Best DC Bar Crawls

Some people love to find a bar, settle in, and chill out with friends while they enjoy a couple of adult beverages. If that’s your thing, be sure and check out our Best Rooftop Bars post for some great options. But if you are looking for a little more variety in your evening out, you might want to attend one of DC’s many bar or pub crawls.

With so many areas of the city featuring a variety of pubs in close proximity, like Dupont and U Street, DC has taken the bar crawl to a whole new level. In fact, in 2016 the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration proposed new regulations to more adequately control the logistics for bar crawls in the District after a series of overly well-attended crawls resulted in massive property damage and complaints by both residents and business owners in the area.

One of the interesting elements that came out of that process was a restriction on the date of the crawl. Bar crawls in DC are generally not permitted on the day of the holiday they are celebrating, with Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and July 4 specifically restricted. Therefore, bar crawls generally take place a few days or even weeks before the holiday they are meant to celebrate.

These restrictions have not put a damper on the enthusiasm of DC residents for mobile imbibing, and many popular bar crawls still draw thousands. Here are some of the best bar crawls currently scheduled in the District.

Halloween Bar Crawls–October 28, 2017

  • DC Halloween Crawl (Dupont) website
  • Nightmare on M Street (Dupont) website
  • Old School Hip Hop Bar Crawl (Dupont) website
  • Night of the Crawling Dead (Gallery Place) website

Some of DC’s most popular bar crawls occur on Halloween, and it was a Halloween bar crawl in 2015 that created the need for regulatory action. The three crawls currently scheduled for Dupont are expected to bring in a combined 7000 revelers, so if crowds are your thing, you’ll love this action. Nightmare on M Street is the grandaddy of area bar crawls, and the one that is expected to draw the biggest crowds. Great drink specials and the opportunity to see some truly over-the-top costumes and antics make these must-do local events.

Turkey Trot–November 18, 2017 (Dupont) website

Looking to blow off some steam before heading over the river and through the woods to spend Thanksgiving with the family? The annual Turkey Trot bar crawl provides the opportunity for great drink specials and cover charge-free entry into some of the best bars in DC.

DC Santa Crawl–December 9, 2017 (Dupont)

Information is scarce currently, but the District has approved a DC Santa Crawl in early December. Get your tacky Christmas sweater ready and prepare for a little holiday cheer. Watch Project DC Event’s website for more information as the time gets closer.

Additional bar crawls have not yet been approved and the District’s 2018 calendar has not yet been published. Crawls are generally held in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Day, July 4 (though, again, not on July 4) and other holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Valentine’s Day. There are also themed crawls, like the 90s Crawl, Country Crawl, and Hip-Hop Crawls.

If you’re planning on attending a pub crawl, keep in mind a few safety tips courtesy of crawl veterans.

  • Plan your crawl ahead of time. When you buy your ticket or wristband, you generally get a list of the participating bars. Plan out your route and which bars you especially want to visit, so you don’t get stuck staying in one place all night.
  • Eat! Don’t go in on an empty stomach and make sure to eat and drink water throughout the evening to keep from overdoing.
  • Don’t overmix. With so many different drink specials, you’ll be tempted to try something different in each pub. Don’t.
  • Have an exit plan. Whether it’s Uber, Metro, or a DD, know how you’re going to get home at the end of the evening and, as far as possible, make arrangements ahead of time.

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