Summertime travelers, you’re in for a treat. DC hosts more festivals and events than any other city in the country, and luckily for you the warm season is chock-full of ‘em. Better yet, many are free or nearly free!
Get ready to groove to the sounds of one of the more that 125 artists performing at the DC Jazz Festival (June 5-16), which occurs across dozens of venues. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June 26-30 and July 3-7) features a full spectrum of cultural activities, from traditional cuisine and dances to musical performances to readings and more.
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (August 28). The historic occasion will coincide with the 2013 Civil Rights Conference and will feature a number of events. Relive Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech by ringing in the anniversary at the Lincoln Memorial and by visiting the National Mall’s newest memorial: the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial.
For more ideas, check out our page on Summer Festivals in DC.
Summer holidays provide entertainment that is completely unique to DC. Sure, you’ve probably experienced Fourth of July fireworks, but doing so with the booming ones that light up the National Mall is an incredible sight to behold. Add in the military band performance, which takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Captiol and is played throughout the National Mall, and it’s unlike any other July 4th experience.
And before the fireworks, wave your flag at the Independence Day Parade. With celebrities, waltzing men on stilts, marching bands and thousands of red-, white- and blue-clad visitors, you’re in for a Fourth to remember. Read our 10 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day to learn even more.
Another patriotic holiday commemorated in Washington, DC is Memorial Day, which is organized by the American Veterans Center. Patriotic Americans line Constitution Avenue to pay their respects and thank the nation’s veterans and fallen heroes.
And although Labor Day traditionally signifies the end of summer, the fun doesn't stop in DC. The DC Blues Festival keeps the weekend in tune while the AT&T Nation's Football Classic takes the field for what's sure to be an exciting game between Howard University and Morehouse College.
For more information, check out our Summer Holidays in DC page.
The National Portrait Gallery will be exhibiting “Mr. TIME: Portraits by Boris Chaliapin” starting in May. More than 300 of the portrait artist’s magazine covers, featuring the likes of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrity mugs, will be on display.
Across town at the Corcoran Museum of Art starting on July 3, explore human archaeology through Ellen Harvey’s post-apocalyptic, futuristic take of the nation’s capital: “The Alien’s Guide to the Ruins of Washington, DC.”
Starting on June 28, the National Gallery of Art will debut “In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall.” Marshall’s paintings interweave African-American history into contemporary scenes.
Already a celebrated dining destination, DC lets loose in the summertime with a barrage of season-loving dining options. Farm-to-table eateries are becoming ever more popular in the District for their insistence on sustainable eating.
Looking to raze the roof? Some of DC’s finest restaurants go outdoors in summertime. One of the biggest scenes in town is the Lauriol Plaza, a Tex-Mex haven with heaps of spicy salsa and ice-cold margaritas to keep things lively. Dupont Circle’s Hank’s Oyster Bar, just off 17th Street NW, is a seafood-lover’s paradise.
Summer concerts are an old pastime, and DC hosts its fair share.
Every night at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage is a different live performance. There are also plenty of opportunities to hear live tunes outdoors, too. Each Friday in summer, a new band takes the stage at Tingey Plaza in the up-and-coming Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The U.S. Navy Memorial hosts an evening concert every Tuesday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. On Sundays, between May and June, Eastern Market features a group from a broad swath of acts, like blues, bluegrass and swing bands.
The National Mall moonlights as a massive outdoor movie theater at the popular Screen on the Green. Held on Mondays between July and August, the experience is a must-do. Savvy moviegoers pack picnics and blankets, and arrive extra early to secure a good spot.
Running through August 30, Jazz in the Garden stimulates all the senses. The scene is set at the National Gallery of Art’s amazing sculpture garden, and at the backdrop each week is a different kind of jazz band, from Latin-style guitar to 1920s and ‘30s big band. And what about to taste? Sangria, gelato and a barbecue grill will have your palate dancing to the music.
The memorable Maine Avenue Fish Market, located along DC’s Southwest Waterfront, is one of the most historic national fish markets—in fact, it has continuously operated since 1805, making it the oldest operating fish market in the country! Bring your camera and your appetite because there’s a lot to see and taste, like the ultra-fresh oysters and crab cakes.
With a variety of top-notch hotels located near major sites and exciting neighborhoods, it’s never been easier to plan a trip to DC. But to get even more out of your experience, consider booking one of these well-appointed hotel packages. Coming with perks like breakfast in bed or Champagne tastings, these special offers will enhance any lodging experience.