the stories from your guide… and the actual lights themselves!

You can also enjoy a stress-free experience, perfectly catered to your group, with lots of great communication to make the whole process that much easier.

14 – Washington DC Night-Time City Tour with Visit to Mount Vernon

Washington DC Night-Time City Tour with Visit to Mount Vernon

Rating: ⭐️ 4.5/5 ( 4 reviews )

“It was the most amazing tour. We took the 8 hour tour to Mt. VERON THEN THE NIGHT TOUR, Robert was very knowledgeable and helpful. I would recommend it”. ARLENE. Viator

Once you’ve seen the city, it’s time for a little side trip to learn more about its namesake with City Tours by LOBA !

While the nation’s first president, George Washington, never saw the capital that bears his moniker, he was involved in the planning; and you can learn about this and his other achievements with a visit to his beloved home, Mount Vernon.

You’ll spend the day exploring the lush grounds and the stunning homestead itself, then head back to town in the evening to visit some monuments – a truly lasting legacy!

Of course, any tour in D.C. is going to be packed with history; but this one certainly offers real breadth and depth!

The chance to see tons of amazing sites outside of the city – everything from Robert E. Lee’s childhood home to spots frequented by Washington himself – makes it stand out, giving you an unforgettable adventure back in time.

15 – DC Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl By US Ghost Adventures

DC Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl By US Ghost Adventures

Rating: ⭐️ 3.5/5 ( 25 reviews )

“Requested by visiting family. Cordial guide and good selection of places. Personally not a ghost fan, but the family was, so, I guess it hit its mark.” ADAM. Viator

If spooky stories leave you jittery, you’re in luck… this treat from DC Ghosts By Us Ghost Adventures offers plenty of liquid courage along the route!

Stroll between some of the most famous haunted bars in town, delving into mysterious happenings and learning the otherworldly tales of some perpetual barflies.

Whether you’re sipping a Gin Rickey in its origin point or keeping an eye out for the specter of former President Grant, it’s a rollicking night out on the town!

This lively mix of history, the supernatural, and the local nightlife is certainly unique, and it’s also a wonderful way to see the city’s more irreverent side!

It’s perfect for fans of cocktails, history nerds, and lovers of the bizarre, bringing the city to life in a new and playful fashion.

How to book night tours in Washington DC?

There are heaps of different companies that offer night tours, so you’ll never run out of options!

And better yet, many travel websites will sell those excursions at a reduced cost.

Don’t be afraid to shop around, because different forums often provide different prices.

And if you want to make the whole thing even easier, you can use our search engine to compare your many choices!

  • compare Washington DC tours

The 5 Best Washington DC Night Tours [2024 Reviews]

If you want to learn more about US history, Washington DC is one of the best cities in the world, seeing as it’s the country’s capital. Sightseeing is absolutely a requirement, but did you know one of the best ways to experience the capital is at night?

It’s true – it’s more relaxed as there are less crowds, meaning you have many of these attractions all to yourself.

We’ve taken it upon ourselves to bring you the top Washington DC night tours available, so you don’t have to worry about any safety concerns, or wonder if you missed any of the major sites. Let’s get started!

Best Night Tours of Washington DC

Quick answer: the 5 best rated washington dc night tours for 2024.

  • Perfect Private Night Tour of Washington DC
  • Washington DC Evening Tour
  • Washington DC Night Tour with Hotel Pickup
  • Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour
  • Washington DC Private Night City Tour

Washington DC Night Tour Reviews

1. perfect private night tour of washington dc.

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off included
  • Departure Time: 7:30 pm
  • Includes: Professional guide, Bottled water, transportation

Let’s kick things off with the Perfect Private Night Tour of Washington DC . This 3-hour tour takes you through the beautifully-illuminated city as you learn all about its history from your local guide.

This isn’t any ordinary tour either – you get to customize your itinerary to your specific interests to leave out the fluff and get to the good stuff!

Your guide, will pick you up at 7:30 pm at your hotel, so there’s no need to book separate transportation. We found the guides to be fantastic hosts, but also incredibly knowledgeable right from the very beginning.

Expect tons of historical background to give insight into each spot, but also unique facts and stories that you won’t learn about in school.

Your first stop of the evening is the US Capitol, which is pretty impressive to see in person as most of us have grown up seeing it everywhere.

You’ll have time to take some photos before heading over to the National World War II Memorial, which is also quite moving. Up next are the Jefferson Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial where you’ll learn about these important men in history.

Even if you aren’t a veteran or know one, you’re sure to find the US Marine Corps War Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be intriguing.

The guides make it so intriguing, that we would recommend this tour to anyone bringing children along who may usually be bored with these kinds of tours. With a clean, nice car to transport you, water bottles, and vast knowledge, you’re sure to have a great time like we did!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience, other washington dc experiences you may enjoy:, 2. washington dc evening tour.

  • Departure Time: 7:00 pm
  • Includes: Guide, Transport by air-conditioned minivan

It’s safe to say that there are a lot  of people out there who know a  lot  about Washington DC. However, we still doubt there’s anyone as knowledgeable about the city as the guide we had for our Washington DC Evening Tour .

They transform what could’ve been a boring bumbling about of monuments into a lively story filled with a genuine passion for teaching the history of the capital and entire country.

This is one of those tours that make you realize the value of one. Sure, you could see all of these memorials and sites on your own, but without the knowledge and anecdotes behind them they wouldn’t have this kind of impact.

Start off by getting picked up by a comfortable, climate-controlled minivan right from your hotel lobby and set off into the night with the rest of your group!

Right away, we noticed that the guide was a very safe driver and knew exactly where to go to avoid any traffic in order to maximize our time. You can choose if you’d rather just drive by and stay in the van while seeing certain sites, or get out and walk around, take photos, etc.

Your first stop is likely going to be the imposing White House, where you’ll learn how the building itself came to be, and how it’s changed over the years.

Check out the US Marine Corps War Memorial based on the famous Joe Rosenthal photo and the Jefferson Memorial dedicated to the first author of the Declaration of Independence (and 3rd US president).

Next, you’ll see a memorial dedicated to another renowned presiden as well as veterans of the Korean and Vietnam warst: the Lincoln Memorial. Last but certainly not least, take some time at the Pentagon Memorial which is dedicated to the victims of the 09/11 attack at the Pentagon.

Search For Washington DC Experiences You May Enjoy:

3. washington dc night tour with hotel pickup.

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Departure Time: 6:00 pm
  • Includes:  Bottled water, Driver/guide, Transport by air-conditioned, comfortable, luxurious mini-bus (seats 14 passengers)

This next one is just a little bit more indepth, and an hour longer than the previous 2 tours. You’ll get to see not only the most commonly-viewed tourist spots, but more of Washington DC as a city.

The Washington DC Night Tour with Hotel Pickup is a fantastic way of learning about The District’s history and modern-day way of life.

As you could probably gather from the title, your tour starts off at 6:00 pm with a hotel pickup. Your transportation for the evening is a luxurious mini-bus which fits a maximum of 14 passengers – not to mention we appreciated the complimentary bottled waters.

Thanks to the small group size, you get to customize your itinerary based on your party’s specific interests!

Just like most of the DC tours, your first stop will be the White House, which is usually the number 1 box to check on tourist’s lists. Next up, you’ll see the various veteran/war memorials before checking out Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and will pass by the Potomac River.

Stop at the Washington National Cathedral, which features some incredible architecture and has hosted the funerals of various presidents.

You’ll see the Air Force Memorial, MLK Jr., Franklin Roosevelt Memorial, and others that are magnificently illuminated by night. We also enjoyed our time perusing Chinatown, which was once home to thousands of Chinese immigrants (today, fewer than 300 live here).

This beautiful and informative tour put on by a true expert will surely give you an amazing experience you have to repeat!

4. Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour

  • Departure:  998 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC
  • Departure Time: 4:30 pm or 6:30 pm
  • Includes:  Three hour fully guided tour, Comfort bike rental, Helmet, Safety lights, Reflective vest, Equipment for kids of all sizes and ages

This 3-hour tour does cover a distance of 4 miles which may sound like a lot, but it’s perfect for the entire family – no matter the age! Your bike rental and all safety equipment, along with reflective vests and lights, are all included.

As this will be by bicycle, you’re not going to have a hotel pickup this time but will meet your guide at The Wharf DC offices right next to most of the main tourist sites.

Start by putting on all necessary gear after being fitted to the right bike, anad head off to the National Mall where the vast majority of your tour will occur. The Washington Monument is usually the first to see, and you’ll learn about why it’s 2 different shades of stone.

The White House is next, and if you have the time, you can stop and take photos – just know that you won’t be able to go inside.

We enjoyed the ride through the Constitution Gardens before seeing the Vietnam Women’s and Veterans Memorial (both of which are dedicated to those who served in Vietnam). There are also many other memorials along the way, and your guide will give you exciting insight to each one.

Overall, this is a great way to get a general overview of the city’s history, without going too in-depth on a budget.

  More Information & Tour Booking

5. washington dc private night city tour.

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off included
  • Departure Time: 8:00 pm
  • Includes:  Private tour, Bottled water, Driver/guide, Transport by private vehicle

If that sounds like fun to you, do yourself a favor and book the Washington DC Private Night City Tour , as it does sell out fast!

At 8:00 pm, your guide will pick you and the rest of your party up from your hotel. All transportation takes place in a nice private car, and with a maximum group size of just 6 people, you don’t have to deal with big groups of people you don’t know.

Sip on your complimentary bottled water as you enjoy a traffic-free tour through the city’s monuments all glittery and lit up.

You’ll have some stops at the Washington Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, and many other importance DC landmarks. Taking your specific interests into consideration, you’re sure to enjoy this customized tour.

The guide is so much more than someone who just rattles on facts that you could get anywhere in a history book.

Rather, they tend to have their own experiences – whether it be simply from growing up and living in DC or even from working at the Pentagon during 9/11.

While they do a fantastic job of offering interesting facts and stories about each location, they’re great at answering any questions you may have. We can’t recommend it enough!

Washington DC Sights

Located on the Potomac right between Maryland and Virginia, Washington DC has an incredibly rich history. Let’s take a look at the sights you can expect to see on your DC night tours! What’s really convenient is that the monuments are open 24 hours a day, so you’ll still be able to see everything you would during the day, with less crowds!

United States Capitol/Capitol Hill

We all know what the Capitol looks like, but the massive dome is still cool to see in real life. It’s changed quite a bit over the years, and you’ll learn which additions are most recent and where presidents take the oath.

Lincoln Memorial

Perhaps the most beloved memorial of all, the Lincoln Memorial is quite a sight – even more so at night! The massive 19-foot Lincoln is in the center of 36 columns – one for each of the 36 states that existed when he passed away. It’s also important, considering it was where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963.

