It’s finally here! Summer has graced us with its presence, bringing longer days, more sunshine, beach vacations, delicious cocktails, and summer Fridays. So to help you make the most of your summer, we compiled all the best and fun-filled activities to make the ultimate D.C. summer bucket list. Whether you’re looking for a short getaway, some water sports, or special summer D.C. events, we’ve got it here:
1. Take in drinks and a view at one of the beautiful rooftops
The weather is warming up, and we’re officially nearing rooftop bar season. Needless to say, we’re loving it, especially when it comes with a side of gorgeous city views and the perfect excuse to grab a drink with some friends! Learn more here.
2. Indulge in a booze cruise
The weather is warming up, and summer is sailing its way in! What better way to celebrate summer’s return than on the water with a drink in hand? Thankfully, the Potomac River offers Washingtonians and tourists alike the chance to do just that. Whether you’re looking for a tropical vibe, a more upscale affair to take in the sights, or to try your hand as a pirate at sea, D.C. has the perfect booze cruise for you! Learn more here.
Every Friday night from May 19 through August 4, the National Gallery of Art hosts an outdoor concert in its Sculpture Garden. Featuring a range of jazz, bluegrass, and Afro-Cuban music, attendees can enjoy the weather, tunes, and gorgeous views. You can register to attend at noon exactly one week prior to each concert. Learn more here.
4. Par-take in a fun-filled round of mini golf
Fun for all ages, mini golf is always a hole-in-one! Luckily, the D.C.-area has a variety of options, from the beloved chain Swingers to Tyson Corner’s Perch Putt, and from the classic East Potomac Mini Golf to the Puttery, grab a drink and putt away!
5. Take a hike—literally!
Washington, D.C., may be a city, but it boasts a number of beautiful places in and around the District proper that are just as great for exploring the wilderness! Secret D.C. has come up with some of the most stunning trails for hiking in and around D.C. to help you do just that. Learn more here.
Washingtonians love to grind, but city life can be exhausting at times. When you seek respite in a small, quaint, charming town outside of the city, these pretty villages near D.C. (organized from closest to furthest) will make you forget just how close you are to the hustle and bustle of the city. Learn more here.
The Fever Originals Candlelight series is the perfect way to unwind. You can lose yourself in classical renditions of your favorite tunes amid soft candlelight. With multiple genres and musical themes to choose from, there’s bound to be a concert that’s perfect for you!
- Candlelight: The Best Anime Soundtracks from Joe Hisaishi
- Candlelight: The Best of Hans Zimmer at Miracle Theater
- Candlelight: From Bach To The Beatles
- Candlelight: Songs From Magical Movie Soundtracks
- Candlelight: A Tribute To Radiohead
What’s better than a free outdoor movie?! Just outside of D.C. at National Harbor, May 4 kicks off the beginning of its Movies on the Potomac series. Fun for all ages, every 6 p.m. on Sunday features a family-friendly film, while couples and adults can come for Thursday’s 7 p.m. date night showings. Find a full calendar listing of films here.
Summer is a great time to catch up on some reading: traveling for a vacation, relaxing on the beach, stuck inside on a rainy day, or sitting outside with coffee or a cocktail. No matter the occasion, D.C. is brimming with independent bookstores for you to visit, so you can find your next book while supporting a local business! Learn more here.
10. Check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Following a two-year hiatus, the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival has returned to the National Mall for two separate runs, June 29–July 4, and July 6–July 9 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Presented by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in partnership with the National Park Service, this year the free festival is hosting two programs: one exploring “The Ozarks: Faces and Facets of a Region” and the other “Creative Encounters: Living Religions in the U.S.” Learn more here.
Whether you need a pre-work pick me up to get you through the day, or you want to kick off a summer weekend right with a holt of caffeine, coffee is a crucial part of many people’s days! So if you’re looking to cool down with an iced coffee this morning, check out one of these great D.C. coffee shops! Learn more here.
12. Visit the Smithsonian National Zoo
There’s so much going on at the National Zoo they can bear-ly contain it! An endangered female western lowland gorilla gave birth just days after three baby meerkats were born, and the Bird House has reopened after a six-year closure! Learn more here.
With the Potomac River in our backyard, paddle sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing are very popular in the DMV area. Since this summer is going to be a hot one, we have gathered places where you can give these sports a try and explore the Potomac River! Learn more here.
Temperatures are soaring and ice cream is still a tried and true way to beat the heat! Luckily, D.C. has a variety of local shops and chains to help you do so! Learn more here.
D.C. is a vibrant city but still filled with beautiful places where you can admire nature and stop and smell the roses — literally! From mansion grounds to botanic gardens, these beautiful blooms are a breathtaking escape from city life. Learn more here.
16. Indulge in some of D.C.’s finest foods at Summer Restaurant Week
Washingtonians absolutely love Summer Restaurant Week! With hard-to-beat prices, Washingtonians are offered the chance to dine in (or out!) at some of D.C.’s best restaurants, and taste some special and limited time recipes. Learn more here.
17. Enjoy America’s pastime at a Washington Nationals game
Baseball! A hot dog, some peanuts, and cheering on the home team is a classic summer activity that never fails to be fun — win or lose! Learn more here.
We’ll take dinner with a side of beautiful views, please! These waterfront restaurants give you delicious meals with summer vibes! Learn more here.
Just slightly over 2-hours from D.C. is the monstrous outdoor waterpark, Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Virginia. Every water slide, game, and splashing activity you could imagine exists at this park. From a 23,000-square-foot pool to the Jet Scream slide designed only for the brave of heart. Learn more here.
We know how much Washingtonians love their dogs! Luckily, there are many restaurants and beer gardens that will let you bring your furry companion with you for a drink out or a bite to eat. Learn more here.
Looking to get away from the city and enjoy the outdoors? Why not embrace the warm weather with a hike followed by a dip at one of these outdoor swimming spots?! Some can even allow for kayaking! All located just a short drive from D.C., these spots are worth the trip. Learn more here, or here!
22. Go on a quick getaway
Summer is the best time for a getaway, but sometimes you only have a long weekend to make it happen. Luckily, there are plenty of quick but amazing trips within driving distance! From the sandy shores of Delaware to the stunning heights of Maryland, there are plenty of last-minute trips not too far from D.C. Learn more here.
23. Attend D.C.’s Broccoli City Festival
Occurring in Washington, D.C., since 2013, Broccoli City Festival aims to benefit and inspire local youth and communities to create a “racially equitable” world and aid the D.C. community. This year’s Broccoli City Festival—being held Saturday, July 15 through Sunday, July 16— includes big-name performers, such as Lil Uzi Vert, Ice Spice, Kodak Black, Chloe Bailey, and many more! Learn more here.