Where: Throughout the DC area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity
The season may not be official on the calendar, but summer fun has begun, and much more starts this weekend! Jump in at an outdoor pool, enjoy music in the fresh air, play in the sprays, see a movie under the stars, paddle local waterways, see a special exhibit, and pursue even more seasonal joys. The 2023 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area has the scoop on where and when to experience it all.
Take a Dip
Where: Around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale
With “summer” starting and warm temps though the weekend, it’ll be a great time to go for a swim. This round-up has details on where to do that. Find beaches on the Bay (and even Atlantic), lakes and rivers, and swimming holes and creeks — all that welcome the public to take a dip.
Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: Starting Saturday
Let curiosity run wild at the National Children’s Museum with the opening of Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! Introducing young children into the world of Curious George, the exhibit leads visitors ages 3-7 on a fun, interactive math, science, and engineering-based adventure while emphasizing the central role that parents and caregivers play in learning. Celebrate the exhibit’s opening on Saturday with a day of special offerings, including story time, a scavenger hunt, and tinkering activity.
Where: Historic Downtown Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Join the family and community oriented celebration of Memorial Day and the greater Vienna Community spirit. Amusement rides, food, crafts, vendors, and entertainment will be part of the all-ages fun. Even better, 100% of proceeds go to charitable, community, and humanitarian organizations.
Model Trains and Thomas
Where: Historic Vienna Train Station | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free (donations accepted)
While you’re at ViVa Vienna, stop by the Historic Vienna Train Station where you can see and hear HO scale model trolleys and trains, including Thomas and some of his friends on display and in operation. It’s a great family fun and activity for the young and young at heart. The Station is at 231 Dominion Road NE, Vienna, VA along the W&OD trail just past the Caboose.
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Opens Saturday
Admission: $10/adult, $7/age 3-17
Brick City will celebrate iconic architecture from cities around the world through carefully recreated constructions made from LEGO® bricks. Take a world tour and see lively streetscapes from Cartagena, Columbia; Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans; intricate temples from India to Mexico; and imaginative castles from medieval Japan to modern Las Vegas. There is also an interactive area where builders young and old build their own LEGO masterpieces and create pixelated art using the toy bricks on an expansive “graffiti wall” canvas.
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $12/child, $14/adult, free/2 & under
It’s weekend #2 of the longest running strawberry festival in Loudoun County takes place this weekend and next, rain or shine. Get ready for lots of fun activities for all ages, including live music, farm contests, wagon rides, great food, and fun games for the whole fam. As if that’s not enough to keep the everyone entertained for the day, there’s also the five-acre play area, complete with the jumping pillow, slides, rope swings, mazes, a tractor tire mountain, and animal encounters. Get tickets in advance!
Take Your Pick
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale
There’s even more strawberries activity to enjoy as the fruits are are ripe and ready for harvest, and many area farms welcome guests to come pick their own. Check out this post for some of the best places to go. It’s always a good idea to check websites or call ahead to confirm availability the day you plan to go. Sunscreen and hat also recommended.
Black Birders STEM Day
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Did you know there is an entire week dedicated to Black birders, called Black Birders Week? Join the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of Natural History, as they celebrate Black birders, birds, and nature. Participate in a bird walk on the National Mall, learn about Black birders and ornithologists, learn how to participate in Black Birders Week activities, and engage in hands-on STEAM lessons guided by Smithsonian educators. Register in advance!
Big Bounce America
Where: Rosecroft Raceway | Fort Washington, MD
When: Through June 11
Admission: Starts at $22
It’s the second weekend of Big Bounce America, the world’s largest bounce house, that’s got people jumping for joy in the area. The biggest touring inflatable event includes four massive inflatable attractions: a 16,000-square-foot World’s Largest Bounce House; the newly added Sport Slam featuring a customized sports arena; the 900-foot-long obstacle course named The Giant; and a unique, space-themed wonderland called airSPACE. Three-hour sessions for varying age groups — 3 & under, 7 & under, 15 & under, and 16 & older — are $22 for the youngest group, $38 for older kids, and $41 for 16+. Reserve tickets here.
Make A Splash With Real Mermaids
Where: Weston Wheaton Center | Wheaton, MD
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Celebrating the return of Disney’s The Little Mermaid to AMC Wheaton Mall 9, the indoor shopping destination will transform into a thalassic underwater cove, adorned with floating light-up jellyfish, dangling seaweed and three real live mermaids. Mall patrons will also enjoy live music, little mer-makeovers with face painters, on-site photo prints with a professional photographer and exclusive promotions from retailers all throughout the mall.
Make a Doll, Make a Memory
Where: American Indian Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Make a doll and make a memory with loved ones during this hands-on activity. Visitors will hear a short presentation from museum staff about soft-sculpture figure dolls in the museum’s collection made by the Growing Thunder Collective followed by an artmaking activity to take home. Parents and caregivers visiting with youth ages 5–13 are invited to make a paper doll that represents a loved one. Dollmaking materials like those used to make the Growing Thunder dolls will be available for touching, smelling, looking, and listening. Art supplies provided.
