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Things to Do in Washington DC in May

Updated: January 27, 2024

This list of our favorite things to do in May in Washington DC, updated for 2024. It includes free, nighttime, and family-friendly things to do.

Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

Where possible we link to websites that often offer savings on ticket prices (like StubHub). While we are unable to confirm their prices are the best, they are all verified ticket resellers .


For more ideas on popular things to do in DC, check out our other posts:

Be sure to check our post on things to do in DC year-round.

Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

1. Attend a Concert

There will be a lot of notable musicians performing in Washington DC this May, so this is the perfect time see a concert.


Music Festivals

Check this list of concerts in Washington, DC to see who else will be playing during the month of May.

2. Cheer on a Local Sports Team

What better to do in America’s capital than watch America’s pastime?

If baseball isn't your game, there are other sports you can enjoy instead, a few of which are listed below.




Check here for even more sporting events in the DC area (including Baltimore) in May.

3. Spend a Night at the Theater

There will be a few different theatrical performances to see in the Washington DC area this month, including some musicals, ballets, and more.



Check here for even more shows in the Washington, DC area in May.

4. Take a Sightseeing Tour

Our Arlington Cemetery tour runs a few mornings each week giving you a chance to learn about our military history and also experience the beautiful landscape of this hallowed ground.

Read about these tours and see when they are offered on our Tour Calendar page.

And we offer more evening tours to take advantage of the later sunsets, but some guests also enjoy evening bus tours.

Read all about the various bus tours in Washington DC to see which ones offer a night option.

With warmer weather, you may want to look into the Potomac River cruises.

This is a great time of year to take the cruise to Mount Vernon and see the springtime plants and baby farm animals!

5. Go to a Stand-up Comedy Show

If you're in need of a good laugh, consider going out to see a stand-up comedy performance.

There will be a handful of notable comics performing in Washington DC this May.

Stand Up Comedy

Comedy Theatres

Check this list of other comedy shows in the DC area in May.

6. Look into a Tourist Discount Pass

Even though there are so many free things to do in Washington DC, some of the highlights do have admission costs.

But you can save time and money on these with a tourist discount pass.

Depending on which pass you choose and how you use it, you could save up to 50% off general admission prices for some of the following activities:

  • National Geographic Museum
  • International Spy Museum
  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Unlimited Biking Tour
  • Sites by Segway Tour
  • The Capital Wheel
  • Sightseeing Cruise
  • National Cathedral
  • Mount Vernon
  • And more!

If you’re interested in any of these attractions or you want to know more about how these services work, please read our post covering Washington DC discount passes.

7. Attend Some Other Festival and Events

Here are some additional experiences you might like to take part in!

Annual May Events

Smithsonian Craft Show | May 2nd-5th | This festival celebrates the work of some of the country's best craft and design artists.

Rockville Arts Festival | May 4th-5th | The works of over 125 artists are on display and can be purchased.

NBTS Race for Hope | May 5th | a run that raises money and spreads awareness about brain tumors.

Dragon Boat Festival | May 18th | cultural and athletic demonstrations, lion dances, and eye dotting ceremonies.

Dates for these festivals haven't yet been announced:

Tamarindo Festival | date TBA | a multicultural festival celebrating diversity with food, drink, dance, music, and more.

Annapolis Rigging Festival | date TBA | This maritime festival includes tall ships, tours, live music, artists, and more.

Saint Sophia Greek Festival | date TBA | Find the best of Greek culture including food and drink at this annual festival.

Adams Morgan Spring PorchFest | date TBA | Watch concerts taking place on the porches and in front of businesses.

8. Celebrate Memorial Day

There are few places in the country that celebrate Memorial Day better than DC.

There are many ways to honor our fallen on Memorial Day weekend in Washington DC – whether on your own paying respects at the veterans' memorials or as part of a scheduled event.

Some of the largest events in 2024 are also free:

We also run additional Arlington National Cemetery walking tours and our National Mall tour, which visits WWII, Vietnam, and Korean Veterans Memorials.

Check out our guide to Memorial Day in DC for more information.

9. Experience Rolling to Remember

As part of DC’s Memorial Day activities, the annual Rolling to Remember event takes place.

Starting on May 24th, 2024 thousands of motorcycle riders will make their way from the Pentagon through the district and back to the Lincoln Memorial.

This is meant to pay tribute to our veterans and raise awareness for the issues facing veterans in America today.

There will be events Satruday, Sunday, and Monday including a ride around the city.

It is truly an amazing event to witness!

10. Celebrate Mother's Day

The capital is a great place to celebrate Mother’s Day.

DC’s restaurants are still running outdoors, so you can find a special brunch spot. Another great option is to take her on a cruise of the Potomac.

