Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Outdoor theater is a special treat for District residents, sometimes requiring a bit of a road trip, but always providing fun and interesting performances. With locations in DC, Maryland and Virginia, the entire greater metro area is bursting with unique outdoor performance experiences. From classical music, to dance, to theater, to rock-and-roll, Washington, DC offers a variety of outdoor theaters and performances. Whether you’re looking for cultural performances or commercial rock-and-roll, DC’s outdoor theater venues will provide never-to-be-forgotten experiences. The District’s outdoor theaters are perfect for family-friendly outings, first dates and friendly gatherings of all kinds.

Carter Barron Amphitheatre
4850 Colorado Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20011
(202) 426-0486

Located in the iconic Rock Creek Park, the Carter Barron Amphitheatre opened in 1950 and has been a premiere location for outdoor theater events in the District ever since. Named for the former community activist and Vice-Chair of the Sesquicentennial Commission, Carter T. Barron, the amphitheater was Mr. Barron’s vision of a desegregated community outlet where people of all races, status and backgrounds could gather to enjoy musicals, ballets and theater productions in a beautiful outdoor arena. Mr. Barron passed away from cancer just three months after the amphitheater opened. But since then, the amphitheater has hosted a variety of exquisite performances including the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the National Symphony Orchestra. Today, the amphitheater hosts a variety of performances from Shakespearean theater to reggae.

The Family Drive-In Theatre
5890 Valley Pike U.S. 11
Stephens City, VA 22655
(540) 514-6145

The Family Drive-In Theatre proudly boasts to be the only drive-in style theater still in operation in the Greater Washington DC Metro Area.  The Drive-In opened in 1956 and is now recognized as one of the “ten best drive-in theaters in the nation.” Offering a variety of current movies from G to PG-13 ratings, this drive-in maintains a family-friendly personality, as expected of an old-timey family-values establishment. The theater offers a nightly double-feature with full concessions including hot sandwiches, cold drinks and, of course, lots of popcorn. This drive-in is worth the road trip along the scenic I-66 or I-81 highways and is conveniently only a little over an hour’s drive away.

Related: Best Live Music Venues In Washington, D.C.

Merriweather Post Pavilion
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044
(410) 715-5550

Featuring a plethora of contemporary musical acts from country to indie to punk to hard rock, Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts an eclectic mix of today’s music industry performers. With past performances from the legendary Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, Merriweather’s rock-and-roll history runs deep. Surrounded by forest and nature, Merriweather’s outdoor spaces envelop its patrons in a lively green paradise, perfect for spreading a blanket out on the lawn and enjoying some great musical acts. Merriweather is the site for several summertime music festivals including Sweet Life Festival and Virgin Free Fest.

Wolf Trap
1645 Trap Road
Vienna, VA 22182
(877) 255-1900

With a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces, Wolf Trap is available no matter what the weather may bring. As a non-profit arts and culturally focused organization, Wolf Trap is committed to putting on productions with educational, cultural and artistic value. Wolf Trap offers a variety of performances from blues to country to pop, and also dance and theater. Patrons of Wolf Trap enjoy unique performances while supporting the many arts in education programs that Wolf Trap provides for children, students and adults.

Related: Best Places to Discover New Music in the Washington DC Area

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