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57+ Things to Do in Washington, DC This Summer

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As the summer sun begins to shine its brightest in Washington, DC, the city comes alive with endless fun and adventure. From exploring historical monuments and museums to enjoying outdoor activities and scenic neighborhoods, there are so many things to do in Washington DC in the summer.

With so many free things to do and a rich cultural scene that never takes a break, DC is the perfect place to create fun memories this summer. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of over 50 must-visit attractions and experiences!

So get ready to grab your sunglasses for an incredible summer in Washington, DC!

Don’t forget to also check out these 53+ Things to Do in Washington, DC This Fall!

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Visit Iconic Monuments and Memorials

National Mall

The National Mall is the heart of Washington, DC, stretching from the Capitol to the Potomac River. It’s the perfect place to start exploring the city’s iconic monuments and memorials.

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial pays tribute to the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln. Marvel at the impressive statue and reflect on the history of our nation. Every time I visit DC, I always make it a point to come here!

PRO TIP: Come during the day, then come back at night for a completely different experience!

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is a must-see attraction. This solemn ground honors the sacrifices of the United States military, and is the final resting place for thousands of our nation’s heroes.

Washington Monument

Standing tall at over 555 feet, the Washington Monument is an iconic landmark honoring the first U.S. president, George Washington. Make sure to visit during the day or night for an unforgettable view.

Capitol Building

The United States Capitol in Washington, DC

The iconic Capitol Building is home to the U.S. Congress. Witness where history is made while admiring the stunning architecture.

U.S. Capitol

Photo Credit: www.visitthecapitol.gov

The U.S. Capitol is both a symbol of American democracy and an architectural masterpiece. Don’t miss the chance to explore this historic building.

Capitol Visitor Center

Photo Credit: www.aoc.gov

Complete your visit to the Capitol with a stop at the Capitol Visitor Center. Learn about the history of the U.S. Congress and the Capitol building itself through interactive displays and guided tours.

Get Active with These Outdoor Activities

Hike, Bike, and Roam Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park is a great place to escape the city hustle. With over 32 miles of trails, you can hike, bike, or horseback ride. And don’t forget to explore the Nature Center and Planetarium for some educational fun!

Tidal Basin Paddleboats

Visiting the Tidal Basin in summer? Rent a paddleboat and enjoy the cherry blossoms while getting some exercise. It’s a unique way to see iconic monuments like the Jefferson Memorial up close.

Try SUP at Key Bridge Boathouse

Try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or kayaking at Key Bridge Boathouse. With its prime location on the Potomac River, it’s an exciting way to explore Georgetown and the Arlington waterfront.

Escape to Nature at Roosevelt Island

Photo Credit: www.nps.gov

Located on the Potomac River, this tranquil island offers hiking trails, bird watching, and a larger-than-life statue of Theodore Roosevelt himself.

Pick-Your-Own Farms

Photo Credit: www.historicgreenbrierfarms.com

Head out to the Chesapeake region and indulge in pick-your-own farm experiences. From juicy strawberries to ripe peaches, it’s a fun way to enjoy local produce and reconnect with nature.

Watch Blockbusters Under the Stars at Outdoor Movies

Photo Credit: washington.org

Spend a warm summer night at one of DC’s outdoor movie screenings across the city. With a variety of genres and beautiful locations, it’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy your favorite flicks under the stars.

Celebrate Summer in DC with Fun Events and Festivals

DC JazzFest

Catch the annual DC JazzFest, showcasing a diverse line-up of incredible jazz musicians. This citywide event offers:

  • Concerts at various venues
  • Outdoor performances
  • Local and international artists
  • Educational programs
  • Exciting jam sessions

Labor Day Weekend

Photo Credit: Trolley Tours

End summer in DC with fun and excitement during Labor Day Weekend. Highlights include:

  • National Symphony Orchestra concert
  • Free outdoor movie screenings
  • Popular tourist attractions
  • Vibrant food and drink scene
  • Neighborhood festivities and events

Engage in Cultural Attractions

Smithsonian Museums

Photo Credit: Trolley Tours

Washington, DC is home to a wealth of Smithsonian Museums, most of which are free to the public.