Flowers of Remembrance Day
Where: Arlington National Cemetery | Arlington, VA
When: Sunday, 9am – 5pm
In honor of Memorial Day and those who have sacrificed for our country, members of the public are invited to place a flower at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Flowers will be provided (do not bring your own), and visitors will also have an opportunity to place a flower on headstones throughout the cemetery.
The Spirit of Women’s Soccer Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC When: Sunday, 5pm Admission: Tickets start at $15
Washington Spirit, our local women’s pro soccer team, are playing at Audi Field on Saturday against Gotham FC. Enjoy some amazing soccer play while supporting our home team and women in sports Plan for a pre- or post-match meal nearby — El Bebe, All Purpose Pizza, The Salt Line, and Dacha are conveniently located and my top recs for family-friendly spots to eat in that area.
National Memorial Day Concert
Where: West lawn of the Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Sunday, 8-9:30pm, gates open at 5pm
(or Saturday for the dress rehearsal)
Why watch on TV when you can be there in person? Yes, the public is once again welcome to the National Memorial Day Concert! Taking place on the west lawn of the Capitol on Sunday from 8 – 9:30pm, the concert will be hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinese, and an all-star line-up of artists will join the National Symphony Orchestra and several military music ensembles in honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. If you’re planning to go, the FAQ page on the concert website is worth a read. KFDC Tip: If you can’t make Sunday’s show or don’t want to deal with the crowds, Saturday’s dress rehearsal is also always open to the public — gates open at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm.
Memorial Day Observance
Where: Arlington National Cemetery | Arlington, VA
When: Monday, 10:30am
Observe the holiday at one of the most iconic spots to honor those who have served — special Memorial Day remembrance events ae once again open to the public. A prelude concert by the United States Navy Band will begin in the amphitheater at 10:30am, and a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11am followed by an observance program in the amphitheater. Space is limited to standing room only for the wreath-laying ceremony, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the amphitheater. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to ensure access to these events and should plan to be seated no later than 9:30am. Read more about Arlington National Cemetery here.
National Memorial Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th St | Downtown DC
When: Monday, 2pm
The annual National Memorial Day Parade celebrates and honors American veterans with a grand procession through the city. Get a curbside view of military units and vehicles, marching bands, flag teams, and hundreds of veterans as they travel up Constitution Avenue.
National Native American Veterans Memorial
Where: American Indian Museum | National Mall
When: Monday, 2–6pm
Observe Memorial Day with the museum as they light the flame at the National Native American Veterans Memorial to honor the sacrifice and service of Native veterans. The memorial, a tribute to Native heroes, recognizes for the first time on a national scale the enduring and distinguished service of Native Americans in every branch of the US military.
Where: Eastern Shore, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Depends on how much you order!
Kick off summer is with one of the area’s best offerings: Blue crabs! Enjoying the seasonal treat at a waterfront crab house is a bonus. Cantler’s in Annapolis is an institution, and Mike’s Crab House in Riva is popular with delicious crabs, gorgeous scenery, and a great outdoor waiting area if tables aren’t immediately available. Kentmorr on Kent Island has a great beach scene. And you can find even more recommendations for getting crabby in the Summer Guide.
1. ‘Tis the season to go with the flow! Kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards, and more vessels for recreation on the water are available to rent all around the area. Boating in DC has several locations in the District, a few NoVa Parks offer it, and there are also some places in Maryland where you can paddle local waterways. This post about local places to rent paddling gear has all the details. (PS: Depending on where and when you go, you may recognize a certain KFDC teen helping you get set up with your boat! 🙂)
2. In case you weren’t aware, tickets for the National Gallery of Art’s Jazz in the Garden summer music series are now distributed by lottery for each weekly concert. The lottery is currently open for the June 2 Tabago Bay performance — through May 26, you can register to try to reserve up to four passes,. Results will be announced May 29 at 10am.
3. How awesome does this nature-inspired LEGO exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley look? Perfect for a summer day trip or even an overnight, since it’s about a two-hour drive out there.
Where: Throughout the DC area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity
It may not be official on the calendar, but “summer” is underway! Spray play, outdoor concerts, movies under the stars, and more ongoing seasonal treats have begun around DC. Start the weekend with free music at Bethesda’s summer concert series. Cool off at a DC splash park. See a family film outdoors at Union Market. Go paddling, see a special exhibit, or just plan ahead for seasonal fun. The 2023 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area has the scoop on where and when you can get summer started early — and plan for even more!
