Washington DC

The Best Happy Hours in Your DC Neighborhood

From half-price pitchers to a deal that spans seven hours.

Bar Charley
Bar Charley
Bar Charley

Washington, DC’s office buildings may still be quiet, but happy hour remains an essential part of the city’s culture. Neighborhood bars are back to serving up rounds of cheap drinks or discounted bar snacks after work. The best happy hours offer a variety of options at prices that feel like steals-or at least make ditching the work-from-home loungewear worthwhile. And with flexible work schedules becoming the norm, there’s more opportunity to hit specials that start earlier in the day or scout for weekend options. The next time the urge for a post-shift beverage hits, let this neighborhood guide point you in the right direction.

Adams Morgan

Jack Rose Dining Saloon
When: Wednesday through Friday from 5 to 7:30 pm
The Deal: Whether you want to spend your time upstairs on the open-air terrace or downstairs in the main bar area, you can take advantage of happy hour deals at this whiskey-focused bar. You’ll have to pay full price for pours from the vast whiskey list but if you stay away from spirits, you can get $2 off select draft beers and wines along with half-priced bar snacks like crawfish deviled eggs and jalapeno hushpuppies.

Punch Bowl Social
Punch Bowl Social
Punch Bowl Social

Ballston (Arlington)

Punch Bowl Social 
When: Wednesday through Friday and Sunday from 4 to 6 pm
The deal: Bowling, karaoke, and arcade games await at this Ballston Quarter mall adult playground. Happy hour deals will get any party started off right, with specials like $5 cocktails and $3 surprise beer cans along with discounted drafts, well drinks, and wine. For food, nosh on bar fare like Buffalo fries topped with blue cheese ($5) or a single patty burger ($7). Punch Bowl’s activities are also half price.

Tortilla Coast Capitol Hill
Tortilla Coast Capitol Hill
Tortilla Coast Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill

Tortilla Coast 
When: Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 7 pm
The deal: It’s little surprise why the generous specials on frozen margaritas, beer, and Tex-Mex snacks remain a go-to for Hill workers, even during this era of flexible schedules and telework. Drinks start at $4 for bottles of Mexican lager and inch up from there, hitting $6 for wine or sangria and capping off at $20 for a pitcher of margaritas, served frozen or on the rocks. Tacos are $3 a pop, queso and chips are $5, and more substantial food like nachos or grilled wings are $10.

Chinatown

Rocket Bar 
When: Every day from 4 to 8 pm
The deal: Underground with darts, pool tables, and other arcade games, Rocket Bar is a downtown spot made for the city’s younger set. Every single day of the week, you can get rail drinks, wine, and the draft of the month and still get change for a $5 (but don’t forget to use that extra dollar to tip!).

Clarendon (Arlington)

Ambar 
When: Monday through Friday from noon to 7 pm
The deal: Make a date with the Clarendon location of this lively Balkan spot and its generous selection of $5 drinks and $4-$5 small plates. Sip the vodka-based kiwi smash, a classic margarita, or go for a cold beer or glass of house wine. Savory dishes range from garlic bean dip to a ground beef and veal kebab and “drunken” mussels with rakia, garlic, and capers.

Bar Charley
Bar Charley
Bar Charley

Dupont Circle

Bar Charley
When: Monday all day, Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 6:30 pm, and Friday through Saturday from 4 to 6:30 pm
The deal: Bar Charley is a go-to for classic and Tiki-inspired cocktails, and they’re less than $10 during happy hour. The bar slings Suffering Bastards and Giggle Water on tap, in addition to mixing up old favorites, for $7.95 each. Narragansett tallboys run $4 and wines by the glass are $1.50 off. Among the food specials are a $15 wagyu burger and $7 Catalan fries, which come topped with romesco, chimichurri, manchego cheese, and a fried egg.

