Tag Archives: What to do with Kids in DC this Summer

The 2024 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

The season may still be a few weeks from official on the calendar, but summer fun has begun around the DC area! Spray parks are open, outdoor movies are being screened, 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 over 10 years, has all the info and inspiration you need to make the most of the season… starting now!

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Play in the Sprays

Outdoor Pool Season

Beaches

Waterparks

Big Screen Under the Stars

Summer Concerts

Festivals & Special Events

Seasonal Exhibits

Special Entertainment & Programs

Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel

Summer Sports

Crab Feasts

Seasonal Experiences

Gear Up

 

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PLAY IN THE SPRAYS

Scenic spray fun at Georgetown Waterfront Park

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. Read more about Canal Park in this KFDC post.

 

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. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

 

DC DPR Spray Parks will open will be open for the season daily 10am – 6pm starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 25, through Labor Day, September 2. 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. The water features turn on for the season on May 24! Note that they will be closed up to 48 hours these dates: June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19, and September 22. Read more about the water features at The Yards here.

 

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to 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. Read more about Georgetown Waterfront Park in this KFDC post.

 

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, Drew Park, and Mosaic Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain. Open Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Hours vary by park, so be sure to view the websites.

 

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 May 25 – June 14, then daily June 15 – August 18, then only weekends again through September 2.

 

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. Open daily 10am – 9pm daily from Memorial Day Weekend 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

Rosedale pool in NE DC opens Memorial Day

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 weekends May 25 – June 14, then daily June 15 – August 11, then weekends again August 12 – September 2. See the MoCo Department of Recreation website for 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 opens May 25 – August 9, and Old Town Pool and Warwick Pool are open May 25 – September 2.  Hours vary by day, 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.

 

Hotel Pass: Some DC hotels offer days passes for  adults and kids to their outdoor pools. At Hyatt House at The Wharf they start at $50/adult, $30/child.  The Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park starts at $50/adult, $15/child. Hotel Zena in Downtown DC starts at $50/adult, $25/child.

 

BEACHES

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 $5/vehicle in-state residents, $7/vehicle out-of-state. Read more about Calvert Cliffs in this KFDC post.

 

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 $5/vehicle in-county residents, $15/vehicle non residents. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here

 

Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis 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 7am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/person weekends, $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 (read this post for details) 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 on weekends 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. Admission is $3/person weekdays, $5/person weekends.

 

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 from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day, since it’s very organized with a designated beach/swim area, lifeguards, a bathhouse for changing and restrooms, and a snack bar.

 

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 $10/vehicle out of state. 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.

 

 

WATERPARKS

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.

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA

* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA

* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD

* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD

* The Water Mine in Reston, VA

* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA

* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA

* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA

* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA

* Chesapeake Beach Water Park in Chesapeake Beach, MD

* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA

* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

 

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the drive-in movie

Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition over the 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 monthly on Fridays through October 4, 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 29. 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 screening “Epic Expedition” themed films Wednesdays at sunset through June 5.

 

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free movies on Tuesday evenings from May 21 – June 25 with all sports-themed films to get hyped for the summer Olympics. 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.

 

New this year are Summer Film Nights at the Zoo, a free outdoor summer event series set to dazzle and entertain.  Movies will be shown on Lion-Tiger Hill, the grassy lawn located near the Harvard Street entrance to the Zoo, on May 16, June 20, July 18.  Reserve passes in advance.

 

Sunset Cinema at The Wharf presents free movies on Transit Pier on Thursday evenings starting at 7pm. There is a mix of action movies, rom-coms, blockbusters, and classics, so be sure to check the shedule to see what’s playing.

 

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings.  The series of Navy-themed films pays tribute to our rich maritime heritage.  Look for the line-up soon.

 

Audi Field will once again transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen —  May 30, June 6, June 20, June 27, and July 18 — all of them family-friendly.

 

DowntownDC Summer Flicks presents the ultimate outdoor cinematic experience, where beloved films meet live scores by renowned guest DJs, on Thursdays from June 6 – July 18 at Franklin Square.

 

Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Park on Fridays in June.

 

Cinematery, themed “Summer of Spirits” this year, will screen four iconic haunted films.  It takes place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on May 31, July 5, August 2, and September 6.

