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Top Things to Do in August in DC

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This post covers the top things to do in August in Washington, DC (updated for 2022).

We include 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 

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

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 

Attending a summer baseball game is a great activity for the whole family!

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals will be playing several home games in August of 2022. Tickets can be purchased here.

DC United

DC also has a soccer team, the DC United, playing through August at the new Audi Field near the Wharf. Tickets can be purchased here.

Citi Open Tennis Tournament

You can catch the end of this nine-day prestigious tennis event that takes place from July 30th – August 7th.

Come see some of the highest ranked tennis players play right here in Washington, DC. Tickets can be purchased here.

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


2. Go to a Concert

August 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 being put on in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area.

Check out this link for more concerts in DC.


3. Take a Walking Tour

Our pay-what-you-wish tours cover several different neighborhoods.

There is no cost to take our tours, and 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.


4. Attend a Raggae Festival

The DC World Raggae Festival takes place from August 20th - August 21st at RFK Stadium.

This year's theme is 'Let there be peace on earth', something that "covers the topics of love, unity, spiritual rejuvenation, and health awareness".

There's Roots reggae, Reggae lovers rock, Dub cultures, Ska, Soca, Calypso and Kompa and a variety of Caribbean, American and International dishes.

Click here to purchase tickets or learn more about the event.


5. Around the World Cultural Food Festival

Taste food from all over the world in this year's Around the World Culture Food Festival, taking place on August 22nd.

The event takes place in the heart of downtown DC at Freedom Plaza and is a mix of performances and food tastings.

General Admission is free, although you can purchase VIP passes here.

The event takes place all day from 11am-7pm so you can easily plan your day around it.

For other food activities, check out our food tours in both Georgetown and Eastern Market.


6. Discover the Wharf 

Explore the newly redone Wharf neighborhood in Washington, DC.

Along with great food spots and a gorgeous view of the water, the Wharf has a lot of history to uncover, which we do on our Wharf walking tour.

Some of the concerts featured in our Top 10 will be hosted at the Anthem theatre at the Wharf.


7. Visit the Library of Congress

The Library of Congresss is one stop every vistor to DC should make

They put on concerts, lectures and other events throughout the year as well as special exhibitions.

Main Reading Room Library of Congress

A list of events can be found here, all of which are free (although concerts require tickets).

It is free to explore and we include a tour of it on our Capitol Hill Tour.


8. Explore DC's Restaurant Week

DC is known for its great food scene, but eating out all the time can be pricey!

The solution? Attend Restaurant Week! This year Restaurant Week takes place August 15th - August 21st.

During this week over 100 restaurants in the DC area will offer three-course meals for fixed prices at $22 for lunch and $40-$55 for dinner.

This means tasting more and spending less and enjoying the best food in DC without breaking the budget.


9. Go to Vintage Game Night

If you've never been inside of a president's house, now's your chance.

Come out to the Woodrow Wilson House Museum for vintage game night on August 3 at 5:30 PM!

See the preserved historic home and wander the garden outside.

If you can't make it, you can still pay your respects to the late president by visiting him at the National Cathedral, where he is laid to rest and is the only president to be buried in Washington, DC.

To visit the graves of other presidents, check out Arlington National Cemetery on our walking tour or visit Mt Vernon.


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.


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

August in DC can get pretty hot an humid, which makes nighttime optimal to do activities.

We have a number of evening activities 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 a Night Walking Tour

We offer a number of tours in the evening. Our daily 7:45pm Memorials and Moonlight Tour lets you explore the National Mall after the sun sets.

Other night tours that we offer include:

Reserve a spot now

You might also be interested in a bike or bus night tour.


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:


Sunset Parade at Lincoln Memorial

Tuesday nights in August, you can watch musical performances by “The Commandant’s Own,” the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, as well as a precision drill by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.

The parades begin in June and run through August on select nights.

Visit their website for more details. Read more and watch a video about the Sunset Parade here.

We have special National Mall tours that end at the Lincoln Memorial just in time to watch the parade.


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 Kennedy Center along with you.


Military Evening Free Concerts

On many nights of the week, you can usually find a military band performing for free throughout the city.

From pop tunes to patriotic songs, these performances take place in some of the most beautiful venues and outside at the memorials.

See their schedule here.


Sleep Over at a Museum

Want to see the museums without the crowds? Your best bet this summer will be to sleep over at one of them!

Another way to optimize your museum experience is to book one of our Smithsonian guided tours.

You'll get the most out of your visit and have an expert to answer all of your questions!

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


FREE THINGS TO DO

DC is loaded with free things to do!  Here are a few more free activities for August.

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


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.


Attend a Farmer's Market

Come out to Capital Harvest on the Plaza located at the Ronald Reagan building.

This weekly farmer's market features farm-fresh goods and artisanal novelties.

There's also an information booth stocked with healthy take-home recipes to inspire the meal you'll be making with your purchases!

The market is easily accessible on the Metro and is not too far from the White House Visitor Center, which is a great place to visit if you couldn't get tickets to go into the actual White House.


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.

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


THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN AUGUST

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 checking out the Wharf, so be sure to read through the other sections for more ideas.

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 free timed tickets are required to enter the Zoo (and ANOTHER ticket is needed to see the Pandas).


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.


Enjoy the Building Museum

Each summer the National Building Museum puts on a cool new exhibition in their Great Hall.

This year they have partnered with the Folger Shakespeare Library for "The Wonders of Shakespeare".

In addition to an immersive installation, they have behind-the-scenes tours, sword-fighting demonstrations, savenger hunts, and other hands-on activities.

They also have a Summer Block Party running from July 1st - August 28th, one that gives guests of all ages something to do.

Visit their website for more information, and check out our post on top DC museums for more things to do inside while in DC.

You can also check out the Law Enforcement Memorial across the street while you're there.


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.

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


Play outside on the National Mall

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.


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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: August 26th, 2022
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