This post covers the top things to do in September in Washington, DC in 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.
- Top 10
- Nighttime Activitiestu
- Free Things to Do
- How's the Weather
- Free Tours by Foot
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 discounted ticket prices (like StubHub). While we are unable to confirm their prices are the best, they are all verified ticket resellers .
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.
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!
Note that if you're catching a baseball game, there are lots of great activities and restaurants to enjoy in the Nationals Park neighborhood.
For more family-friendly ideas, check out our things to do with kids section.
September is still rolling with the summer concert vibes, and DC has plenty of concerts to attend.
Below is a list of just some of the performances in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area.
- Madonna | September 2nd | DC
- Lynyrd Skynyrd/ZZ Top | September 2nd | Columbia
- James Taylor | September 7th, 8th, 9th | Vienna
- Bruce Springsteen | September 9th | Baltimore
- Beck/Phoenix | September 10th | Columbia
- 50 Cent | September 19th | Baltimore
- Macklemore | September 19th | DC
- Peter Gabriel | September 20th | DC
- Jonas Brothers | September 22nd, 23rd | Baltimore
- Wu-Tang Clan | September 26th | DC
- Aerosmith | September 27th | DC
- Sting | September 1st, 2nd | Vienna
- All Things Go Music Festival | September 30th | Merriweather Post | Featuring: Lana Del Ray, Maggie Rogers, Boygenius, and more
Check here for more concerts in DC.
You don't need to head to NYC to catch a great comedy performance.
Many comedians stop in to DC venues, and you can see some big names in September.
- Nate Bargatze | September 23rd, 24th
- Joe Gatto | September 15th
- Ben Schwartz & Friends | September 21st
- Rickey Smiley | September 9th
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.
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 2023 DC Shorts International Film Festival.
Events take place September 8-11th at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema DC.
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. Attend DC Jazz Fest
This annual music festival brings jazz musicians from around the world to DC for over 100 concerts.
The concerts take place in over 30 venues throughout the city. There are also workshops and other jazz-related events.
Activities take place between August 30th and September 3rd.
For tickets and information, visit the DC Jazz Fest website.
6. Experience Art All Night
Come out to DC's largest (and free!) all-night festival, Art All Night, which takes place September 29th-30th.
There are exhibits, performances, and interactive exhibits as well!
The event takes place in 16 different main street corridors including outdoor and indoor spaces. Visit each neighborhood's website for more details about what they have planned.
For other fun art events in September, check out our Top 10 section above.
7. Peruse the King Street Art Festival
Around 200 artists will assemble for this annual arts festival taking place on John Carlyle Square.
From September 30th-October 1st visitors can peruse over $1 million worth of art, shop, and get to personally chat with the artists.
The free Alexandria Old Town Art Festival 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. Have Fun at the 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.
This year the festival takes place on September 16th.
You’ll find a unique Northeast flair with live music, fashion shows, art exhibits, and local restaurants serving up some special fare.
For more information, visit the H Street Festival website.
Taking place in Northwest DC, Adams Morgan Day is the oldest neighborhood festival at more than 40 years old and still going strong!
This family-friendly event is 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.
The date hasn't been released yet, but the festival usually takes place in September. Visit the Adams Morgan Day website for updates.
Note: check out our Adams Morgan guide while you're there, to wander off the beaten path and delve into the neighborhood's history.
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.
They also can save you time with skip-the-ticket-line privileges.
Attractions you can see with these passes include:
- CitySights Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- International Spy Museum
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
See Free Outdoor Movies
Outdoor movies take place all around DC after dark in the summer.
These continue through August, and depending on what neighborhood you're exploring, chances are there will be a place to see one.
These movies are free and usually family-friendly, with huge screens and a great view.
Bring a blanket and some snacks and sit back and enjoy the show.
For a complete schedule of films, dates, and locations, visit these sites:
- Adams Morgan Movie Nights
- Cinematery at Congressional Cemetary
- Drive In at Union Market
- Films at the Stone
- Georgetown Sunset Cinema
- Golden Triangle Cinema
- NOMA Movie Nights
- Films in the Park - Fairfax
- Movies on the Potomac - National Harbor
- Summer Movies on the Lawn - Library of Congress
Or, you can click here for a spreadsheet list of all of the movies being shown from April-October.
Head to the Salute the Sunset Concert Series
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!
Shows this month take place September 2nd and 16th.
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
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.
You can find out more about all our walking tours here.
Head to Oktoberfest
The wharf in DC has an Oktoberfest celebration on District Pier.
Feel free to dress in Bavarian costume, and enjoy food, drink, and a stein hoisting contest.
The same weekend there will be an annual Wiener 500 Dachshund Dash.
For more information, visit the Oktoberfest at the Whaft website.
Celebrate Fiesta DC
Fiesta DC has been taking place in the city for over 50 years in celebration of Latino Culture.
There will be a colorful parade, activities on the Wharf, and a Miss Fiesta DC contest.
Events take place over September 23rd & 24th. Visit the Fiesta DC website for more information.
Go to the DC State Fair
Even though DC's not a state, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy it like it is!
This year marks the 14th annual DC State Fair, which features arts and crafts vendors, food and drink kiosks. Also, different organizations will have booths set up that you can peruse and purchase from.
There are also contests for all ages. Everyone is encouraged to attend!
For more information, visit the 2023 DC State Fair website.
Head to Kennedy Center Reach's Victura 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 own 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.
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 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.
Take a 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.
Go to the National Museum of American History
Kids will enjoy visiting the National Museum of American History as the entire museum is very kid friendly.
It's open each day from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and admission is free.
The information desk offers families a guide for "America on the Move" which includes games and other interactive exhibits for families to engage.
There are also simulator rides that are available for a fee.
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, and zebras, or watch the orangutans walk the high wire every morning.
Read more about the Zoo and remember free timed tickets are required to enter the Zoo (and ANOTHER ticket is needed to see the Pandas).
Cool off at the Georgetown Waterfront Park
Escape the DC humidity along the banks of the Potomac River at the Georgetown 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.
Visit the Kid's 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.