You are here

20+ Ways to Celebrate Labor Day Weekend in Washington, DC

Family boating on the Potomac River near the Kennedy Center - The best activities and things to do in Washington, DC

Celebrate summer’s last big weekend with free events, outdoor activities and cultural experiences in the nation's capital.

We’re taking the work out of making your Labor Day weekend plans. Close out your summer in Washington, DC with the best activities, events and things to do. Here are 20 ways to make the trip a memorable one, from waterfront activities and interactive museum exhibits for the whole family to a free concert on the National Mall and so much more.

Your ultimate guide to summer in Washington, DC

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. 1 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. Music lovers can pack a picnic and enjoy a serene evening, and for those who like to arrive early: gates open at 3 p.m., with an open rehearsal held at 3:30 p.m.

2 Climb aboard a Duck

DC Ducks water tours - Duck tour boat on the Potomac River in Washington, DC

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.

3 Enjoy the banks of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers

@kikyolulu - Boats docked at Washington Harbour in Georgetown - Waterfronts in Washington, DC

Take advantage of the waning days of summer and head to one of the many waterfronts in and around the District. Make a splash with plenty of family-friendly outdoor water activities to choose from, including kayak and paddleboard rentals. If you're looking to sit back and feel the wind in your hair, we've got you covered too. DC is teeming with amazing boating experiences perfect for Labor Day weekend.

4 Try some of DC's freshest food

Fresh produce at the CityCenterDC FreshFarm farmers' market - Local farmers' markets in Washington, DC

Sample the array of tastes from vendors near and far at our favorite farmers' markets in the District. Share a wood-fired pizza, grab a to-go sandwich, chow down on crab cakes or snag a bag of cookies or pastries before sightseeing on the National Mall.

5 Spend the day at historic Mount Vernon

@kerrentonsnow - George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia - Historic sites and landmarks near Washington, DC

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.

6 Go for a Segway ride on the National Mall

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

City Segway Tours and Bike and Roll can take you on scenic routes that pass many important DC landmarks along the National Mall and throughout the city. Discover even more tour and sightseeing options while you're visiting DC.

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

Dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern - Michelin-Starred Place to Eat in Washington, DC

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.

8 Wander through America's first modern art museum

Guests in The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle - Cool museums off the National Mall in Washington, DC

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 What better end of summer celebration than cocktails on a rooftop?

POV Rooftop and Lounge at the W Hotel - Rooftop Bar With Great Views of Washington, DC Skyline

Here are a few bars where you’re sure to catch a breeze: the sophisticated Top of the Gate at The Watergate Hotel, the stunning and sleek La Vie at The Wharf, 801 Restaurant & Bar in Shaw and the completely redesigned POV Rooftop Lounge and Terrace, where guests can survey the wonder of DC’s monuments. Check out even more rooftop bars and restaurants if those don't fully satisfy.

10 Learn about fascinating spycraft at a new museum

Visitors in the Decision Room at the new International Spy Museum - Museums and attractions in Washington, DC

Visit the brand new International Spy Museum to discover the ins and outs of the espionage trade, from gadgets to strategies to costumes. Kids will love the Undercover Mission, which allows you to hone your spy skills while exploring this interactive museum.

11 For the craft beer connoisseur

Bluejacket Brewery on the Capitol Riverfront - Brewery and Restaurant in Washington, DC

Take the craft beer lover in your life on a suds-focused tour with City Brew Tours DC. The five-hour tour takes guests to three Washington, DC breweries for tastings of up to 16 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.

12 Paddle by the Jefferson Memorial

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.

13 Play in the sand with a giant

@ejg_photo - The Awakening - National Harbor, Maryland

The Awakening at National Harbor 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.

14 Savor the power of the written word at the Library of Congress National Book Festival

National Book Festival - Washington, DC

On Aug. 31, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center will host 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 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chef José Andrés and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The festival is free to attend!

15 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.

16 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.

17 Don't miss your last chance to see DC's hottest, family-friendly installation

'Lawn' summer museum exhibit in DC - The National Building Museum's Summer Block Party exhibit

The National Building Museum’s annual Summer Block Party installation, now in its sixth year, is always one of the city’s biggest highlights of the season. This year's installation is ‘LAWN,’ an incredible superstructure that transports visitors to a sun-strewn summer afternoon. Set on an incline, LAWN offers communal areas that will make you automatically shift into summertime lounge mode with hammocks hanging from a 100-foot-tall ceiling grid and a gorgeous fountain that rises from the floor well below. These are just a couple of the many reasons why you'll want to catch this only-in-DC installation before it closes for good on Sept. 2.

18 Have a merry olde tyme at the Maryland Renaissance Festival

Performance stage at Maryland Renaissance Festival - Things to do near Washington, DC

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 Catch the Nationals all weekend long

Washington Nationals fans cheering at baseball game - The best things to do this spring and summer in Washington, DC

Round out summer with a holiday weekend at the ballpark as the Nationals take on the division rival Miami Marlins and New York Mets. The Nats are in pursuit of their fifth postseason appearance in eight years, as stars Max Scherzer, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon lead the way. There are so many reasons to check out the Nats, but in case you needed a few more the games will also feature fireworks (Friday), a camo tank giveaway (Saturday), Heroes Day (Sunday) and Seniors Stroll the Bases (Monday). And don't forget to get your exclusive discount and save big on tickets. Just go to the single game tickets page, select the game you wish to attend and enter the promotional code VISITDC to experience one of baseball’s most exciting teams in action.

20 Check out the Page-to-Stage New Play Festival at the Kennedy Center

Page-to-Stage Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - Labor Day weekend festival in Washington, DC

When the Kennedy Center hosts the Page-to-Stage New Play Festival over Labor Day weekend, you can catch scores of free performances from more than 60 DC-area theater companies at stages throughout the venue. You will see a wide range of plays being workshopped and rehearsed, including musicals and dramas. Seating begins 30 minutes before each play, but it’s a good idea to arrive early.

21 Go back in time at the National Museum of Natural History's Hall of Fossils

@districtofchic - Mother with child at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's fossil hall - Free things to do in Washington, DC

Cap off your summer at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's 31,000-square-foot Deep Time exhibit, a can’t-miss free experience in DC. Prepare to be amazed, overwhelmed, engaged, dazzled – you name it. Deep Time is one of the biggest exhibitions to come to DC in years and should be at the top of your to-do list.

22 Check out the final weekend of 'Infinite Space'

@mica4life - Man at ARTECHOUSE exhibit - Interactive museum in Washington, DC

Don't miss your last chance to see the first major retrospective of Refik Anadol, an award-winning, Los Angeles-based visual artist, at ARTECHOUSE. Infinite Space, which closes on Sept. 2, explores memories and dreams through data sets, photos of Mars, sea surface activity and digital paintings, allowing us to explore imagined realities that are just beyond our mind’s reach. The exhibit will also offer Anadol’s famous “Infinity Room” that has been seen by more than a million people around the world.

23 Get prehistoric at the National Zoo

Erth;s Dinosar Zoo Live Show at the Smithsonian National Zoo - Things to do for free in Washington, DC

Labor Day marks your last chance to enjoy the Smithsonian National Zoo's Dino Summer before it goes extinct. Take your own safari to see the zoo's jaw-dropping DinoRoars installation, which features animatronic dinosaurs including a baby stegosaurus and a fully grown tyrannosaurus rex. There's also Erth’s Dinosar Zoo Live Show, a live, ticketed show where kids and adults alike will be dazzled by the larger-than-life dinosaurs on stage.

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 in the fall or winter.

The Best Things to Do in Washington, DC