Mystics Tip Off
Where: Entertainment & Sports Arena | Congress Heights, DC
When: Friday, 7pm
Admission: Tickets start at $30
The Washington Mystics, our local women’s pro basketball team, begins its season this weekend with a game against New York Liberty on Friday evening. It’s a great chance to watch some good on-court action and support women in sports! The team plays at the Entertainment and Sports Arena located on the St. Elizabeths East Campus, in southeast DC. Purchase tickets here.
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $12/child, $14/adult, free/2 & under
The longest running strawberry festival in Loudoun County takes place this weekend and next, rain or shine. Get ready for lots of fun activities for all ages, including live music, farm contests, wagon rides, great food, and fun games for the whole fam. As if that’s not enough to keep the everyone entertained for the day, there’s also the five-acre play area, complete with the jumping pillow, slides, rope swings, mazes, a tractor tire mountain, and animal encounters. Get tickets in advance!
Dragon Boat Festival
Where: Thompson Boat House | Georgetown, DC
When: Saturday, 9am – 5pm
The annual DC Dragon Boat Festival is back for its 20th year — an experience for athletes and spectators alike! The family-friendly event features the best premier and local dragon boat teams from along the east coast racing in multiple distances over the course of the day. The public is welcome to watch this unique event for free, and there are cultural activities to enjoy, too.
Big Bounce America
Where: Rosecroft Raceway | Fort Washington, MD
When: Starting Saturday – June 11
Admission: Starts at $22
Boing! Big Bounce America, the world’s largest bounce house, is returning to the DC area starting this weekend. The biggest touring inflatable event includes four massive inflatable attractions: a 16,000-square-foot World’s Largest Bounce House; the newly added Sport Slam featuring a customized sports arena; the 900-foot-long obstacle course named The Giant; and a unique, space-themed wonderland called airSPACE. Three-hour sessions for varying age groups — 3 & under, 7 & under, 15 & under, and 16 & older — are $22 for the youngest group, $38 for older kids, and $41 for 16+. Reserve tickets here.
Fiesta Asia Street Fair
Where: Entrance at 400 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 7pm
Celebrate Asian heritage at the annual street fair presented by the Asia Heritage Foundation and Passport DC. This showcase of Asian art and culture will include music and dance performances, martial arts demos, a parade, yummy food, a marketplace, hands-on activities, and more. While admission is free, be prepared to spend on food and in the marketplace. Reserve free tickets here.
Bourbon and Blue Grass Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1-5pm
Admission: $86/adult, $35/age 7-17, free/6 & under
The rollicking annual fundraiser is back for its 8th year! Featuring an extraordinary line up of music, bourbon and beer tastings, and fun activities for the whole family, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Lounge on Lincoln’s lawn, sip bourbon, and enjoy lots of live bluegrass music. Two-day passes are also available.
Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
The 9th annual Anacostia River Festival will offer an afternoon of fun to guests! This year enjoy musical performances, canoe rides, a fishing workshop, a vintage car parade, and more fun at the park along the Anacostia River. Read more about Anacostia Park here.
Nats Weekend: Pups, the Force, & Freebies
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary (get deal for Sunday) The Nats host the Detroit Tigers this weekend, and there’s a lot of extra fun to accompany the action on the field. Friday night is Pups in the Park when canine fans can attend the games. You needed to have a special ticket already, but you can spectate with Fido and friends. Saturday’s game is Star Wars themed, and the ballpark will transform into a galaxy far, far away with character appearances, photo booths, DJs, balloon twisters, caricaturists, face painters and more (plus Hawaiian shirt giveaways for the early fans)! Sunday there is a Teddy Handmade by Robots Vinyl Figure giveaway for the first 10,000 fans ages 3-12, plus Kids Run the Bases after the game. So much fun baseball fun! Before you go, get some KFDC tips on doing Nats game without breaking the bank.
Loudoun Spring Farm Tour
Where: Farms around Loudoun County, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday
Enjoy over 40 local farm stops full of delicious produce, cute animals, farm demonstrations, and fun & educational programs. Visit the website for a map of the locations and more info on each one.
Truck Day Where: MCDOT Truck Depot and Salt Barn | Gaithersburg, MD When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm Admission: Free
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is kicking off “Public Works Week” with Truck Day. The free, family-friendly event welcomes the community for a hands-on exploration of the many first-response, construction, and transportation vehicles that make the county run. Climb aboard a bucket truck, tractor, semi-truck, and bus. The event also will feature first responder vehicles and a fire engine, plus a chance to meet the essential workers who operate them. The Truck Depot and Salt Barn is located at 17000 Crabbs Branch Way in Gaithersburg.
We Fly Together
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Join Urban Adventure Squad, a local nonprofit for this free, all ages, all-community event at the U.S. National Arboretum on Saturday. Led by UAS educator Randi Jones and funded by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds project, you’ll perch at the Arboretum’s Arbor House and create field guides, learn to use binoculars, and practice bird identification. The event is designed for children with a range of abilities.
