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Nation's Capital to Lift Most Restrictions May 21, Fully Reopen June 11

Full capacity limits allowed at restaurants, museums, attractions, hotels, shops, meetings and conventions and special events May 21

(Washington, DC) – Beginning May 21, most capacity limits and restrictions will be eased across DC, allowing restaurants, museums, attractions, hotels, shops, meetings and conventions, and special events to operate at full capacity. Bars and nightclubs (operating at 50 percent capacity May 21-June 11) and large sports and entertainment venues will resume 100 percent capacity June 11. Mask mandates remain in place across the city and on federal property and public transit. Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is looking forward to a fully reopened summer for visitors and locals.


“We’re thrilled about the reopening news from Mayor Bowser. After 14+ months of our community navigating the pandemic together, a full opening date allows us to communicate with more confidence to business and leisure travelers as we work to influence summer travel and beyond,” says Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of DDC. “The positive momentum is great for local businesses, our hospitality community, potential visitors and Washingtonians, who have worked hard to keep our community safe.”


DDC is preparing to launch a summer recovery advertising campaign in partnership with Events DC. The campaign will invite potential visitors to find their summer inspiration by visiting the newly redesigned where they’ll find hotel deals, the hottest new Michelin-starred restaurants and dining trends, a guide to DC in the summer, 100 free things to do as well as COVID-19 visitor protocols and more.


Summer in Washington, DC

  • By May 21, seven Smithsonian museums plus the National Zoo will reopen with added health and safety measures. Visitors are required to reserve free timed-entry passes for all locations: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (open), National Museum of African American History and Culture (opens May 14), National Portrait Gallery (opens May 14), Smithsonian American Art Museum (opens May 14) and its Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American History (opens May 21), National Museum of the American Indian (opens May 21), and the National Zoo (opens May 21).

  • Enjoy timed and ticketed indoor attractions already open including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts, the National Building Museum, International Spy Museum, Museum of the Bible, The Kreeger Museum, and Artechouse, an innovative art destination dedicated to showcasing technology-driven installations.

  • Attractions coming back online include Ford’s Theater (May 12), National Gallery of Art (May 14), Rotunda of the National Archives Building (May 15), and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (May 17).

  • Plan for holiday weekends over Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day with hotel deals.

  • Ring in the 46th year of Pride in the Nation’s Capital with in-person and virtual events in June 2021 including Paint the Town Colorful with Pride, a Taste of Pride Brunch (in-person with reservations) and the Capital Pridemobile Parade - a traveling caravan of decorated cars by area organizations and businesses.

  • Explore DC’s green spaces including Rock Creek Park, the National Arboretum, the National Mall and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and waterfronts including The Wharf, Capital Riverfront, Georgetown, Buzzard Point and Anacostia. The Trust for Public Land ranked DC the number two city in the U.S. for its 2020 ParkScore. 

  • Washington, DC is a city on two rivers, the Anacostia and the Potomac. Waterfront neighborhoods offer new hotels, theaters, running and biking trails, restaurants, retail and splash parks.


What’s New

  • After an update in April 2021, the Washington, DC Michelin Guide is brimming with starred restaurants, affordable hot spots and essential eating insights, highlighting nearly 130 restaurants in and around the District.

  • DC has welcomed four new hotels in 2021, with two more coming online this summer. As of March 2021, the city has 15 new hotels and 3,605 additional rooms in the pipeline.

  • In downtown DC, Planet Word, the world’s first voice-activated museum focused on bringing words to life, reopened in April after a brief debut in fall of 2020. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is also open following a $211 million modernization and renovation, featuring rooftop event space, an auditorium and conference center, a children’s area complete with a one-story slide and more.

  • Three new memorials are now open on and along the National Mall. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial pays tribute to the 34th president of the U.S., the National Native American Veterans Memorial honors American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian veterans and the National World War I Memorial commemorates 100 years since the war ended and the 4.7 million servicemen and women who served.

  • On April 20, Reagan National Airport unveiled a new 14-gate concourse, with additional security checkpoints becoming operational later this summer, as a part of a $1 billon renovation.


Sports Capital

DC is a major sport hub, hosting a team in every major American sport. DC’s venues began welcoming fans in person this spring. Capacity limits remain until June 11, 2021.

  • The 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals take the ice at Capital One Arena for the first round of the playoffs on May 11.

  • The 2019 WNBA champion Washington Mystics start their season on May 15 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

  • The 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals recently welcomed fans back for opening day at Nationals Park.

  • Four-time MLS Cup champions, D.C. United also recently welcomed fans at their home opener at the state-of-the-art Audi Field in Buzzard Point.


Looking ahead


All in-person activities listed above are open at the time of distribution and are implementing various safeguards. Guests should review COVID-19 protocols prior to attendance. Check for the latest updates.


About Destination DC: Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities.



May 11, 2021

Media Contacts

Danielle Davis
Vice President of Communications
Susan O'Keefe
Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, Trade
Nicole Nussbaum
Global Media Manager
Goldy Fogel
Global Media Manager
Kyle Deckelbaum
Domestic Media Relations Manager
Claire Deegan
Communications Coordinator
(202) 789-7059