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100+ Free (and Almost Free) Ways to Explore Washington, DC’s Gay Side

With all the woes we’ve weathered this winter, an early spring getaway could be just the thing to brighten your spirits. Washington, DC’s location only two and a half hours south of Philadelphia by car – or 90 minutes by train – makes it an ideal destination. Springtime brings the capital city to life with cherry blossoms blooming and people exploring the National Mall. With DC’s mix of monuments, scenic spots, independent shops, and restaurant specials, you can turn a day trip into a weekend without emptying your wallet. Check out the list below of free (and almost free) activities for you and your partner.


The Duplex Diner, at the corner of 18th and U streets, serves simple comfort food with pleasing prices and specials. Stretch your long weekend until Monday and enjoy the “M is for Mondays” special. Margaritas, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, mussels, and other “M” menu items are half-price. If you swing by on Wine-O Wednesday, you’ll find half-price glasses of wine. The restaurant strives to create a space where everyone can relax in a casual environment. The diner often plays host to LGBT events, such as drag shows. If you prefer dining alfresco, Rock Creek Park is a popular place for picnicking. Nicknamed P Street Beach, the park is 30 miles long and stretches across 2,100 DC acres, plus 4,400 acres in Montgomery County, Maryland. The park has 30 picnic areas. Choose a spot, roll out a blanket, and enjoy a romantic, budget-friendly meal.


Adams Morgan is a neighborhood full of eclectic, independent shops. You won’t find big-box stores or overpriced brands here. Crooked Beat Records makes vinyl cool again with its specialization in punk, indie, reggae, rock, and soul. The staff knows its way around the store’s selection of new and used records. Meeps on 18th Street offers a huge variety of vintage clothing dating back as far as the 1960s. The store has been a community mainstay for 20-plus years. Idle Time Books has three floors of shelves filled with used, rare, and out-of-print books. The store has been a paradise for literary scavengers for more than 30 years.


Head over to the 14th Street arts corridor and peruse artwork by established and emerging artists at Gallery plan b. The space is a hip yet comfortable spot to discover new pieces. Across the street is Studio Theatre, an intimate place to see a show. The theater offers a variety of discounts and promotions. It’s known for contemporary works as well as creative takes on modern classics.


Catch a game at Nellie’s, DC’s first gay sports bar. Wednesday is trivia night, so get there early. Or drop into JR’s Bar, another gay sports bar, for $3 beer and liquor specials, which encourage crowd participation on show-tunes nights. Entry is free. In Logan Circle, Number Nine has two-for-one happy hour specials every day of the week. The Fireplace, located near Dupont Circle, also has daily happy hour specials and one of the city’s coziest bars.


Pick and choose your favorite Washington, DC, date ideas and plan your budget-friendly weekend away by clicking here.