Now that we’re past Memorial Day Weekend and the temperatures are rising, the unofficial start of summer has begun! Whether you live in Washington, DC or are planning on visiting sometime this summer, I’ve put together a list of the events I’m attending and watching out for this season. (You can also check out last year’s Summer Guide here!)
The DC Passport Program – this is a great excuse to try out new restaurants and explore the city! There are passports in cities all across the US, so even if you’re not in DC you might be able to get a passport for your city! The 2 for 1 drink specials cover both coffee shops and bars/restaurants at 62 locations and you can use it from May 24 through September 30.
Jazz in the Garden – free jazz concerts every Friday in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden started on May 17 and run through August 23. It’s the perfect excuse to get your friends together for an outdoor picnic while checking out different musicians.
Pride Festivities – Capital Pride has so many events from May 31-June 11, you definitely don’t want to miss out on the fun and show your support! They have everything from spoken word poetry slams, to parties, to interfaith services, to the fabulous Pride parade!
Celebrate Fourth of July (the Day Before) – DC can get really crowded around the Fourth of July (for obvious reasons), but if you want to get in on the festivities without all the tourists, go to the preview of A Capitol Fourth on July 3rd. The dress rehearsal for the official show still takes place on the Capitol’s grounds with the celebrities, but minus the hordes of people and ridiculously long lines. Then, on the official Fourth of July, head to a rooftop bar for drinks and a great view of the city/fireworks!
Museums – my favorite way to beat the summertime heat while still exploring all DC has to offer! Here are my personal favorites:
- Renwick – my absolute favorite gallery currently has an incredible exhibit that includes an outside component that will get you walking around the city. (Free)
- Hillwood – a hidden gem and tiny reprieve in the woodsy area of DC. This mansion always has beautiful rotating exhibits and mansion and garden tours daily. (Donations encouraged)
- National Building Museum – such a fun place to go and I always learn so much! Especially great if you’re traveling with kids, and every summer they do large interactive installations in the main hall! This year’s special exhibit is Lawn.
- Hirshhorn– For the contemporary art nerd, this museum always hosts art that challenges and engages viewers in a fun way. (Free)
- NMWA – get your cameras ready for the stunning pink marble entranceway. This museum always makes me so proud of all the creative, brilliant women in the art world.
- The Kreeger – a reprieve from the city, this museum gives the history of an influential family in DC and their stunning collection of modern art. (Donations encouraged)
- Arboretum – walking through the beautiful national arboretum is the perfect way to spend a sunny summer day. (Free)
- Philips Collection – the US’s first museum of modern art is now free for anyone under the age of 30 all summer long! Be sure to check out their special events on the evening of the first Thursday of every month.
- Blagden Alley Street Art Museum – the perfect excuse to go outdoors for some great mural pics! (Free)
Water Lantern Festival – on August 3rd at the National Harbor, there will be a ceremony where you can let lanterns float across the harbor, lighting up the horizon just as the sun sets.
Concerts at Wolf Trap – this amphitheater hosts everything from Operas to folk singers. Grab a picnic basket and a group of friends to enjoy performances in the open air!
Wharf – the recently renovated Wharf in Southeast DC has so many great events this summer! From Saturday night dancing to outdoor workouts to concerts to water taxi rides to amazing new restaurants, you can find something there for everyone. Check out the events calendar and make your plans!
Restaurant Week – this highly anticipated foodie event comes around in mid August. All participating locations have $35 three course dinners and $22 brunches and lunches, no matter how expensive the menu normally is. This is the best time to try out new places or indulge in a luxurious meal without any guilt!! (Currently they have the winter version up but will switch to summer in the coming months.)
Pop Up Bar – the masterminds behind the Game of Thrones bar, Pub Dread, and Cherry Blossom Pub always have amazing decor and drinks at each of their themed bars! The latest one, The Lemon Grove, runs from May 30 – June 16, but they may have another one later in the summer as well!
Festivals and Events:
- DC Jazz Festival – June 7-16
- MLB All Star Week – July 5-9
- American Film Institute’s International Film Festival Documentaries – June 19-23
- Summerfest DC – June 8
- By the People – June 15-23
- Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle – June 22-23-
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival – June 29-30
- Lotus and Water Lily Festival – July, dates to be announced
- Jane Austen Film Festival – films every Wednesday night in July
- Capital Fringe Festival – July 9-28
- Brew at the Zoo – July 18
- DC Beer Week – September 8-15
- 17th Street Festival – August 24
- Truckeroo – One Friday each month, April-September
- Adams Morgan Day – September 8
Farragut Fridays – free wifi and an outdoor work space, local food from restaurants and food trucks, and activities throughout the day culminating in the movie at sunset. This is the perfect way to make sure you don’t miss finishing up work while getting into vacation mode for the weekend.
Even more movie screenings around the city all summer long from classics to recent blockbusters!
Monument and memorials night stroll – when in doubt, stroll it out! This is the perfect opportunity to hang out with friends, tour with family, or go on a romantic date at night! I’ve never done this, but seeing the monuments lit up is supposedly absolutely beautiful and on my summer bucket list.
And for those of you who are visiting from out of town, here is a compilation of travel deals and discounts!
I hope both DC residents and visitors alike get the chance to check out some of these fun happenings over the summer! I’ll be keeping my eye out for more things to do and will continue to update this list as I discover more.