Loud and Proud: Washington DC's Best Gay Bars

© White House Press/Flickr
© White House Press/Flickr | © White House Press/Flickr
Kate McMahon

Around 10 per cent of adults in Washington DC identify as LGBTQ+ – the highest percentage in the country. DC shines as the nation’s gayest city, and you can check out these venues to get a taste of the vibrant, proud scene.

1. Nellie’s Sports Bar

Bar, Gay Bar, Beer

Nellie’s is the quintessential, right-in-your-face gay bar in the bustling U Street corridor. Its size and location make it one of the busiest gay bars in DC. The place is always hopping – whether it’s Saturday night or Sunday morning. Nellie’s most popular feature is its weekend drag brunch. Sip mimosas and dine at a buffet as you watch stellar drag queens strut across the stage in heels that seemingly defy the laws of physics.

2. Town Dance Boutique

Bar

2. Town Dance Boutique
Courtesy of Town

Town Dance Boutique

If you want to go wild, Town is the place. It’s the largest gay nightclub in the DMV area. With multiple dance floors and LED lighting, Town is the perfect venue for insane themed parties and international DJs. But be prepared to pay for the experience with a $12 cover charge and expensive drinks.
Town Dance Boutique, 2009 8th St NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 234 8696

Town’s entrance | © Kate McMahon

3. The Fireplace

Bar

The Fireplace

For a different change of pace, check out The Fireplace; this dive bar really puts the emphasis on dive and fire (seriously, it’s a fire hazard). Think sticky floors, shabby tables, and drinks that are 90% alcohol. You’ll come to love the rough exterior after a few killer rail drinks that are among the cheapest in DC. There’s no taps to be seen – but there is a moderate range of bottled domestic beers for $4.
The Fireplace, 2161 P St NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 293 1293

5. Cobalt

Bar, Restaurant

Cobalt

This three-level establishment provides a superb atmosphere for meeting people and chatting up strangers. The first floor, aptly named Level One, is a decent restaurant that offers bottomless mimosas on weekends. At night, eat a meal and play a rousing game of beer pong, but then head upstairs to mingle at the second floor bar and groove on the third floor dance floor! The people and music are diverse – the DJs play a nice blend of hip-hop, reggae and other genres beyond the top 40 hits. While DC seriously lacks lesbian bars, ladies’ night at Cobalt is the third Saturday of every month.
Cobalt, 1639 R St NW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 232 4416

Cobalt Staff In Capital Pride Parade| © Ted Eytan/Flickr

6. Ziegfeld's/Secrets

Bar

Ziegfeld’s/Secrets

New location, same drag. Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is one of the oldest drag bars in the country and regarded as an important landmark in LGBTQ history. But after 40 years, the dual drag bar and strip club was forced to move from its historical location – don’t worry though, the new venue is almost as good. Unfortunately it’s being forced to move again, but likely not until 2018. Get in while you can! Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is known for being one of the few venues in the country to feature full-frontal male nudity. Catch that upstairs, or head downstairs to watch a fabulous drag show featuring the lovely Ella Fitzgerald, who just celebrated her 34th year there!
Ziegfield’s/Secrets, 1824 Half St SW, Washington DC, USA, +1 202 863 0670

Ziegfeld Drag Queen | © Christian Lezzil/WikiCommons

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article