Summer is coming up fast and with three long sunny months ahead of us, there’s a ton of reasons to get out and explore Washington DC. And the best part? You don’t have to spend too much (or even any) money to enjoy our Nation’s Capital. Below we’ve listed out our favorite things to do, see, hear, and experience for free during the DC summer. Check it out and be sure to tag Stay Alfred and use the hashtag #MyStayAlfred when out and about.
1. Tour the National Mall
While the National Mall is a bit of a standard “must do” when visiting DC, that doesn’t make it any less impressive. It’s the perfect mix of history and impressive huge monuments. Wander around the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, stroll next to the Tidal Basin Reservoir and take in the beauty of one of America’s most iconic parks.
2. Get Out of the Heat and Enjoy the Smithsonian Museums
Is that sunny DC heat getting to be a little too much for you? Take a break from the heat and wander in to any of the fantastically interesting (and air conditioned) Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian offers eleven museums on the National Mall and six others in the DC area. The Air and Space Museum and American Art Museum are generally regarded as the more popular Smithsonian museums, but don’t discount the also interesting American Indian Museum and the Freer Gallery of Art.
3. Take a Hike (through Rock Creek Park)
Rock Creek Park is the nation’s oldest urban park, and with more than 2,000 acres there’s plenty of room to explore. Check out the variety of hiking trails or, if chil-axing (chilling + relaxing) is more your style, pack a picnic and enjoy it amidst nature. Looking to hear some tunes? The different amphitheaters within the park hosts a variety of concerts throughout the summer. Be sure to check for the schedule online.
4. Catch an Outdoor Movie on the Green
Always wanted to watch a flick outside while the White House is illuminated in the background? Then Screen on the Green is right up your alley. DC Outdoor films also offers a variety of locations where you can put down your blanket and watch a movie. Most films begin at sunset, weather permitting.
5. Jam Out to some Jazz
The National Gallery of Art puts on a fantastic summer concert series in the sculpture garden aptly called Jazz in the Garden. Head over on Friday evenings from Memorial Day to Labor Day to hear a variety of jazz musicians. Check out the entire summer schedule here.
6. Enjoy Local Bands at Fort Reno
Want to feel like a real DC insider? Head down to Fort Reno Park Monday and Thursday during July to hear local bands rock out with the backdrop of the gorgeous Fort Reno park in the background. Looking for a cool new shirt? The Fort Reno concert series merch can’t be beat. Check it out here.
7. Drum up a good time at the Meridian Hill Park drum circle
For over 50 years, Meridian Hill Park has been alive with the sound of a drum circle on Sunday mornings during the summer. These days the entertainment is not just limited drums, there’s also folks slack-lining, hula hooping and partaking in general park merriment. Sprawl out on a picnic blanket and enjoy hearing the sounds of DC playing around you.
8. Scope out the pandas at the National Zoo
Okay... you can also go to see the other animals, but we’d argue that the pandas at the National Zoo are one of the most prime attractions. You can meet the pandas and learn all about them here and watch a live stream of the pandas. The zoo also features a rotating cast of different exhibits. This summer they’re doing a feature on dinosaurs, so if you’ve always considered yourself a pretty big Jurassic Park fan, then this is the place for you. And you can’t beat the fact that this zoo has free admission, as it’s part of the Smithsonian family.
9. Visit the Library of Congress
Get out of the heat by taking a cool tour at the Library of Congress in the historic Thomas Jefferson building. There’s a variety of tour options out there ranging from the history of baseball in America to exploring the early America’s. Tours are available Sunday through Thursday and you can find more information on them here.
10. Get your Instagram on and take a tour of DC’s best murals
Looking to flex on the ‘gram? Or if you’re a non- millennial, do you want to enjoy some fantastic street art and perhaps take a photo or two? Then we’d recommend taking a stroll to some of the most artistic walls in Washington. Find out which murals are where here.