National Mall and Veterans Memorials

This large greenbelt is perfect for taking a stroll or bike ride through, from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. Here, you’ll find the Washington Monument, along with many more dedicated to war veterans.

The White House

As the official residence of the President of the United States, you can imagine the stories about what’s gone on here. Built by James Hoban in 1792, it was actually burned down by the Brits in 1814 and had to be rebuilt in 1818.

The Washington Monument

This massive 555-foot-tall obelisk with the long Reflecting Pool at the bottom is pretty impressive. Learn about how long it took to accomplish, and why its construction kept getting interrupted!

Best Times to Visit Washington DC

Many people have the misconception that DC will be most pleasant in the summertime. That’s understandable, but unfortunately, DC has incredibly sweltering summers that can make it sticky and hot to walk around – even at night.

Instead, try going from September to November, or from March to May. These months tend to be mild, with changing leaves and cool breezes that are pleasant when paired with a light jacket or flannel shirt. There’s nothing like cherry blossoms in DC!

The only exception is if you have to go during the summertime, book one of the tours with air-conditioned transportation. That way you remain comfortable at least for the duration of your tour.

Tour Guides

The Perfect Private Night Tour of Washington DC is our Editors Choice for the best Washington DC night tour

Robert Baker

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old town trolley tour washington dc



818 reviews

Old Town Trolley Tours Washington DC 4.2

Image of Washington DC monuments at night



An Enchanted Evening In The Nation’s Capital

Often, certain places are categorized as “a city like no other in this country.” In the case of Washington DC, the claim is especially true and well-deserved. Everywhere you look you’ll find granite and marble fashioned into some of America’s most iconic buildings and landmarks. These structures are imbued with the events of the past that have molded and formed this country into the bastion of liberty and democracy known the world over. When evening comes, this city resonates with a power you can only feel here. Abraham Lincoln, sitting stoically overlooking the National Mall comes alive at the memorial of his namesake.

With stops at the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial, FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War,  and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials, there’s a whole other beauty and majesty that DC projects by the light of the moon and this tour captures every sparkling moment.

Rated as One of the Top 20 Best Kept Secrets

With over 30 years conducting hop-on, hop-off city tours in the nation’s capital, our track record speaks for itself. Rated as one of the Top 20 Best Kept Secrets in Washington DC by FOX News, we deliver on our promise to show you the best this city has to offer first with every ride on our signature green and orange trolleys. Our comfortable state-of-the-art, all-weather, stadium trolleys offer the very best tour experience, you’ll be in on the action no matter where you sit, also our fully-trained, certified tour guides, many of the locals, provide expert narration and, frankly, really know their stuff adding to a fun, interactive and informative experience that is anything but boring. So, hop on and let’s see one of America’s most fascinating cities together!


monuments under the stars

A Truly Extraordinary Look at Washington DC

The grandeur and the profound significance of every monument in this amazing city are magnified when experienced by the light of the moon. Whether its the chiseled visage of a stoic Abraham Lincoln seated like a sentinel at the memorial of his namesake or the striking image of soldiers marching in rain gear at the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial, there is an energy there that can not be denied. This fully-narrated trip through the Beltway becomes all the more magical with every story that is told where historical tales and colorful anecdotes help paint a picture of a city unlike any other in the United States. You’ll feel the spirit of history, valor, and courage preserved in the granite and marble of its most revered monuments enhanced all the more by the glow they radiate at night. Monuments by Moonlight is a truly unique and extraordinary look at Washington DC!


Lincoln memorial, fdr memorial, vietnam veterans memorial, korean war memorial, martin luther king, jr. memorial, iwo jima marine corps memorial.

FDR statue at night in Washington DC

  • 1 Lincoln Memorial

US Capitol in Washington DC

American History Lives In Washington DC

Washington DC not only serves as the very foundation of the power structure of the United States where it’s laws are written and where the interests of all 50 states are represented, but it is also a living chronology of the trials, tribulations, successes, and milestones that define this republic. Pierre L’Enfant, George Washington’s trusted city planner, converted this district of forests and marshes into the public squares and wide avenues you see today. A triumvirate of this nation’s most important documents, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence are all kept here in the rotunda of the National Archives for all to see. There are remembrances of all sorts commemorating wars, patriots, and landmark events and even the museums and galleries represent the very best in American innovation. Whether a visitor from another country or a U.S. citizen, a trip through the Nation’s Capital is a trip worth taking!


Whether you’re looking to cut a rug listening to some cracklin’ good rockabilly or finding just the right armadillo boots to give your dad for his birthday, these great spots have received our stamp of approval.

Things To Do In Washington DC On Vacation

Washington monument at sunset on dc night tour

Shopping In Washington DC

A view of the White House taken from the North Lawn where a fountain can be seen in Washington DC

Know Before You Go

monuments by moonlight tour

Washington DC Attractions

view of lincoln memorial on dc monuments night tour

Tickets & Schedule


2 1/2 hours long. *Tour length times may vary depending upon road conditions or traffic.


Boarding – choose from two departure locations:

Union Station 50 Massachusetts Ave, NE

The Washington Welcome Center 1001 E Street NW


Daily. 7:15pm – 8:00pm.

symbol for parking; circle with capital letter P inside


The downtown area has numerous parking opportunities in paid lots. There is no designated free parking to board the tour. Go to recommended parking.

Accessibility Services


Reservations for accessible Trolley must be confirmed 24-Hours in advance. Please call customer service at  855-338-6562 .


Have you seen D.C.'s monuments at night yet!? If not, you're missing out! ➡️ Click the link in our bio to learn more about our iconic #MonumentsByMoonlight tour. 💫

DC shows off a different side when the sun goes down!

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Monuments by moonlight night tour, see dc in a different light the monuments by moonlight tour knows just the right way to show off the capital city when the sun goes down.

See DC In A Different Light! The Monuments by Moonlight Tour knows just the right way to show off the capital city when the sun goes down. Enjoy a night of moonlight merriment aboard their all-weather touring trolleys with stadium seating. This 2 1/2-hour tour of Washington is fully narrated by licensed tour guide conductors. The tour includes panoramic scenic views and stops at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and US Marine Corps War Memorial. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.

  • ADA Compliant
  • Foreign Language Guides
  • Guided tours available
  • Motor Coach/Bus Parking
  • Private Tour
  • Educational Programming
  • ADA compliant

Additional Information

Nearby landmarks.

National Mall, U.S. Capitol, Union Station

Attraction Rates

Length of tour, 50 massachusetts ave. ne washington , dc 20002 united states, (202) 729-8072.

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Nearby Favorites

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Old Town Trolley Tours


At the crossroads of art, science and technology, ARTECHOUSE brings a ...

best night tours in dc

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Night Tours in Washington DC

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Moonlit Motor Coach Tour of the National Mall with Pick-Up

Moonlit Motor Coach Tour of the National Mall with Pick-Up

Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley

Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Tour by Trolley

Small Group Guided Walking Tour: History of DC the National Mall and Memorials

Small Group Guided Walking Tour: History of DC the National Mall and Memorials

Washington DC Night Tour with Hotel Pickup

Washington DC Night Tour with Hotel Pickup

Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour

Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour

Small Group Moonlight Tour of DC

Small Group Moonlight Tour of DC

Three-Hour DC City Night Tour

Three-Hour DC City Night Tour

DC After Dark

DC After Dark

Washington DC National Mall Evening Walking Tour

Washington DC National Mall Evening Walking Tour

Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour

Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour

Washington DC Double Decker Bus Guided Night Tour

Washington DC Double Decker Bus Guided Night Tour

Epic Washington DC Evening Tour: Small-Group Van Tour

Epic Washington DC Evening Tour: Small-Group Van Tour

Washington DC Twilight Tour

Washington DC Twilight Tour

Washington DC After Dark

Washington DC After Dark

Washington DC After Dark Wonder Tour

Washington DC After Dark Wonder Tour

Monuments and Memorials Sunset Bike Tour

Monuments and Memorials Sunset Bike Tour

Signature Tours of DC

Signature Tours, your guide to DC

Washington DC Moonlit Tour of the National Mall & Stops at 10 Sites

best night tours in dc

Tour Details

Visit the monuments of Washington DC illuminated at night, the best time to visit the monuments!

Wouldn’t you like to explore Washington DC DC Under the Stars? We’re offering you an exclusive 3 hour tour of the city under the moon and stars with our  DC Night Tours package. This is your opportunity to see the city in all its magnificent beauty in the night time lights. It’s like a fairly tale dream come to life.

Tour Ticket Upgrades Tour ticket upgrades are reserved according to availability. If you purchase an upgrade, please ask your tour guide or driver for your upgrade when being checked in. Washington Monument Tickets are typically reserved for 3:30pm however time slots provided may vary. Museums are open 10am-4:30pm. Customer must honor the time reserved on their ticket. Night Tour tickets are reserved for the following day. Any questions please call before reserving.

What you get on this tour

  • Join our expert, engaging guide for DC’s top tour by bus, and see the most famous monuments lit up at their magical nighttime best.   Experience an unforgettable and informative insider’s look at DC under the stars!
  • 7:30pm – 10:30pm

Adult: $64 Child: $54

Child is 12 & under Children under 2 free

Air & Space Museum Package

Adult: $89  child: $79.

Includes Air & Space Museum ticket. Ticket is reserved for the following day. Please ask your guide or driver for your upgraded ticket when being checked in. Ticket Upgrades are self-guided.  In the event that the site is closed or you failed to redeem the ticket either due to oversight for any reason you were not able to claim the ticket, you are entitled to ask for a refund within 48 hours of the date of the tour.

African American Museum Package

Adult: $89 child: $79.

Includes African American museum ticket. Ticket is reserved for the following day. Please ask your guide or driver for your upgraded ticket when being checked in. Ticket Upgrades are self-guided.  In the event that the site is closed or you failed to redeem the ticket either due to oversight for any reason you were not able to claim the ticket, you are entitled to ask for a refund within 48 hours of the date of the tour. Child is 12 & under Children under 2 free

Washington Monument Package

Includes Washington Monument ticket Ticket is reserved for the following day. Please ask your guide or driver for your upgraded ticket when being checked in. Ticket Upgrades are self-guided.  In the event that the site is closed or you failed to redeem the ticket either due to oversight for any reason you were not able to claim the ticket, you are entitled to ask for a refund within 48 hours of the date of the tour.