During your summer trip, don’t miss the chance to visit popular ones like:

  • National Air and Space Museum: Discover the history of aviation and space exploration.
  • National Museum of Natural History: Experience the wonders of the natural world, from dinosaurs to gems.
  • National Museum of American History: Learn about America’s past, from its founding to popular culture.

International Spy Museum

Photo Credit: washington.org

For a dose of intrigue, visit the International Spy Museum in DC. This thrilling museum is filled with espionage history, gadgets, and exhibits that both kids and adults will love.

Kennedy Center

Photo Credit: Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is another must-visit attraction. Enjoy free performances at the beautiful Millennium Stage, or catch a show in one of their prestigious theaters.

Ford’s Theatre

Photo Credit: fords.org

Step back in time at Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The historic site holds a museum, the preserved theatre, and Petersen House, where Lincoln passed away.

Hirshhorn Museum

Art enthusiasts should stop by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. This Smithsonian institution focuses on contemporary and modern art, making it perfect for soaking up the latest in artistic trends during your summer stay.

Stroll Through Picturesque Spots and Landscapes

Gardens and Public Parks

Photo Credit: www.nps.gov

Don’t miss out on Washington, DC’s beautiful gardens and public parks during summer! Rock Creek Park is a must-visit, offering lush greenery and miles of trails for biking, hiking, and picnicking. The National Zoo, located within the park, is free to enter and a great place to spend the day with the family.

Tidal Basin is another top choice, boasting the iconic cherry blossoms in spring and beautiful landscaping all year round.

Georgetown Waterfront

Photo Credit: www.nps.gov

Head over to the Georgetown Waterfront, perfect for a leisurely stroll or sunset watching. Enjoy the views of the Potomac River, snap some Insta-worthy pictures of the historic architecture, and treat yourself to a meal at one of the riverfront restaurants.


The Wharf is a vibrant waterfront destination with stunning views and ample activity options. Head over for live music, outdoor dining, and a variety of boat tours. The bustling atmosphere combined with scenic panoramas makes this a summer hotspot.

National Harbor

Last but not least, explore the National Harbor, a waterfront jewel perfect for leisurely strolls, shopping, dining, and summer events. Surrounded by historic sites and natural beauty, it’s an ideal spot to unwind at the end of a long day exploring the nation’s capital.

Grab A Bite at Washington DC’s Best Food and Drink Spots

Eastern Market

In the heart of Capitol Hill, Eastern Market offers fresh produce, delicious food vendors, and handcrafted arts. On weekends, the outdoor flea market draws a lively crowd.

Union Market

A trendy spot for foodies, Union Market features a variety of artisanal vendors showcasing the city’s diverse culinary scene. Discover unique food options, perfect for a delicious lunch break.

Ice Cream Spots

When warm weather hits, it’s time for a cool treat! DC has an array of ice cream shops to satisfy those sweet cravings. Some popular spots include Ice Cream Jubilee and Dolcezza Gelato.

Rooftop Bars

Nothing beats a refreshing cocktail with stunning city views! Washington DC has amazing rooftop bars like the POV at W Hotel and The Graham Rooftop.

Beer Gardens

Summertime is perfect for outdoor gatherings with friends. DC’s beer gardens offer delightful open spaces like Dacha Beer Garden and Wunder Garten to unwind with your favorite brew.

Georgetown Waterfront

For a chic dining experience, visit the Georgetown Waterfront. This area hosts gourmet restaurants, bustling cafes, and scenic al fresco dining options, all overlooking the Potomac River.

Explore the Charms of DC’s Unique Neighborhoods

U Street

Photo Credit: washington.org

U Street is the vibrant, diverse heart of Washington, DC.

  • Live music at legendary venues: The 9:30 Club, Howard Theatre, and U Street Music Hall
  • Nightlife that goes on for days at rooftop bars and dance clubs
  • Delicious food from a variety of cuisines: Ethiopian, soul food, and much more


Ah, Georgetown, one of the most charming neighborhoods in Washington, DC! This delightful area has everything: scenic waterfront views, cobblestone streets, and historic homes.

  • Stroll along the C&O Canal
  • Shop and dine on M Street and Wisconsin Avenue
  • Tour the historic homes and gardens

DMV Area

The DMV (District, Maryland, and Virginia) area offers a unique blend of experiences.