Adams Morgan PorchFest Where: Around Adams Morgan, DC When: Saturday, 2-6pm Admission: Free
Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from about 70 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. At the corner of Adams Mill and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day, pick up a music map and free wristband that will get you discount at over 30 Adams Morgan businesses.
Gon’ Country Family-Friendly Concert
Where: The Hall CP | College Park, MD
When: Saturday, 2-7pm
Admission: $20/adult, $10/age 4-12 & under, free/3 & under
Will Overman along with fellow Virginia natives and Country powerhouse Crawford & Power will be performing at The Hall CP’s Gon’ Country Concert. The show will kick off UMD Graduation Weekend along with a portion of the proceeds benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Overman’s heart-worn vulnerable lyrics and dynamic vocal delivery are front and center in his recent releases “Dotted Line,” “Heartpine” and “The Winemakers Daughter.” Watch the official music video for “Dotted Line” here. The show this Saturday is [extra] significant because it comes on the heels on the announcement of Overman becoming an official ambassador of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital!
KidStory Theatre Festival
Where: Highland Elementary School | Wheaton, MD
When: Saturday, 11am & Sunday, 2pm
InterAct Story Theatre presents this theatrical celebration of stories written by kids for kids. All year long, InterAct artists create stories with kids, and invite them to share their epic stories with them. Now, they’ve chosen some favorites from over the years that they’ll as short plays and stories performed by InterActors! Best for ages 4 and up.
Gaithersburg Book Festival
Where: Bohrer Park | Gaithersburg, MD
When: Saturday, 10am – 6pm
The City of Gaithersburg welcomes you to their annual literary event! Festivities will include the chance to see and meet some of the world’s best writers, from best-sellers to acclaimed up-and-comers; join in literary workshops; and a full day of fun at the Children’s Village. Bohrer Park is located at 506 S. Frederick Avenue.
United vs Galaxy
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: Saturday, 7:30pm
Admission: Tickets start at $29 (look for discount)
DC United is playing at home on Saturday evening, hosting LA Galaxy. As always, I recommend taking public transportation or parking in the Navy Yard neighborhood and walking to Audi Field from there. Plan for a pre-match bite — El Bebe, All Purpose Pizza, The Salt Line, and Dacha are conveniently located and my top recs for family-friendly spots to eat there.
Fairy & Gnome Home Festival
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: Sunday (timed-entry)
Admission: $8/age 2+
This annual festival at one of the most enchanting places will delight the whole family — and we know from experience. Join a magical day of family nature play as you travel through six realms of Annmarie to discover a variety of activities in the garden. Make new fairy friends, find hidden gnome homes, enjoy crafts and nature explorations, meet sweet baby animals, ride a unicorn (!), listen to live music, and frolic in the sweet Fairy Lolly. Food and drink will be available. Advance timed-entry tickets are required for admission and unicorn rides ($10). Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden and get a glimpse in this KFDC post and this one.
Old Town Festival of Speed & Style
Where: King Street | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: Sunday, 10am – 3pm
View dozens of rare and exotic cars up close, made famous by their speed, performance and elegance. This will be enhanced by a presentation of style, fashion and live music provided by over 40 local merchants. The Old Town Festival of Speed & Style highlights the unique offerings of the Old Town community – history, architecture, great food, fabulous people, art, style, energy. All proceeds benefit ALIVE! and Campagna Center.
Once Upon a Mattress
Where: Children’s Theatre of Annapolis | Annapolis, MD
When: Friday, 7pm | Saturday, 11am & 4pm | Sunday, 2pm
Admission: $18/age 13+, $15/12 & under
Catch a performance of this show at the nonprofit children’s theatre… Many moons ago in a far-off place, Queen Aggravain decreed no couples could marry until her son, Prince Dauntless, found a bride. Princesses came from far and wide to win the hand of the prince, but none could pass the impossible tests given to them by the Queen. That is, until the “shy” swamp princess, Winnifred the Woebegone, showed up. Would she be able to pass the Sensitivity Test, marry her prince and help Lady Larkin and Sir Harry to the altar? This rollicking spin on the classic tale The Princess and the Pea provides some side-splitting shenanigans.[Note: The theatre is just 35 minutes from DC, 10-15 minutes from Cantler’s crab house, and less than five minutes from Sandy Point State Park beach — perfect for a day out!]
Jack & the Beanstalk
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: Friday, 10:30am | Saturday & Sunday, 11:30am & 1pm
In the Puppet Co.’s version of Sleeping Beauty, a funny frog storyteller ribbits the tale of offended fairies, silly royalty, and magic spells. Relive this classic fairy tale in this lovely Legacy rod-puppet show. Directed by Elizabeth Dapo. Recommended ages 4+. Run time approximately 55 minutes.
Monty Python’s Spamalot Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through Sunday
Telling the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and the quest for the Holy Grail in song, Monty Python’s Spamalot features a chorus line of knights, men in tights, killer rabbits, and sexy dancing divas. The score will be performed onstage by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. Recommended for ages 13+.
