Music Venues in DC – And Beyond
Looking for new live music venues in DC? Tired of big shows at Capital One and schlepping out to Jiffy Lube Live? The Washington, DC area is regularly recognized as one of the top live music cities in the country. We’ve polled our team for their favorite live music venues in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. So without further ado, here are our team’s top picks for live music venues in DC — and beyond!
IN THE DISTRICT
901 Wharf Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
Located at the popular District Wharf, this new venue is home to today’s hottest acts. With a wide-open floor space, arrive early and get as close to the stage as possible (while most shows are General Admission Standing shows, seating is available). Mac was even able to take in the first-ever show at The Anthem by the Foo Fighters in 2017. Come when the doors open, and grab a drink and a snack (insider tip: try the Old Bay Mac N Cheese) while overlooking the picturesque Potomac at the Marquee Bar. Then enjoy the show!
815 V Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
Open since 1980, 9:30 Club is a DC-area institution! It has been named the #1 nightclub by both Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines and is a favorite of Jordan’s. Its intimate setting allows guests to get up close and personal with the performers. Look for up and coming, alternative musicians to perform here.
1215 U Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
The Lincoln Theatre, built in 1922, has long been a cultural center of D.C. Washington natives Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey, as well as nationally acclaimed artists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughn performed regularly on its storied stage. Today, it is home to acclaimed national acts like Ingrid Michaelson, Cat Power, X Ambassadors, and Natasha Bedingfield. A limited menu of snacks, plus beer and wine, are available or you can go to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl next door!
1811 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
This multilevel club is a fantastic venue for indie, rock, and alternative music. Since its opening, Black Cat has been a home for both local and national talent. It is well-known for helping launch the indie rock movement of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. The Black Cat’s main stage consists of a 7,000 square-foot performance room with a large floor space with amazing sightlines.
3401 K Street NW, Washington DC, 20007
Gypsy Sally’s mission is to “provide a comfortable, affordable and friendly space where adults of all ages may enjoy sharing great food, drink, and music.” Enjoy a wide variety of local, regional and national Americana acts on its stage. As an added bonus, Gypsy Sally’s menu offerings are all made with sustainable, organic and locally-sourced ingredients.
1073 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
Sue and Marty love taking in shows at Blues Alley! Founded in 1965, Blues Alley is the oldest continuing jazz supper club in the country. Amazing artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and Eva Cassidy have performed in its intimate setting. Located in the heart of Georgetown in an 18th-century carriage house, Blues Alley will take you back in time to the jazz clubs of the early 1900s.
2475 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
This coffeehouse/music shop showcases a wide range of musical talent, from local to international acts, plus DJs, and other live performances. Songbyrd also features an espresso bar (bonus: its organic coffee is roasted in-house) and a large menu that is both veg- and gluten-free friendly. Check out Songbyrd’s vinyl selection, listening booths, and 1947 recording booth. This vintage ‘Voice O-Graph’ recording booth is in full working condition and allows you to record music, spoken word, or comedy tracks direct to 45 RPM.
3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305
This iconic music hall is an Alexandria institution! Its intimate setting has hosted some major acts including Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, k.d. Lang, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Lyle Lovett. Seating at the Birchmere is first-come, first-served so arrive early, grab a table, and enjoy its fantastic offering of beers and some comfort food before the show.
220 N. Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046
Built in 1936, The State Theatre operated as a popular movie theater until the late 1980s. In the 1990s, it became DC’s hottest new venue for live music including original acts and tribute bands, like the Legwarmers, a favorite for 80’s music lovers. Its main stage, balcony seats, and lobbies are all original. The State Theater also includes a full-service restaurant with bar fare like burgers, tacos, chicken tenders, and grilled cheese.
1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
For over 20 years, Laporta’s has offered the area’s best jazz performances — offered seven days a week during its dinner service. Regulars at LaPorta’s include acclaimed jazz singers Sharon Clark, Patrice Ferris, and Ester Haynes. Laporta’s also features Be Bop, Scat, Big Band, Classical, Fusion, Dixieland, Gospel, and Bluegrass acts. Check out its calendar here.
227 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, VA 22180
Jamyn is a huge fan of this hidden gem. Jammin Java offers live music seven nights a week, often with two shows a night on the weekends, including national, regional, and locally renowned artists. Jammin Java artists run the gamut from full-on rock bands to solo singers/songwriters. It is home to many kids’ and family-oriented performers as well. Check out the Lobby Bar for a drink and be sure to try the Union Pie, Jammin Java’s New Jersey style thin-crust pizza.
1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA 22182
Part of the National Park Service system, Wolf Trap is “the only national park dedicated to presenting the performing arts.” Its 117 acres of parkland is the perfect spot to take in a summertime show. Wolf Trap allows concert-goers to bring their own food and drinks (yes, including alcohol!) to enjoy on the lawn during shows. Grab some friends, spread out a blanket, and enjoy a musical, dance, opera, jazz, pop, or country music performance. For the complete schedule at Wolf Trap, click here.
10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044
Maryland’s version of Wolf Trap, Merriweather Post Pavilion is located within Symphony Woods, a 40-acre lot of preserved land. It is one of the nation’s most storied amphitheaters, with The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead taking its stage back in the day. Today, it’s home to a wide variety of shows including rock, country, R&B, pop, jazz, hip hop, alternative, electronic, and even classical.
Ram’s Head On Stage
33 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
Major acts like Melissa Etheridge, John Hiatt, Judy Collins, and Lucinda Williams have graced the stage of Ram’s Head On Stage in charming downtown Annapolis. While you’re there, be sure to have the Cream of Crab soup, made with lump crab, sherry, and of course, Old Bay!
8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910
For 40+ years, the Fillmore has hosted some of music’s most influential artists from a wide array of genres. Take in a show by major acts like Twentyone Pilots, Andy Grammer, and Michael Franti. The venue has stadium-style tiers on the balcony level plus a lounge area.
7416 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD 20740
This restaurant, bar, and performance venue is near the University of Maryland in downtown College Park. Its general admission offers a mix of standing room and seating. MilkBoy has a great happy hour with $3 and $4 nibbles and $4 draft beers. Check out its eclectic lineup here.
The Bottom Line
There are so many amazing live music venues in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We are fortunate to have such a vibrant music scene in our area. Whether you like cozy, intimate settings or multilevel clubs, there is a venue for you!
Did we miss your favorite live music venue in DC? Please let us know so we can check it out!