The Admiral
When: Wednesday from 4 pm to close, Thursday to Sunday from 4 to 6 pm
The deal: This spacious Dupont Circle bar pours Tito’s vodka palomas, Mission margaritas, and spiked black raspberry lemonade for $9 a glass or $27 a pitcher during happy hour. For an extra kick, order a shot of Jameson whisky for $6.50 or take $2 off select draft beers. Food includes comfort bites like Parmesan fries for $7 or a basic quesadilla for $8.50, with proteins available for an additional few bucks.

North Italia
North Italia
North Italia

Foggy Bottom

North Italia 
When: Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm
The deal: Look past the fact that this Italian restaurant is a national chain and embrace the $16 bottles of house red or white wine and $10 Margherita or cacio e pepe pizza at its bar happy hour. The shareable chef’s board is also a deal at just $15, with lots of cured meats and cheeses. Draft beers and glasses of house wine or sangria are just $5.

El Centro, D. F.
El Centro, D. F.
El Centro, D. F.

Georgetown

El Centro
When: Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm
The deal: Richard Sandoval is serious about his love of Latin food, and during happy hour, he really turns up the heat with $6 margaritas and cocktails, and $5 beers and wines to help get your evening started. Cocktails here pack a punch, so order up some $6 nachos or quesadillas or $3.50 tacos ($3 on Tuesdays) filled with chipotle chicken tinga, roasted zucchini, or adobo marinated pork.

Pinstripes 
When: Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 pm and Sunday from 6 pm to close
The deal: Most people come to Pinstripes for bowling or bocce, but the best secret is the bar’s generous happy hour. Draft beers are just $4 each, and the lineup highlights craft options from DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Wines and well drinks are $5 and $6, respectively. The menu is easy to make a meal of, with shareable flatbreads and appetizers priced between $8 and $12.

Lulu's Winegarden
Lulu’s Winegarden
Lulu’s Winegarden

U Street

Lulu’s Winegarden
When: Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 6 pm, Friday from 3 to 5 pm
The deal: Happy hour is now golden hour here, anchored by $35 bottles of wine selected from Lulu’s impressive and quirky list. Glasses of wine or ranch water are $9, and a tallboy of basic Mexican lager is an affordable $6. Southwestern-inspired bites range from white queso dip and tostadas ($9) to an avocado lime Caesar salad ($8) and a hatch chile burger ($10).

The Smith 
When: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 pm
The deal: Yes, it’s a New York City import. Once you get past that mental block, The Smith offers some nice options for discounted evening drinks. Draft beers, most of them local, are $6. Cocktails, like the customizable mule or the Midtown Manhattan, are $10, and wines by the glass are $8. The kitchen turns out great food options, too, and highlights include $2 raw oysters, $6 chips with blue cheese fondue, and a burger-and-a-beer combo for $19.

Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company
Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company
Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company

Tiki TNT
When: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 pm
The deal: The Wharf can be an expensive neighborhood, so snagging $5 daiquiris and $7 “rum in Cokes” at this Island-themed rum distillery is more than worth a trip down to the waterfront. Food follows the tropical theme, with options like Spam musubi, vegetable spring rolls, and tiki wings.

Tenleytown

Al Dente 
When: Daily from 4 to 7 pm
The deal: American University students and neighbors should take note of Al Dente’s daily happy hour of half-priced Neapolitan pizzas and other Italian dishes and small plates. Draft beers are $4, wines and rail drinks are $5, and special cocktails (try a mojito or two) are $6. Both indoor bar and outdoor seating is included in the deal, pending availability.

Logan Circle

Stoney’s
When: Monday through Friday from 5 to 6 pm
The deal: For more than 50 years, Stoney’s has been home to gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and cheap brews served in a home-y and unassuming atmosphere. And although it’s happy hour is now literally only an hour, it remains a solid option for some cheap food and drink around Logan Circle. Come by for $5 rail drinks and house wine or a $4 draft of Stoney’s amber and pair it with a $6 personal pizza ($10 for a whole), onion rings, or the noted grilled cheese.

Black Jack 
When: Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 6 pm, Friday from 5 to 7 pm, Saturday from 3 to 5 pm, and all day Sunday
The deal: While the $5 beers, $8 whiskey of the day cocktails, and wine discounts are nice, it’s the food that makes Black Jack’s happy hour a destination. The garlicky Addie’s Mussels are outstanding, as are the half-priced pizzas, sized large enough to share.

