How to have a low-key New Year’s Eve in Washington, DC

December 19, 2017 / Washington, DC

Has 2017 been just a little too eventful in the capital? Maybe this New Year’s, it’s time to step back from the action and enjoy a little laid-back celebration of the turning of the year. Instead of partying hard, why not enjoy an intimate dinner, a stroll in the Botanic Gardens, or a cool concert? DC has plenty of alternatives to the New Year’s Eve frenzy.

1. Dinner at the Iron Gate

Looking to end the year in style?   The elegant surroundings at the Iron Gate are matched by the refined menus. Chef Anthony Chittum and his crew offer contemporary Mediterranean, mezze-style dishes, making full use of the rotisserie and wood-fired hearth. Gourmets might like to opt for the sumptuous tasting menu, to get the full flavor of the kitchen’s impressive scope. It’s not for the budget-conscious, but it will make the last night of 2017 memorable.

Where: 1734 N St NW, Washington, DC

2. Spoon at the 9:30 Club

The indie-rock veterans headline the New Year’s Eve show at the 9:30, scene of many a climactic close-of-year show. The Austin 4-piece have been around for a quarter of a century, making their angular and off-kilter brand of music, and they are still garnering plenty of critical acclaim. Support comes from White Reaper, and don’t be surprised if Spoon delivers a few festive treats. Tickets include a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

When: 9pm

Where: 815 V St. NW, Washington, DC

3. US Botanic Garden

The perfect New Year’s Eve chill-out destination, the garden is a winter wonderland option for a bracing stroll to dispel any holiday hangovers. The crisp air, evergreens, and exhibits make it ideal for a family outing over the holiday period.  For a little December warmth, check out the Mediterranean Room. The National Garden and Conservatory are open from 10am to- 5pm daily, including all holidays, so it’s a great place to see off 2017 or welcome 2018.

When: 10am– 5pm

Where: 100 Maryland Ave, SW, Washington, DC

4. McClellan’s Retreat

Bars can be mayhem on New Year’s Eve, but McClellan’s the Retreat in Dupont Circle lives up to its name with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. It’s a suitable spot to secure a vantage point away from the action, and to let the old year drift into the new. Bar food is unpretentious and delicious, the ideal alternative to a busy restaurant. They mix a mean cocktail, too, and it’s not out of the question that there could be complimentary toasts at midnight.

When: 4pm – 2am

Where: 2031 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, DC

5. Jazz at the Kennedy Center

Sophistication is the keyword at this cultured venue. The New Year’s Eve jazz program at the Kennedy Center offers Grammy-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, playing selections from her album Memphis, featuring classic Southern soul and blues numbers from the ’60s. Tickets to the show also include admission to the very stylish Grand Foyer Party, with dance bands, a countdown to midnight, a balloon drop, and more.

Where: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St, NW Washington, DC

6. Board games and Uber Eats

Thinking about sitting out New Year’s Eve this year? Why not curl up around the home hearth with a few board games, some like-minded company, and a list of DC restaurants available at your fingertips with Uber Eats? Book your delivery well in advance as the capital may have plenty of locals with exactly the same plan, and you don’t want to end up making do with dry crackers and olives like last year.

When: anytime

Where: home

The billboards and events listings may be full of tempting invitations to party until dawn, but New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to mean starting January with hazy memories and a sense of regret. Welcome 2018 with a relaxed toast, some sublime music, and maybe a walk in the park.