Most popular event spaces in Washington, DC
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Our guide to event space rental in Washington, DC
Washington, D.C. is one of the biggest and most influential cities in the US. But there is much more to the city than the White House, Congress and national monuments. Home to a young and diverse population, the city boasts a selection of flavorful neighborhoods that offer a range of experiences. Yes, there’s history here on nearly every corner, and politics is hard to escape in this part of the country, but it’s not just that! As both the capital and a popular tourist destination, Washington, D.C. knows how to impress. Culture, cuisine and nightlife all thrive here: from phenomenal restaurants to creative spaces and on to vibrant bars and clubs, there’s something for everyone!
Things to know when planning an event in Washington, D.C.
Let’s have a brief look at what you can expect when organizing an event in the capital.
Consider your budget
The first thing we have to mention is money. If you’re planning an event in Washington, D.C., you’d better come with a thick wallet! The city’s prestige and power, central location on the east coast and high-income population make it one of the most expensive locations in the country. Of course, we’re not trying to discourage you or kill the vibe, we’re just laying it out the way it is.
Getting to the venue
When picking a specific area within the District of Columbia, think about how you and your guests are going to get there. Remember to factor in the traffic, which is… well, terrible. On a brighter note, the city does have a great public transportation system. The Washington Metro can get you to any part of the city, plus it offers links to Virginia and Maryland, as well as both Dulles and Reagan National Airports.
Washington Union Station is served by Amtrak, MARC and VRE regional rail, as well as intercity buses and local Metrobus lines. The D.C. Streetcar operates along the H Street NE Corridor and Benning Road from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue and is free. If you don’t mind a bit of physical activity, the city is also quite bike friendly.
Prepare for amazing culinary experiences
Regardless of the type of event you’re organizing, you’re most likely going to need catering. And, oh boy, are you going to be dazzled by the city’s array of food options! As you would expect from a world-class city, the dining scene here is absolutely top-notch.
Whether you’re into regional eats, such as crabs, jumbo slices, pupusas, and mumbo sauce or you want to try some international cuisine, Washington boasts plenty of top-rated restaurants ready to make your culinary dreams come true! From Michelin-starred locations to laid-back and casual eateries, there’s a place to suit all styles and occasions.
Party like never before
Washington, D.C. boasts exciting party zones all over the city. Whether you’ve got a special occasion to celebrate or you’re looking for a place to let loose and party into the early hours, you’ll surely find the perfect spot in the capital! Neighborhoods such as Georgetown, Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan (and many more!) are bursting with nightlife hotspots. Vibrant bars, rooftop lounges and thriving nightclubs are all ready to welcome you with arms wide open!
If you’re looking for entertainment, you’re in for a treat. From high-brow venues such as the Kennedy Center or the National Symphony Orchestra to more casual spots, the city has something to suit all tastes and styles. U Street is a vibrant entertainment hub lined with music venues such as the famous Lincoln Theatre, DJ lounges and nightclubs.
Other iconic places include The Anthem in the Southwest Waterfront area or the edgy 9:30 Club, pronounced one of America’s 10 best live music venues by Rolling Stone. There’s also a selection of amphitheaters located in the suburbs. So, pick your favorite spot and get ready to groove!
How about an outdoor event?
Parks and green spaces make up 20% of the total area, making Washington a great fit for outdoor events. Subtropical climate means that summers in the city can get insanely hot and humid. Winters tend to be harsh, though still milder than in other northeastern cities. There’s little snowfall but the cloudy sky typically brings lots of rain. Always be mindful of the weather and, depending on the season, pick a venue that offers some kind of protection from the elements, a shaded area or an air-conditioned space that you can use just in case.
Do your guests need accommodation?
Are you expecting some guests that will be arriving from other cities and staying overnight? Don’t forget to check whether the area around your chosen venue offers any accommodation. Luckily for you, as a major tourist destination, the District of Columbia has plenty of options to choose from! Whether you’re looking for something in Capitol Riverfront, Southwest/Waterfront or near Union Station, you’ll find a suitable spot in no time. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly options, there’s something for everyone.
A guide to Washington’s neighborhoods & their venues
Wondering where to host your event in Washington, D.C.? We’ve prepared a short guide to some of our favorite areas and the types of venues they offer.