Mission - Navy Yard
Mission – Navy Yard
Mission – Navy Yard

Navy Yard

Mission
When: Daily from 4 to 6 pm and Sunday football specials
The deal: There’s something for every taste at Mission’s Navy Yard happy hour, including both inside and outside seating across from Nationals Park. Sip on a house margarita for $9 a glass or $26 a pitcher, or go for a Tito’s vodka raspberry lemonade for a few dollars more. Guests can also take advantage of $2 off select 16- or 22-ounce beers, ideal for a pregame drink. A large platter of Nachos Volcan is a solid deal for sharing at $10 ($4-$6 extra with meat added).

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana

Penn Quarter

Oyamel 
When: Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6pm
The deal: Grab some friends for hora feliz and split a pitcher of Oyamel’s most popular cocktails, like its tequila or mezcal margarita ($44) or classic rum mojito ($42). If you’re on your own, you can have the same drinks for $8 or $9 each or $6 wine and $5 beer. Tacos are $3, and other “antojitos” like the shredded chicken tamale verde for $5.

Shaw

Chaplin’s 
When: Daily from 4 to 7 pm
The deal: This ramen spot is best known for an extensive menu of draft cocktails, and happy hour is the perfect time to imbibe. You can get concoctions with house-made ingredients like Wilder Bros orange peel gomme syrup for half-off during happy hour, or opt for traditional drafts of the brewed variety, which are also half-price along with wines by the glass.

Duke's Grocery
Duke’s Grocery
Duke’s Grocery

Woodley Park

Duke’s Counter 
When: Monday through Friday from noon to 7 pm
The deal: Not only do the drink discounts start at noon, but they party on for seven whole hours. At one of the longest happy hours in the District, you can drink select draft beers, glasses of wine, and rail drinks for just $5 each. That means whether you’re at Duke’s Counter in Woodley Park or at Duke’s Grocery in Dupont Circle or Foggy Bottom, you can use your savings for an order of decadent truffle mac and cheese as a side (and reward for your money savvy). Plus, select bottles of wine are half-off from 7 pm until close on Monday nights.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Travis Mitchell is a DC-based food and drink writer. Follow his travels and eating adventures on Twitter at @travisjmitchell and Instagram at @_travisjmitchell.

Washington DC

15 Totally Free Things to Do in DC

A full itinerary, completely free of charge.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Washington DC is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and for those of us who call the District home, it’s easy to see why. With dozens of world-class museums, murals that transform streets into galleries, and sites brimming with history, DC offers a full agenda-completely free of charge. Whether you want to try a new farmer’s market, explore a new hike, or polish off your roller skating or canoeing skills, here are some of our favourite free things to do in the District.

Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco

Hike, bike, or stroll along the C&O Canal

The historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is one of the most accessible nature escapes from the District. Thanks to a multi-year restoration project, the first mile of the canal is an idyllic walk that’s easy to access in Georgetown. Stick to a short stroll there, or grab a bike or lace up your hiking shoes for a longer adventure along the 184.5-mile canal.

Jump on the pickleball craze

Pickleball is working its way up the ladder past kickball and softball as one of America’s favourite games. Jump on the craze and practice your paddling at one of the District’s pickleball courts in Takoma Park, the Palisades, and more. Plus, Washington DC Pickleball invites guests to drop in to beginner sessions to try their hand at the sport before signing up for a $30 annual membership.

Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion

Bike the Mount Vernon Trail

DC is incredibly bike-friendly, and luckily that applies to the land immediately outside of the city as well. Start in the city and bike along the Mount Vernon Trail, a scenic route that hugs the water and cuts through the woods. It’s about a 10-mile trip from DC to Mount Vernon, but you can cut the trip slightly short and end at the Old Town Alexandria waterfront-just make sure to factor in time for ice cream before pedalling home.

