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10 Ways to Spend Labor Day Weekend in Washington, DC

Celebrate the last days of summer with football, music and more in the nation's capital.


1. Say so long to summer with DC’s free Labor Day Capitol Concert at the U.S. Capitol. The annual concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra takes place on the Sunday before Labor Day. Music lovers can pack a picnic and enjoy a serene Sunday evening on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Gates open at 3 p.m., with a dress rehearsal at 3:30 p.m. leading up to the main concert at 8 p.m.

2. Check out any of the five Labor Day weekend Midsummer Night’s Dream performances for free, as part of Shakespeare Theatre Company's annual Free For All, Sept. 1-13. How to get tickets: enter an online lottery, follow social media or wait in line when they begin handing out tickets two hours before show time. 

3. Groove to the music at the annual DC Blues Festival. Staged at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, the festival is more than two decades old and features well-known artists, workshops  and even an instrument "petting zoo." All performances and activities are free of charge.

4. Spend the waning summer days in a swimming pool. Many of DC’s hotels offer outdoor pools, such as the swanky Donovan House and The Rooftop at The Embassy Row or the family-friendly Holiday Inn Central.

5. Kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard along the Potomac during the long weekend. Both Thompson Boat Center and Key Bridge Boathouse offer rentals, while Washington Sailing Marina will let you take a sailboat out for the day – or even give you a sailing lesson.

6. Sway to the lilting sounds of the National Gallery of Art Jazz in the Sculpture Garden series. Every summer Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., the gallery hosts this popular outdoor concert. Take advantage by packing a picnic or sipping and snacking at the outdoor café.

7. Hike, bike and horseback ride in Rock Creek Park. While DC’s 2,000-acre public park is accessible year ‘round, summer is a great time to take advantage of an array of warm-weather activities. Want to beat the heat? Take a break in the park’s planetarium.

8. Hit a home run by taking the family to a Washington Nationals baseball game. Enjoy the great amenities at the state-of-the-art Nationals Park.

9. Eat your way through the weekend with brunch, the unofficial meal of summertime. Longer days mean more time for lingering over your pancakes (and mimosas). Many local restaurants offer special Monday brunches in honor of the final long weekend of the summer.

10. Release your inner bookworm at the Library of Congress National Book Festival, taking place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Authors, poets and illustrators will be on hand for book signings and photos, while kids can marvel at the storybook characters on hand, as well as a number of fun, educational activities.

This granite fountain is situated between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, and atop the Senate garage.
This granite fountain is situated between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, and atop the Senate garage.
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