Whether you’re looking to beef up that summertime trip to DC or need a few more excuses to book your vacation in the Capital, our local DC expert has put together the ultimate summer calendar. With places to stay and eat, sports events and fests to attend, top tourist attractions and exhibits, there is truly something for everyone. Summer fun awaits in the nation’s Capital!
Two recently renovated boutique hotels, Liaison Capitol Hill and Capitol Hill Hotel, boast the ideal location for scouring the sights on the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, and around Capitol Hill.
Feel like checking out the Washington Nationals? Check in at the new Courtyard Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard or splurge on a romantic night at the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC. You can walk from both hotels from the stadium.
Looking to paint the town? Book your room in DC’s most vibrant neighborhood, Penn Quarter. The Embassy Suites DC Convention Center and the Renaissance Washington Downtown were both recently refreshed and are steps from the Verizon Center, several theaters, and a plethora of bars and restaurants.
The Alexandria Food and Wine Festival in historic Alexandria, Virginia features the best of Virginia wine country and tastings from Alexandria’s top restaurants.
The 31st annual Restaurants in Bloom; The Annual RAMMY Awards is a themed gala and award ceremony for DC’s best culinary talent. The event is held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, and includes a cocktail competition, buffet style dinner, music, and dancing.
Summer Block Parties
Enjoy Hill Country’s Backyard Barbeque on the West Lawn of the National Building Museum Wednesday through Sunday on late afternoons until dark with live country music, mini-golf, Shiner beers, and cocktails.
Raise your glass at the National Zoo’s annual Brew at the Zoo. Sample beers from forty microbreweries and enjoy live music while hanging out with the animals. Must be 21 to attend.
June 26-30 and July 3-7
The 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival explores Hungarian Heritage, Endangered Languages, and African American Style. The National Mall is transformed into a colorful gathering of culture, costumes, music, food, crafts, and storytelling. All events are free.
Celebrate Independence Day with Tom Bergeron of Dancing with the Stars at PBS’s A Capital Fourth on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. Enjoy patriotic music, a parade, and spectacular display of fireworks against the backdrop of the Monuments. Or watch the fireworks from a park along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, for an unobstructed view and easier getaway (on the Virginia side of the Potomac, includes Gravelly Point, Lady Bird Park, or the Air Force Memorial to name a few).
Can’t Miss Exhibits
The FOOD: Transforming the American Table exhibit focuses on the American experience with food after World War II. It shows the dramatic changes in US food manufacturing, preparation, and consumption, along with the widespread adoption of international cuisines. Free at the National Museum of American History.
And be sure to check out Real Pirates: The Untold Story of Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship at the National Geographic Museum, which describes the perils and pleasures of 18th century pirate life; with real buried treasure rescued by underwater explorers.
All that Jazz
The Jazz in the Garden Series is a free concert every Friday evening in summer from 5-8:30 pm in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden. This wildly popular event features a wide array of jazz artists. Refreshments are available at the Pavilion Café.
The 2013 DC Jazz Festival kicks off summer from June 5-16 with more than 125 dazzling performances from world-renowned artists. Venues include the Kennedy Center, Bohemian Caverns, and the Phillips Collection.
Every Friday at 8 pm during the summer, the "President’s Own" US Marine Band performs a free concert at the Marine Barracks Washington. Before the concert, tour the USS Barry Naval Destroyer Ship parked behind the Navy Yard on the Anacostia River.
The Sporting Life
See Tiger Woods defend his 2012 title at the AT&T National Golf Tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
July 27-August 4
Watch the world’s top tennis players, like John Isner and Lleyton Hewitt, compete at the annual CitiOpen Tournament at the William Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the National Portrait Gallery is featuring an extensive collection of art from that period. The exhibits are all free.
Classic examples of American art from colonial times until 1980 is on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art with paintings by Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Andy Warhol.
Rolling Down the River
There’s no better way to enjoy the Monuments and DC Waterfront than from a breezy boat ride along the Potomac River.
The fleet from Entertainment Cruises, including The Dandy and The Odyssey, offer brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises with beautiful views of the city; a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or to relax after a busy day of sightseeing.
The National Park offers mule drawn Canal boat rides on the C&O Canal in Great Falls, Maryland. Travel back in time with your period-dressed Park Ranger describing life on the Canal in the 1870’s.
Photo credits: Graham Georgetown courtesy of Graham Georgetown; National Building Museum BBQ courtesy of Rachel Naft Photography/National Building Museum; 4th of July fireworks via Shutterstock; Real Pirates: The Untold Story of Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship courtesy of National Geographic Museum; US Marine Band via Wikimedia Commons; CitiOpen Tournament via Shutterstock; Corcoran Gallery of Art courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art; Potomac River via Shutterstock