Washington D.C. Nightlife: Explore History at Dusk

The Lincoln Memorial at Dusk

Washingtonians' tastes in entertainment can be hard to figure--after all, this is a town where both Redskins tickets and seats at the opera are hard to come by. One thing's for sure, though: The revival of the city's economy is stimulating its nightlife. For the first time in nearly a decade, the historic National Theatre is offering a full lineup of acclaimed Broadway shows for the coming year. People are staying out later and, in response, Metro is running its trains until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, and certain restaurants are staying open later to feed the after-hours crowd. Venues like the Twins Lounge jazz club are relocating from suburban locations to the inner city, while others, like Polly Esther's dance den, are keeping their downtown locations but opening annexes in the suburbs. And excellent new ventures, like the Bohemian Caverns, an upscale jazz club, are debuting all the time.

One downside to the city's resurgence is the increase in rent for bars and clubs. The venerable though increasingly worn One Step Down jazz club is one establishment that just couldn't make it, finally closing its doors for good in late 2000.

So look over the listings that follow and check the Friday "Weekend" section of the Washington Post, which will inform you about live music performances, children's theater, sports events, flower shows, and all else. You can check out the Post's nightlife information (especially the "Weekend" section's "Nightwatch" column) at http://www.washingtonpost.com. The City Paper, available free at restaurants, bookstores, and other places around town, is another good source.

Planning a Trip: Experience a Washington D.C. Sightseeing Tour

So much of the joy in traveling comes down to serendipity, from a stimulating conversation with a stranger on the train to the thrill of discovering a great little restaurant off the beaten path. Alas, much of the disappointment in traveling stems from the unexpected as well: encountering cooler weather than you'd packed for, arriving at a museum only to find it closed, touring an attraction with multitudes when you'd anticipated having the place to yourself.

A little planning is in order, then, to help you steer clear of disappointment and stay open to unanticipated pleasures. That's why one of the wonders of a Washington D.C. Sightseeing Tour is that the planning is prepared for you in advance. Enjoy a worry-free East Coast trip of the D.C. area and explore the region with travel hosts that share tidbits of information on the land's culture, history, attractions in more. Ensure that your trip will be one to remember with few setbacks.

Getting Tickets

TICKETplace, Washington's only discount day-of-show ticket outlet, has one location: in the Old Post Office Pavilion, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (Metro: Federal Triangle). Call tel. 202/TICKETS for information. On the day of performance only (except Sun and Mon; see below), you can buy half-price tickets (with cash, select debit and credit cards, or traveler's checks) to performances with tickets still available at most major Washington-area theaters and concert halls, as well as for performances of the opera, ballet, and other events. TICKETplace is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm; half-price tickets for Sunday and Monday shows are sold on Saturday. Though tickets are half price, you have to pay a service charge of 10% of the full face value of the ticket.

Full-price tickets for most performances in town can be bought through TicketMaster (tel. 202/432-SEAT; www.ticketmaster.com), if you're willing to pay a hefty service charge. Purchase tickets to Washington theatrical, musical, and other events before you leave home by going online or by calling tel. 800/551-SEAT. Or you can wait until you get here and visit one of TicketMaster's 18 locations throughout the city, including Hecht's Department Store, 12th and G streets NW (Metro: Metro Center); George Washington University's Marvin Center, across from Lisner Auditorium, at 21st Street and H Street NW (Metro: Foggy Bottom); the DC Visitor Center in the Ronald Reagan Building, at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (Metro: Federal Triangle); and the MCI Center (Metro: Gallery Place).

Another similar ticket outlet is Tickets.com (formerly Protix). You can order tickets by calling tel. 800/955-5566 or 703/218-6500, or by accessing its website at www.tickets.com.