When the heat finally hits the city, it’s all about cool, stress-free entertainment. Savor all things summer with lush D.C. scenery, watery adventures and some of the best barbecue this city’s ever seen. Kick-off the season at the best places to play on the first day of summer in sun-soaked Washington D.C.
The National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave. Northeast
Washington, DC 20002
Price: free admission/$4 tram tours for adults/$3 seniors/$2 children age 4 to 16/free children younger than 4
Don’t assume that because spring has sprung all of the flowers and trees have blossomed. Visit the National Arboretum and see southern magnolias, lilies, Chinese dogwoods, Satsuki azaleas and other summertime plants in full bloom on the first day of summer. The National Arboretum also offers a wide variety of educational programs and events, self-guided tours, gardener clinics and festivals. Hop on its open-air tram and tour the beautiful and historical 446-acre property, or simply explore the property on foot. Pack a picnic and enjoy it at the National Grove of State Trees.
7500 Ben Lomond Park Dr.
Manassas, VA 20109
Price: $14.95 48 inches and above/$10.95 shorter than 48 inches/free children 2 and younger/$9 seniors age 60 and older/$9 after 3 p.m.
Nestled in a quiet Manassas neighborhood, Splashdown Waterpark is the perfect place to spend the first day of summer. The park features a 770-foot lazy river, 25-meter lap pool and waterslides for both kids and adults to enjoy. Enjoy tasty summertime foods and drinks, like hot dogs, soft-serve ice cream, pizza, hamburgers and slush puppies at five food vendors. SplashDown Waterpark also features an interactive children’s play area, a pavilion and Big Kahuna Beach with more than 250 tons of sand.
Related: Water Parks in the DC Area
Safeway Barbecue Battle
Washington, DC 20001
Price: $12 adult advance tickets/$5 children age 6 to 12/free children younger than 5/$15 adults/$5 children age 6 to 12/free children younger than 5
Hours: June 23 – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; June 24 – 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
If it’s summertime in the district, then it’s time for the 20th annual Safeway Barbecue Battle. Enjoy free samples of delicious summertime staples including hot dogs, ribs and pulled pork. Visit Restaurant Row and enjoy the cuisines of popular area restaurants including Famous Dave’s and Beady’s Smoke Shack. The Safeway Barbecue Battle also features three stages with 30 bands set to perform, cooking demonstrations, a barbecue bazaar marketplace, and fun and games for the kids. Don’t miss the main event, in which barbecue restaurants and teams from across the country compete for the title of National Pork Barbecue Champion.
1500 South Capitol St. Southeast
Washington, DC 20003
Click here for ticket information
Cheer on the Nats and enjoy a summertime evening at Nationals Park. The first day of summer is also the first in a three-day series against the New York Yankees. Stop by the stadium early in the morning and take a tour of the stadium. At the game, take a fan photo as soon as you step through the gates, grab a legendary hot dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl and check out the gift shop. Featured events at the stadium include Pups in the Park, Kids Run the Bases and Beer Stein.
1645 Trap Rd.
Vienna, VA 22182
Click here for ticket information
If you haven’t experienced a show at Wolf Trap, then you’re missing out. Wolf Trap, consists of a 6,800-seats and an indoor/outdoor theater, and the best seats are right on the lawn. Grab a blanket, a picnic basket full of your favorite summertime snacks and soak up the sunshine – or the bask in the moonlight – as you catch a performance by local, national and internationally known singers, bands and performing artists. Upcoming shows include Riverdance, Norah Jones and RAIN, a tribute to the Beatles.
Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.