From outdoor events to rooftop views, we’ve put together a dreamy DC bucket list for your next adventure.
In the spirit of welcoming all back to DC, we’ve gathered up some of the most exciting reasons to visit the nation’s capital this summer, culminating in a lively Labor Day send-off. If you’re interested in catching a baseball game, savoring a Michelin-starred meal or exploring colorful street murals throughout the city, it’s all possible. Right now is the perfect time to plan your next visit to DC with these memory-making, only-in-DC trip ideas.
Enjoy a movie outdoors
Summertime and movies go hand-in-hand. Yes, the biggest blockbusters are in theaters, but step your movie-going experience out to make your next movie more memorable. DC’s outdoor movie screenings are filled with beautiful scenes, local vibes and are often free to attend.
Catch the national pastime in America’s capital city
The Washington Nationals are back in action for the 2022 season. Cheer on Juan Soto and the whole crew from the best seats in the house at Nationals Park, which also offers amazing food and drink options. You can purchase tickets to a Nats game for up to 20% off select games when you use the code "VISITDC". This incredible deal lasts through the rest of the season.
Visit Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo
Many of DC's most beloved museums are free to enjoy and make for great summertime attractions: the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian's National Zoo should all be on your to-do list.
Check out The Phillips Collection, America's first museum of modern art
The Phillips Collection is considered America’s first museum of modern art. The ticketed attraction offers new perspectives on the works of modern artists, from Renoir to Rothko, as well as rotating exhibits that highlight masters from all over the world.
Get a new perspective from a rooftop bar
Experience Black Lives Matter Plaza
Located along a two-block area of 16th Street NW in Downtown DC, the famous mural features the words “Black Lives Matter” in 50-foot-tall letters, in yellow and all caps, as well as the flag of the District. The area is open to visitors at any time of the day, allowing for reflection on the words emblazoned on the street. Many visitors take photographs of the large yellow letters that stretch down one of the nation's most iconic streets.
Eat at a Michelin-starred or Bib Gourmand restaurant
For roving gastronomes and travelers seeking out experiences centered on food, it’s time to reserve a table in the nation’s capital. The city is synonymous with dining excellence, as evidenced by its list of Michelin-starred restaurants. Michelin also puts together a list of Bib Gourmand selections, which are exceptional eateries that offer two courses and wine or dessert for around $40. That’s just some food for thought.
Introduce yourself to DC’s pop-up restaurant scene
Check out how creative, made-to-order masterpieces have become the new can’t-miss dining experience. Since the pandemic began last year, chefs reimagined their kitchens for all kinds of interesting concepts. Next time you’re looking to grab a bite, check out DC’s tasty, tantalizing pop-up options spanning everything from dumplings to tacos to breakfast sandwiches.
Kick back at a beer garden
DC’s booming food and drink scene has propelled forth a buzzworthy beer community. Expect an ambiance that rivals the selection of craft brews at the many beer gardens in and around Washington, DC. Each one puts its own spin on the Bavarian beer-drinking tradition, offering up a variety of suds, snacks, games and convivial settings for downing a cold one alfresco.
Witness top-flight tennis action at Citi Open, July 30 – Aug. 7
Take in scenery at the city’s gorgeous parks and gardens
Pierre L’Enfant, DC’s first urban planner, designed “The Federal City” to be beautified by public parks and gardens, and so it is today. In fact, The Trust for Public Land gave DC the #1 ParkScore in America. You’ll find scenic landscaping around the National Mall, a bonsai museum at the U.S. National Arboretum, hiking trails in Rock Creek Park and meticulously manicured gardens open to the public throughout DC.
Savor delicious deals during Summer Restaurant Week - Aug. 15-21
Summer in the District would not be complete without Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, running this summer from Aug. 15 through 21. Throughout the promotion, dozens of restaurants across the DC area offer three-course, prix-fixe meals for brunch, lunch and dinner, making it one of the best ways to get out into the neighborhoods of DC.
Get out on DC’s waterways
The nation’s capital offers two rivers, the Potomac and Anacostia, which double as recreational playgrounds – perfect for kids and adults. Whether you’re looking to get on the water on a boat, kayak or paddleboard or find the perfect riverside vibe for food and drinks, there’s so much to experience along DC’s waterfronts.
Spend Labor Day weekend in DC
It’s been a year. If you want to go big, we get it. Make the most of summer’s last big weekend with free events, outdoor activities and cultural experiences in the nation's capital. Get your share of on-the-water revelry in Georgetown or at The Wharf, check out cool museums, experience all two miles of the National Mall and dine outdoors before it’s too late.
Discover monumental murals all over the District
DC’s color palette is not confined to museums or its bounty of natural beauty. The city’s neighborhood walls are covered with vibrant and unique murals, celebrating everything from hometown heroes to Founding Fathers and even fruit! Aniekan Udofia, one of the most prominent mural artists in the city, explains how he perceives the artform and how it serves as “the pulse of the city.
Groove to DCJazzFest, Aug. 31-Sept. 4
The largest music festival in the nation’s capital, the DCJazzFest honors one of America’s greatest artforms with an annual summer showcase. Its signature event, DC JazzFest at The Wharf, attracts headliners and up-and-coming talents. Across the city, you can groove to 20-plus other shows, many of which are free to attend, making this an ideal way to jazz up your summer.