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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 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 

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! Games are throughout the month, and there's even a Firework Friday on August 30th that you won't want to miss!

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals will be playing several home games in August of 2021. Purchase tickets 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 27 – August 4. Come see some of the highest ranked tennis players play right here in Washington, DC. Both men's and women's matches will be played, and you can get tickets 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 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.

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.

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

4. Go to Awesome-Con

This comic convention will welcome a lot of notable artists, actors, and vendors to celebrate the whole entertainment world at Awesome-Con on August 20th-22nd, 2021.

You can expect the following well-known guests to make an appearance at Awesome-Con:

  • Adam Savage
  • Christina Ricci
  • George Takei
  • William Shatner
  • Sean Astin
  • Jonathan Heder
  • Charles Martinet (voice of Mario)
  • And more!

Tickets start at $40 for adults and $15 for children.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

5. Attend the Darn Good Music Festival

If you're not impressed with the selection of concerts available this month, perhaps this music festival will better fit your tastes.

Without a doubt, the two most notable artists performing will be Third Eye Blind and The Revivalists, but there will be at least a dozen performers at this event.

In addition to the music, there will also be plenty of excellent food to eat, and there will be a Happy Hour from 1 pm - 4 pm, so you won't have to worry too much about the prices.

The Darn Good Music Festival takes place a short drive from Washington, DC in Fairfax, Virginia from August 7th - 8th.

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 brand new Wharf walking tour.

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

7. Visit the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress should be open again by August of 2021, so you might want to consider heading out to see their many notable exhibits.

They also often provide concerts and other events throughout the year, but we won't know what their future plans will look like until it is once again safe to visit.

Even if they don't have any special events, the Library of Congress is still a great destination to visit on your trip to Washington, DC.

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!

During this week over 100 restaurants in the DC area will offer three-course meals for fixed prices at $22 for lunch and $35 for dinner.

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

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for 2021. Keep an eye on the Restaurant Week website for more details.

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 for vintage game night! 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.

NOTE: This event has not yet been scheduled for 2021.

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
  • 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.

Around the World Cultural Food Festival

Taste food from all over the world in this year's Around the World Culture Food Festival. 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, though 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.

NOTE: This event was rescheduled for July 31st, 2021.

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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.

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 here.

NOTE: No dates have been announced for 2021.

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.

Past parades have been at the Lincoln Memorial with the exception of the first two Tuesdays in August, though locations for these events have not yet been announced.

The parades actually begin in June and run through August, so if you are here in DC in those months, you can enjoy this event as well!

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

Read more and watch a video about the Sunset Parade here.

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.

The US Navy Band performs at the Capitol's west steps (the side facing the Mall) on Mondays and at Navy Memorial on Tuesdays. See their schedule here.

US Air Force Band performs on Fridays at the Air Force Memorial and on Tuesdays on the west steps of the US Capitol. 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!

NOTE: None of the museums have announced any dates for sleepover events in August of 2021.

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

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DC is loaded with free things to do! A lot of the items we've listed in other sections like the  Sunset Parade and movie nights are 100% free to enter!

Here are a few more free activities for August.

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

 Celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Come out to the National Museum of the American Indian to hear a special concert.

The concert is hosted in partnership with the Embassy of Chile and is free.

The concert starts at 3 pm, but we suggest getting there early and having lunch at their renowned Mitsitam Cafe before the performance.

NOTE: No events have been scheduled for August of 2021 just yet. Keep an eye on their event calendar for more details.

For a list of our top museums to visit in DC, click here.

Jazz in The Gardens  

There's a free jazz performance every Friday from 5 pm- 8:30 pm in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden.

Bring your picnic blankets and lawn chairs and lounge while seeing some top performers including The US Army Blues Swamp Romp, The Slackers, and more.

For a full list of performers this summer, click here.

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for August of 2021.

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.

NOTE: Plans are currently in motion to bring this event back and it should be taking place every Friday in August of 2021.

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.

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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.

Visit the Zoo

The zoo is always free to enter. Summer hours are 8 am until 7 pm, with last admittance at 6 pm.

This location should be re-opened by August of 2021, but you'll need to obtain free entry passes to get inside. This safety measure has been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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 Lawn at the Building Museum

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

This year it will be 'Lawn', a green expanse with seating areas and hammocks offering activities throughout the summer, like movies and yoga.

It's enjoying the outdoors inside, away from the August heat!

The Lawn exhibition is ticketed, but the rest of the museum is free to the public and features exhibitions on architecture and urban planning.

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.

NOTE: This event has yet to be announced for August of 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: January 6th, 2022
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