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With the sparkle and crack of July 4th on the horizon, there’s no better time to consider a trip to the nation’s capital. Sure, it can get swampy, but with scads of mostly free air-conditioned museums to peruse by day (Dorothy’s ruby slippers at The Smithsonian are always a treat; the Newseum is a media hound’s delight), and a revived gay nightlife that’s been getting national attention, plus legal same-sex marriages, it’s coming up hot on our list of must-visit destinations.

From now till September 6, stay in the heart of Washington’s gay district at The Dupont Hotel and save 20 percent off its best available rates ($179–$329) on all rooms, including the fifteen luxurious Level Nine studios and suites (think hotel-within-a-hotel: upgraded amenities, dedicated concierge, chef and cityscape views). A recent $52 million facelift keeps it chic throughout the cosmopolitan property with a mod, masculine design, Frette linens, floor-heated marble bathrooms, and hotel-wide free Wi-Fi. And as the only property directly on leafy, historic Dupont Circle, you’re mere steps from the good gay action. Book now at www.doylecollection.com/dupont using code “SUMMER”. Offer ends midnight May 19. Blackout dates July 10-15 apply.

Although not eligible to be combined with the summer promotion, as an IGLTA member, The Dupont Hotel gives it good to the gays with two same-sex wedding packages available through December 31. Click here for details.

For summer events with a more queer bent, check out any of the highlights below.

PRIDE: Matchmaking events, lesbian jell-o wrestling, comedy shows, religious services, a wedding expo, rowing regatta and outdoor festival – plus the requisite parade – fill the calendar for the 35th Capital Pride June 4–13. Don’t miss the caveman-themed closing party, Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Pride on June 12.

SUMMER GAMES: Drag it up with locals August 15 at Saturgays in the Park, a two-year-old crazy gay Olympics slash social throwdown.

THEATER: The Source Festival (June 12–July 3) and the Capital Fringe Festival (July 8–25) highlight the newest and most cutting-edge dramatic talents with over 500 audacious and inventive performances between them. Naturally, both draw a pretty queer crowd.

NIGHTLIFE:  Known more for buttoned-up than boogie-down, the bar/club scene in D.C. has undergone an overhaul and gay and lesbian events are the hottest bets in town. Monthly, Mixtape draws an alterna-gay crowd with an eclectic electro, indie, rock, alt-pop and disco jams. Raw slips down a sleazier slope with old-school 80s, new wave and throbbing electro (plus equally throbbing go-gos and VHS video arcade) in a fog-filled fantasia. Maison fronts a francophone feel with French house music and a low-key, fashiony vibe on the rooftop of the Donovan House hotel. Theme queens will dig the rotating offerings, like a Stevie Nicks night, at Pink Sock at the Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights. July 4th weekend, find yourself saying, “What the…” at WTF?, a performance art, DJs, video mash-up that takes over Town Danceboutique, D.C.’s newest and slickest venue.

HIRSHHORN AFTER HOURS: DJs, art performances and a savvy, trendy crowd party under the stars at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian Institute right on the National Mall. A drag queen host promises to make it the museum’s gayest event yet! Buy tickets early; the quarterly event (2,000-person capacity) usually sells out.

For general trip-planning info, check out our Washington, D.C. Travel Guide.

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