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20 Ways to Celebrate Labor Day Weekend in Washington, DC

Family canoeing on Potomac River past Kennedy Center, Washington DC

Celebrate summer’s last big weekend with music, food, outdoor activities and culture in the nation's capital.

We’re taking the work out of making your Labor Day weekend plans. Come to Washington, DC  and your summer is guaranteed to end with a bang! Here are 20 ways to make the trip a memorable one.

1 Check out the National Symphony Orchestra's Labor Day Concert
Check out the National Symphony Orchestra's Labor Day Concert Bill Ingalls / NASA

The annual Labor Day Capitol Concert takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. This free music event kicks off the beginning of the Kennedy Center’s performing arts season, and features patriotic classics that highlight the sounds of the American landscape.

2 Climb aboard a Duck
Climb aboard a Duck DC Ducks

DC Duck Sightseeing Tours offers entertaining 90-minute land and sea experiences that take place in an amphibious vehicle built during World War II. With a knowledgeable guide and excerpts from famous speeches by American leaders at the time, everyone enjoys this unique history lesson.

Your ultimate guide to summer in Washington, DC

3 Try some of DC's freshest food

Dupont Circle Farmers' Market - Washington, DC

Head to Dupont Circle on Sunday between 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to sample the array of tastes from vendors at the FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Market – one of our favorite farmers' markets in the District. Share a wood-fired pizza, grab a to-go taco, chow down on a barbecue sandwich or snag a bag of cookies or pastries for sightseeing on the National Mall.

4 Take the Murals Tour
Take the Murals Tour U.S. Department of Interior Museum

This tour at the U.S. Department of Interior Building lets you see paintings that depict the history of labor in the United States. Tours are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. The tour showcases 26 photographic and painted murals by American artists like Ansel Adams, and is limited to 20 visitors. Reservations are recommended.

5 Bike or boat in scenic Georgetown

Boating and Paddleboarding at the Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown - Things to Do This Summer in Washington, DC

Head to historic Georgetown and rent a boat from Boating in DC's Thompson Boat Center or paddle along the Potomac with a kayak or standup paddleboard at the Key Bridge Boathouse. You can also rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare and take to the C&O Canal towpath.

6 Learn about the history of labor at the National Museum of American History
Learn about the history of labor at the National Museum of American History Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Located on the ground level of the National Museum of American History, the American Enterprise exhibit is an interactive display that walks you through the evolution of innovation, wealth and success in the United States as the country moved from a predominantly agricultural economy to an industrial powerhouse.

7 Go for a Segway ride on the National Mall

Segway Tour on the National Mall - Family Friendly Activities in Washington, DC

City Segway Tours, Segs in the City and Bike and Roll can take you on scenic routes that pass many important DC landmarks along the National Mall and throughout the city.

8 Wander through America's first modern art museum
Wander through America's first modern art museum The Phillips Collection

Labor Day weekend is an ideal time to take a spin through the legendary Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle. Along with touring the permanent exhibit of impressionists, modernists and contemporary artists, visitors should take a moment to contemplate the impact of color in the peaceful Rothko Room.

9 Learn about fascinating spycraft

Children at International Spy Museum - Family-Friendly Museum in Washington, DC

Tour the International Spy Museum to discover the ins and outs of the espionage trade, from gadgets to strategies to costumes. Kids will love Operation Spy, an interactive adventure that lets them test their spy skills.

10 For the craft beer connoisseur

Take the craft beer lover in your life on a DC Brew Tour. The five-hour tour takes guests to three Washington, DC breweries for tastings of 12 different beers. Try the Original DC Craft Brew Tour or the After Hours Brew Tour – or customize your own. To learn more about DC’s unique beer history and culture, check out these breweries in and around DC.

