I’ve lived in DC for three summers now. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time for fun in DC after my travels and I am so excited to tell you about it! As a local, there’s way more to DC than just your regular Smithsonian, monument, and Georgetown. Don’t get me wrong, these are great things, but there’s so much more! Here are some things, I recommend as a local.

1. Brunch – brunch your heart out!

Brunch is seriously the thing to do and there is nothing better than a good brunch in the summer here in DC. DC is known for brunch and a trip to DC is not complete without a delicious meal! Click here to check out my favorite local spots you can eat at on a budget.

2. Check out a rooftop pool

So, most rooftop pools offer memberships and/or day fees that are at least $20 a day if not more in DC. You can’t go on any day and expect to get in for free. However, many also offer FREE events! Embassy Row Hotel does “hooky Fridays” where entry is free to their rooftop pool! It can get crowded, but being on the rooftop and getting in for free is worth it. I will say that when I went, it was not crowded at all. They also do a silent disco later in the same evening which just adds to the fun.

DC Pontomac

3. Cruise or paddle along the Potomac

Georgetown, the Tidal Basin, and Waterfront all have options for getting out on the water! While Georgetown is known for its kayaking and paddle boarding, don’t be afraid to step out into another neighborhood where you can enjoy the water without the giant Georgetown crowd. I’ve done a cruise along the Potomac and paddle boats.

4. Check out one of many neighborhood festivals

One of the best ways to get to know DC is to hang out with the locals. Throughout the summer, there are lots of different festivals throughout DC and summer is when all the neighborhoods have their own parties going on. One of the best things about DC is how each neighborhood is unique and does it’s own thing. Get to know the real DC and head over to a festival or block party this summer. One of the biggest and most fun is the H Street Festival which is a mile long. The whole street opens up, bars have spots all the way out to the streets, and local artists and vendors take over. It’s huge and goes all the way late into the night. Here’s City Paper’s list of neighborhood festivals.

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol

5. Go to a Nationals game

What says summer more than baseball?! To add to your fun, go to The Yards next to the stadium before the game to listen to music, have a few beers, and play some corn hole. Perfect afternoon!

6. Check out a free show on the Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center is gorgeous and going to a performance there is definitely something incredible, but it can be so expensive! But, did you know there are free performances literally every night there? It’s amazing! Go for a free show. Here’s a list of the upcoming free shows. They happen every night!

Washington DC

7. Bike around the city

Yes I said this is the perfect thing to do in spring too. Why? Because biking around DC using capital bike share is cheap and awesome. Bike through the neighborhoods is another way to get to know DC. Get an iced coffee, take a bike lane, and stop along the way when you come to one of the many adorable parks around the mall or city. The bike share is only $7 for a half hour (you can return and get a new one throughout the day within 30 minutes). Essentially, you can ride a bike all day for just $7! Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

Where to stay: Washington Court Hotel

8. View an outdoor movie at one of the many spots around the city

Being outside is tons of fun in the summer and DC can get so hot. This is another good way to get outside without ending up sweating like crazy! There are so many spots to catch a movie outside in the summer after the sun goes down. They’re perfect because you get to take in a beautiful setting in the city, bring your own picnic, and watch a movie you know you’ll love. My favorite spot is the Congressional Cemetery where you can watch a classic scary movie in the cemetery after dark once a month. Last time I went, we saw the Birds a classic by Alfred Hitchcock. Here’s a list of all the spots around DC with free outdoor movie showings this summer!

9. Go to a food or drink festival

There’s a lot of these happening in the summer. One of the biggest is the BBQ, Beer, and Bourbon Fest. I am personally looking into getting tickets into the Taco and Tequila fest because what is better than tacos! We’ll see where I get to go this summer. Festivals can get expensive, but they can also be pretty affordable if you buy tickets early.

Washington Monument, Washington DC

10. See the Capital in fireworks on the 4th of July

I will be honest, I haven’t spent a single Fourth of July in DC because I always have that month off for work and have traveled to another country for the past year. It’s kind of crazy! But, I couldn’t make a summer in DC list and not recommend the nation’s capital for Independence Day. To be honest, many of my friends and I avoid downtown DC for the 4th, but I know that it’s a good one because so many people travel here for it! Just be prepared for crowds and lots of people!

11. Go to the drive in at Union Market

This might be my favorite thing for summer. First of all, Union Market is one of my favorite places in all of DC for food. With all the different carts and local vendors, there is something for everyone there to eat. EVERYTHING is delicious!!! Then you add a drive in movie in the parking lot and I’m hooked! It’s just $10 a car and you can reserve your spot online on their website. You can grab food then watch the movie from your car or you can bring your own chair or blanket and watch for free. Here’s their schedule.

Where to stay: State Plaza Hotel

12. Go to an event at a museum

There’s always something going on somewhere at a Smithsonian during the summer after hours. From Jazz in the Garden on Fridays, to special events at the Hirshhorn, an event is a unique and cheap way to explore a museum. They’re free all the way up to about $20 depending on the museum or event. I’ve been to many and one of my favorites was not at a Smithsonian, but at the Spy Museum. We had a blast on a scavenger hunt, got a special gift, and a cocktail to top it all off!

Author: I’m Meghan and I’m a teacher in DC who has a serious LOVE for travel! I’ve been to 18 countries so far and am always planning my next adventure. I’m always on a budget so I’m here to show you how to make the most of your trip while not breaking the bank. I hope we can adventure together!

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