Meets at the National Archives 800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC on the corner of 9th St & Pennsylvania Ave. at 7:00 PM. Please be there 30 min before tour starts (7:30 pm) Metro Stop: Archives Metro Station – Green & Yellow lines


Starts at 7:30 PM

  • National Archives*
  • The U.S. Capitol*
  • White House*
  • WWII Memorial
  • MLK Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Vietnam Women Memorial
  • USMC Memorial

Ends at 10:30 PM at National Archives

*Exterior photo stop only

DC is beautiful, but lit up at night, it’s magical. Tour the city and its most famous sights with our entertaining live guide for 3 unforgettable hours under the stars.

best night tours in dc

Means To Explore

Enjoy Mesmerizing Monuments at Night in Washington, DC: The Ultimate Guide + How To

  • Post author: Rachel Means
  • Post last modified: 2023-10-25

Washington, DC monuments are grand and impressive and should be at the top of your DC must-see list.

Washington, DC monuments at night are even more amazing to behold and warrant a second visit! Stunning photo opportunities await!

Whether you take a guided tour one evening or create your own free adventure several nights in a row (we’ve done both), don’t miss seeing the DC monuments at night!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and associate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

Why Go See the DC Monuments at Night? That Can’t Be Safe…

Your first visit to DC can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to see in the US capital city. The National Mall will seem like it’s nothing but museums and monuments. (That’s basically true and sort of the purpose of the National Mall.)

White marble Abraham Lincoln statue at night from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC

Everywhere you turn, there’s another monument.

Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson.

Vietnam, Korea, World War II.

And every tourist has to see them all . (Me included! No shame.)

What this means is large groups of people all competing for the perfect picture of all of these amazing monuments and memorials. It can be extremely difficult to get a good shot without other people in it. For some of us, that’s super frustrating.

US Capitol building lit up against a cloudy night sky

Minimize the Crowds in Your Photos

What many people miss out on is visiting at night! The museums close early and most of the tourist hordes disappear, to their hotels or restaurants or perhaps a ball game. This leaves the monuments with less people to contend with (compared to daylight hours) to get your perfect photo.

The secret to perfect travel photos without other people in them: go obscenely early or late in the day.

In this case, catch the lull between day trippers and night tours and get some sneaky and beautiful blue hour photographs. If you just can’t handle a late dinner, then eat around 5PM or 6PM and go to the monuments later.

Most night tours are between 6PM and 9PM, give or take an hour depending on time of year. Generally, if you show up at 8PM and stick around for a few hours , you’ll have the monuments relatively to yourself by the end of the evening.

The night tour buses will bring in waves of crowds that will all snap their pictures and be gone in 15 minutes and on to their next stop. Wait out these crowds.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial cut out of stone stares across the Tidal Basin of Washington, DC

Be Smart. Be Safe.

Note that while there will be less people out you will by no means be alone (unless it’s cold or very, very late/early). The National Mall area is well-patrolled and there’s always at least one or two security officers per monument.  

When visiting the Tidal Basin area, lighting along the waterfront is ok but not great . The memorials are all well-lit but the paths between are not as heavily travelled as the National Mall paths.

Use caution and common sense when walking in the dark. Bring a flashlight and walk with purpose, not like you’re lost. Explore with a group (the more people, the better). Stay sober and alert. Be smart, and you’ll be fine.

If at any time you feel uncomfortable, just leave.

Which DC Monuments are Lit Up at Night?

Not every tour goes to all of these monuments, but these are the most popular. Starting at the east end of the National Mall and then rotating counterclockwise:

  • The US Capitol

The White House

Washington monument, world war ii memorial.

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Vietnam Wall)

Lincoln Memorial

Korean war veterans memorial, martin luther king jr memorial, franklin delano roosevelt memorial, thomas jefferson memorial, us marine corps war memorial (iwo jima memorial).

Jefferson and Washington Monuments at night, with scaffolding covering the Jefferson Memorial dome

US Capitol Building

A working monument, if you will, and instantly recognizable . Not all tours actually get out here, but many buses drive by slow enough you could snap a quick pic.

Can’t get too close, but views from both sides of America’s Executive Mansion are pretty awesome. Know that you are being carefully watched by the Secret Service, even if you can’t see them, so don’t try to sneak closer for a better view.

I got called out by an officer for walking on the grass (still behind all barriers, mind you) rather than the sidewalk a few feet further away. Guess that makes me a rebel.

Obelisks are cool. This one is so tall that it can be seen from both ends of the Mall and from the Tidal Basin. Capture some sweet reflections in either the Tidal Basin or the Reflecting Pool.

Tall white obelisk of the Washington Monument against a dark night sky

Beautiful fountain during the day and gorgeously lit up at night, this is one of my favorite monuments at night.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

The Vietnam Wall is not brightly lit, but it’s worth a stop if you have the time. This is a good location for blue hour photography, right after the sun sets or right before the sun rises.

A stunning monument, day or night. Lincoln caps off the western end of the National Mall, so you also get great views of the rest of the Mall from his front steps.

This memorial seems like it was made for viewing at night! The solider statues are spaced out and among the trees and really brings out the constant, unsettling vigilance you see in each statue’s face.

Chiseled out of the rock, peering out over the tidal basin, Dr. King has even more gravitas at night . This memorial also has its own gift shop across the road, so it’s worth a visit both day and night.

Metal statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seated in wheelchair as seen at night

There are several statues to see here, but these are not all lit up as much as the other memorials. Go early in the evening, sunset or shortly after, to see everything. The fountain is still worth a visit in the dark.

There are so many great locations to get phenomenal photos of this memorial! Visit the memorial itself to see Mr. Jefferson in person, but then walk along the waterfront for unique views from every angle.

Snap a shot with the Washington Monument photobombing in the background. Get a reflection in the water. Get a shot of both TJ and MLK Memorials. The possibilities are endless.

Brilliantly lit and surrounded by inky black evening, this memorial makes a statement at night. Off by itself, across the river from the rest of the National Mall, this monument is by Arlington Cemetery. I honestly preferred it at night rather than during the day.

metal statues memorial of iconic Iwo Jima photograph of soldiers struggling and raising the American flag

Is a DC Monuments at Night Tour Worth It?

Absolutely , especially if your goal is to see it all in one evening.

Even if you’ve got more time, a tour is a great way to scope out all the monuments and pick ones you want to return to the following evening when you have more time or when the weather is more cooperative.

What’s the Downside of a Tour?

Tours can get expensive for big groups, and they frequently sell out well in advance of popular holidays or peak tourist season. With proper planning, you’ll get a ticket but not much you can do about the price.

Tours also put you on a clock. For example, you’ll get 30 minutes or so to see the Lincoln and Korean War and Vietnam Veterans Memorials in all their nighttime awesomeness before you have to be back on the bus and heading for the next monument. That’s only 10 minutes per monument ; you better walk fast.

How Much Does a Tour Cost? How Long Do Tours Last?

Prices vary by company. In general, bus tours are 2-3 hours long and run $45 per adult. Here are some popular night tour options:

  • Old Town Trolley Monuments by Moonlight Tour : rolled down windows for exploring in the rain or rolled up for clear nights
  • Big Bus Night Tour : open top buses, great on clear nights
  • USA Guided Tours DC at Dusk Tour : a bit pricier but nicer buses and a longer tour

Bike tours , Segway tours, and guided walking tours are all options as well.

Metal statues of life-sized soldiers at the Korean War Veterans Memorial at night

Is there a Free Monuments at Night Tour?

Sure! Create your own free DC monuments at night tour!

Remember, you’re paying for the transportation and the guide on the tours. All the monuments are public access and free to enter. No lines to wait in, either.

The biggest downside to the DIY free option is transportation. Many, but not all, monuments are within reasonable walking distance of each other. But even seasoned pros can get tired of walking circles around the National Mall all day.

Some memorials, like the Iwo Jima/Marine Corps War Memorial, are off by themselves. You have to drive and find a place to park, or hire a taxi and ask them to wait while you take photos.

Suggested Routes for DIY Free DC Monuments at Night Tour

White marble Lincoln Memorial brilliantly lit up against a black night sky

Route #1: West End of the National Mall

  • Start at the Washington Monument .
  • Walk towards the Lincoln Memorial to find the World War II Memorial at the base of the Reflecting Pool.
  • Next, it’s a little tricky to get to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the dark if you don’t know where you’re going but we can do this! Google Maps can bail you out if you get lost.
  • Walk counterclockwise (to the right as you’re looking at the Lincoln Memorial) around the Reflecting Pool. Choose the path further to the right in the trees rather than the path right next to the Reflecting Pool.
  • About halfway to the Lincoln Memorial, there will be a path on the right with a marker pointing you to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (You’ll also pass public restrooms if you need them.) Follow the marker and turn left at the end of this path.
  • Stay to the right and continue to follow signs. You will finally end up at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial .
  • Continue to the Lincoln Memorial .
  • Exiting the Lincoln Memorial, turn right (opposite direction you came from the Vietnam Memorial) towards the Korean War Veterans Memorial .

Optional Add-On: MLK Memorial

The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial is on the tidal basin but within a reasonable walking distance from the Korean War Memorial, if your legs are feeling good and you’re up for extending your tour.

  • Leaving the Korean War Memorial, walk south (away from Lincoln) towards Independence Avenue.
  • Stay on the sidewalk on this side of the street and turn left to continue along the road until you come to the pedestrian signal to cross Independence Ave. (Note: this walk is equal to about half the length of the Reflecting Pool and is not short.)
  • There is a marker to guide you at the intersection, and you’ll see the lights across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial .

If you’d rather do the Tidal Basin another night on its own, here is one recommended route. You can really start at any of the three monuments; just depends where you park or ask Uber/Lyft to drop you off.

Black and white photograph of the Washington Monument at night reflected in the Tidal Basin waters

Route #2: The Tidal Basin

  • The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial is on the northwest corner of the tidal basin and has its own gift shop. Several hop on/hop off day bus tours drop off here, so make it your last stop of the day bus tour and start your DIY night tour here.
  • The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a short distance south (along the tidal basin waterfront or the road, whichever you prefer) from the MLK Memorial. Arrive around sunset to see all the statues here, or make a beeline for the fountain if it’s already dark.
  • Continue around the tidal basin waterfront path to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial . Fair warning: this is not a short walk. I’m sure your Uber driver won’t judge if you get picked up at the FDR Memorial and dropped off at the TJ Memorial.

Add-on: Monuments on Their Own

  • The Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) is across the Potomac River and by Arlington National Cemetery. Driving is really the only way to get here.
  • The US Capitol Building is beautiful at night. This is the far east end of the National Mall, so you could walk here from the Washington Monument. The Mall is deceiving in its size, so you might find your feet are unhappy by the time you finish your trek.
  • The White House is also beautiful at night. Harder to get pictures of because they won’t let you close to the fence. Forget about finding a place to park near here. Walk or taxi.

