This post covers the top things to do in August in Washington, DC (updated for 2023).
We include nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly options.
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.
Be sure to read our master post on things to do in DC for even more ideas.
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 .
Sports and a cold beer are the perfect way to fend off the summer swelter, and luckily there are a number of games to attend in DC in August.
- Citi Open Tennis Tournament | August 3rd
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.
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.
- Jason Isbell | August 2nd | Vienna, VA
- Sam Smith | August 4th | Washington, DC
- Parliament Funkadelic | August 13th, 14th, 15th | Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD
- P!NK | August 7th | Washington, DC
- Barry Manilow | August 17th | Baltimore, MD
- 5 Seconds of Summer | August 18th | Bristow, VA
- John Fogerty | August 19th | Vienna, VA
- Lionel Richie/Earth, Wind, & Fire | August 18th, 19th | Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD
- Jethro Tull | August 24th | Vienna, VA
- Nickelback | August 26th | Bristow, VA
- Train | August 27th | Vienna, VA
- Bruce Springsteen | August 28th | Washington, DC
- Moonrise Festival | August 12th | Pimlico Race Course | Featuring: Alison Wonderland, Bonnie X Clyde, and more
- Masters of the Mic | August 17th | Wolf Trap | Featuring: Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, KRD-One, and more
Visit the complete list of concerts taking place in August in the DC area.
Our tours cover several different neighborhoods.
There is no cost to take our main 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.
In August 2023, you'll have the chance to see the new Beyond Granite exhibition on our National mall tour.
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.
5. Enjoy The DC Theatre Scene
Fans of the theater will be glad to hear there are several shows on the stage to see in and around Washington, DC.
Opera and Classical Music
- National Symphony Orchestra | August 4th | Vienna, VA
- Don Giovanni | August 11th | Vienna, VA
- Carmina Burana | August 30th | Vienna, VA
- Russell Peters | August 5th | Oxon Hill, MD
- Tim Heidecker | August 8th
- The Bald Brothers Tour | August 11th | Washington, DC
- Ali Wong | August 14th-19th | Washington, DC
- Colin Mochrie | August 26th | North Bethesda, MD
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 Congress is one stop every visitor to DC should make
They put on concerts, lectures, and other events throughout the year as well as special exhibitions.
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? Restaurant Week!
During this week over 100 restaurants in the DC area will offer three-course meals for reasonable fixed prices.
This means tasting more and spending less and enjoying the best food in DC without breaking the budget.
The 2023 summer Restaurant Week dates haven't been released as of May, so check the website for updates.
Taste food from all over the world in this year's Around the World Culture Food Festival, taking place on August 26th.
There will also be arts and crafts, dance performances, and more.
General Admission is free, although you can purchase VIP passes.
The event has moved from downtown DC to the waterfront Oronoco Bay Park in Old Town.
For more information, visit the Around the World Cultural Food Festival website.
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.
We detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.
August in DC can get pretty hot and 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.
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 evening Memorials and Moonlight Tour lets you explore the National Mall after the sun sets.
Other night tours that we offer include:
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.
Sunset Parade at Marine Barracks
Friday 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 at the Marine Barracks at 8th & I Streets, SE.
Visit the Friday Evening Marine Parade to secure your seat.
You can also 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.
Navy Band Free Concerts
On many nights of the week, you can usually find the Navy 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.
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.
Attend DC's Water Lantern Festival
Those who purchase a ticket get a floating lantern kit and a candle, playing cards, a wristband for entry into the festival area (where the food trucks are), and more.
This event takes place at National Harbour SouthPointe on August 5th.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the DC Lantern Festival website.
For even more nighttime ideas, see our post on things to do at night in DC.
DC is loaded with free things to do! Here are a few more free activities for August.
For additional budget-friendly ideas, check out our post on free things to do in DC.
Tour the Pentagon
A guided tour of the Pentagon is a great way to learn more about the Department of Defense and is open to anyone who has an appointment.
These should be made pretty far in advance, so be sure to read our post on how to do so.
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!
In August, the Market's dates are August 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th.
Tour the FBI Building
Tours of the FBI Building are possible but take a little know-how.
You will be guided to an exhibit room and a small museum but only if you have an advance reservation.
NOTE: Tours are only open to US citizens.
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.
For even more free things to do, visit our post Free Things to do in Washington, DC.
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 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.
Last year they partnered with the Folger Shakespeare Library for "The Wonders of Shakespeare".
In addition to an immersive installation, they had behind-the-scenes tours, sword-fighting demonstrations, scavenger hunts, and other hands-on activities.
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.
Play outside on the National Mall
If you want to run off some kid energy, the National Mall is the perfect place to do it. A few locations kids might find of interest are:
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.
Sleep Over at The Smithsonian
Want to see the museums without the crowds? Your best bet would be to do it at night.
There are both Smithsonian Nighttime Adventures and Smithsonian Sleepovers taking place this month.
- Smithsonian Nighttime Adventures take place August 11th from 7 pm-11 pm.
- Smithsonian Sleepover takes place on August 4th. Kids 8-14 and their adults can stay overnight.
For information and to purchase tickets for either event, visit the Smithsonian Nighttime Adventures website.
You'll get the most out of your visit and have an expert to answer all of your questions!