 

Enjoy Films in the Park in the Mosaic District will show movies in Strawberry Park every Thursday, 7-9pm, from June 20 to August 15.

 

Films at the Stone will host monthly screenings of family-friendly movies on Fridays, June 21, July 19, & August 16 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

 

The Columbia Pike Movie Nights series is returning. Enjoy free movies on Fridays nights at Arlington Mill Community Center and Saturday nights at Penrose Square stating July 5 through August 24.  The selection of 16 family-friendly films include animation, adventure, comedy, musicals, and more.

 

The Library of Congress will host its 7th annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings from July 11 – August 8. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

 

Georgetown Sunset Cinema presents 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. 2024 dates TBA.

 

SUMMER CONCERTS

Friday night concerts at the Yards are a great start to summer weekends

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 Friday Summer Concerts will run Fridays, 6-8pm, from May 17 – September 20. 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 31, and there will be weekly shows through August 9. 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. Registration is required for all ages 2+.

 

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series brings outdoor concerts to National Harbor on Saturdays at 7pm and occasionally at other sites around the area starting June 1.

 

Rock the Dock at The Wharf on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm from May 29 – August 28. 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.

 

Starting June 1 through August 31, 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 U.S. Navy Band is bringing back Concerts at the Capitol, performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, and other iconic spots around DC June 3 – August 26 at 8pm.  All performances are free and open to the public.

 

Glen Echo Park’s 2024 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion on Thursdays at 7:30pm from June 13 through August 29 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 28 – August 23. 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 Fridays 6:30-8pm, from June 7 – September 20.

 

Tysons Corner Center presents a Summer Concert Series as part of their Summer on the Plaza activities. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy live music from 7-9pm on  May 18, June 5, and July 20.

 

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 10 – August 21.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

 

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.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS

Giant puppets at a past Folklife Festival

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.

 

From May 25-27,ViVa! Vienna!, a family and community oriented celebration of Memorial Day and the greater Vienna Community spirit,   will have amusement rides, food, crafts, vendors, and live entertainment.

 

The Mac Daddy of Truck Touch events around the area, the DC Department of Public Works’ Annual Truck Touch will take place on June 1, 8am – 1pm at RFK Stadium, Lot 8.  Tickets are free, but reserve a spot!

 

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 8-9 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.

 

At The Capital Car Show on June 15, see some of the world’s most exciting rare and classic cars.  This curated exhibition of 25 collector cars will be showcaed in  CityCenterDC.

 

The National Zoo will be hosting Science Solstice Saturday on June 22.  The free, fun-filled immersive scientific experience will offer opportunities to engage with scientists, researchers, and animal experts to learn how science is shaping the future of wildlife conservation.

 

Sound Scene, an interactive sound and multi-sensory arts festival, will be back at the Hirshhorn June 22-23. The free, all-ages celebration of sonic and sensory arts will feature artists from DC and around the world. With a “Solstice” theme, visitors can explore various concepts and issues through interactive art installations, live performances, and small group workshops.

 

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 22-23 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.

 

On June 15, get a close look at some of the most exciting aircraft at the Innovations in Flight Outdoor Aviation Day. The event takes place at the Steven C. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the National Air & Space Museum. View over 50 unique aircraft that  fly in for the day and be on display outside the museum. You can even go into some of the cockpits and cabins and talk with pilots. Admission is free, but tickets are required.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place this year June 26 – July 1.  Every summer, 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 Indigenous Voices of the Americas 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 Parade down 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 19-21. View scenes from a previous bloom here.

 

July 27-28, the Downtown DC BID presents Kids World 2024, a celebration of youth and learning in Franklin Park . Free and open to all, the event will feature a variety of creative pop-ups, hands-on activities, performances by talented local youth,  playful installations, and more to entertain and educate young visitors and their families.

 

County fair season in the region starts in early August and goes through late September.  It starts with the Howard County Fair August 3-10,  then the Montgomery County Fair August 9-17, the Prince William County Fair August 11-19, the Arlington County Fair August 14-18, the Prince George’s County Fair (dates TBA), and the Anne Arundel County Fair (dates TBA).

 

The National Book Festival, one of the most anticipated annual events in DC, takes place on August 24, 9am – 8pm! Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for the day of reading-related activities. Works by more than 70 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased, and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances. See the website for more details. Admission is free. 

