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What to Do in DC in September

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This post covers the top things to do in September in Washington, DC (updated for 2021), 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.

 

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TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO

This section covers our top ten list of things to do in DC for September.

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. Attend a Sporting Event 

While we think of baseball as a summer sport, there will still be games to attend this September. This is the perfect event for the whole family!

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals have several home games scheduled for September, including matches against the New York Mets, Philadelphia Philles, and Miami Marlins.

Purchase tickets here.

Washington Football Team

Football season has finally arrived! There will be two games played here at the FedExField: against the Los Angeles Chargers (Sept. 12th) and against the New York Giants (Sept. 16th).

Purchase tickets here

DC United

DC also has a soccer team, the DC United, playing here at the new Audi Field near the Wharf against the Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati, and Minnesota United FC.

Purchase tickets here

For more family-friendly ideas, check out our things to do with kids section.


2. Go to a Concert

September is still rolling with the summer concert vibes, and DC has plenty of concerts to attend

Below is a list of some performances being put on in venues across DC, from big-name acts to local bands:

Keep an eye out for more great concerts in DC. Some of the concerts featured will be hosted at the Anthem at the Wharf


3. See a Stand-Up Performance

You don't need to head to NYC to catch a great theatrical performance.

DC has plenty of great theater to see, and this month in particular will be a great time to enjoy some live stand-up comedy.

Jim Gaffigan will be performing at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall on September 10th. Alternatively, you can also catch Nate Bargatze here on September 24th.

If you're looking for even more laughs, check this list of stand-up comedy shows taking place in the Washington DC area this month.


4. DC Shorts International Film Festival

Sept. 9th - 19th, 2021

This may not be your typical vacation attraction, but if you’re a cinephile who's local or happens to be in DC, you should definitely consider checking out the 2021 DC Shorts International Film Festival.

DC Shorts International Film Festival Advertisement. Source: DCShorts.com

The 10-day event will include film screenings, Q&As, filmmaker workshops, and parties.

The event seems to grow every year and has reached screening over 100 films from over 20 countries, so there's something for everyone here. 


5. Wine & Food Festival

Whether you're a wine aficionado or you just love the drink in its various forms, the National Wine & Food Festival is an excellent place to try out your new favorite beverage.

2021 marks the 12th annual year this festival has been held, and this year it will be hosted at the National Harbor.

There are over 150 different wines, craft beers, and craft spirits to taste at this event. In addition to the drinks, you can also expect plenty of great food and live music as well.

The National Wine & Food Festival will be held on September 25th from 1 pm - 6 pm and September 26th from 12 pm - 5 pm. Tickets start at $39 per person.


6. Smithsonian Magazines Museum Day

Sept. 18th, 2021

Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day is a great way to see a museum for free. Participants can reserve a ticket on Aug. 15th to be used September 18th, and is a valid entry for two adults.

One location almost guaranteed to be included is the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, which is a great attraction for families with kids of all ages.

If you're curious about other Free Museum Day locations, make sure to check the Find a Museum search engine on their site to find the best options.

For a list of other great museums to visit while you're in DC, click here


7. King Street Art Festival

Sept. 18th and 19th, 2021

Around 200 artists will assemble for the annual King Street Art Festival for a weekend this September where visitors can peruse over $1 million worth of art, shop, and get to personally chat with the artists.

This event takes place in historic Old Town Alexandria, a great place for restaurants and shopping as well. 

While you're in the area, you should also check out George Washington's Mount Vernon.


8. H Street Festival

What started as a block party is now an 11-block-long street festival in one of the thriving neighborhoods of DC.

You’ll find a unique Northeast flair to H Street Festival with live music, fashion shows, art exhibits and the local restaurants serving up some special fare. Find more information here

The Capitol is a short walk from H street, so we recommend taking a tour of Capitol Hill and visiting the Capitol and the Library of Congress

NOTE: This was turned into a virtual festival for 2020 due to the pandemic. Although they have yet to announce their plans for 2021, chances are they will at least hold another virtual event.


