Updated July 10, 2020.
Summer is just around the corner, and here in D.C., we’re so ready for it! D.C. really comes to life in the summer time. Between Independence Day, daylight until 9:00pm and beyond, and baseball games, summertime really makes the District come to life. Check out my top 10 list of things to do in D.C. in the sweet summertime!
10. More Daylight (FREE)
Summer days in D.C. can start before 5:00am and last beyond 9:00pm! This means you have plenty of time to see all there is to see, whether you’re an early riser or a night owl. Whether it’s a morning run or a sunset walk around the monuments, you can do it with the long days of a D.C. summer.
9. The Fish Market (FREE; food for purchase)
Insider tip: there is a fresh fish market in D.C.! And it’s the oldest open-air fish market in the United States. If you have access to a grill or oven during your visit, you can definitely pick up something for supper. If not, you can choose from one of the many restaurants at the Wharf. Find out more here!
8. Kayaking and Canoeing the Potomac (Prices Vary)
This is not a river you want to be swimming in, but it is a beautiful and patriotic spot to kayak, canoe, stand-up paddle board, and more! This is a classic summer activity made better because it’s such a unique, historic place.
7. Mount Vernon by Water ($47.95, plus potential add-ons)
This one is a little outside D.C. Head down to the waterfront in Alexandria (take the metro if you don’t have a car to use) and hop on one of the ferries to Mount Vernon. Your ferry ticket includes your admission to Mount Vernon as well. Mount Vernon is beautiful all year long, but summer just has a certain special energy here. Purchase your tickets here!
6. The Zoo (FREE)
OK, so I also included this in my Spring in D.C. post, but it’s worth going back! It’s free, it’s fun, and what says summer more than a hot pink flamingo?
More here: Your Ultimate Guide to D.C.’s Smithsonian Museums
5. Find the More Obscure Monuments (FREE)
D.C. is home to many a memorial and monument, some lesser-known than others. Rent a bike or just start walking, and you’re sure to stumble up on one or several!
4. Water Features (FREE)
And speaking of monuments, summer is the time of year when you know the water features will be on! In winter, much of spring, and sometimes in fall, the water features have to be turned off if the temperatures get below a certain number. But there’s no fear of that in summer. Please be respectful and don’t wade in the water, even if other are doing so.
3. Arlington National Cemetery (FREE)
Summer is a great time to go to Arlington National Cemetery. Bring water and be prepared to walk around, but make sure to catch the changing of the guard, Arlington House, and the many monuments erected to people who died defending our country since the 1860s.
More here: Ultimate Guide to Arlington National Cemetery
2. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, Iwo Jima Memorial (FREE)
This is one of the most impressive displays I’ve ever seen. This drill team, with absolutely no audible cues, spins their rifles with fixed bayonets with absolute precision. They throw their weapons back and forth to each other knowing that any wrong move or hesitation could mean disaster. But for onlookers every Tuesday evening in the summer, these men in uniform make no wrong moves.
1. The Fourth of July (FREE)
D.C. is the #1 place to be for Independence Day in my book! There’s always a parade, and the fireworks are truly impressive. My favorite spot to watch the fireworks is actually from the Iwo Jima Memorial. You can stake out your spot early in the day, bring in a picnic, and get a view of the fireworks amid the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Castle, Capitol Dome, and Library of Congress. It’s stunning!
BONUS! Outdoor Entertainment
Summer is extra special to me, so I wanted to give you an extra fun activity! D.C. has some amazing outdoor entertainment. From military concerts at the Capitol to jazz in the Sculpture Garden to outdoor movies, there is no lack of entertainment any night of the week!
Are you heading to D.C. this summer? Let me know below! And don’t forget to check out my Washington, D.C., Page for all your planning needs!
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