10 Free Activities To Do In D.C. This Summer - Poplar Travels
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Jul 11 2014

10 Free Activities To Do In D.C. This Summer

Washington, D.C. is so hot and muggy in the summer it has become a common misconception that it was built in a swamp. When humidity strikes, you have to find ways to survive, and the District provides lots of distractions. There are plenty of free activities year-round, but during the summer, the opportunities abound. Here’s a list of our ten favorite free activities to take advantage of in our nation’s capital especially during the summer months.


(via Cloture Club)

1. Outdoor movies

There are several venues to catch movies in an outdoor setting including the National Mall’s Screen on the Green. Films start when the sun is setting, so it might even cool down a bit. (Although you should arrive early to secure a spot.) Alcohol is technically illegal on the Mall, but we won’t tell if you don’t. Complete schedule here.


Colorful outfits at L'Enfant's Bastille Day celebration

2. Festivals

Summer in D.C. means festivals – Jazz , Fringe, AFIDocs, Funk Parade, etc. One of our favorites is Bastille Day. Check out the celebrations with L’Enfant’s street party on July 12 for French maid races, trapeze artists and tons of surprises ($10). Destination DC has a pretty good list of some other summer festivals.


3. Navy Band Concerts

The U.S. Navy Band holds free concerts around D.C. Check their event calendar for upcoming dates.


4. Jazz in the Garden

Ok, it’s hot and this is another outside activity, but there is sangria and the bands are great.


Bao Bao

(AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

5. The National Zoo

In my opinion, the zoo is always amazing, but in the summer this is a great place for a stroll early in the day. The hills offer a little big of a challenge if you’re looking for a workout. If that’s not what you had in mind, just take your time and spend some  extra time chatting with Bao Bao and co.


6. Parks

Yes, these are outside as well, but they are so pretty! Meridian Hill Park is at the top of our list. Then Rock Creek of course. Particularly the areas near Dumbarton in Georgetown. There are plenty of shady spots where you can cool off and room for your four-legged friends to roam.


7. Salsa Lessons

Take advantage of free salsa lessons at Cafe Citron on Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 8:30 and then stick around and dance for the rest of the evening. Maybe you’ll get good enough to take your skills out on the town the following weekend.


8. Free Workout Classes

There are actually a lot of free workout classes available around the District. Some athletic stores like Athleta and Lululemon offer classes right in their retail space. Circle Yoga offers donation only classes every Saturday. Now you have no excuse to not be in shape for summer (ha).


Washington sunset

9. Monumets at Sunset

The national monuments really are a sight to behold at sunset. Get off at the Smithsonian metro stop or take a cab down to the mall. If it’s too stifling for you to take a stroll, rent bikes for a little breeze and ride around the tidal basin. Still too hot? Wait for the sun to go all the way down – they look handsome in the moonlight as well!


10. Public Pools

Ah, the one you’ve been waiting for. That’s right. D.C. knows how hot it is and offers free pools for residents in an attempt to make it up to you. All you need is proof that you live in D.C. (a gas bill, pay check or driver’s license will do). Be sure you get there right when it opens to ensure you get a seat.

Now you know how to entertain yourself without emptying your pockets. What are you favorite free things to do in D.C. during the summer?

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Evanne Allen

Evanne co-founded Poplar Travels after quitting her job in Washington, D.C. She got itchy feet at a young age and has never lost the urge to explore the planet. A previous museum employee, she is apt to drag travel partners into several cultural institutions anywhere she goes. She wishes she could speak every language and loves meeting new people.

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