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: Through May 28
Tickets: $60-140 (look for discount)
It’s showtime! Based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film, this hilarious musical tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a strange and unusual teenager whose whole life changes when she meets a recently deceased couple and a demon with a thing for stripes. Under its uproarious surface (six feet under, to be exact), it’s a remarkably touching show about family, love, and making the most of every Day-O!
Row Your Boat Where: Fletcher’s Boathouse | Foxhall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Rentals start at $/hour
On the water pursuits are linked at the top, but one of our favorites is paddling the Potomac from Fletcher’s Boathouse. That area of the river is particularly pretty, verdant with trees flanking the shoreline. Wildlife sightings are likely — we always see turtles, egrets, and ducks, and have spotted hawks and herons, too. And if you paddle east toward Georgetown, you’ll catch views of the Washington Monument. Read about our first Fletcher’s paddling adventure here. And find more places for recreation on the water here.
Pick Your Own
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale
Strawberries and a few veggies are ripe and ready for harvest, and several area farms are now welcoming guests to pick their own. This post has a round-up of where to go. It’s always a good idea to check websites or call ahead to confirm availability the day you plan to go. Sunscreen and hat also recommended.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a small commission. This helps me continue to bring you KFDC, all completely for free. Thank you so much for the support!
The season may not be official on the calendar yet, but summer fun has begun around the DC area! Spray parks are open, outdoor movies are being screened, temps are warm enough for beach days, carousels are spinning, local sports are in full swing, exhibits are opening, crab feasts are being served, and more seasonal experiences are underway. Even better, there’s still much more to come! This annual guide, that I’ve been putting together in this version for 10 years, has all the info and inspiration you need to make the most of the season…starting now! Happy Summer!
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many of them around the area. Several are within the DC, MD, & VA Departments of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months. Dates are TBD at some, but look for updates soon!
Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for kids of varying ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is ideal for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.
The Wharf in Southwest DC has a nice in-ground fountain that opens before other nearby fountains and stay open longer. Kids can run through water shooting up from jets, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop.
DC DPR Spray Parks opened 16 locations early on May 15 — they will be open daily from 12-4pm. All of the spray park will be open full hours starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27, through September 4, 10am – 8pm. Be sure to view the list, as open days vary by location. See all of the locations throughout the city on this map on the DPR website.
Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city, with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard. Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here.
Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.
Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse. Open weekends Memorial Day – June 16, then daily June 17 – August 18, then only weekends again through September 4.
Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along with a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features. Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at the nearby Target and other big stores while you’re out that way. Opens Memorial Day Weekend, 10am – 9pm daily through Labor Day, then 10am – 8pm through mid-October.
There’s an in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. On most weekday afternoons during summer, there’s a small crowd of little ones playing in the gentle sprays.
OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
That first jump into summer fun
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun. There are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee, plus a few other options for a nice pool day.
DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through June 25. Starting Monday, June 26, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check schedules before you go.
For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open May 27 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.
In Northern Virginia, there are several waterparks (see below) in Arlington with outdoor pools and much more for guests to enjoy, and the city of Alexandria has three outdoor public pools: Memorial Pool at Charles Houston Rec Center open June 17 – August 20 and Old Town Pool and Warwick Pool are open May 27 – September 4. Hours vary by days, so be sure to view details for all of them.
Swimply, a service that started a few years ago, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.
It’s a bit of a splurge, but if you want to enjoy a day at a nice hotel pool, the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park offers Day Passes for $75/adult and kids with them are free. Purchase here.
Beach day at Calvert Cliffs State Park
Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? There are a bunch of places where you can get a good dose of sand and surf that are within day trip distance from DC.
Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.
Flag Ponds Nature Park, also in Calvert County, has a large sandy beach for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming. It’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too. Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day (days/hours are reduced the rest of the year). Admission is $8/car. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here
Sandy Point State Park inAnnapolis offers striking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge along with loads of beach fun. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $5/person weekends, and $4/person weekdays.
The Purse Area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD, is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get to enjoy sand and water. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.
Mayo Beach Park in Anne Arundel County, MD, is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park must be reserved in advance. Be aware of other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm.
Greenbrier State Park, just over an hour’s drive from DC in Boonsboro, MD, has a beach area on a man-made freshwater lake, where visitors can swim, paddle, boat, and fish. Swimming is only allowed from May through September in designated areas when swim ropes are in place, with lifeguards there Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11am – 6pm.
Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, MD, is popular for weekend-long trips, but also good as a day trip destination, being less than two hours’ drive from DC. It’s especially great with little ones, since it’s very organized with a designated beach/swim area, lifeguards, a bathhouse for changing and restrooms, and a snack bar — all from Memorial Day to Labor Day (for the most part… the snack bar and bathhouse times will change starting August 11 due to renovations). Hours are 10am – 7pm weekends and holidays, 10am – 6pm weekdays May 27 – August 9. Admission is$7/weekdays per vehicle, $10/weekends.
Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but definitely doable as a day trip if you leave early, especially on a weekday when there is less traffic. We’ve done this and have had a fantastic day at the beach — packed up the car with a cooler and beach gear, got on the road early, and we were on the beach by 10:30am. Enjoyed dinner outdoors and ice cream in town before heading back, arrived home at 9:15pm. Totally worth the time in the car. Open daily, 8am – sunset, and admission is $8-10/vehicle. Get a glimpse here.
They may not all be beaches, but this round-up of swim spots has a bunch more recommendations for places to take a dip around DC within day trip distance.
Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion
Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are some great water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, many of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)
Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring bi-monthly on Fridays through July 21, with mostly family-friendly films. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. Film start times vary, so be sure to check on that. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.
National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 28.Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.
CiNOMAtic, the NoMa BID’s outdoor movie series at Alethia Tanner Park is will screen “Villains We Love” films Wednesdays at sunset through June 7.
Adams Morgan Movie Nights is back with free movies on Tuesday evenings from May 23 – June 27 with all comedies to ensure some summer laughs. Even more, each Movie Night will kick off with a stand-up feature from a local comedian before the movie begins! The program runs 8-11pm at Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field (18th & California St, NW). Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.
Family Movies Nights take place on The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center each month: May 26: Moana, June 30: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, July 28: Boss Baby: The Family Business, August 18: Matilda. They are free, and programming runs from 7-10pm.
Audi Field will transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows four films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen — May 18, June 22, July 6, August 24, and September 7 — all of them family-friendly.
At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorialon Thursday evenings through October 12. The series of Navy-themed films started in April and pays tribute to our rich maritime heritage.
Golden Triangle BID will host GLDN+ CINEMA on Thursdays in Farragut Square (17th & K, NW). The family-friendly films begin at sunset. Dates TBA.
Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Parkon Fridays in June!
Cinematery, this year themed “Tim Burton’s Summer of Sureal” will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 2, July 7, August 4, and September 1.
The Library of Congress will host its sixth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings from July 7 – August 3. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Music will be presented prior to each film, with live performances on July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3.
Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings on Fridays, June 16, July 21, & August 25 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
Georgetown Sunset Cinema presets movies on Tuesdays in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge. Free and open to all. 2023 dates TBA.
Catch a summer concert at an iconic DC spot
Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.
The Bethesda Summer Concert Series’ Friday Night Streetery Concerts will run Fridays, 6-8pm, from May 19 – September 15. Enjoy music, food, and fun at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues.
Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 29, and there will be weekly shows through August 4. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted. NOTE: New this year is a lottery system! Each concert has its own lottery, which opens the week prior on Monday at 10am and closes that Friday at noon. Results will be emailed to all entrants the week of the concert on Monday at 110am. Registration is required for all ages 2+.
Rock the Dock at The Wharf on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm from May 31 – August 30. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear, all for free. There’s much more to enjoy on the Southwest Waterfront — read about it here.
The U.S. Navy Band is bringing back Concerts at the Capitol, performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, on most Mondays, June 12 – August 28 at 8pm. All performances are free and open to the public.
Glen Echo Park’s 2023 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion on Thursdays at 7:30pm from June 15 – August 24. featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues.
Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back for the 13th season from June 16 – August 24! The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.
Rockville Town Square is bringing back its Summer on the Square concert series.Enjoy live music on Friday,s 6:30-8pm, fro June 16 – August 25.
Tysons Corner Center presents a Summer Concert Seriesas part of their Summer on the Plaza activities. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy live music from 7-9pm on June 17, July 15, and August 19.
Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 5 – August 16. (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)
Starting June 2 through August 26, enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, and concerts in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. There are many shows throughout the summer, so view the schedule here.
The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage continues to present free live performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6pm, occasionally outside on The REACH plaza. While you’re there, plan for time to hang out at Victura Park and food and drinks, too.
NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA) on Fridays during the summer. The concert schedule is TBA.
FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Kids always dig the big Truck Touch
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food. There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.
The 41st Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 3-4 showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The free festival that is renowned in the folk community and the public is welcome to enjoy it.
Sound Scene, an interactive sound and multi-sensory arts festival, will be back at the Hirshhorn June 3-4. The free, all-ages celebration of sonic and sensory arts will feature artists from DC and around the world. With a theme of “After The End?” visitors can explore various concepts and issues through interactive art installations, live performances, and small group workshops.
Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 10-11 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday parade is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTAQ community and join the celebration.
Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 16-18 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, celebrating all aspects of geekdom and pop culture with a wide assortment of engaging events, comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay and more.
Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 24-25 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place this year June 29 – July 4 and July 6-9. Every summer (well, except during Covid), the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the annual event. Celebrating the Ozarks and Living Religions in the US this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!
Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are significant. It starts with the National Independence Day Paradedown Constitution Avenue, then the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks launched from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial.
The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival offers more ways to appreciate the flowers and park. This year the festival will take place over a couple of weekends, from July 15-22. View scenes from a previous bloom here.
The Hip Hop Block Party at the National Museum of African American History & Culture was so successful in its inaugural event last year, it’s returning this summer on August 12. Details have yet to be announced, but tickets went fast last year, so be ready to snag them!
It might run into fall, but it starts August 26, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on that here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers. So, go! I promise, it is the absolute best. (PS: I shared these tips last year, and they’ll be very helpful again.)
Find fairy houses in the woods at Annmarie Sculpture Garden
Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, and kids’ programs during the school break are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.
The National Children’s Museum will welcome the Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! exhibit to its Visiting Exhibit Hall, where children can explore math, science, and engineering concepts in interactive experiences inspired by the classic stories and television series. Its’ recommended for ages 3-7, and there will be a celebration of the exhibit’s opening on Saturday, May 27, with a day of special offerings, including a special story time, scavenger hunt, and tinkering activity.
On May 27, the National Building Museum will debut Brick City. Visitors can take a world tour of iconic architecture, all carefully recreated from LEGO bricks. See lively streetscapes from Cartagena, Columbia; Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans; intricate temples from India to Mexico; imaginative castles from medieval Japan to modern Las Vegas, and more. Museum hours are Thursday through Monday, 10am – 4pm, and admission is $10/adult, $7/age 3-17.
One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is still on view through July 16. While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, it’s a good one to catch during the season as kids are out of school, so there are more opportunities to take them. Two infinity rooms, the yellow and black polka dot Pumpkin, and more artwork and elements about Kusama’s life are interesting, beautiful, and kinda trippy to experience.
In the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, is an annual exhibit. Through the summer, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected regularly, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland. Get a glimpse of past one here.
National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party started with indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, a couple of years ago we played in the Fun House, in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN, and last year The Playhouse celebrated Shakespeare. This summer LOOK HEREwill “transform the Museum’s Great Hall with an elegant and provocative new installation.” More details to come, but it will be open July 1 through Labor Day.
Throughout July, the beloved BubbleWorks will return to CityCenterDC. The immersive installation in The Plaza surrounds guests in a fantasy world of bubbles and lively music at the top of every hour Sunday – Thursday, 1-7pm and Friday – Saturday 1-8pm.
Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures are just fantastic to view and find throughout the grounds. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. Read more about it and view scenes from a past exhibit here and here.
During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated a few years ago, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG is great to explore, too!
SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT & PROGRAMS
You can’t beat the lovely outdoor setting of Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
From super cheap movies in local theaters to stay cool on hot days to live theatre at fun places, there are some great ways to keep kiddos entertained all season long.
The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from late May 24 through early September 7. Admission is just $2! Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week — this year’s program details should be available soon!
National Harboris hosting a free Kids Day on the Plaza every Tuesday at 10:30am at the waterfront plaza stage. The fun Tuesday mornings will run June 6 – August 29. Enjoy summer sunshine and cool river breezes along with a rotation of family-friendly activities.
After being on hiatus for the past year, the beloved Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park will be back in action, presenting the show The Fisherman and His Wife from June 8 – July 20!
The National Postal Museum is presenting a special Guest Artist Serieson select dates from June 28 – August 30. Join the museum and artist John Parra, both virtually and in person, as they examine a collection of themes illustrated in his original stamp designs and illustrations through hands-on activities for all ages.
Millennium Stage Films is presenting several family movies — Hugo on June 9, The Iron Giant on June 30, Fantastic Mr. Fox on July 21 — all of them are FREE and will be screened at 8pm outside on the wall of The REACH.
Discovery Theater in the Ripley Center on the National Mall just reopened its doors (and stage) this spring after curtains closed for Covid — and they have programming for kids through July. View the full schedule!
Throughout summer on select dates from June 13 – August 12, Montgomery Parks is hosting Parks Playhouse Junior, an entrainment series for kids featuring live puppet shows, sing-alongs, and music lessons by performers that will keep kids moving and grooving, engaged, and informed. (FYI: There is also Parks Playhouse that caters more toward adults — see the schedulefor dates and locations.
From June 20 through August 5, Wolf Trap presents the fantasticChildren’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer (it’s an old one, but still relevant!)
Starting mid-June, Arts in the Parks, Fairfax County Park Authority will present a free children’s entertainment series on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am. Locations vary — catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.
The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 19 – August 10. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, with locations in NoMa, Loudoun and Woodbridge, welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($5) and benefits local charities, to boot.
The Broadway musical production of The Lion King is coming to the Kennedy center June 22- 29.
