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Summer in DC

May 31, 2024

Summer in Washington D.C. is a season of vibrant energy, cultural festivals, and outdoor adventures. The nation's capital comes alive with a multitude of activities perfect for tourists and locals alike. Whether you're a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a foodie, there's something for everyone. Here are some of the most popular things to do in Washington D.C. during the summer.


1. Explore the National Mall

The National Mall is the heart of Washington D.C., and summer is the ideal time to explore its historic landmarks and monuments. Visit the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol. Don’t miss the chance to walk through the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Mall is also perfect for a leisurely picnic or a game of frisbee on its expansive lawns.

2. Smithsonian Museums

Escape the summer heat by stepping into the air-conditioned halls of the Smithsonian Museums. With 19 museums and galleries, you can explore everything from the wonders of space at the National Air and Space Museum to masterpieces of art at the National Gallery of Art. Best of all, admission to these museums is free!

3. Summer Festivals

Washington D.C. hosts a variety of summer festivals that celebrate the city’s diverse culture and arts. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held on the National Mall, features crafts, music, and foods from around the world. For jazz lovers, the DC Jazz Festival in June showcases performances across the city. Don’t forget the Capital Fringe Festival, offering an array of independent theater, dance, and music performances.

4. Enjoy Outdoor Concerts

Summer in D.C. is synonymous with outdoor concerts. The U.S. Navy Band and the U.S. Marine Band offer free performances throughout the season. Head to the National Mall for the “A Capitol Fourth” concert on Independence Day, which concludes with a spectacular fireworks display. The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage also hosts free outdoor concerts, featuring a diverse range of genres.

5. Kayaking on the Potomac River

For those who love water sports, kayaking on the Potomac River is a must. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy stunning views of the Georgetown waterfront, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the iconic Key Bridge. It’s a refreshing way to experience the city from a different perspective.

6. Explore the National Zoo

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is a family favorite, home to over 2,700 animals. Summer is an excellent time to visit, as many animals are more active. Highlights include the Giant Panda Habitat and the Elephant Trails. The zoo also hosts special summer events like Brew at the Zoo, where visitors can sample craft beers while enjoying the exhibits.

7. Bike the City

Washington D.C. is a bike-friendly city with numerous trails and bike lanes. Rent a bike and explore the city at your own pace. The Capital Crescent Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail offer scenic routes along the Potomac River. For a historical ride, follow the trail to Arlington National Cemetery and pay your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

8. Dining Al Fresco

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy D.C.’s vibrant food scene. Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, providing a lovely atmosphere to savor a meal. Head to the waterfront areas like The Wharf and Georgetown for dining with a view. Don’t miss out on local summer favorites like Maryland blue crabs and refreshing cocktails.

9. Visit Eastern Market

Eastern Market, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, is a bustling marketplace perfect for a summer visit. Browse through stalls offering fresh produce, artisanal foods, and unique crafts. On weekends, the outdoor flea market expands with even more vendors. It’s a fantastic spot to soak up the local culture and pick up some souvenirs.

10. Outdoor Movie Nights

Enjoy classic and contemporary films under the stars with D.C.’s outdoor movie nights. Venues like the National Mall, NoMa, and the Capitol Riverfront host free movie screenings throughout the summer. Bring a blanket, some snacks, and enjoy a movie with the stunning backdrop of D.C.’s landmarks.


Washington D.C. offers a rich tapestry of activities during the summer, combining history, culture, and outdoor fun. Whether you’re strolling through the National Mall, enjoying a festival, or dining by the waterfront, the city promises an unforgettable summer experience. So, pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and get ready to explore all that the nation’s capital has to offer!


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