Summer Activities » Washington, DC

Summer Activities in Washington, DC

There's more to a DC summer than just playing "spot the intern" or tourist slalom at the Mall. These ten activities make the Nation's Capitol a great place to play in the summer.
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Washington Nationals

Does anything say "summer" more than baseball? It's hard to beat the combination of relaxation, entertainment, iconic Capitol views, food and fresh air to be found at a Nationals game. From the $5 nosebleed seats to the plushest boxes, Nationals Park is a great place to catch a baseball game. There are food options far beyond the usual hot dog and peanuts -- maybe you'd prefer one of Ben's Chili Dog's famous half-smokes, a Shake Shack burger or a scoop of hazelnut gelato from La Piccola Gelateria? Sure, the team may not be headed to the World Series anytime soon, but at least you can get good specials on cheap tickets. Parking within a few blocks of the stadium is limited and expensive; consider the Metro (Navy Yard) or the Circulator bus instead.

P.O.V. Roof Terrace

Located in the W Hotel, P.O.V. Roof Terrace is basically just a hotel bar. Rather expensive cocktails, spotty service, slightly disappointing tapas. So why do people love it so much that CityPaper readers named it Best Rooftop Bar for 2012? It's all about the view, baby. P.O.V. has incomparable views of the White House, Monuments and downtown. Sipping a fancy cocktail in a chic setting on a breezy summer evening, close to all the DC icons but above the noise and traffic of the city -- how could you not feel like the ultimate DC insider? In a setting like that, who cares about the tapas? There are only around 100 seats and space fills up quickly; reserve ahead or prepare for a possible wait.

Hillwood Estate and Gardens

Hidden away off Connecticut Avenue near Cleveland Park is the Hillwood Estate, a grand home once owned by Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Hillwood's 13 acres of shady formal gardens form the perfect spot for a summer picnic. They'll even loan you a picnic blanket! If you prefer to purchase food on site, there's a small cafe with light lunch items. Bring a friend, take your time and pretend the beautiful setting is all yours (in between those jaunts to Europe and time at your country estate, of course). Be sure to reserve some time for exploring the fine collection of Russian and European art and antiques inside the mansion. Open Tuesday through Saturday and occasional Sundays for afternoon tea. A suggested donation of $15 includes parking.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the largest cultural event in the Nation's Capital, drawing roughly one million visitors a year. A free event held for two weeks around the Fourth of July, the festival is notable both for its sterling educational credentials and its oddly disparate choice of yearly topics. Take the 2011 festival, which highlighted the nation of Columbia, the history of the Peace Corps and the music of Rhythym and Blues. Themes for 2012 include a celebration of land grant universities, an exhibition of the AIDS Quilt and a focus on DC east of the Anacostia River. Though the topics are academic, the festival features plenty of music and dance, storytelling, craft and cooking demonstrations, souvenier tents and food. No matter what you're into, you're sure to find something interesting at the Folklife Festival.

Upton Hill Regional Park

Whether you've got kids in tow or just want to unleash your own inner child, Upton Hill Regional Park is the place to be. Once you enter the park's lushly wooded acres, you'd never know you're still in the middle of Arlington. There are the usual trails and picnic areas, but what sets Upton Hill apart are batting cages, a water park and an 18-hole miniature golf course. The facilities are fancy for a public park -- including an amazing spray park with a 500-gallon dumping bucket and one of the longest miniature golf holes in the world -- but they're still offered at Parks & Rec prices. If you really want to go nuts, $12 buys an all-day pass to all three features.