11 Indulge at DC’s award winning farm-to-table restaurants
Indulge at DC’s award winning farm-to-table restaurants

You’ve put in all that hard work. Now, it's time to enjoy an end-of-summer-bounty at one of DC's many farm-to-fork restaurants. Come with a hearty appetite to eateries like the Michelin-starred Blue Duck Tavern inside the Park Hyatt Washington or Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown.

12 What better end of summer celebration than cocktails on a rooftop?
What better end of summer celebration than cocktails on a rooftop? Kimpton Donovan Hotel

Here are a few bars where you’re sure to catch a breeze: The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, The Beacon Sky Bar at the Beacon Hotel in Dupont Circle, the DNV Rooftop Lounge at the Kimpton Donovan Hotel in Downtown. There are also scenic rooftop bars at El Centro D.F. and Masa 14, two popular Richard Sandoval restaurants on 14th Street NW. Check out even more rooftop bars and restaurants if those don't fully satisfy.

13 Snap a photo with a president

Madam Tussauds Washington, DC

Meet all 45 American presidents at Madame Tussaud’s Washington DC Wax Museum. Take a selfie with your favorite, they’re all there – from George Washington to Donald Trump. Many of the first ladies are there too, along with various stars trending in pop culture.

14 Paddle on the Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin Jefferson Memorial Paddle Boats - Washington, DC

Say goodbye to summer with a final ride on the Tidal Basin Paddle Boats. Paddle your way around the Tidal Basin for a waterfront view of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.

15 Play in the sand with a giant

National Harbor’s The Awakening is a five-piece cast iron statue consisting of a face, knee, arm, hand and foot that emerge from the sand, and kids are welcome to climb around on this unique art installation. National Harbor feels like a beach resort, where you can ride the Capital Wheel, rent a paddleboard, catch a movie under the stars and much more.

16 Spend the day at historic Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Head to Virginia to spend a day at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s former estate that also features a museum. With a panoramic view of the Potomac River, choose from a tour of the Mansion, Gardens, the Tombs or the Distillery and Gristmill. Start your visit in the Ford Orientation Center to see a film, and then plan your day with the help of the living history guides.

17 Savor the power of the written word at the Library of Congress National Book Festival
Savor the power of the written word at the Library of Congress National Book Festival Shawn Miller/National Book Festival

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosts this annual celebration of books of all kinds, from children’s stories to epic novels, curated by the Library of Congress. Authors will speak and answer questions about their work throughout the day, with the main stage featuring marquee names like Thomas L. Friedman, Condoleeza Rice and David Baldacci. The festival is free to attend!

18 Have a merry olde tyme at the Maryland Renaissance Festival
Have a merry olde tyme at the Maryland Renaissance Festival Jennifer Walsh / Maryland Renaissance Festival

This unique festival that takes place every year in Annapolis, Md. (roughly 50 minutes from downtown DC). Fill the holiday weekend by checking out Renaissance-themed artisans, performances (including dances and musicians) and food. You can also dress up in your own costume, if ye so wish. 

19 Discover the colorful and thought-provoking work of Edvard Munch

National Gallery of Art - Free Museums in Washington, DC

Responsible for one of modern art’s most famous paintings, Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter with strong ties to German Expressionism. The National Gallery of Art opens an exhibit containing 21 of his works on Sunday, Sept. 3, showcasing how Munch used color to invoke psychology and the spiritual world. Admission is free.

20 Experience HIVE at the National Building Museum before the installation closes

@nationalbuildingmuseum - HIVE Summer Block Party Installation at the National Building Museum - Museum Exhibits in Washington, DC

Labor Day will be the final day to see HIVE, the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party installation. HIVE incorporates more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, which all connect to create jaw-dropping domed chambers that can be experienced from the museum’s floor and balcony. This spectacle should not be missed, so make sure it’s on your weekend itinerary.

There you have it – plenty of memorable ways to cap off your summer this Labor Day weekend! If you already made your summer plans or want to go on another exciting vacation to Washington, DC, consider visiting during other DC events and festivals.