9. Adams Morgan Day

Sept. 12th, 2021

Taking place in Northwest DC, Adams Morgan Day is the oldest neighborhood festival, having celebrated 40 years last year and still going strong!

This is a family-friendly event full of art, music, and activities for everyone. Residents welcome visitors to this event to explore the neighborhood, where local businesses and restaurants offer deals for the day.  

We recommend checking out our Adams Morgan guide while you're there, to wander off the beaten path and delve into the history while you're there. 

NOTE: Although this event has yet to be fully planned out for 2021, they held a virtual event in 2020 due to the pandemic, so you can at least expect them to do something similar this year.


10. Look into a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass for Savings 

Tourist attraction discount 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. 

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Attractions you can see with these passes include:

  • CitySights Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
  • International Spy Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • The Capital Ferris Wheel
  • George Washington's Home

We detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.


UNANNOUNCED: Taste of Georgetown

DC is known as a culinary destination, and it's always fun when a neighborhood can celebrate its cuisine. This September, visit DC's oldest neighborhood for its Taste of Georgetown, hosted by Chef Justin Cournoyer. 

Best described as a seafood extravaganza, you can experience the best of Canadian and local Chefs after browsing this historic neighborhood.

To learn more and purchase your ticket, click here

We recommend experiencing Georgetown on one of our free walking tours, such as Historic Georgetown or Ghosts of Georgetown once the sun goes down. To learn more about our evening tours, check out our night time section below. 

NOTE: This event was postponed to October 5th - 25th in 2020, and they have yet to announce plans for 2021.


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

DC at night is lovely and full of things to do. We have a number of things to do at night in DC listed in our top 10 section above, such as attending a sports event or a concert. 

Below we have a list of a few more things to do after the sun goes down. 

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For more nighttime activities, visit our post on things to do at night in DC


Take an Evening Tour

In addition to our daytime walking tours, we also offer nighttime tours that are a bit more...scandalous.

White House at Night: Secrets, Scandals, Legends, Dark Side of Dupont, and Lincoln Assassination are just a few of the tours we offer at night.

You can also come out and see the memorials by moonlight, a way to enjoy the National Mall lit up at night while getting a great tour experience. 

To check out our full tour schedule, click here.


Free Outdoor Movies

Outdoor movies take place all around DC after dark in the summer and going into Autumn. 

While a lot of places stop showing after August, there are still a few places, like the Congressional Cemetery Cinematery and the National Harbor that offer screenings.

Bring a blanket and some snacks and sit back and enjoy the show.

For a complete schedule of films, dates, and locations, visit here.

NOTE: The National Harbor appears to have changed their schedule for 2021, and they might not be offering free movies in September. 


Art All Night

Come out to DC's largest all-night festival, Art All Night. There are exhibits, performances, and interactive exhibits as well! The event takes place from 7 pm-3am and completely free to attend.

The event takes place in Shaw.

For other fun art events in September, check out our Top 10 section above. 

NOTE: This was turned into a virtual event in 2020, and they have yet to announce their plans for 2021.


Passport DC 

Discover DC's local watering holes with the DC Passport. This booklet offers 62 2-for-1 wine, beer, cocktails, and even coffee in bars and shops across DC.

This is a great way to try new places for cheap or have an excuse for a few more date nights. And at $25 for the entire passport, you'll get your money back after just a few stops.

This is great for discovering your own neighborhood or a new one! Get your passport here

NOTE: This may not be available in Washington D.C. as of 2021.

For even more nighttime ideas, see our post on things to do at night in DC


Zoo Uncorked 

The National Zoo is hosting Zoo Uncorked, an evening event filled with wine and animals. Included in the ticket is unlimited wine tasting hosted by Total Wine, and there are food trucks to purchase foot.