- Downtown – Let’s start with D.C.’s center of activity. Apart from being home to the White House and the Federal Triangle’s government office buildings, eclectic Downtown offers a mix of business, dining, and nightlife. There’s always something going on here: be it an exhibition at one of the area’s many museums or a happy hour at one of its busy bars. Rooftop lounges, brunch spots and distinguished restaurants are all here. Downtown’s notable subsections, Penn Quarter and Chinatown, constitute a diverse area that is mostly renowned for its superb dining scene and cultural offerings, including numerous museums and theaters.
- Foggy Bottom – Named so because of the foul fumes emitted in this formerly industrial area, today it’s one of the city’s cultural hubs. This is the home of the Kennedy Center, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera. You’ll also find plenty of dining options in the area, from high-end eateries to easy-going restaurants and pubs.
- West End – Overlapping with Foggy Bottom, West End is home to an array of fine dining restaurants, modern office buildings and luxury hotels. George Washington University is also located within its bounds. It is a great location if you’re planning a corporate event, a conference or a formal dinner.
- Georgetown – Dating back to Colonial times, Georgetown used to be a flourishing tobacco port. The neighborhood’s beating heart is located on M Street and Wisconsin Avenue NW, where you’ll find a selection of lively bars, chic eateries, waterfront seafood restaurants, intimate live music venues and exciting nightlife spots. Home to Georgetown University, the area is particularly popular with students.
- Glover Park – Conveniently located between the campuses of Georgetown University and American University, the area is a great fit for graduation parties and other celebrations. Its stretch of Wisconsin Avenue NW boasts a bunch of noteworthy bars and restaurants.
- NoMa – Situated east of downtown and close to Capitol Hill, the area has a bit of an industrial feel and is constantly developing. There are more and more trendy restaurants here, including Michelin-starred Masseria. Apart from being close to Union Station, NoMa is also easily accessed thanks to its two Metro stations and bike path.
- Ivy City – Although the landscape of this small industrial neighborhood is dominated by warehouses, there’s a lot going on in this part of town that is currently having its renaissance! From one-of-a-kind music venues to craft distilleries and on to a host of great restaurants, the area’s event spaces are full of character and unique vibes.
- Capitol Hill – Would it be a Washington, D.C. area guide if it didn’t mention this iconic location? There’s more to “the Hill” than the Capitol and other governmental edifices! Besides pretty townhouses sitting in tree lined streets, there are also plenty of amazing restaurants on Pennsylvania Avenue SE and near North Capitol Street NW, and a number of great hotels near Union Station. Barracks Row and Massachusetts Avenue are filled with laid-back bistros, cafes and bars.
- Capitol Riverfront – Situated on the Anacostia River, Capitol Riverfront is a lively neighborhood just south of the US Capitol. Home to Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, thriving restaurants and plenty of public parks, the area offers something for everyone: foodies, sports fans and nature lovers. There are a ton of bars, breweries with house-made beer and the District Winery that combines waterfront views with some of the finest grapes.
- Dupont Circle – One of the city’s most fun districts, whose lively streets boast plenty of great restaurants, art galleries, and vibrant nightlife spots. LGBTQIA+ friendly, it is known for hosting annual events such as the Capital Pride Parade and the High Heel Drag Queen Race. If you also need accommodation for your guests, there are some reasonably priced hotels in the area.
- U Street NW & 14th Street NW – A diverse area rich in black history and culture. Referred to as “Black Broadway” in the first half of the 20th century, it was a jazz and blues hub, with icons such as Louis Armstrong performing at the Lincoln Theatre. Jazz fans will still find something for themselves at venues such as Twins Jazz, but the neighborhood is now best known as a prime dining and nightlife location, with some of the hottest bars and eateries in town.
- Southwest/Waterfront – An historic neighborhood with an operating marina, panoramic views and plenty of amazing event spaces. The area owes much of its appeal to The Wharf, a waterfront recreational complex featuring a plethora of restaurants, bistros, bars and live music venues. Southwest/Waterfront is also home to the renowned Arena Stage, showcasing the best of American theater, but also serving the purpose of a corporate event/conference/wedding venue. If some of your guests will be staying overnight, there are plenty of great hotels in the area.
- Congress Heights – Located east of the river, this historic neighborhood is known for its numerous entertainment options. It boasts the Entertainment and Sports Arena, a huge multi-purpose venue that hosts a variety of sports events and concerts. Apart from that, there are also a number of arts and culture centers and performing arts venues, such as the Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center or THEARC. And if you’re looking for food, MLK Deli serves D.C. classics with a fun twist.
