This post covers the top things to do in July in Washington, DC (updated for 2023), including nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly options.
Be sure to read our master post on things to do in DC for even more ideas.
This section covers our top ten list for July.
For more ideas on favorite things to do in DC, check out the following posts:
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass.
1. Discover Georgetown
July is a month filled with events about to America declaring its independence from Great Britain.
One neighborhood that predates the American Revolution is Georgetown and you can learn more about this historic area on our Historic Georgetown Walking Tour, or on your own with our GPS-led audio tour.
You can find out more about all our walking tours here.
2. Attend a Concert
July brings several musical performances to venues in and around DC.
- Natalie Merchant | July 1st | Washington, DC
- Tori Amos | July 5th | Vienna, VA
- Boyz II Men | July 6th | Oxon Hill, MD
- Luke Bryan | July 7th | Columbia, MD
- Elvis Costello | July 9th | Baltimore, MD
- UB40 | July 9th | Vienna, VA
- Counting Crows | July 12th | Columbia, MD
- Garbage/Noel Gallagher | July 13th | Columbia, MD
- Chris Stapleton | July 15th | Baltimore, MD
- Fall Out Boy | July 19th | Bristow, VA
- Matchbox Twenty/Wallflowers | July 17th | Bristow, VA
- Santana | July 26th | Oxon Hill, MD
- Jason Aldean | July 17th | Columbia, MD
- Drake | July 28th, 29th | Washington, DC
- Dierks Bentley | July 29th | Bristow, VA
- Sad Summer Festival 2023 | Pier Six Pavilion | Featuring: Taking Back Sunday, The Maine, PVRIS, and more
- Outlaw Music Festival | Merriweather Post | Featuring: Willie Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff, Kurt Vile, and more
- Broccoli City Festival | RJK Stadium | Featuring: Kodak Black, Chloe Bailey, Coco Jones, and more
Visit the complete list of concerts taking place in July in the DC area.
3. Enjoy The DC Theatre Scene
Fans of the theater will be glad to hear there are several shows on the stage to see in and around Washington, DC.
Opera and Classical Music
- National Symphony Orchestra | Star Wars Return of the Jedi | July 8th, 15th
- National Symphony Orchestra | Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert: Music From the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayao Miyazaki | July 14th, 15th
- Wolf Trap Opera | Faust | July 23rd
4. Attend a Sporting Event
Sports and a cold beer are the perfect way to fend off the summer swelter, and luckily there are a number of games to attend in DC in July 2023.
This is a great option for families. For more family-friendly ideas, check out our things to do with kids post.
There are several tours led by our expert guides. Some are free and others have a ticketed price.
Just a few examples are:
For additional tours, click here.
We also have:
Learn about the monuments and memorials in DC and plan your visit to each of them.
Probably the most popular time this month to visit DC is Independence Day. In 2023, July 4th is a Tuesday.
In addition to celebrating with fireworks, you might also want to consider visiting the National Mall and seeing some of the most notable sites and landmarks in the United States.
Mount Vernon is a great place to celebrate the founding of our nation with our founding father, George Washington.
If you are just in town for the day and want to know all about the fireworks and concert, read our post on the Fourth of July in DC.
7. Attend a Festival
There are a few exciting festivals taking place in DC in July.
Columbian Festival | July 22nd
This festival is a celebration of Columbian culture. Come and enjoy traditional foods, dance, music, and crafts. Colombian-American organizations also promote their work.
All of this takes place at Catholic University.
Capital Fringe Festival | July 13th-16th, 20th-23rd
This annual performing arts festival takes place in Georgetown.
Artists showcase their skills in dance, music, theatre, and comedy. See one man-shows, storytelling, a cabaret, and more.
Attend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival | June 28th - July 4th, and July 6th-9th
This festival celebrates diverse cultures, highlighting their food, dance, art, way of life, clothing, music, and more.
There are performance stages, booths with exhibits, demonstrations, and a generally friendly audience.
It takes place on the National Mall - and best of all, it's free to attend (although food and handicrafts will have a cost).
8. Visit Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is one of the best-known military cemeteries in our nation and the world.
And we have put together a guide to help you plan your visit here.
9. Visit a Smithsonian Museum
DC is home to the world's largest museum complex, one with over 150 million artifacts and treatures.