 

It might run into fall, but it starts August 24, 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 herehere, herehereherehere, 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 a couple of years ago, and they’ll be very helpful again.)

 

SEASONAL EXHIBITS

A fairy house find 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 Mindbender Mansion exhibit to its Visiting Exhibit Hall. It will be an eclectic place full of brainteasers and interactive challenges guaranteed to test the brain power and problem-solving skills of even the most experienced puzzlers. Visit it May 25 – September 2.

 

It’s not actually an exhibit, but the Folger Shakespeare Library will have several fascinating exhibits plus performances at its theatre plus a brand new space when it reopens to the public after a thre- year renovation on June 21! Hours will be 11am – 6pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and 11am – 9pm Thursday – Saturday.  Admission is free (suggested donation of $15).  Get an idea of what’s at the Folger in this KFDC post from pre-renovation.

 

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, in 2022 The Playhouse celebrated Shakespeare, and last year it was LOOK HERE.  This year’s summer exhibition is still TBD, but it is sure to be exciting! It usually begins around July 1 and runs through Labor Day.

 

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.

 

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology will have a new exhibit for the summer.  Details will be shared soon! Admission is $20-25/adult, $17/age 4-15, $72/family 4-pack, free/under 4.

 

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 21 through August 27. 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!

 

The National Portrait Gallery is hosting Portrait Gallery Kids  on select Mondays, 11:30am – 12:30pm, from June 3 through August 26.  Children and families are invited to join museum educators to will look at art, do hands-on activities, listen to music, and participate in story time. Each session will explore a new topic and use different materials. Admission is free.

 

National Harbor hosts a free Kids Day on the Plaza every Tuesday at 10:30am at the waterfront plaza stage. The fun Tuesday mornings will run June 4 – August 27. Enjoy summer sunshine and cool river breezes along with a rotation of family-friendly activities.

 

The beloved Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park will present the show Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale from June 20 – August 18.

 

And the popular Imagination Stage is performing Miss Nelson is Missing from June 20 – August 10.

 

Millennium Stage Extraordinary Cinema is presenting several family movies — Jurassic Park on May 31, Elemental on June 21, Ratatouille on June 28, and The Lorax on August 2 — all of them are FREE and will be screened around 8:30pm outside on the wall of The REACH.

 

CityCenterDC and The Washington Ballet will present live performances in The Plaza at CityCenter.  See them for free June 8-10, 6:30pm-7:30pm. Seating is first-come, first-served.

 

Throughout summer on select dates from June 10 – August 10, 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.

 

From June 20 through August 3, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’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 10 – August 15. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

 

Experience a real-life night at the museum at a Smithsonian Sleepover at the National Museum of Natural History.  Kids and parents can explore exhibits after dark, participate in games and challenges, and enjoy an overnight in a favorite DC place.  Follow the link for pricing and more details.

 

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.

 

Olney Outdoors is back  with over 25 summer programs to be held on the Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, this summer from July 5 – August 31.

 

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 11, July 18, July 25, and August 1 at 7pm.

 

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. The Merry Wives of Windsor will run June 14 – July 21.  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.

 

See what regularly occurring museum programs for kids are happening this summer!

 

 

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!

Ride through the woods on the Watkins miniature train

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 27 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September 2 (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 103rd season! Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August 31, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.

 

Get ready to kick some putt at The Wharf!  Pixar Putt, a mini golf course inspired by the stories, characters, and icons from some of Pixar’s most beloved films, is popping up at the southwest waterfront from March 25 to August 3.  Hours are Monday – Thursday, 12-8pm and Friday-Sunday, 10am – 8pm.  Note that tee times are age 18+ after 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $32/child, $34/adult, $108/family 4-pack.

 

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 27 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. (Until then only on weekends) Cost is $4/weekdays, $5/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 $17.50/age 13+, $13.50/12 & under. For an on-ground whirl,  The Carousel features 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 $4-5, train rides are $5-6, 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 RunUpton HillPohick 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 June 15 – August 18 (and weekends until June 14) — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $4 per ride on Fridays, $5 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

 

SUMMER SPORTS

Kick it at a DC United match!

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 27 – August 4.

 

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!

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES

Blackberry picking at Homestead Farm

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.