Last Minute Advice for Visiting DC’s Monuments at Night

  • Camera tripods are allowed everywhere on the National Mall except inside the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorials or on US Capitol grounds.
  • You need a permit to use a tripod on Capitol grounds . Yes, a security officer will show up and ask to see your permit.
  • Bring some snacks and water if walking , especially if travelling from end to end. The National Mall is a 4-mile loop, round trip.
  • If you’re not tired after your bus tour, walk or drive back to your favorite monument and get better pictures with less people.

Visiting Monuments Across the USA

Whether you go by day or night, on a paid tour or a free DIY tour, make time to see the monuments of Washington, DC! These free attractions all tell an important story from US history, and they are there so we never forget them!

Looking for more monuments to visit in the US? Check these out!

  • Best National Parks to Visit for Black History Month
  • Celebrate Presidents’ Day by Visiting a Presidential Home
  • The Most Underrated National MONUMENTS in Every State

Happy Travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author : Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 36 US states and 14 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.

best night tours in dc

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Things to Do in DC at Night

best night tours in dc

This post is a look at things to do in Washington, DC at Night, including a top 10 list as well as free activities and things to do with kids, updated for 2024.

We also list nightlife and entertainment options. 

  • Museums Open Late
  • Free Things To Do
  • Family-Friendly
  • Entertainment & Nightlife
  • What’s Happening Tonight
  • Other Things to Do in DC

Top 10 Things to Do in DC Tonight

1. Visit the Memorials

DC is known for its iconic monumental architecture, from the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to great buildings like the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building .  

And if you wondering which ones are best to visit at night, our answer is - ALL OF THEM.  (though we personally like the Vietnam Wall better during the day!) 

With the exception of the Washington Monument, memorials in D.C. are open 24 hours a day and can be enjoyed just as well at night as during the day.

things to do in dc at night

We suggest twilight, as you will have the opportunity to see the memorials come to life, though be prepared for gift shops to close around 9 pm and restrooms to be locked around midnight.

You will still be able to venture into any of the memorials, no matter the hour - and don't expect to be alone as some memorials are more popular at night.

2. Take a Night Tour

You could walk to the memorials on your own, but there is no shortage of guided tours that you could take to see the memorials and monuments lit up at night.  

Of course, your first choice is us, DC by Foot .

Washington DC Walking Tours

We offer about a dozen different pay-what-you-like and ticketed night tours, including:

  • National Mall Night Tour
  • Lincoln Assassination Tour
  • Ghost and True Crime tours
  • Public Art & Glow Tours
  • DC by Bus at Night Tour

We even offer audio and self-guided tours.  

Additionally, there are numerous dinner cruises as well as bus , bike , and segway tours that offer evening and nighttime tours, and we review and compare them all on our DC night tours page .

TIP: Outings such as the Big Bus Night Tour are included with the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass .

3. Ford’s Theatre

This historic site is a featured stop on our  Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour , but Ford’s is also a working theatre.

The chance to see world-class theatrical performances in a historical setting is one of the perks of visiting Washington, D.C.! 

Don’t miss Ford’s  performance schedule and consider attending a show – and if you visit during the Christmas holidays, you must see A Christmas Carol!

During the spring and summer, Ford’s Theatre presents a special one-act play called  One Destiny,  which talks about the events of the assassination at the theatre from the perspective of those who witnessed it from the stage. 

The play is great for families with children ages 8 and up – it really brings history to life.

Ford's Theater Seat Map

Tip : If you want a good view of the President’s Box, select seats in the Left Orchestra (but not too far back) or in the Left Balcony.

Don’t worry, you will have a chance to get out of your seat and get a good photo of the President’s Box before and after the play and during intermission.

You can use visit the Museum while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre! The Ford’s Theatre Museum is open one hour before performance time and during intermission.

Your performance ticket can also be used to visit the Petersen House before 5 p.m.

best night tours in dc

4. Get Out on the Town

The hottest neighborhoods for nightlife, as in any city, are constantly shifting as new areas emerge. 

Here in Washington DC, new hubs for upbeat nightlife are emerging every year.

Some of the most popular neighborhoods to hang out in are H St NE, Adams Morgan , Georgetown , and U Street NW .

Find out more about places to go out here .

Our favorite thing to do? Look for speakeasies - you'd be surprised how many there are (I suppose that is the point!)

5. Watch Sunset Parade (at Iwo Jima)

At the Marine Corps War Monument, the Marine Corps holds a weekly Sunset Parade during the summer (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial).

The custom started in 1956, two years after the memorial was dedicated, and it has persisted ever since.

With the backdrop of the US Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), you can watch musical performances by “The Commandant’s Own,” the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, as well as a precision drill by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.

  Read more about the Sunset Parade here.

6. The Phillips Collection’s Phillips After 5

The Phillips Collection is housed in the Dupont Circle neighborhood and is a prominent stop on our Embassy Row Tours .

It is the first modern art gallery in the United States and showcases an impressive collection.

The Phillips Collection is a happening place to be seen in Washington on the first Thursday night of every month when the museum is open late and has a live band, drinks, snacks, and thematic displays.

This event is extremely popular among the younger crowds and often tickets sell out in advance.

So, plan ahead if you want to experience this truly wonderful evening of art and culture in a relaxed live concert setting.

Tickets cost $12 for adults and $19 for Students (Senior Citizens and Under 18 can enter for free).

Details and a calendar of events along with ticket purchase options are available online. Note: as of October 2022, no dates have been scheduled yet.

7. Escape from the Titanic... or a Pirate Ship

Escape games are an exciting way to spend an evening and Georgetown has the newest one in DC.

The Escape Game has 5 different themed rooms. You can escape from the Titanic, a Pirate Ship, a Cabin, a Mad scientist's Lab, or a Mummy's tomb.

Find out more about The Escape Game...

TIP: Some escape games are included at no extra cost with the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass .

8. National Gallery of Art Concert Series

Sunday night free concerts at the National Gallery of Art started during WWII and have continued on a first-come-first-served basis to the general public.

Many musicians who have performed at the National Gallery of Art have gone on to worldwide fame.

More than 3000 such free concerts have taken place here at The Gallery since this program began.

The season of concerts begins every Fall.

9. Attend a Sports Event

DC has become a sports city with highly-ranked professional teams that are often favorites!

The Washington Nationals baseball team is one of the best teams to watch in the National League and the Nats Park stadium is rather luxurious. The surrounding neighborhood has a lot to offer as well.

You can easily spend $100s for the good seats, but the $10 standing-room tickets are a big hit and you can watch the game from the bar in the outfield.

Nats Park is an easy walk from Navy Yard station on the Green line – just follow all the fans in red ballcaps!

Capitals | Wizards | Mystics

DC residents are big Capitals fans and rightfully so, as our hockey team is a good one to cheer for!

The Capitals and the Wizards and Mystics basketball teams play at Verizon Center (which technically isn't the Verizon Center anymore, it's the Capital One Arena but most locals are creatures of habit and still call it Verizon Center.

The games are played downtown at the Capital One Arena in Chinatown, easily accessible on foot, by bus, or on the Red, Yellow, and Green lines.

Find out more about that neighborhood here...

DC United & Washington Spirit

DC United men's soccer team and the champion women's soccer team the Washington Spirit can be found at Audi Field in SW DC.

Technically, the football team plays in Maryland, at FedEx Field. Even though it's not in the city, it’s still accessible by public transportation.

Take the Blue line to Morgan Boulevard Metro Station. Turn left onto Garrett Morgan Boulevard and follow the sidewalk for less than a mile to FedEx Field.

10. Catch an Outdoor Movie!

Georgetown Sunset Cinema : At the Georgetown Waterfront Park, right beside the Potomac River, enjoy a relaxed movie under the night sky every Tuesday evening.

For a complete schedule of films and directions, visit their website.

Films at the Stone: As we encourage you to check out our nation’s wonderful memorials at night, you might also want to combine your visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial with its summer movie screenings.

For a complete schedule and more information, check out their site.

You can also watch movies at Union Market Drive-In (or walk-up), Library of Congress, and various neighborhoods around DC. See the full schedule here: https://www.washingtonian.com/2021/06/17/drive-ins-and-other-outdoor-movies-around-the-dmv/

Explore the Museums Open Late

Our capital region’s museums offer much to do for its guests after regular hours.

More and more DC museums showcase thematic events, musical performances, tours, and parties after 5 pm.

Smithsonian: Many of the more popular Smithsonian Museums stay open late on select days in the summer.

Smithsonian Museums

While everything else closes at 5:30 pm, you may find the Air and Space, Natural History, or American History open until 7:30 pm.

The National Portrait Gallery is one of the few museums that says open late every night until 7 pm.

Also, open late is the International Spy Museum - open until 6 pm or 7 pm depending on the day of the week.

For the daily schedule of extended hours, visit the Smithsonian website .

TIP: Some museums with late hours are included on the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass .

You can also see what is on at the ARTECHOUSE , open until 9 pm. This is an immersive, interactive space that fuses art and technology.

Library of Congress is open late on Thursdays until 8pm for Live! At the Library. The main Reading Room is open (photos okay, bags are not!) and there are special events and moving screens.

Tickets are free but required to enter!

Free Things to Do in DC at Night

There are a lot of free things to do in DC, even at night. Many of our top ten have no ticketed price, such as visiting the Smithsonian Museums and our name-your-own-price walking tours.

For even more free things to do year-round, visit our Free in DC post.

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden features Jazz in the Garden :

This event is immensely popular all summer long among DC residents as well as visitors.

While there is soothing live jazz filling up the air all around, visitors relax and enjoy each other’s company in the lawns, picnic style. Many bring blankets and snacks (drinks can be purchased at the café on-site).

You can also walk around and engage with some awe-inspiring works by sculptors such as Claes Olderburg or Joan Miro.

Jazz in the Garden happens every Friday evening starting at 5 PM (May through August) For 2022, reservations are required. For a complete schedule of artists...

The Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center : You’re invited for a free performance.

The schedule runs the gamut from jazz and soul to opera and plays productions. There is also yoga, film screenings, art markets & more, all at their outdoor community campus - The Reach.

You’re best to check the schedule ahead of time and plan your visit around something that appeals to your taste.

Military Evening Concerts :

On many nights of the week, you can find a military band performing throughout the city.

From pop tunes to patriotic songs, these performances take place in some of the most beautiful venues - outside at the memorials.

  • US Navy Band has one at the Capitol west steps (the side facing the Mall) in August. Open to the public and no tickets needed. See their schedule here .