Each museum and building within the Smithsonian has its own opening hours and rules. Here are just some of them:
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
- National Air and Space Museum in DC
- National Air and Space Udvar-Hazy
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- National Museum of the American Indian
- National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Air Museum
- Smithsonian's National Zoo
For more information, read our guide to museums in Washington DC, and about how to get tickets to the Smithsonian.
10. Look into a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
Tourist attraction passes bundle together many popular attractions and tours into one discounted price and can save you over 50%.
They also can save you time with skip-the-ticket-line privileges.
Here we detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.
July is a bit steamy weather-wise so sometimes spending some time outside after the sun goes down is a better time to see the city.
Some of our top ten items are great for evenings like watching a baseball game.
Below are a few more nighttime activities for July.
Take a Night Walking Tour
We offer several tours in the evening. Our daily 7:45 pm Memorials and Moonlight Tour lets you explore the National Mall after the sun sets.
Other night tours that we offer include:
Kennedy Center Reach's Victoria Park
The outdoor beer and wine picnic area at Kennedy Center's Reach is both kid and dog friendly!
You'll find beer, wine, cocktails, and prepared food to eat at picnic tables, or bring your blanket. (Just don't bring your own food!)
Entrance to the Kennedy Center is free and you can take our free self-guided tour of the Kennedy Center along with you.
Stay Late at a Museum
Celebrate the long summer days by staying late at the Smithsonian Museums.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery stay open until 7 pm every day.
We offer guided tours of many of the Smithsonian Museums!
DC is (fortunately) overloaded with free things to do!
A lot of the items we've listed in other sections like the Kennedy Center and National Zoo are 100% free to enter!
Below are a few more activities for the month. For even more budget-friendly ideas, check out our post on free things to do in DC.
Jazz in the Sculpture Garden
From May through July, you can listen to jazz at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.
Reservations are required and are bookable a week in advance - they go FAST!
For a complete schedule of performances, visit here.
Tour the FBI Building
Tours of the FBI Building are possible but take a little know-how.
You will be guided to an exhibit room and a small museum but only if you have an advance reservation.
NOTE: Tours are only open to US citizens.
Visit the National Archives
Here you can see the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, US Constitution, and more!
You can get timed tickets in advance for a small processing fee or you can walk up with no appointment, just be prepared to wait in line during busy times.
Read our post on how to plan your visit to the National Archives in DC.
Cool Off at the Georgetown Waterfront Park
Escape the DC humidity along the banks of the Potomac River at the Georgetown Waterfront Park.
Children especially will enjoy splashing around on the accessible fountain splash pad and lounging on the riverfront steps leading up to the water.
Washington, DC is super family-friendly!
There are also so many activity options available, there is sure to be something to fit everyone's tastes.
A few activities we've listed above like taking a Potomac River cruise. Here are a few more kid-friendly things to do in June.
Be sure to read our master post on things to do with kids in DC for even more ideas.
Head to the Zoo!
A part of the Smithsonian Institution (meaning admission is free!), the National Zoo offers families a variety of animals and fun when they visit.
Don't miss the zoo's largest draw - the giant pandas that are currently on loan from China.
Other animals highlights include gorillas, elephants, lions, and zebras, or watch the orangutans walk the high wire every morning
Read more about the Zoo and remember timed tickets are required to enter the Zoo (and ANOTHER ticket is needed to see the Pandas)
Play outside on the National Mall
There are a few activities taking place on the National Mall that kids are sure to enjoy.
Tidal Basin Paddle Boats
Rent paddle boats on the Tidal Basin to get a unique perspective of the Jefferson, Dr. King, and FDR Memorials.
There is a fee to rent the boats and they only operate in good weather.
The Tidal Basin Boathouse supplies life vests for individuals over 18 months of age or 25 lbs.
You can find the operating status and current rates here.
Carousel on the National Mall
For little kids, a carousel ride on the National Mall provides a fun break between visiting the museums. There is also a food and drink stand nearby for a quick snack.
Visit the Kids' Sections at the Smithsonian Museums
Smithsonian museums have no costs.
Many of the main Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall have separate rooms for younger visitors, a favorite is the miniature Julia Child's Kitchen in the Wegmen's Wonderplace at the American History Museum.
You'll also find an entire floor of the American Indian Museum geared towards kids, with a passport to explore the many Native cultures.
Explore the Arboretum
Families who are looking to explore the outdoors will enjoy the United States Arboretum. It's basically a huge park!
Highlights include the beautiful Bonsai collection, various aquatic plants, the National Grove of State Trees, and the huge collection of Cherry Blossom trees.