The big event is seeing the big cat feeding once the sun goes down. The event takes place from 6pm-9pm and is a great way to experience the zoo a different way. Get your ticket here

NOTE: This event may not be hosted by the zoo in 2021, as they currently have no upcoming events listed on their calendar.


Salute the Sunset

The US Army Concert Band will be performing at the National Harbor for an event known as Salute the Sunset on September 25th, 2021 at 7 pm.

This event is entirely free to attend and open to the public, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy the show!


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FREE THINGS TO DO

DC is loaded with free things to do! A lot of the items we've listed in other sections like the Adams Morgan Day and H Street Festival are 100% free to attend. 

Here are a few more free activities for September.

For even more budget-friendly ideas, check out our post on free things to do in DC


Take a Walking Tour

In addition to our pay-what-you-wish guided walks, we also offer free, self-guided tours as well as free and cheap ($1.99) GPS-led audio tours.

And there is no cost to join our guided walking tours, but you have the option to pay what you like, or can afford, only after the tour is over.

 

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 You can find out more about all our walking tours here.


Celebrate Fiesta

Fiesta is coming to DC in a 2-day weekend celebration! In early fall, there will be the Fiesta Parade making its way down Constitution Avenue on the National Mall heading west.

The Festival will be held along Pennsylvania Ave NW that features stage entertainment and live performances to celebrate Latino culture. 

Click here to learn all about the event. 

NOTE: This was turned into a virtual event for 2020, and they have yet to announce their plans for 2021.


DC State Fair

Even though DC's not a state, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy it like it is one! This year marks the 10th annual DC state fair, which features arts and crafts vendors, food and drink kiosks, and different organization booths set up that you can shop and peruse.

There are also contests for all ages, so everyone is encouraged to attend! For more information and how to get there, click here.

NOTE: The DC State Fair will be virtual in 2021. 


Feel Good Fridays

Feel Good Fridays is a once a month event set in the NoMa neighborhood offering free coffee, desserts, and treats at both the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Station and the CNN Plaza (200 Florida Ave NE) from 7:30-9: 30 am. 

With two metro stops, the NoMa neighboorhood is a growing neighborhood nestled between Union Station and Union Market and offers the District's only free outdoor Wifi Network.

Come out and shop and discover one of DC's hidden gems! 

NOTE: Dates for this event have yet to be announced.

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN SEPTEMBER

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.

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A few activities we've listed above are also kid-friendly, like visiting a museum, so be sure to read through the other sections for more ideas.

You can also check out our master post on things to do with kids in DC for more ideas.


Fiesta at the Zoo

The National Zoo celebrates Fiesta in a family-friendly event for all ages. Events take place from 10am to 3pm, so feel free to drop in anytime or stay the whole day.

In the past, there have been events such as 'Meet an Armadillo' and bilingual programs in Spanish that you can attend with little ones.

To learn more, click here. The zoo is always free to enter, so even if you can't make it that day it's a great place to put on your DC must-see itinerary! 

NOTE: This event was cancelled in 2020 and has yet to be scheduled for 2021.


National Mall Walking Tour for Kids

Our newest walking tour is meant just for our younger visitors. 

It's a shorter highlight tour with less walking and less talking... and more fun!

We have a scavenger hunt for kids to do at each memorial, where they will learn some fun facts about each memorial and history along the way (but shhh, don't tell them).

See more details from our post on our National Mall Tour: Kids Version.


Barracks Row Fall Festival

Barracks Row Fall Festival- Barracks Row is 8th Street SE and named such because of the Marine Barracks at 8th and I SE.

It's a lively area with plenty of dining, near Eastern Market which is worth checking out on the weekends. Each year they host the Barracks Row Fall Festival with booths of vendors and live entertainment.

The highlight of this festival is the Marine’s Silent Drill team performances!

NOTE: This event was cancelled in 2020 and has yet to be scheduled for 2021.

 


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About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: October 18th, 2021
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