  • US Air Force Band performs in various places around the nation's capital. Open to the public and no tickets needed. See their schedule here.

Family-Friendly DC at Night

Washington DC is a great place to visit with kids. And if you're not tuckered out by night, there are lots of ways to still explore the city after sunset.

Many of the free events listed above are also great fun for kids. 

National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party

Each summer, the National Building Museum has a special installation built in the Great Hall with select dates open late.

In addition to being able to visit this architectural gem and its unique annual exhibits, the Summer Block Parties often feature live music outside on the lawn and catered food from a local restaurant.

Twilight Tattoo

An evening military show just across the river at Fort Myers in Virginia.

This free and open to the public event showcases Drum & Bugle Corps, Drill Teams, and live music. 

For more about the Twilight Tattoo, visit our post.

best night tours in dc

Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks

Every Friday in the Summer at 8 and I (8th Street and "Eye: Street SE) you'll see the oldest Marine installation in the US and performance of precision and discipline.

Free reservations are recommended for guaranteed attendance .

Entertainment & Nightlife in DC

If you're looking for some great places to get a drink or listen to some music, DC really has too many options!

Kennedy Center Shows

The Kennedy Center is the official home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera.

But, the center is also always presenting some of the best in theater, opera, ballet, comedy, and music.

If you’re thinking about attending a performance during your visit it’s best to check the calendar ahead of time and buy tickets in advance .

  • The Kennedy Center Rooftop : You can walk out on the sprawling rooftop and balcony arena of the Kennedy Center and soak in one of the best views of our country. The rooftop of the Center is free and open to all and hands-down the best Washington experience one can have.

For more about the Kennedy Center, read our post on parking and a self-guided tour.

NOTE: Here are a few more venues that frequently host either concerts or other theatrical events in Washington DC:

  • The Theater at MGM National Harbor
  • D.A.R. Constitution Hall
  • Capital One Arena
  • Lincoln Theatre

DC Nightlife by Neighborhood

Adams Morgan : Adams Morgan attracts a younger crowd and always has live music. Popular spots are:

  • Madams Organ Blues Bar
  • Bossa Bistro + Lounge
  • Muzette Karaoke (Korean Style)

If you want to add a bit of history, we have a self-guided tour of Adams Morgan as well.

DC at Night

DuPont Circle is a lovely place to explore during the day with its shopping and historic buildings.

  • At night, it can be quiet, but the longtime landmark Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café and bookshop is open until 1 am on weekdays and 3 am on weekends.
  • Looking to get your geek on? DuPont Circle’s Board Room bar has over 30 different type of board games to rent and plenty of table space to play. Battleship anyone?

If you're looking for something more to your evening than cocktails, the nearby Keegan Theatre offers award-winning productions of hit musicals and plays.

U Street corridor , historically known as ‘Black Broadway’, is well known for its history, soul food, and live jazz venues. 

  • The iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl is where you will end your night for a not so healthy meal and a milkshake.
  • Walk over to the nearby Lincoln Theater to get a flavor for the neighborhood which has seen an economic resurgence in the past ten years.

Check out our U Street Walking Tours - self-guided and offered as a private option.

Georgetown : The classic Georgetown place for live music is called " Blues Alley " and is located near the corner of Wisconsin and M streets. Blues Alley is a listening bar so expect incredible jazz musicians, but don't go to chat.

  • Then take a walk to the waterfront park for dessert and enjoy the lovely views of the city along the river.
  • Try out Georgetown's newest attraction - The Escape Game - there are 5 different themes from Titanic, a Cabin in the woods, or a Pirates Adventure.

We have an extensive guide to visiting Georgetown to help you get there, park and explore - as well as take some tours.

H Street NE is the newest comer to the DC nightlife list. This one and a half-mile stretch just northeast of Union Station now offers both good restaurants and nightlife options.

  • We like Toki Underground for its hearty bowls of ramen noodles
  • The Atlas Theater is a local arts collaborative featuring music, dance, theatre and more

DC at Night

Gallery Place Chinatown has lots of neon lights and people strolling around gives this area an energetic vibe.  The Chinese restaurants are great, though this isn't the historic Chinatown so don't expect anything authentic - for that, drive out to Annandale, Virginia!

  • Want to see the coolest club in town? Go to Ultabar for its upbeat music with table service and dance floors.

What's Happening Tonight in DC?

As noted above, we offer several evening walking tours. If you want to know which are running tonight,  check out our full calendar.  

The best place to learn more about everything that is happening each night is through one of the many local media websites.  They publish news and reviews about events happening in Washington DC every day/week. Below are some of our favorites:

  • Going Out Guide

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best night tours in dc

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The 30 best things to do in D.C. this weekend and next week

European embassies open their doors to the public, Eurovision takes over bars and the Smithsonian’s IlluminAsia festival returns.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated with a three-day festival at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, a family day at the Library of Congress, and new beers and a lion dance at Lost Generation Brewing. Following on last weekend’s Around the World Embassy Tour, the embassies of the European Union open their doors to visitors this weekend for cultural activities including music, beer and wine tastings, fashion shows, dog shows, and the Smurfs. Drive-in movie fans can welcome outdoor films — and “Grease” — back to Union Market. It’s also a big weekend for lovers of kitschy music, thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest and costume-friendly viewing parties. Spring garden tours and markets take place across the area on Saturday, while local breweries are banding together to help one of their own start making beer again.

Thursday, May 9

JxJ Jewish Film and Music Festival

Held at locations around the DMV (including the DCJCC in Washington, Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema and Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax), the annual festival returns to showcase music and films by Jewish area artists. The screenings include dozens of genres, and the music portion of the festival showcases international acts like the Maccabeats, Polyphony Quartet and Mister G. Through May 19. Prices and locations vary.

AAPI Beer Collab Launch Party at Lost Generation

For the second year in a row, Eckington’s Lost Generation Brewing marks Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by releasing a beer that benefits charity. Except this time, it’s releasing two beers. One, Asian Glow, is a fruited sour with dragon fruit, mango and litchi, brewed in collaboration with Falls Church’s High Side and Richmond’s the Answer, that benefits Act to Change, an organization fighting the bullying of AAPI youth. The other is Briefly Gorgeous, a saison made in collaboration with Bluejacket, which uses 50Hertz’s Sichuan peppercorns, yuzu and Buddha’s hand. Both beers debut at a party featuring a lion dance, plus food by Bun’d Up and Dine With Claudine. 6 to 9 p.m. Free .

Willow Smith at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Downtown D.C.’s massive Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library hosts Gen Z superstar Willow Smith for a teen-focused evening event. As the daughter of Hollywood royalty — her parents are Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith — Willow has already explored career paths from music to acting to performance art. She’s also written a book, a sci-fi fantasy called “Black Shield Maiden” with author Jess Hendel. In partnership with local bookshop Mahogany Books, Willow Smith discusses her debut novel. 7 p.m. $32; ticket includes signed copy of the book .

Eurovision Semifinal Watch Party at Wunder Garten

The finals of Eurovision — the Europe-wide pop music competition known for turning both costumes and stage performances up to 11 — take place Saturday. But first, judges need to select the tunes that will feature in the grand final. Sixteen countries are competing for 10 places on Thursday, including Switzerland’s Nemo and Italy’s Angelina Mango, both among the favorites to win. Wunder Garten is opening early to show the performances live from Sweden. 3 p.m. Free .

Home by Midnight at Jimmy Valentine’s

Do you ever wish you could go out to a bar, dance to great music and still get to bed at a reasonable hour? Home by Midnight hears you. This new night at Jimmy Valentine’s promises the music you’d expect at a late-night rave, but with a DJ who starts at 9 p.m. Perfect for the older raver — or the old at heart. Doors at 8 p.m., music at 9. Free .

‘Mummy in the Closet: Evita’s Return’ at GALA Hispanic Theatre

Eva Perón stars from beyond the grave in GALA Hispanic Theatre’s “Mummy in the Closet: Evita’s Return,” a macabre musical comedy based on the true journey of the Argentine political icon’s embalmed body after her death in 1952. This is a new production of the show, which was a hit for GALA during its world premiere there in 2009. At the time , The Post called it a “breathtakingly freakish mix of black comedy, serious historical musing, disciplined vaudeville and sheer ghoulishness.” For this revival, choreographer Valeria Cossu has set dance moves to the rhythms of tango, waltz and salsa. Through June 9: Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. $25-$48; $20 opening night. In Spanish with English subtitles .

Audrey Hepburn film series at the Miracle Theatre

In honor of film icon Audrey Hepburn’s May 4 birthday, Barracks Row’s movie house the Miracle Theatre will run a spate of Audrey flicks throughout the month. If you’ve only seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” go deeper into the perennially stylish actress’s repertoire with four other classics that also star classic Hollywood leading men like Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire. The series begins Thursday with “Roman Holiday” and continues with “Charade” (May 17), “Sabrina” (May 24) and “Funny Face” (May 30). All screenings begin at 7 p.m. $8 .

Friday, May 10

IlluminAsia at the National Museum of Asian Art

The Smithsonian’s IlluminAsia festival returns to the National Museum of Asian Art this weekend, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with three days of culture and entertainment. The party starts Friday with Asia After Dark, a wellness-focused evening that includes journaling, sound baths, and a zero-proof and low-ABV bar (5 to 9 p.m.). Saturday brings curator-led tours of the museum’s exhibits; panel discussions about identity, healing and the arts; empowerment workshops; and an outdoor market with vendors and food trucks (noon to 6:30 p.m.). Electronic artist Madame Gandhi headlines an evening concert (6:30 p.m.; registration suggested). The event wraps Sunday with a Mother’s Day theme, featuring craft making and family activities, as well as a guided sound bath (noon to 3 p.m.). Through Sunday. Free .

‘Grease’ at the Union Market Drive-In

Drive-in movies became a trend during the pandemic, but Union Market has been hosting outdoor screenings in its parking lot since 2013. This year’s series, which features films one Friday a month, kicks off with the singalong classic “Grease.” Drivers can reserve a space, ease the seat back and listen to the sound through their FM radio, while the carless masses are free to walk up to Neal Place, the closed street in front of the market, with blankets and camp stools. Either way, get there early and pick up a meal from one of the vendors inside. Parking lot opens at 7:30 p.m.; film begins at 8:45. $20 per car; free for pedestrians .

Animania at Union Stage

It might be another 11 months until Awesome Con (D.C.’s take on Comic-Con) returns, but in the meantime, fans can try out their next cosplay in a more intimate venue. Costumes aren’t required but are strongly encouraged. Dance to anime hits and try your hand at a variety of video games. 10 p.m. $20.