- Shaw – People flock to this historic district for incredible dining experiences. It seems like new hot bars and restaurants keep popping up in the area all the time. Looking for some nightlife thrills? You won’t be disappointed! If you’re into live music, come to the Black Cat, where you can catch a hardcore punk show or a 90s dance party. And if you want to groove and grind on the dance floor or sing your heart out at karaoke night, check out DC9.
- Adams Morgan – This neighborhood is definitely one of the city’s fun spots, with bohemian and multicultural vibes. If you’re in town to party, this is where you’ll find some of the most incredible nightlife. 18th Street NW and Columbia Road NW are home to a myriad of trendy bars, energetic clubs and eclectic eateries. Though finding a parking spot in the area may be a challenge, you can easily get there by taking a bus or walking from nearby Woodley Park or Dupont Circle Metro stops.
- Atlas District – or the H Street Corridor – is yet another party destination in Washington, D.C. There are plenty of premier nightlife spots, such as bars and live music venues. The neighborhood is also home to a multitude of delightful restaurants, as well as cafes perfect for a chilled gathering or a business lunch. The area has its streetcar line that links it to other parts of town and Union Station.
- Woodley Park – Centrally located yet surrounded by nature, Woodley Park is a predominantly residential area. However, it boasts two prestigious hotels, including the Omni Shoreham, sitting on 12 acres of stunning grounds and featuring comfortable meeting spaces and vintage ballrooms, perfect for corporate events and weddings.
- Cleveland Park – Situated just north of Woodley Park, Cleveland Park is a quieter, tree-lined area with old houses and picture-perfect views. The neighborhood’s center of activity lies along Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues. Easily accessible via the Red Line and featuring a number of good restaurants, it’s a great choice if you're looking for a more peaceful location for your event.
- Columbia Heights – This upper northwest neighborhood is home to the Hispanic community, whose contributions to the area’s cultural life can be seen in places such as the GALA Hispanic Theatre or the Mexican Cultural Institute. There are plenty of multicultural restaurants and buzzing bars, mostly centered around 14th and 11th Streets.
Want to dig even deeper? Have a look at these frequently asked questions:
Is it possible to host a budget-friendly event in Washington, D.C.?
While it may not be the easiest task, with a strategic approach and a little bit of planning, it is possible! First of all, settle your budget and once you’re clear on the numbers, use Tagvenue’s filters to browse D.C. venues that fall within your price range (we’ve got event spaces that charge less than $50 per person!). A per person fee typically stands for an all-inclusive package that covers space rental, catering and other options – ask the venue manager about the details. It helps if you can be flexible on the dates as it can get you a better deal, plus some venues offer cheaper rates on weekdays. Another tip is to keep the decorations and activities to a minimum. For example, instead of hiring a DJ, find a space that lets you play your own music from a Bluetooth speaker. Also, rather than buying decorations that you’ll only use once, focus on renting a venue with the perfect ambiance.
What types of venues are the most popular in Washington, D.C.?
You’ll find a little bit of everything in the capital city. Neighborhoods such as Shaw, Penn Quarter or Logan Circle boast some of the best restaurants, which range from high-end dining spots to casual eateries. If you’re in a party mood, there is no shortage of bars, clubs and live music venues. Places such as Dupont Circle, U Street or H Street NE are bursting with nightlife options! If you’re in town to do business, you’ll find swanky hotels, fancy office buildings and conference centers in the Downtown area, near Union Station or in the West End. And if you’re a creative trying to make it in Washington, DC, you’ll quickly find your spot among the city’s numerous cultural institutions, galleries and creative spaces.
Do all venues in Washington, D.C. offer catering?
Venues such as restaurants, cafes or hotels will typically offer their own catering services. Many will have dedicated event menus or customizable options that you can tailor to your needs. Other spaces, such as wedding venues or conference centers, may depend on external catering. They may, however, give you a list of preferred vendors that they cooperate with.
What should I consider when booking an event venue in Washington, D.C.?
Here are five key things that will help you narrow your search and find the perfect Washington venue:
- Budget – Decide on a price range, then use an online venue search platform such as Tagvenue to browse spaces that fit your criteria.
- Date – Pick the date of your event. Pro tip: start planning well in advance and try to be flexible. This increases your chances of securing your dream event space.
- Number of guests – Estimate how many people you’re expecting to show up, then look for spaces with just the right capacity.
- Precise location – Consider where in Washington you’d like to host your event. Pay extra attention to the location’s accessibility (traffic, parking spaces, public transport hubs, etc.).
- Catering – Decide whether you want a venue with on-site catering or one that allows external catering. Think about preferred cuisines and consider your guests’ dietary restrictions.
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