When it comes to cities with a thriving LGBTQ+ scene, Washington DC probably isn’t the first one you think of – but it should be. Rich in both culture and history, the capital of the US boasts a lot more than the political landscape it’s famous for. From inclusive nightlife spaces to a vibrant array of activities for all aspects of the LGBTQ+ community, Washington DC is a surprising, but incredibly worthy, host of WorldPride 2025. In fact, the city boasts the highest LGBTQ+ population percentage in the whole of the US, making it a melting pot of diversity. The upcoming WorldPride also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Pride in Washington DC and will serve as an opportunity to inspire positive change throughout the world as thousands come together to protest and celebrate.
Is there an LGBTQ+ part of the city?
Yes! Historically, the Dupont Circle neighbourhood has been seen as the hub of LGBTQ+ life in Washington DC. The area is home to an array of queer events, including the Capital Pride Parade and the 17th Street High Heel Race. That’s not to mention the vast array of LGBTQ+ nightlife in the area, including the beloved JR’s. If you’re planning to visit Washington DC for WorldPride, staying in Dupont Circle is a must. The Lyle hotel, located on New Hampshire Ave, puts you right in the heart of it all – as well as being walking distance to all things Pride and a number of popular tourist spots like the White House and the Capitol. From the incredible staff who are happy to help at all hours of the day to the bright and spacious rooms, Lyle offers a premium experience at a reasonable price and is the ideal place to stay during a trip to DC.
What kind of things can I do in DC?
There will be no shortage of things to do in DC during a visit for WorldPride, especially given that the city’s annual Capital Pride is already one of the world’s most famous LGBTQ+ celebrations. On 7 June 2025, a Parade spanning nearly 20 city blocks will take place along the grand setting of Constitution Avenue. It will feature ornate floats and celebrity marshals as tens of thousands of people march past some of the world’s most significant monuments with a focus on equality and human rights. The WorldPride Festival will run from 7 to 8 June, with multiple stages of entertainment and dance parties made up of both local and national headliners. Then there will be the Closing Concert and Ceremony on 8 June, which is set to be nothing short of iconic. Although exact details are yet to be announced, special performances and speeches will define what is sure to be an unforgettable climax of WorldPride.
Any visit to DC has to be accompanied by at least a day of sightseeing. Iconic landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and White House are all walking distance from each other, but you should still allocate plenty of time to see them all as it can take longer than you may expect. Avoid peak times such as weekends and evenings if you can as this will mean you have a better chance at avoiding crowds, being able to enjoy each landmark and ultimately get the Instagram moment you’ll be craving. DC’s vast array of museums, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, offer something for everyone and are also worth going to.
If you’re looking to see the city in a less traditional way, then Fiat Luxe Tours offer a haunted tour with the option of an LGBTQ+ guide. You’ll hear tales from DC’s past and walk routes that will let you visit places you may never have thought to go otherwise. Don’t let the haunted part put you off either, the stories are creepier than they are terrifying.
When it comes to shopping, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has all of the quintessentially American stores you’ll want to visit, as well as a variety of places to eat. As its name suggests, it’s walking distance from the Pentagon, so you can tick two things off your list at once.
Where are the best gay bars and clubs?
LGBTQ+ nightlife is thriving in Washington DC, with the city offering something for all aspects of the community. Earlier this year, Bunker, an underground gay bar and club with nightly entertainment, opened its doors for the first time and has quickly become the standout of the city’s scene. There’s no experience like it, with the venue’s transformative decor making Bunker truly feel like a, well, bunker. As if it couldn’t get any better, the club offers $7 (£5.44) drinks all night on Thursdays and Sundays, as well as from 8-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Dirty Goose is an all around camp experience and makes you feel like you’re in the heart of New York City without losing its DC touch. The bar staff are some of the friendliest around and are easily the highlight of the venue, making it feel like somewhere you’ve been 100 times before – even if it’s your first time. There’s nowhere better to spend a summer night than The Dirty Goose’s outside space, with it hosting a number of fun events such as Drag Race viewing parties, themed nights and more.
JR’s Bar is a local neighbourhood bar and offers a more intimate experience, having become a pillar of the city’s LGBTQ+ community. It serves some of the city’s best cocktails, puts on an array of events and is a great place to meet new people.
Nellie’s sports bar is another venue you’ll love, with its Jell-O shots a highlight of any visit. It hosts an array of nights such as drag bingos, brunches and karaoke made all the more enjoyable by great deals on drinks.
Where are the best places to eat?
Washington DC is home to a number of restaurants that GAY TIMES recommends visiting, such as:
- Farmers Fishers Bakers, a restaurant situated on the banks of the Potomac River that serves a variety of dishes sourced directly from American family farmers and suppliers
- Gatsby, an elevated comfort food experience delivered in a bougie 1920s-themed setting near the Anacostia River
- Mi Casa, an intimate and upscale Mexican restaurant in the heart of Dupont Circle
- Mi Vida, a glamorous Mexican restaurant at the District Wharf
- Piccolina da Centrolina, a contemporary Italian osteria not far from the city’s most popular sights
- VUE Rooftop, a chic lounge complete with seasonal cocktails and a view of the White House
How can I get there from the UK?
For those making the journey to Washington DC from the UK, the good news is that there are direct flights that take about eight hours. Norse Atlantic Airways recently launched a new route between Gatwick Airport and Dulles International Airport, with return fares starting from £450 ($579) including taxes and fees that you can find out more about here.
To learn more about WorldPride 2025, click here.