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Best Washington DC Nightlife

AOL PICK from our Editors
Washingtonians work hard and play hard. As soon as the offices shut at 5PM the bars start filling up with government employees seeking some happy hour relief. The clubs tend to heat up around 11PM and wind down around 2AM. There are plenty of stylish, non-descript bars and lounges in Georgetown where the college kids congregate, but the up-and-coming hot spots, with some of the best Washington D.C. nightlife, are located along the trendy, hipster-friendly U Street Corridor and 18th Street in Adams Morgan, which is popular with everyone from frat boys to policy workers. K Street is the zone of big box clubs, swanky bottle service and beautiful people. You will find the best Washington DC nightlife spots scattered throughout downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, with everything from fashionable cocktail lounges to rock and roll dance parties.  

Lima Restaurant & Lounge

Neighborhood: Downtown
Lima is the after-hours province of D.C.'s fashionable international set. Go for the dancing, stay for the caipirinhas, skip the food. There's nothing chill or relaxed about this neon-lit scene, but that's the point. Lima is the best Washington DC club to hit for a night out among the city's trendiest. Be warned, if you arrive after 11:30PM you’ll have to wait in line.

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18th Street Lounge

Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
The 18th Street Lounge is the mainstay of the D.C. nightlife scene—there's no sign but you’ll know you’ve arrived when you spot the long line outside (on Fridays and Saturdays it winds right around the block). It’s rare that a club manages to stay so hot for so long (the lounge has been going strong since it opened in 1995), but then again, it’s also rare for the owner of a club to become an international music sensation (part-owner Eric Hilton created the band Thievery Corporation with Rob Garza after meeting him at the club in 1996). Maybe the club owes its success to its celebrity owners, but more likely it’s due to the fact that these people take music as seriously as they take atmosphere. 18th Street is one of the best Washington D.C. clubs for good music. A mix of trip-hip, rock, and jazz fuel the party, which unfolds in a red-velvet, chandelier-bedecked, fireplace-and-candle-laced setting on the top three floors of a turn-of-the-century mansion.

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Bar Pilar

Neighborhood: U Street Corridor/Columbia Heights
If this gives any idea of Bar Pilar's popularity—the Tuesday night cocktail sampler special was eventually shut down on the grounds that it was "too popular." Strange but true. The New Orleans-saloon-style Spanish tapas lounge is the go-to bar for just about everyone under 30 in D.C. We love the sangria by the pitcher, but they also make a mean Mint Julep.

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The Rock and Roll Hotel

You'll rack up some serious street cred with the D.C. underground rock scene just by hitting the Rock and Roll Hotel after dark—it's the stomping ground for hipsters. Night after night some of the hottest dance parties play out in its labyrinthine collection of rooms. We love the tongue-in-cheek take on D.C. with rooms with names like "The Presidential Suite."

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