Firehouse Fridays at Hill Country

Firehouse Fridays, which has been offering country line dancing lessons and a dance party at the Vienna Moose Lodge, is making the leap to Penn Quarter. Both levels of Hill Country Barbecue will be open for two-stepping, line dances and country swing. The evening starts with a beginner-level country swing lesson at 8:30 p.m., followed by dancing on both floors from 9:30 until midnight. 8:30 p.m. $15 at the door .

Saturday, May 11

E.U. Open House

The members of the European Union open the doors to their embassies on Saturday, following last weekend’s Around the World Embassy Tour. Drop into 21 embassies, as well as the European Union’s office and “partner venue” Ukraine House, for live music, food and drinks, mini-language classes, and more cultural activities. Each country puts its own spin on the day: La Maison Française, which brings Germany and France together, is highlighting the Paris Olympics; Poland honors Maria Skłodowska-Curie (better known as Marie Curie) with “chemical workshops and molecular cuisine”; the Czech Republic celebrates with beer, a dog show and a performance by award-winning singer Kaczi; and the Netherlands and Belgium team up for free waffles and beer tastings with the Smurfs. Lines can be long, so wear comfortable shoes. Early arrival is suggested if you’re looking for free snacks and swag. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission; some embassies sell food and drinks .

Eurovision Grand Final viewing parties

Speaking of Europe, Saturday is also the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, the annual pop music competition known for over-the-top performances, cheesy tunes and an abundance of glitter. The event is a spectacle in Europe — this year is hosted by 2023 champion Sweden — but it’s popular in D.C., too. (So popular, in fact, that the official viewing party at the House of Sweden has a wait list.) DC9 is hosting its annual celebration, with a live broadcast beginning at 3 p.m. Join in with Eurovision bingo, where sample squares include “fire (real or video)” and “Vikings,” as well as trivia and drink specials. After the winner has been crowned, it’s time for a Eurovision dance party featuring songs from past winners, including Abba, Céline Dion, Katrina and the Waves, and, hopefully, Finnish masked metal gods Lordi. There’s a $100 prize for the best Eurovision-inspired costume. ( Free tickets available at dc9.club . ) Over on H Street, the Queen Vic pub is hoping to put the U.K.’s traditional misery behind them — Mae Muller finished 25th out of 26 in 2023 — at a party with bingo, singalong tunes and a costume contest. ( 3 p.m. thequeenvicdc.com . Free. )

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Family Day at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress welcomes all ages to its Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration. Families can learn about the different experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders documented in the library’s collections, then draw or write about their own family’s history. ( 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Free; timed entry pass required, but events are drop-in. ) Artist and educator Jeffrey Yoo Warren, whose work has created virtual reconstructions of five historic Chinese American and Korean American communities, leads a mask-making workshop for 6- to 12-year-olds, before letting them explore portals to the 3D reconstructions. ( 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free; timed ticket required. ) Finally, actor and activist George Takei discusses his new book, “My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story,” in the Coolidge Auditorium. ( 2 p.m. Free; reservations required. )

Save Hellbender Beer Fest

Hellbender Brewing had its boiler break down in late April, and without a way to heat water and boil wort, the Fort Totten brewery can’t make beer. To help offset the high costs of a replacement, the local brewing community is rallying around Hellbender. Head to the taproom for a party featuring draft beers from at least 15 breweries, including Other Half, Ocelot and the Brewer’s Art, available in full or half pours; food from Beef Space BBQ and El Jefe Woodfired Pizza; and music by DJ TLH. 1 p.m. Free admission .

That’s So Vintage Market at Union Market

The hugely popular market returns to Union Market’s Dock 5 with over 30 of the area’s vintage sellers. Vendors include viral curators the Disco Loft and Libby & My (the full list of vendors is available on the market’s website ). Next door, experiential pop-up shop Playhaus is offering workshops on sewing and embroidering vintage clothes, which you can add on to your ticket price. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $24 for 11 a.m. entrance; $8 for 1 p.m. entrance or later.

Ivy City Makers Market and Bar Hop

This pop-up celebration of local makers is really multiple markets in one, with artists, crafters and vintage vendors spread among Atlas Brew Works , Other Half Brewing , Throw Social , and Don Ciccio and Figli ’s tasting room. It’s a shopping excursion-cum-bar crawl that might introduce you to a new favorite beverage as well as a new favorite outfit. 1 to 6 p.m. Free .

Del Ray Artisans Spring Art Market

This curated show in a Del Ray park features three dozen artists — potters, painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelers, fiber artists and more — selected by the Del Ray Artisans collective. Browse for Mother’s Day gifts or just for yourself, while kids can be entertained and have their faces painted. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free .

Diggin’ Thru the Crates at Dock 5

Diggin’ Thru the Crates is a celebration of hip-hop culture with a twist: Members of the audience get to flip through stacks of vinyl records to pick the song they want to hear, while DJs Alizay and B-Sharp work those selections into a playlist on the fly. The result is magic, and often surprising. Art by Maurice James Jr., Shay Will and the Jay Stewart Collection features at the Union Market event space, while Young Guru is the host. 9 p.m. $20 .

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Family Day

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop has been “building community through the arts” for more than 50 years, and if you’ve never experienced this local treasure, Saturday is a good time to explore. Family Day features activities for all ages on the arts center’s front lawn, including 3D scanning and printing, creating collage sculptures, and drawing “fill in the blank” comic strips. Noon to 2 p.m. Free .

Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour

Run by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, this tour is a great chance to peek inside those multimillion-dollar rowhouses that grace the streets of Capitol Hill. Attendees will see nine homes and gardens and three semipublic buildings, all within the historic district, and grab refreshments from local vendors at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, where an architectural tour is offered both days. Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.; Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. $40-$50.

Del Ray House & Garden Tour

Step inside the bungalows and rowhouses of Del Ray, a walkable Alexandria enclave with its own bustling main street and blocks packed with dog parks and playgrounds. The Del Ray House & Garden Tour returns for the first year since 2018, and this year’s self-guided tour will include 11 properties showcasing manicured gardens, new-construction homes and small-scale accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Spend an entire day here with a VIP ticket, which sends you to Mount Vernon Avenue after the tour for an evening yoga class at Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga, followed by a drink from Hi/Fi TexMex BBQ. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $45-$75 .

Dacha Spring Beer Fest

Think of Frühlingsfest as the warm-weather cousin of Oktoberfest: Instead of drinking beer outdoors in the cool fall air, people in Munich come together to drink beer and celebrate the return of flowers and longer days. Dacha’s inaugural spring festival at its Navy Yard location — inspired by Frühlingsfest — features unlimited pours of seasonal beers from at least 18 breweries, spanning European (Weihenstephaner, Duvel, St. Bernardus), American (Allagash, Boulevard) and regional (Denizens, Väsen, Pen Druid) selections. VIP tickets include early admission, a pint glass and other perks. Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. $50-$90; two day tickets $90-$170 .

Sunday, May 12

Mother’s Day ideas

Need a last-minute idea for Sunday? We can’t guarantee restaurant reservations are still available, but we do stand by our ideas for things to do from a few weeks back, including two all-you-can-eat brunch shows with the swinging Eric Byrd Trio at the Hamilton, a few trips on the historic carousel and a tour of galleries at Glen Echo Park, or a waterfront stroll in Alexandria.

Momedy Kumite at the DC Improv

Instead of the usual card or flowers, maybe Mom needs a good laugh for Mother’s Day. The DC Improv has revamped its signature stand-up tournament Comedy Kumite just for the holiday: All of the participating comics in Momedy Kumite are mothers themselves, and they’re competing for the unofficial title of Funniest Mom in D.C. The tourney consists of back-to-back sets from two comedians, followed by an audience vote to see who advances to the next round and, ultimately, the victor of the final showdown. 6 p.m. $20-$35 .

Monday, May 13

Hot Water Music at the Howard Theatre

The members of Hot Water Music seem as surprised as anyone that they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary on the road as they prepare to release their 10th album, “Vows.” The Gainesville, Fla.-founded act, fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard, can still whip up punk tunes with heart-on-sleeve emotion and anthemic hooks. The band promises to “dust off some oldies” on tour; perhaps it will play 1997 favorite “Turnstile” — the namesake of the current generation’s biggest hardcore band. Joining Hot Water Music is Quicksand, a New York band whose renewed existence — albeit after a long hiatus — is even more surprising. Quicksand’s metallic approach to post-hardcore laid the blueprint for countless punk and alt-metal bands alike. 8 p.m. $35-$60 .

Tuesday, May 14

The Dog and Cat Film Festivals at Arlington Drafthouse

After the annual New York Dog Film Festival and its feline-focused counterpart, the two-hour programs of new short films featuring pets — animated, documentary and narrative features from around the world — the festival screening travels to cities across the country. Arlington Drafthouse is hosting the two festivals back to back (dog people, go on Tuesday, and cat people, go on Wednesday ). Proceeds benefit the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Note that admission is 21 and over unless accompanied by a parent. 6 p.m. $38.

Wednesday, May 15

NMWA Nights at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

The new exhibition “ New Worlds: Women to Watch 2024 ” is the inspiration for the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ latest after-hours party, with a costume contest inspired by exhibition themes, such as “creative” and “sustainable.” After capturing your lewk in the photo booth, try hands-on art-making activities; dance to Les the DJ’s mix of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander musicians; and watch a performance by Pretty Boi Drag. Two cocktails from locals Please Bring Chips are included in the ticket price. Be warned: This is the last NMWA Nights until September. 5:30 to 8 p.m. $22-25 .

Kathleen Hanna at the Lincoln Theatre

Bikini Kill and Le Tigre punk frontwoman Kathleen Hanna embodies the title of her memoir “Rebel Girl.” One of leaders of the ’90s “riot grrrl” feminist movement — the book takes its title from Bikini Kill’s iconic song — Hanna is embarking on a 10-stop nationwide book tour to discuss her boundary-breaking life in music. See her at the Lincoln Theatre in conversation with Mira Jacob, where hopefully she’ll share her memories of the District’s punk scene, since the members of Bikini Kill spent a climactic year in D.C. and originally wrote “Rebel Girl” in Mount Pleasant. 7 p.m. $66-$81; ticket includes a book.

Gaby Moreno at the Hamilton Live

Guatemalan singer, songwriter and producer Gaby Moreno’s work in the last decade and a half has culminated in recent months in back-to-back public-facing accomplishments. In February, she both performed at the Grammys and won the award for best Latin pop album for “X Mí (Vol. 1).” The seven-song record, released in 2023, revisits favorites from previous albums, set only to Moreno’s acoustic guitar. Also in February, Moreno released “Dusk,” her soulful ninth studio album. 8 p.m. $15-$25.

best night tours in dc

Various colorful dishes on a wooden table are enjoyed by a diner.

