Washington DC

Party Away Your Election Anxiety at These DC Bars and Restaurants

From trivia nights to margarita-fueled watch parties, these are the best places to watch the midterm election results roll in.

Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill

The stakes of this year’s midterm elections are higher than ever, giving Washingtonians ever more reason to get drunk and forecast election outcomes at bars and restaurants around the city. With the balance of power up for grabs, we’ll all be up late-or even early into pre-dawn hours-as results slowly but surely trickle in.

Luckily, many bars and restaurants are extending their operating hours and discounting their drinks-and there’s even a few places where you can score a free cocktail to ease the anxiety. So, first and foremost, cast your ballot, then check out the best Election Day specials and watch parties at bars and restaurants around DC.

Boundary Stone DC
Boundary Stone DC
Boundary Stone DC

Boundary Stone

Bloomingdale
Political nerds will want to book-it to Boundary Stone on Tuesday night for a special Election Night Trivia, with the midterm results being shown on TVs around the bar (without sound). Trivia starts at 7 pm, and happy hour drink deals (from 5 to 7 pm) include $5 DC Brau and $6 draft Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.

 

Fight Club

Capitol Hill
While all eyes are on the balance of power, this Capitol Hill neighborhood bar will be watching out for your belly and keeping it full with an “Eat Your Feelings” menu. The deals include 5% off all appetizers, as well as a Bobbie sandwich in tribute to President Joe Biden. Fight Club is also offering its happy hour all night long with $7 boilermakers, $2 off draft punches ($10 off pitchers of draft punches), and $10 house white, red, and rose by the glass. Election coverage will be shown on the newly-installed projector screen, plus all TVs.

Hook Hall

Park View
This massive indoor-outdoor bar is the place in Park View to watch election results roll in. Revelers will gather in front of a giant big screen TV, and the bar is open late until midnight. Make sure you arrive with your “I Voted” sticker, too. Anyone showing proof that they cast their ballot will receive a discounted Hook Hall Lager beer or glass of house wine for $5.

mercyme.dc
mercyme.dc
mercyme.dc

Mercy Me

West End
After casting your ballot on Tuesday, stop into Mercy Me located inside the buzzy boutique hotel Yours Truly in the West End. You can treat yourself to a free Applejack Sour cocktail by showing your “I Voted” sticker at any bartender from 4 to 10 pm. It’s a delicious blend of apple brandy, pink jungle citrus, and bitters. And fun fact: Apple brandy is a drink that was beloved by our nation’s first president.

Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt Grill

Downtown
Old Ebbitt Grill is an institution known best for oysters and bartenders who can quiz you on presidential history. Plus, it’s just about as close as you can get to the White House on election night with a private rooftop that overlooks Lafayette Park. Belly up to the bar and get ready to slurp down some bivalves because Old Ebbitt’s oyster happy hour starts early and runs late, from 3 to 5 pm to kick off the night and from 11 pm to 1 am as you await those late-night results.

Shaw’s Tavern

Shaw
At Shaw’s Tavern, all TVs will be tuned into election coverage with sound, plus you can take advantage of the bar’s legendary Taco Tuesday specials. From 5 to 10 pm, get three tacos with your choice of chicken, pork, steak, or fish for $10 and pair it with a pitcher of margarita for $30-you’ll need it.

Union Pub
Union Pub
Union Pub

Union Pub

Capitol Hill
This notorious Hill staffer hangout is giving out a pint of free beer to the first 200 guests starting at 4 pm on Election Day. Before Tuesday, help select which beer Union Pub will offer for free by voting in a poll on Twitter or at the bar in person until November 6. Votes will be counted, and the results will be tabulated on Election Eve (Monday). The candidates are: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Bud Light, Guinness Blonde, and Pacifico Clara. In addition to free beer, Election Day specials include $1 off tequila and $5 margaritas until close, with Election Day coverage shown on TVs with sound.

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Tim Ebner is an award-winning food, drink, and travel writer. He lives on Capitol Hill and has a weakness for Old Bay Seasoning. Follow him on Twitter: @TimEbner

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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