Smithsonian Folklife Festival courtesy of washington

Enjoy free summer activities in Washington, DC, including Smithsonian museums, holiday celebrations and much more.

2nd June 2022: Whether you’re planning a summer trip to DC or celebrating the season as a local, we’re here to remind you of all the free things to do this summer in the District. From Smithsonian museumsto can’t-miss events and festivals to monuments and memorials, summer in Washington, DC makes for an unforgettable time, and it doesn’t have to hurt your wallet.

1. Marvel at DC’s incredible Fourth of July fireworks

It’s not summertime in the nation’s capital without an epic Independence Day celebration featuring fireworks soaring over the iconic National Mall. After the music of ‘A Capitol Fourth’ concludes, the night sky lights up with a colorful display that you will never forget. Make sure to stay tuned to the event website for details. We’ve also compiled a list of the best spots to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in Washington, DC, as well as other ways to celebrate Independence Day in the District.

2. Take a night-time stroll around the monuments and memorials

If you think DC’s National Mall is stunning during the day, you’re in for a treat when you explore its monuments and memorials on a summer night for the first time. The Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and World War II Memorial are all stunning in moonlight, as is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Picturesque moments await, which you should tag with #MyDCcool.

3. Check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall

The free Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international cultures every year on the National Mall with craft exhibits, live music, cooking demos and an expansive marketplace full of pottery, books, textiles, toys, sculptures, clothing and more. The 2022 edition will focus on the United Arab Emirates and feature Earth Optimism programming.

4. Let the kids roam at one of the city’s splash zones

There’s nothing like some water-themed fun in the summertime. DC has plenty of options, including the Capitol Riverfront’sYards Park and its 11-inch basin and dancing fountains, Canal Park’s interactive fountain, Georgetown Waterfront Park’s 50-foot space and Petworth’s spray park.

5. Spend an afternoon at the National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden

The National Gallery of Art and its gorgeous outdoor sculpture garden make for the ideal spot for an afternoon stroll. Inside the West Building, you can discover thousands of essential works, organized by period and national origin and arranged in spectacular and comprehensive galleries across two floors of exhibition space. Also note that Jazz in the Garden has returned for 2022, with performances taking place every Friday evening through Aug. 22.