You have seen it on Scandal, Veep, The West Wing, and even House of Cards: we love to have a few drinks here in the nation’s capital (this guy may have had more than a few before metroing home).  Despite record rains in the last few weeks, DC’s outdoor patios have been crowded ever since it got warm enough to open them. Such an affinity for outdoor drinking has led to many definitive guides on D.C.’s best outdoor drinking spots. Recently, while on one of D.C.’s many outdoor patios, the Ninja team was hacking away on upcoming projects during a rain free evening, feeling extra good.

The team’s collective buzz was quickly sapped once we noticed the wallet-crushing surge rates it was about to encounter taking Uber and Lyft home (yes yes… we know DC based split is FAR less crushing but also less available during peak times). In order to avoid the brutal surge rates,, we decided on the horrendous and cheaper option: metro. This bind helped us realize that while metro has its own litany of reliability issues, metro is still widely used and many people’s only option when enjoying a nice evening on the patio. As such, we decided to determine which D.C. outdoor drinking spots were easily walk-able from a metro lines/metro station. Enjoy!

First, we looked at various metro lines holistically to see how they matched up against each other. We assumed that the red line should seemingly have more options than the yellow/green lines given the fact that it’s twice the length of the yellow and runs through established communities with bar and patio scenes. We felt pretty confident about this given the fact that 60% of the red line ‘s stations are located in the District.

That said, size does not always matter. As you’ll see below, placement is also critical. Even though the blue line is roughly 7 miles longer than the green line and half of the blue line is within the District, the green line has 28 more D.C. outdoor drinking options than the blue line. We chose to omit the silver line due to the fact that it shares a line with the orange/blue for the entire length it runs in the District. The following visual helps you appreciate the density and placement of the outdoor drinking options across each metro line.

Outdoor Drinking Mapped by Metroline

This interactive map illuminates all of D.C.’s outdoor drinking options that are walk-able within a few minutes of one of D.C.’s metro stops. If you hover your mouse over each of the cocktail drink icons, you can see information about each place such as the bar name, neighborhood location, address, metro station, and what type of Yelp category classification. It’s interesting to see that the distribution of outdoor drinking places is hardly equal. For example, the red line’s options are heavily concentrated in the Dupont Circle-Chinatown segment of the line. However, after Union Station, the next red line option is not until Brookland.

The bar chart to the left of the map allows you to appreciate the differences in options between each metro line. The Green, Red, and Yellow lines, clearly dominate and each line has more than double the number of outdoor venues than the orange line and blue line. Of course, given WMATA’s shared line system, certain bars will appear on more than one line. Even so, it’s still important to appreciate the line by line totals given the upcoming considerable track work and isolated temporary line closures.

Top 5 Neighborhoods with Outdoor Drinking Options near a Metro Station


For those who are more oriented with DC Neighborhoods, this chart represents D.C.’s top 5 neighborhoods that contain outdoor drinking options within minutes walking distance of a metro station. The make up of the top 5 is hardly equal in distribution. The combined total of Downtown, Capitol Hill, and Dupont Circle (22 total among all 3) is still less than the total figures for Cardozo Shaw (26) and Golden Triangle (23). Certain metro stations also dominate each of the neighborhoods. For example, in Cardozo/Shaw, U St.’s metro station accounts for 23 of the 26 total options while the remaining 3 are by Shaw/Howard.

Golden Triangle is the neighborhood with the largest number of total metro stations with four different metro stations that each contain at least two outdoor drinking options. Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle were the only neighborhoods where one metro station accounted for all the options.The final visual lets you view all of D.C.’s metro stations that contain one or more outdoor drinking options that are within stumbling distance. The category to the far right represents the Yelp category assigned to the establishment. Check out the Ninja Notes below to see what data sets we used for this article.



Ninja Notes

The following table outlines some basic metro statistics to allow you to appreciate the metro lines in the proper context.

Line Length (miles) # of DC Metro Stations Total Metro Stations (DC/MD/VA)
Red 31.9 16 27
Blue 30.3 13 27
Orange 26.4 14 26
Green 23.04 13 21
Yellow 15.07 9 17

In order to determine which bars had outdoor seating available we leveraged to pull data from Yelp! We geocoded the Yelp! results and leveraged PostGIS to determine which venues were within 4000 feet (approx 3/4 mile) from the metro station entrance.


Patio Drinks and Metro: How to enjoy outdoor libations while avoiding surge rates
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