 

On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and 11th Street Bridge Park are locations for these jaunts.

 

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 Parks will 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 5-8pm  from June 21 – September 5 for Friday 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.

 

Enjoy some fun in the trees navigating the best ropes courses in an aerial forest around! The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is open in spring and fall, too, but summer is a great time to go when the kids are off school and weekdays are options too.  Read about  some of our experiences there here and here.

 

Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Or go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore.

 

Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

 

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.

 

 

CRAB FEASTS

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.

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.

* Mike’s Crab House in Riva has a great tiki area if there’s a table wait.

* The Point in Arnold, MD, has become one of our favorite crabby spots.

* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.

* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.

* Skipper’s Pier in Deale is the most recent place we tried — and we all liked it.

* Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.

* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.

* Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.

* 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.

 


GEAR UP

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.

* Amazon Picks for Spring & Summer Adventures with Kids

* 10 Outdoor “Lawn” Games for Extra Summer Fun

* Must-Haves for Keeping Kids Cool at the Pool

* Top Picks for the Best Beach Day

* This past post and this one with Prime Day picks also include lots of summer recommendations.

 

 

Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

 

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Filed under 2024, DC, Maryland, Summer, Virginia

The 2023 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

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!

* * * 

Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Beaches
Waterparks
Big Screen Under the Stars
Summer Concerts
Festivals & Special Events
Seasonal Exhibits
Special Entertainment & Programs
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences
Gear Up

* * * 

 

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS

Spray play at The Wharf

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.

 

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, Drew Park, and Mosaic Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain. Open Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Hours vary by park, so be sure to view the websites.

 

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.

 

BEACHES

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 in Annapolis 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.

 

 

WATERPARKS

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.

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA

* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA

* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD

* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD

* The Water Mine in Reston, VA

* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA

* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA

* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA

* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA

* Chesapeake Beach Water Park in Chesapeake Beach, MD

* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA

* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

 

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS

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 TerrestrialJuly 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 Memorial on 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 Park on 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.

 

SUMMER CONCERTS

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+.

 

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series brings outdoor concerts to National Harbor on Saturdays at 7pm and occasionally at other sites around the area starting June 3.

 

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 Series as 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.

 

The Mac Daddy of Truck Touch events around the area, the DC Department of Public Works’ Annual Truck Touch will take place on June 3, 8am – 1pm at RFK Stadium, Lot 8.  Tickets are free, but reserve a spot!

 

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 Parade down 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 herehere, herehereherehere, 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.)

 

SEASONAL EXHIBITS

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.

 

Another LEGO exhibit, this one nature-inspired, will be at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley from May 27  – September 4Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects® Made with LEGO® Bricks looks worthy of the two-hour drive out there!

 

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 HERE will “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.

 

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology, has extended the current, beautiful Pixelbloom: Timeless Butterflies exhibit through July 9. Get a glimpse of it! Admission is $20-25/adult, $17/age 4-15, $72/family 4-pack, free/under 4.

 

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 Harbor is 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!

 

CityCenterDC and The Washington Ballet will present live performances in The Plaza at CityCenter.  See them for free June 8-10, 6:30pm-7:30pm.

 

The National Postal Museum is presenting a special Guest Artist Series on 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 schedule for dates and locations.

 

From June 20 through August 5, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’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 of Norfolk & 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.

 

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 13, July 20, July 27, and August 3 at 7pm.

 

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 Carousel features 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 RunUpton HillPohick 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.

 

 

SUMMER SPORTS

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!

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES

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.

 

On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and 11th Street Bridge Park are locations for these jaunts.

 

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 Parks will 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 for Friday 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!

 

Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Or go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore.

 

Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

 

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.

 

 

CRAB FEASTS

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.

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.

* Mike’s Crab House in Riva has a great tiki area if there’s a table wait.

* The Point in Arnold, MD, has become one of our favorite crabby spots.

* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.

* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.

* Skipper’s Pier in Deale is the most recent place we tried — and we all liked it.

* Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.

* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.

* Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.

* 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.

 


GEAR UP

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.

* Must-Haves for Keeping Kids Cool at the Pool

* 10 Outdoor “Lawn” Games for Extra Summer Fun

* Top Picks for the Best Beach Day

* Summertime Must-Haves for Little Ones

 

 

Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

 

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