If simple and sweet is more her style, pack a picnic and bring it to the National Mall to eat surrounded by memorials.


May is a lovely month weather-wise so spending some time outside after the sun goes down is a treat!

Below are a few more nighttime activities that take place in May. 

For more nighttime activities, visit our Things to do at Night in DC post.

Take a Nighttime Tour!

Our evening Memorials and Moonlight tour let you explore the National Mall after the sun sets.

With the memorials lit at night, there is an extra level of beauty, and at some of the veteran's memorials, an added sense of reverence.

You'll also often get the memorials to yourself as crowds are less.

We also have a few adults-only tours, particularly our Lincoln Assassination Tour, if you're looking for some salacious historical tidbits and a night away from the school groups.

Reserve a spot now!

Go on a Dinner Cruise

Discover another side of the capital as you drift along the Potomac after dark and see all of the landmarks lighting up the night sky.

During a dinner cruise, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy an elegant 3-course meal and dance to live music performed on board the boat.

Whether you’re looking for a good idea for a date night or you just want to see DC from the water after the sun goes down, this is an excellent opportunity you won’t want to miss.

Purchase Dinner Cruise tickets or learn more.

Experience the Supernatural Side of DC

Even our nation’s capital has its fair share of spooky stories that you might not know about. 

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not Washington DC is haunted (by something other than old guys who sign bills into law), there are ghost tours that cover the haunted history of this area.

Visit locations such as the Treasury Annex, Lafayette Square, the Dolley Madison House and more as your guide provides details about some of the creepier things that have happened in DC!

For more details, please read our post on Washington DC Ghost tours.


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 or attending Passport DC are fun for people of all ages.

Here are a few more kid-friendly things to do in May. For more read about Visiting Washington DC with Kids.

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 animal highlights include gorillas, elephants, lions, sea lions, and zebras.

The zoo grounds are open from 8 am - 6 pm (with the last admittance at 5 pm) in the month of May.

Cool off at the Georgetown Waterfront Park

Escape the DC humidity along the banks of the Potomac River at Georgetown’s Waterfront Park.

Children will enjoy splashing around on the accessible fountain splash pad and lounging on the riverfront steps leading up to the water.

Also, catch some shade under one of the many lush trees or relax under the industrial pergola.

Our Historic Georgetown walking tour starts here and our family-friendly Ghosts of Georgetown begins not too far away.

Read about other family-friendly activities from our post on  Visiting Washington DC with Kids.

Attend Passport DC

With so many diplomats in DC from countries far and wide a variety of cultures fill the city.

Passport DC celebrates this with annual events in and around the city in May. May is also International Cultural Awareness Month so it fits perfectly with this event.

You'll find embassy open houses, performances, street festivals, exhibitions, workshops, and more, many of them kid-friendly!

Click here for a list of events in May.

Visit FlowerMart

This is Washington National Cathedrals' annual fundraiser, taking place on the grounds of the cathedral since 1939!

It's the perfect event for the whole family, with booths, children's books, an antique carousel ride, and more.

And of course, there are flowers and all sorts of other plants.

Events take place May 3rd and 4th, 2024.

For more information, visit the FlowerMart website.


The city of DC is (fortunately) overloaded with free things to do!

Here are a few more ideas for free activities in May but for our comprehensive list, visit our post on free things to do in DC.

Head to the U.S. National Arboretum!

A visit to the U.S. National Arboretum is great for any beautiful spring day, as the flowers are in bloom and the grounds are lush.

May can also bring the peak azalea bloom so keep your eyes peeled for those.

A highlight of the Arboretum is the Bonsai collection and May 14th, 2024 is World Bonsai Day!

The Arboretum is open daily from 8 am – 5 pm; admission is free.

Shop Like a Local at Eastern Market

May is a beautiful month to take advantage of a favorite local spot - Eastern Market.

The market was included in original plans for the city, and the beautiful building dates back to 1871.

The market has the usual fruits, vegetables, and delicious foods, but also has artisans from around the world, making this a great spot for a unique souvenir.

The full market is open on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Take a Tour

We offer tours multiple times a day in May so there will always be something for your dates.

Many of our tours are pay-what-you-want, so you get to choose how much they are worth at the end, even free. They are tours for every budget!

Find out more about our DC Tour schedule on our Tour Calendar page.

If we don’t offer a guided tour that fits your interest and schedule, check out our many self-guided tours and audio tours.


About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | I'm a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. I have written for HuffPost Travel and have been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. I've also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. I am the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. I am an authority on D.C. history, and have led tours in the city since 2011. I currently resides in DC, but have also lived in London and South Korea, and have traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. I homeschool my 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC. Read More...
Updated: January 27th, 2024
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