The Bethesda Summer Concert Series is presenting Concerts for Kids for the first time. Enjoy the free shows on Friday morning from June 30 – July 21 at the corner ofNorfolk & St. Elmo Avenues in Bethesda.
UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – late July. The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment! Tickets start at $27.50.
Olney Outdoors is back! Olney Theatre presents over 25 summer programs to be held on the newly renovated Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, this summer from July 7 – September 3.
See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. Macbeth will run June 16 – July 23. Tickets are $65/adult, $33/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult. Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, return this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public, with tickets available through an online lottery or a limited number given out day-of. Look for more info about it soon!
MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
Go for a spin on the beautiful Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park
These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.
Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Mini Golf (the Miniature Train is not open as it’s undergoing a restoration) on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 29 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September 4(Labor Day). This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!
Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only in early May, and will run on weekends through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $3.50. Plan to spend time at the wonderful Cabin John playground, too — read more about it here.
The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open through the summer. After Memorial Day, it’s open Thursday – Sunday, but hours vary, so be sure to check the website.. Rides are $3.50. Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.
At Glen Echo Park, the beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 102nd season! Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From late April through August 27, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.
The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 29 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. (Until then only on weekends) Cost is $3.50/weekdays, $4.50/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.
National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices are $17/age 13+, $13.50/12 & under. For an on-ground whirl, The Carouselfeatures a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7/ rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.
Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day. The train 11am – 5:45pm, the carousel 11am -5:30pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $3.50-4.50, train rides are $4.50-5.50, mini golf is $7-9. See more about the park here.
Play Mini Golf in the District at East Potomac Park. (Fun fact: It’s on the National Register of Historic Places listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country!) Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Admission is $6/kids and seniors, $7/adults. Read more about hanging out at East Potomac Park’s Hains Point. (FYI: You can also play Foot Golf there!)
Tee up at several NoVa Parks that have mini golf courses.Cameron Run, Upton Hill, Pohick Bay, and Algonkian Regional Parks all welcome guests to putt around. Cost is $5/age 12 & under, $7/13+. Check websites for hours at each park.
Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria offers ides on its Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel. Open daily May 29 – August 19 (and weekends until May 28 and August 20 – October 29) — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday. Cost is $3.50 per ride on Fridays, $4.40 per ride weekends & holidays.
Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!
Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.
A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Our family always enjoys catching a Nats game on a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with all kinds of offers and discounts.
Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages, and Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, they’re not too long if young spectators get antsy.
Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, are playing their matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!
Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Entertainment & Sports Arena in southeast DC to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $14.
Every summer, the Mubala Citi DC Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 29 – August 6.
Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.
If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors to see the Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds play. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.
The Breeze, DC’s Ultimate Frisbee pro team, plays at Catholic University’s Carlini Field. It’s fast-paced, fun to watch, and there’s a welcoming family vibe — plus, kids 8 and under get in free!
A very snap-worthy bloom
Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.
Public boat rides along the C&O in Georgetown recently returned. They are available throughout the day, Wednesday – Sunday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm through October, offering one-hour guided historical tours along the first mile of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Cost is $15/adult, $10/senior, $8/child.
For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.
Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.
Summer in the Parkswill offer weekly events every Thursday evening 6-8pm at Carter Barron in June and at Fort Slocum in August in partnership with Rock Creek Park/National Park Service. The FREE, family-friendly events will have music from DJ Lance Reynolds and fun-for-all-ages games and activities.
Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings from June 23 – August 25 forFriday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required. Dates still to come — will keep you posted!
Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park will officially welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm starting Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! (You can still BYO skates and roll around the rest of the year.) And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers all kinds of recreation, including large fields for sports and running around, tennis, fishing, basketball, biking, running, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.
One of the best treats of the season
Crab feasting is easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.
* Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
* Pick up your own at The Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.
Lawn games like Kadima elevate summer hangs
There are some items that help enhance your summer experiences, whether you’re going to the pool, headed to the beach, or just enjoying a day outdoors in the sunshine. These KFDC posts have great recommendations for gearing up for summer fun.
1. Yesterday, the DC Department of Parks and Rec opened 16 spray parks throughout the city! From 12-4pm daily, kids can splash around, stay cool, and have fun at the locations equipped with fountains and more water features. The rest of DC’s spraygrounds will open Saturday, May 27. Use this map to find a spray park close to you.
2. And since others are getting the water fun started, it’s a good time to (re)share this round-up of swim spots beyond the pool, all within a couple hours’ drive of the city. Beaches, lakes and rivers, and swimming holes are included, and there have been some additions since last swimming season, so be sure to check it out and bookmark!
3. Starting this Thursday, May 18, you can once again watch a monthly movie at Audi Field! The stadium will transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch presents films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen, all of them family-friendly. The lineup: DC League of Super-Pets on May 18, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on June 22, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish on July 6, Minions: The Rise of Gru on August 27, and Jurassic World Dominion on September 7.
4. These are perfect — practical and pretty — for the spray park and swim season.