  • Hike around iconic Mount Vernon
  • Venture across the river for a taste of Old Town Alexandria
  • Discover charming waterfront spots like Annapolis or National Harbor

Other Free Things to Do

White House

Visiting the White House is a must when in Washington, DC. While tours are free, they require advance reservations. Don’t forget to stroll around the nearby President’s Park and take some memorable photos.

National Zoo

The National Zoo is a fantastic place for families and animal lovers. It’s part of the Smithsonian Institution, so admission is free. You’ll see pandas, elephants, and various other species. Arrive early to beat the crowds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do when it’s hot in DC?

When it’s hot in DC, a great way to stay cool is by visiting some of the city’s indoor attractions like the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of African American History, or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. For outdoor fun, head to the Nationals Park for a baseball game in the evening when it’s cooler, or take a cruise on the Potomac River.

Is a day trip to DC worth it?

Absolutely! Even if you only have one day in Washington DC, there are many “things to do in DC summer” that can fit into your schedule. You might explore the National Mall, visit a few of the Smithsonian Museums, or take an Old Town Trolley Tour for a guided tour of the city’s most popular places.

What is Washington DC like in the summer?

Summer in Washington DC can be hot and humid, but it’s also a lively time of year with various special events like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Independence Day celebrations. Whether it’s catching a Washington Nationals baseball game, enjoying the city’s rooftop bars, or visiting the many free events, there are many fun things to do in DC summer.

How hot does it get in DC in the summer?

Summer temperatures in DC can range from the mid-80s to the high-90s (Fahrenheit). The heat can feel more intense due to the high humidity levels in the DC area.

What is the hottest month in Washington DC?

July is typically the hottest month in Washington DC with average highs in the 90s.

Is DC humid in the summer?

Yes, Washington DC can be quite humid in the summer. The city is known for its muggy and hot summer weather.

Is July or August hotter in Washington DC?

Generally, July is hotter than August in Washington DC, but both months can see high temperatures and humidity.

Is Washington DC too hot in July?

While July in Washington DC can be hot, it’s still a great time to visit. Many of the city’s attractions have air conditioning, and there are plenty of places to cool down, like the Botanical Gardens or by taking a cruise on the Potomac River.

What to do if you only have one day in Washington DC?

If you have one day in Washington DC, a great itinerary might include a visit to the National Mall, the United States Capitol, and the National Museum of the American Indian. If there’s time, take a stroll down 14th Street for some local flavors like Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of DC’s local favorites.

How many days do you need to travel to Washington DC?

To fully enjoy all the “things to do in DC summer” and visit the city’s main attractions, you’ll ideally want to spend 3 to 5 days in Washington DC.

Is Washington DC walkable for tourists?

Yes, Washington DC is very walkable for tourists. Many of the city’s main attractions, including the National Mall, the White House, and various museums are within walking distance of each other.

Is 2 days in Washington DC enough?

While you can get a taste of Washington DC in 2 days, you might feel rushed. To thoroughly explore the city and take in all the historical sites, museums, and cultural experiences, a few more days would be ideal.

What month is best to visit Washington DC?

The best months to visit Washington DC for pleasant weather and fewer crowds are typically April and May or September and October. However, for lots of special events and a lively atmosphere, summer can be a fantastic time to visit despite the heat.

Where can I cool down in DC?

When the summer heat in DC becomes too much, cool down by visiting any of the numerous museums with air conditioning, taking a dip in a public pool, enjoying a cold drink at a rooftop bar, or taking a leisurely cruise on the Potomac River.

How to survive DC Summers?

To survive DC summers, stay hydrated, wear lightweight clothing and sunscreen, seek out shade or air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day, and take advantage of the city’s many indoor attractions.

Why is it good to go to Washington DC?

It’s great to visit Washington DC because of its rich history, free museums, diverse food scene, and the variety of things to do. Whether you’re a history buff, a sports fan, or a foodie, DC has something for everyone.

What to wear in DC summer?

In the summer, wear light, breathable fabrics to stay cool in the heat. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect from the sun. Comfortable walking shoes are also a must as DC is a walkable city with lots of things to explore.

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Are there any other activities I need to include in this Washington DC Summer Travel Guide? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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