Explore a sculpture park

While not located in the District proper, Glenstone, an expansive sculpture park in Maryland, is worth the 45-minute drive. Tickets to the park are free (just be sure to reserve several weeks in advance), and the 300-acre space offers stunning art, architecture, and open land. In addition to its indoor gallery spaces, you can spend hours walking on paths that wind through sculptures, meadows, and forests.

Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston

See the monuments at night

When the sun goes down-and the summer humidity somewhat dissipates-head to the National Mall for the rare chance to see the monuments without busloads of tourists. Moonlight will give you a different perspective as you traverse the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial or gaze up at the Washington Monument set aglow with lights.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Museum hop the day away

One of DC’s greatest strengths is its world-class Smithsonian museums that are open to the public free of charge. There is no shortage of options, from the intimate Renwick Gallery, to the sprawling National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonians offer something for everyone. Pro tip: Some of the museums are open late in the evenings, making for an ideal date night.

muralsdc
muralsdc
muralsdc

Explore the city’s murals

Washington is home to hundreds of murals that are becoming as much a part of the city’s landscape as the monuments on the National Mall. Take a self-guided tour of these colourful creations no matter which neighbourhood you happen to be in. MuralsDC, the organization behind 150 of the District’s public artworks, is a great resource for mapping out a route to explore the city’s street art.

Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington

Take in a birds-eye view of the city

Washington looks pretty stunning from up high, and there are few spots within the city that make for phenomenal vantage points. Rooftop bars and restaurants offer epic views for the price of a drink or two, but there’s no more iconic sight than seeing the city from the top of the Washington Monument, which is completely free. Book a ticket ahead of time and ride an elevator all the way to the top of the monument and step out on the 500-foot observation deck.

Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond

Wander through a garden

DC is home to some of the most beautiful urban gardens in the country, and many of them are open to the public for free. There is nothing like an afternoon spent strolling through, or picnicking, at the expansive 446-acre United States Arboretum or wandering through the Botanic Garden on the edge of the Mall. For something a bit smaller, explore the grounds at Tudor Place or Dumbarton Oaks (free in the winter), both of which are in Georgetown.

Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien

Hike the Billy Goat Trail

You can catch one of the District’s most popular hiking trails, the Billy Goat Trail, from the C&O canal. The full trail is 4.7 miles and ranges from easy to strenuous, so hike a section in and back or make the full loop for the variety.

Pay your respect at Arlington National Cemetery

Just across the Potomac from DC, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 veterans. The cemetery is an expanse of 639 hallowed acres and the ANC Explorer allows visitors to locate graves, notable sites, and take self-guided walking tours to spots including the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy.

Lace up your roller skates

When was the last time you went roller skating? Chances are it’s been too long. So get back into this nostalgic activity at the Anacostia Park roller skating pavilion. You can rent skates for free, just show proof of a government-issued ID, and the skating pavilion is open from 9 to 5 every day.

Help clean up the Anacostia River

We all know there’s a lot of work to be done to keep our waterways clean. Do your part, and have some fun, by participating in the city’s Green Boat initiative. On select weekends, DCers can join a two-hour guided paddle along the Anacostia River to collect trash and monitor the river’s progress.

Eastern Market
Eastern Market
Eastern Market

Stroll your local farmer’s market

DC’s close proximity to the farms of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and beyond mean that the city’s farmers’ markets always have something to offer. Check out the year-round markets like Eastern Market in Capitol Hill and the Sunday market in Dupont Circle or head to seasonal markets like the pop-up in front of the White House that draws vendors like Cucina al Volo and Call Your Mother Deli.

The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress

Play tourist all around the city

It’s easy to forget that all those traditionally touristy activities can be fun for locals too. If you haven’t been on a tour of the White House, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, or the Capitol, this is your sign. All are free with advanced reservations. Plus, tucked in the northern quadrant of NW, the Washington National Cathedral is free and open to all. Tour the cathedral’s impressive architecture, 215 stained glass windows, 112 Gothically-inspired gargoyles, and enormous pipe organ. See if you can spot the sculpture of Darth Vader.

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Madeline Weinfield is a Thrillist contributor.

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