Where to Eat

The 25 Best Restaurants in Washington, D.C., Right Now

The food scene in and around the nation’s capital is vibrant these days, with Italian, Ethiopian, Salvadoran and more. Comments are open.

Credit... Jennifer Chase for The New York Times

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By Korsha Wilson ,  Brett Anderson ,  Melissa Clark ,  Tanya Sichynsky and Nikita Richardson

  • Published April 29, 2024 Updated April 30, 2024

In the Where to Eat: 25 Best series, we’re highlighting our favorite restaurants in cities across the United States. These lists will be updated as restaurants close and open, and as we find new gems to recommend. As always, we pay for all of our meals and don’t accept free dishes.

2Fifty Barbecue

Riverdale Park | Barbecue, Salvadoran

Various smoked meats and side dishes sit on a metal serving tray.

As at any good barbecue restaurant, the smell of wood smoke announces 2Fifty Barbecue before you enter the doors to the casual dining room. The owners, Debby Portillo and Fernando González, moved from El Salvador to Maryland with a custom smoker in 2018, selling plates of barbecue at farmers’ markets before opening this location and one in Washington, D.C., proper. Fans order ahead for plates of tangy, South American-inflected Texas barbecue that often sells out before the day is through. Don’t miss the tender prime brisket, smoky ribs or chicken quarters, all with a side of craveable macaroni and cheese. It’s a perfect spread to take to nearby Riverdale Park on a nice day. KORSHA WILSON

4700 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, Md.; 240-764-8763; 2fiftybbq.com

Navy Yard | Mediterranean, Middle Eastern

Albi , which means “heart” in Arabic, is the chef Michael Rafidi’s love letter to the foods of his Palestinian American childhood. The kitchen is dominated by a coal-fire hearth, which sends fragrant wafts of smoke out to the dining room alongside Mr. Rafidi’s inspired takes on Levantine classics such as hummus (topped with crab and charred ramps), kebabs (skewered morsels of date-glazed duck and foie gras) and grape leaves (stuffed with rockfish, green tomato and preserved lemon). The passion of the place is also on display in the wine list. Packed with classic gems and deep cuts from all over the world (with particular emphasis on the Middle East), the charming wine list has sections, like “#Unapologeticallyclassicwhitewines,” and “‘Donnie Darko’ Reds,” that make even the biggest wine snobs crack a smile. MELISSA CLARK

1346 Fourth St. SE, Washington, D.C.; 202-921-9592; albidc.com

Petworth | African Diasporic

Built around a conceptual, highly personal menu, Almeda has just 18 seats. If that sounds like a lot of restaurants in D.C., think again. The chef and owner Danielle Harris channels the cooking of the African diaspora in a unique, intimate neighborhood restaurant where you could reasonably imagine becoming a regular. Go with an appetite to sample the full menu, including tostone doubles, shrimp aguachile seasoned with Old Bay, jollof risotto and the whole chicken, which is smoked, roasted and then fried. They are dishes you’ll recall when it’s comfort you crave. BRETT ANDERSON

828 Upshur Street NW, Washington, D.C.; no phone; almedarestaurant.com

Mount Vernon Square | Thai

If there is ever a silver lining to a restaurant closing, as 14th Street’s beloved Baan Thai did in 2019, it is the chance that it might one day return in a fresher but familiar form. Enter Baan Siam, a pandemic baby now approaching its fourth birthday. Don’t bother flipping through the chef Jeeraporn Poksupthong’s multi-page menu in search of pad kee mao or pad see ew — you won’t find them here. Instead, revel in the Northern Thai dishes she built a following around at her old Logan Circle spot and now expertly prepares in the sprawling kitchen of her Mount Vernon Square restaurant, like the exemplary khao soi, a curry in the brightest shade of marigold, teeming with fall-of-the-bone chicken and crowned with a Medusa-esque tangle of fried egg noodles. Those seeking the balance of sweet, sour and fiery flavors that is a hallmark of Thai cooking will find it abundant in dishes like the green mango salad strewed with peanuts and a sprightly salad of fried lotus root and plump grilled shrimp. TANYA SICHYNSKY

425 I Street NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-588-5889; baansiamdc.com

Arlington | Uyghur

You can add Bostan’s chicken and lamb skewers to the list of great kebabs out there: juicy, hot-from-the-coals, heady with cumin. But what makes these kebabs truly special is everything you order to go along with them, dishes like saozi, supple flat noodles in a tart, red-tinted broth; rangpiza, a cold noodle dish sparked with chili oil; and the beef-and-onion stuffed flatbread called goshan. The owners, Mirzat Salam and Zulhayat Omer, started serving traditional Uyghur cuisine in this Arlington, Va., strip-mall after coming to the United States in 2019, where they ultimately joined the waves of immigrants fleeing war and persecution granted asylum in Northern Virginia over the decades. Bostan is one of a handful of Uyghur restaurants in the area; a second location opened in Herndon late last year. BRETT ANDERSON

3911 Langston Boulevard, Arlington, Va.; 703-527-2026; bostanuyghurcuisine.com

14th Street Corridor| Bistro

Bresca, the chef and owner Ryan Ratino’s tribute to Parisian neo-bistros, is the rare restaurant where avant-garde, technique-heavy dishes are approachable and fun. Slices of kanpachi crudo are fanned in a semicircle like a perpetual Tilt-a-Whirl, while an amuse bouche that resembles a whole black truffle is actually a charcoal-dusted gougère stuffed with truffle-scented Mornay sauce. Even the cocktails show up in whimsical vessels like the Bee’s Knees served in a glass bee adorned with a fresh sprig of baby’s breath. Diners can order à la carte or from a prix fixe menu — or go all out and splurge on a tasting menu at Jônt , Bresca’s spendy upstairs sibling. KORSHA WILSON

1906 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-518-7926; brescadc.com

Casa Teresa

Downtown D.C. | Spanish

Rubén García was a longtime top lieutenant of the Spanish American chef José Andrés, the person most responsible for bringing high quality tapas and Spanish-influenced molecular gastronomy to the Washington area. Casa Teresa, the first restaurant Mr. García opened after striking out on his own last year, raises the bar yet again. The menu is filled mainly with traditional Spanish dishes, but they are treated with a level of technical proficiency and whimsy not normally afforded pa amb tomàquet, croquetas de jamón or Basque cheesecake. This cooking will make you fall in love with Spanish food all over again. Take time to peruse the wine director Sarah Vanags’s Spanish drinks selection, which focuses on women winemakers. BRETT ANDERSON

919 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-856-7979; teresadc.com

Silver Spring | Mid Atlantic

Open since 1945 on Georgia Avenue, Crisfield is a master class in no-frills Mid Atlantic dishes like seafood bisque, broiled fish platters and crab cakes with no filler. The interior of the restaurant hasn’t changed much over the years, but the neighborhood around it has, making a visit feel like stepping back in time, where this style of dining was the norm for the area. It’s a perfect destination for a platter of fried seafood with juicy, lightly battered shrimp, scallops and perch. KORSHA WILSON

8012 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Md; 301-589-1306; facebook.com/crisfieldseafoodrestaurant/

Falls Church | New American

Yuan and Carey Tang, the husband and wife team behind Ellie Bird, cut their teeth working in fine-dining restaurants in Washington, D.C., where they opened their critically acclaimed tasting-menu restaurant Rooster & Owl . Their second project, in the affluent bedroom community of Falls Church, where the couple grew up, is decidedly homier. There, they’re proving that suburbanites are as hungry for imaginative cooking as any city denizen. Think Vietnamese French onion soup with braised oxtail, cacio e pepe crossed with elotes, and fried oyster larb gai. It’s well worth the short trip outside the District. NIKITA RICHARDSON

125 Founder’s Avenue, Falls Church, Va.; 703-454-8894; elliebirdva.com

H Street Corridor | Ethiopian

D.C. has long had an abundance of Ethiopian restaurants — and everyone has their favorite — but Ethiopic on a bustling section of H Street is one of the most modern examples of just how much Ethiopian cuisine is a key part of local dining. The owners Samuel Ergete and Meseret Bekele opened the glossy dining room in 2010 and it has since become a staple in the area, a place to meet friends for a meal of classics like doro wat, tibs and timatim salad on springy, tangy injera bread, alongside glasses of honey wine. KORSHA WILSON

401 H Street NE, Washington D.C.; 202-675-2066; ethiopicrestaurant.com

Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly

Rockville | Filipino

Kuya Ja’s specialty is in its name: pork belly that condenses the appeal of Filipino-style whole roast pig into a rolled roast redolent of lemongrass and garlic, with skin too crisp to break with just one whack of your fork. The pork belly is available with atchara (basically spicy Filipino papaya kraut, if you’re unfamiliar) in a sandwich, on a bed of rice or in combination with another of the co-owner and chef Javier Fernandez’s meats, which you should not ignore. The lechon may be what first brought crowds to Kuya Ja’s, but there are plenty more reasons to trek to this fast-casual strip mall storefront in suburban Maryland, including desserts from Gwenie’s Pastries , run by Stella Fernandez, Mr. Fernandez’s sister. BRETT ANDERSON

5268-H Nicholson Lane, Rockville, Md.; 240-669-4383; kuyajas.com

Adams Morgan | Afghan

This homey Afghan restaurant is more than just a great place to eat tender beef kofta stewed with root vegetables and flatbreads stuffed with onions and leeks spiked with cilantro, it’s also a taste of home for the chef Shamim Popal. Ms. Popal fled Afghanistan and came to Washington, D.C., in 1987. Here, she is making the dishes she remembers from her upbringing. The Popal family also operate the excellent Lutèce in Georgetown and the new Pascual on Capitol Hill, but Lapis feels like their family home. KORSHA WILSON

1847 Columbia Road NW, Washington D.C.; 202-299-9630; lapisdc.com

H Street Corridor | Cambodian, Taiwanese

Entering the sleek space at Maketto offers a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure: the dining can serve as an all-day cafe, a great option for group dinners or business lunches, and single diners sometimes even open their laptops to work while enjoying a coffee. On warm evenings, the back patio feels like a dinner party. The menu offers delicious and surprising mash-ups of Cambodian and Taiwanese cuisines like Gruyère dumplings with hearty Chinese chili, wok-charred lo mein noodles with roasted pork and satisfying baos. KORSHA WILSON

