Best Summer Vacation Activities In Washington DC

July 12, 2013 8:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Summertime fun in DC means music, festivals, cultural events and, of course, soaking up as much sun as possible. Throughout the summer, DC venues and organizations try to meet residents’ expectations to be outdoors by providing creative, fun, family-friendly outdoor programs. Whether it’s about art, music or culture, there is an outdoor program to satisfy your interests.

First Friday Dupont
Dupont Circle
1 Dupont Circle N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-4141

Every first Friday in Dupont Circle, the fine art galleries stay open late, often serving light refreshments and attracting a large audience of art enthusiasts to view new works, sometimes meet the artists and always have a good time. In the summer, one might hop from gallery to gallery for a brief moment of air-conditioned renewal, but the main attraction is most often the excitement on the sidewalk – bumping into acquaintances, chatting with colleagues and, of course, soaking up each remaining minute of sunlight as the sun slowly sets into the evening. For lovers of art and the outdoors, First Friday Dupont is the place to be.

Jazz in the Garden
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
9th St. & Constitution Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20565
(202) 289-3360

Every Friday evening beginning in late May, the National Gallery of Art puts on its primary summertime program, Jazz in the Garden.  Featuring talented jazz musicians from all over the country, even some international visiting musicians who evoke a variety of jazz-infused styles and other musical influences, Jazz in the Garden is a multicultural, high-quality outdoor music experience. With plenty of beverages and food selections to please the thousands of picnicking visitors and with areas of shade to shield from the sometimes aggressive DC summer sun, Jazz in the Garden is fun-filled summer vacation activity.

The National Zoo
3001 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 633-2614

A favorite of families nationwide, the National Zoo is the perfect summer vacation activity in DC. With innovative educational programs and stations for families, children and adults, the National Zoo provides fun for all ages. A way to spend the day outdoors while also learning and being entertained, the National Zoo is a local summertime delight.

Related: Best Outdoor Concerts To Look Forward to This Summer Near DC

NoMa Summer Screen
Loree Grand Field
2nd & L Streets N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 289-0111

NoMa Summer Screen is the perfect free, relaxing outdoor activity to do with friends and family. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. beginning in late May, the Loree Grand Field becomes an outdoor movie arena for picnickers wanting to lounge around on a blanket, sample the varieties of food at the food trucks, commune with friends and see a great movie. The summer 2013 movie series brings to life the “Outlaw Heroes” theme with such films as “Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade,” “Star Trek: The Future Begins” and “The Hunger Games.”

U.S. Navy Memorial
701 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 737-2300

For DC residents who love live music but want an option other than jazz, the U.S. Navy Band performances at the U.S. Navy Memorial are the right choice. Offering free live concerts to the DC area on Tuesdays in the summer, beginning after Memorial Day, the U.S. Navy Band’s style varies from rock-n-roll to patriotic. Viewers are welcome to sit on the steps surrounding the Memorial, bring a picnic, relax and enjoy the musical show.

Related: Best Summer Festivals and Music Tours

Kayleigh Bryant is a D.C. native, traveler, foodie, artist and frequent museum visitor. Her lifelong fascination with art has moved her to explore the themes, techniques and media artists have employed to express their ideas. Kayleigh has earned a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Her work can be found on

Listen Live