1351 H Street NE, Washington, D.C.; 202-838-9972; maketto1351.com

Fairfax | Chinese

Peter Chang is one of the region’s most celebrated chef-restaurateurs. Mama Chang is a testament to the fact that he did not achieve this status alone. The menu pays tribute to Mr. Chang’s main sources of support and inspiration: Ronger Wang, his mother, and Lisa Chang, his wife and business partner, who is also an accomplished chef. Since opening in 2019, the restaurant has introduced dishes, many inspired by the home cooking of Mr. Chang’s native Hubei province, that have gone onto the menus at the Chang family’s 16 other restaurants in the area. Standouts include fish ball and lamb soup, lychee pepper chicken and a stew filled with sweet potato noodles, sour cabbage and pork. Eating this dazzling food at this elegant Northern Virginia restaurant, lined with comfortable booths and blond wood surfaces, feels like an occasion. BRETT ANDERSON

3251 Blenheim Boulevard, Suite 101, Fairfax, Va.; 703-268-5556; mamachangva.com

Shaw | Latin American, Vegan, Tasting Menu

In Mita ’s hushed, gray-hued dining room, warmly accented in tonal browns, the Latin American, vegetable-based cuisine of Miguel Guerra and Tatiana Mora arrives in neon bursts, with bold flavors to match. Orbs of vibrant watermelon form a jewel-toned mosaic with fermented carrots and cilantro; marinated orange-fleshed squash and a ruffle of crispy kale are liberally but carefully drizzled with pungent mole. For dessert, a cherry blossom-themed confection in dazzling pink jubilantly mixes rhubarb with strawberry and yuzu. If you’re vegan-curious or even vegan-resistant, Mita’s tasting menu will win you over. This is plant-based cuisine in fireworks mode: playful, incandescent and instantly appealing. MELISSA CLARK

804 V Street NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-929-7792; mitadc.com

Oyster Oyster

Shaw | Tasting Menu

Many restaurants take sustainability seriously, but few are as rigorous as Oyster Oyster . The chef Rob Rubba’s ever-changing, hyperlocal tasting menu celebrates both fungi and bivalves, exemplars of sustainable foodways that in his hands are also thoroughly delicious. Mushrooms play the bigger role, whether roasted and topped with verdant spring onions or simmered in a dusky, woodsy stew thickened with potatoes. Oysters, which get a pass on an otherwise plant-based menu since their cultivation is beneficial to the ocean, sometimes appear coyly, hidden under gossamer sheets of radish with herb oil, and other times overtly, layered with watermelon and crunchy peanuts. Even the candle holders are crafted from recuperated oyster shells, and whatever is left in your water glass goes to grateful plants, like a tip for nature itself. MELISSA CLARK

1440 Eighth Street NW, Washington, D.C.; no phone; oysteroysterdc.com

Pineapple and Pearls

Capitol Hill | New American, Global, Tasting Menu

You might groan at the email reminding you that there’s no dress code but “most people dress fancy” a few days before your reservation at Pineapple & Pearls. But upon entering the velvety, chandeliered dining room, you understand that the rules aren’t to dampen the fun, but to enhance it. Once you’re seated, the evening is a celebratory, all-out affair where caviar flows freely and a parade of dishes mix and match influences from all over the globe. French bouillabaisse meets Brazilian moqueca in a course featuring lobster and a rich fish broth. A pasta course inspired by Cheez-Its is deliciously punchy (seriously), and a sundae dessert course comes with caviar and gummy bears arranged like multicolored soldiers. It’s dizzying and fun, and like any good party, ends with a parting gift: a Wagyu cheeseburger to help nurse your hangover. KORSHA WILSON

715 Eighth Street SE, Washington, D.C.; 202-595-7375; pineappleandpearls.com

Pupuseria Mamá Emilia

Rockville, Md. | Salvadoran

Salvadoran food is tightly knit into the fabric of the local culture. Elsy Claros — whose mother, Emilia Cruz Lopez, ran a pupuseria in El Salvador — played a role in spreading the cuisine across the metro area, with the pupuserias she opened with her sisters. Mamá Emilia ups the ante. Ms. Claros opened the restaurant with the help of her daughter, Ericka, in 2022. There are traditional pupusas, oozing cheese, frijoles and chicharrón. But there are also pupusas with fillings that include shrimp, mint and kale. There are nearly 30 different styles, all served hot and freshly blistered, starting at breakfast, when you’d be well served ordering the signature item with eggs, in a red sauce that rivals the best enchilada gravy. BRETT ANDERSON

785 Rockville Pike, Suite H, Rockville, Md. 20852; 301-605-7063; facebook.com/PupuseriaMamaEmilia/

Penn Quarter and West End | Indian

A lot of restaurants are worse for wear after nearly two decades in business, but Rasika, chef Vikram Sunderam’s, game-changing, fine-dining Indian restaurant that opened in 2005, still purrs with a full dining room most nights. Devotees of Mr. Sunderam’s cooking visit the West End location or the original in Penn Quarter near the National Mall for crispy fried spinach with sweet yogurt in the palak chaat or the buttery black cod (which are both classic D.C. dishes at this point), but the selection of naans and meat dishes like the chile-heavy lamb roganjosh are also spectacular. KORSHA WILSON

633 D Street NW; 202-637-1222; and 1190 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-466-2500; rasikarestaurant.com

Reveler’s Hour

Adams Morgan| Italian American

Perhaps you are one of those people who believes an urban neighborhood is incomplete without a contemporary Italian American trattoria where the food is exceptional but the setting and prices (at least by current big-city standards) make it suitable for all occasions. Reveler’s Hour serves this role in Adams Morgan. The frequently changing menu is filled with pleasantly familiar, subtly erudite dishes. There is a Caesar salad, though it could be made with escarole or kohlrabi, and if you go hungry for chicken, hope that it’s fried and drizzled with saffron hot honey. The ricotta cavatelli Bolognese arrives with a healthy shaving of two-year aged Parmesan, while the caramelized onion-Gruyère arancini is accompanied with the smart suggestion to pair it with amontillado sherry. This is food worthy of admiration, but humble enough to recede into the background of a night to remember. BRETT ANDERSON

1775 Columbia Road NW, Washington, D.C.; no phone; revelershour.com

U Street | Modern Caribbean

Near the nightlife of the U Street corridor, this trendy restaurant is evidence of a younger, newer D.C. dining crowd that wants easygoing and delicious. The menu plays the hits of Trinidadian cuisine with dishes like tender roti, dense cassava dumplings, spiced aloo and chaat pies with slightly sweet fried bread, but also offers modern takes on Caribbean ingredients like the delicate and evergreen-colored callaloo soup garnished with lump crab meat. The atmosphere is fun and service is friendly making it a great spot to enjoy happy hour or a casual dinner. KORSHA WILSON

2017 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-695-8620; stjames-dc.com

Shaw | Mid Atlantic, Tasting Menu

Mid Atlantic cuisine sits at the intersection of the North and South, drawing on ingredients from the Chesapeake Bay and recipes created along its vast watershed. Jeremiah Langhorne, the chef and co-owner of the Dabney, gives this regional style of cooking the tasting menu treatment. The results — pork crépinette in a mustard green casing, bluefin tartar wrapped in nasturtium leaves, aged tilefish served in a hail of pumpernickel crumbs and benne seeds — are playfully creative, but earthier in their appeal than what’s found at other high-priced options permeating D.C. It’s also hard not to be entranced in this transporting dining room in the Blagden Alley historic district, dominated by the open kitchen’s blazing hearth. BRETT ANDERSON

122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-240-2660; thedabney.com

The Duck & the Peach

Capitol Hill | New American

Opened in 2020, the Duck and the Peach’s sparse dining room in the shadow of Eastern Market calls attention to the star of the show (and the menu): a large, spinning rotisserie that looms in the open kitchen. The owner, Hollis Wells Silverman, and the chef, Katarina Petonito, serve excellent dishes using seasonal local produce, turning it into straightforward dishes with California influences. Tilefish is roasted and served with asparagus and a cream sauce, lemon risotto is topped with grilled local baby onions and the namesake dish, the rotisserie duck is showered with dressed local greens. It’s a modern take on Mid Atlantic cuisine that shows how much the region has to offer beyond its storied seafood. KORSHA WILSON

300 Seventh Street SE, Washington, D.C.; 202-431-1913; duckandpeachdc.com

Columbia Heights | Laotian

Seng Luangrath spurred a D.C. renaissance in the herbal, funky, often spicy cooking of her native Laos when she opened Thip Khao in 2014. The stylishly casual cafe struck a chord with dishes like nam khao, a crispy coconut-rice salad with fermented pork, the slightly sweet beef jerky called sin, and red goat curry famous for its furnace-blast heat. The cocktails, which also draw on Laotian ingredients, are alone worth a visit, but they’re also smartly designed to complement the food. Ms. Luangrath has opened a number of well-liked Lao restaurants in the metro area, including two locations of Padaek in Northern Virginia, both worth seeking out. BRETT ANDERSON

3462 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-387-5426; thipkhao.com

Z&Z Manoushe Bakery

Rockville | Levantine

The crust of Z&Z’s classic manoushe, covered in a forest green slick of olive oil and za’atar, is both tantalizingly chewy and thoroughly crisp, from the edge to the tip of each triangle-cut slice. If the quality and complexity brings to mind artisan pizza, you’re not alone. While the owners, Danny and Johnny Dubbaneh, are quick to point out Levantine flatbreads predate pizza, the brothers’ family-run business does operate a little like a pizzeria, with the many variations on its signature item — don’t miss the manoushe topped with tomatoes, cucumbers and toum — ordered to-go in cardboard takeout boxes. The cozy, four-table bakery is a step up from Z&Z’s farmers’ market beginnings, but it still belies the regional demand the Dubbanehs have helped to create for manoushe, with Z&Z products now available in grocery stores across the Mid Atlantic. BRETT ANDERSON

1111 Nelson Street, Rockville, Md., 301-296-4178; zandzdc.com

Follow New York Times Cooking on Instagram , Facebook , YouTube , TikTok and Pinterest . Get regular updates from New York Times Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice .

Brett Anderson joined the Food desk as a contributor in July 2019. He was restaurant critic and features writer at The Times-Picayune, in New Orleans, from 2000 to 2019. He has won three James Beard awards, including the Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award, and was named Eater's Reporter of the Year in 2017 for his reporting on sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. More about Brett Anderson

Melissa Clark has been writing her column, A Good Appetite , for The Times’s Food section since 2007. She creates recipes for New York Times Cooking, makes videos and reports on food trends. She is the author of 45 cookbooks, and counting. More about Melissa Clark

Tanya Sichynsky is an editor for the Food and Cooking sections of The Times and the author of The Veggie , a weekly vegetarian newsletter. More about Tanya Sichynsky

Nikita Richardson is an editor in the Food section of The Times. More about Nikita Richardson




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