Don’t know where to go after spending a long day at the office? We got you covered with a list of the best attractions to visit while you spend your dream summer in the capital. Take some time to bring out your inner tourist and see what D.C. holds. The perfect opportunity to go out with your fellow interns and enjoy some fun around the city. Don’t let your summer pass by without a quick adventure in D.C.!
Check out these attractions around the D.C. area recommended by George Washington University students to complete your summer.
1. Carp Pond on the Mall
If you want to relax after work, you can take a stroll in the National Mall to sit by the Carp Pond. There you can read a book or simply just relax. This spot remains a more isolated location from the rest of the touristy monuments that bring the mall to life. But don’t fret as you might have company from the ducks of the National Mall floating in the pond next to you. As the weather becomes more humid, you might want to take some time to enjoy the summer heat. Carpe Pond is a great spot for an after-work walk!
“My favorite thing to do in D.C. in the summer is probably just walk around the city, it’s so pretty,” George Washington University senior Tara Suter said. “One of my favorite little hideaways I walk to is the Carp Pond on the Mall- there’s a bunch of ducks there and I love just sitting in the sun and watching them. It gets my mind off work and just in general is somewhat secluded from the rest of the mall which means it’s not always overrun by tourists.”
After visiting Carp Pond, you might want to walk across the National Mall to see the historic monuments that surround it. It serves as good exercise since all monuments are at a medium distance from each other, taking up to 30 minutes to walk to each one! You can set up a quick picnic with the other interns at your office to have quality time with each other and make more friends. Don’t stay cooped up in your apartment and have fun!
2. Baseball Game with the Nationals
Make sure to visit the baseball park to see a game with the Nationals as the baseball season embezzles the summer. This park offers fantastic food from local D.C. restaurants such as Ben’s Chili Dog, La Casita Pupuseria, Arepa Zone, Dolci Gelati, Shake Shack and so many more. Keep your eye out for the President’s Race during the fourth inning where jumbo-headed look-alikes run through the bases. You might even get the chance to see the Nationals go up against your hometown team. Don’t forget to take a lot of pictures; the field holds terrific views of the city!
3. Celebrate the Fourth of July in the National Mall
Head down to Constitution Avenue to see the National Independence Day Parade in the morning before the evening firework show at the National Mall. If you want to arrive in time to bask in the multicolored night sky, try leaving before 9 p.m. You can view the fireworks from several locations, such as rooftop restaurants, the Mount Vernon Trail or across the Potomac River. Consider heading over to the A Capitol Fourth concert, something that you can also watch from the comfort of your home. Prepare in advance as the mall fills up with many tourists looking to celebrate Independence Day!
4. Pay a Visit to the District Wharf
Take a stroll through the District Wharf to find amazing restaurants, day trip destinations and a beautiful waterfront. There you can catch a sunset cinema, country line dancing, yoga or a skating event at the pier. The Wharf offers boat rentals for those who wish to travel across the Potomac River during a hot June afternoon. Some of the available restaurants include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Boardwalk Bar and Arcade, Colada shop, District Doughnut, Shake Shack and Tiki TNT. A walk around the Wharf might help bring a beachside environment to your day but be careful not to fall into the Potomac; we do not recommend it!
5. Smithsonian Folklife Festival
At the end of June, the Smithsonian hosts a free annual cultural festival with musicians, food and vendors. The theme for this year follows the social power of music. Some of this year’s events include a narrative session on Fiber and Fashion, a “Khoos: Palm Jewelry” workshop, a narrative session on the Arabic language and so many more. Bring your friends as you walk through the marketplace. There you can buy handmade jewelry, handbags, Armenian decorative accents, Peruvian sculptures and paintings. This also provides another opportunity to spend an afternoon at the National Mall and a chance learn about the cultures that make up our world. Make sure to take some time to learn from the many sessions the Smithsonian compiled!
6. Visit the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Stop by the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens where you can find hundreds of water lilies, aquatic bamboo and wildflowers. The boardwalk alongside the gardens allows you to walk through the park to see the blue heron flowers and turtles as the summer afternoon closes in. At 2 p.m. park rangers lead nature walks for those who want to learn more about the garden. Take a moment to escape the urban surroundings of the city to spend time with nature. Don’t forget to bring your friends as you take a breather from your daily work.
7. Go to a Smithsonian Museum
Plan a day to visit the Smithsonian museums in the National Mall to learn more about the history of the U.S. and its people. Be ready to grab tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the start of the month before they sell out. Since there’s so much to see inside, remember to view the museum from the bottom up! Smithsonian museums offer free admission to the public, so consider visiting as many as you can before the summer ends. Make it a solo trip or a trip with friends and try to see as much as possible; keep in mind you may find it difficult to see it all. Enjoy an educational day by spending a relaxing summer afternoon learning more about our history!
“One of my favorite places has to be the Smithsonian,” George Washington senior Alejandra Puente said. “It’s a really rich museum; it’s never crowded and you can spend the day there. They’re also adding a Latino section which I’m excited about. I went there for an assignment and just started going ever since.”
Big crowds await in the different Smithsonian museums so prepare to adjust your schedule for the long wait. But don’t fret as you can always go to the emptier museum. If you want to buy gifts for family and friends, be sure to stop by the gift shops to grab intriguing knick knacks. Try looking into the restaurants offered in the museums as many of them hold incredible food options. Take it as a challenge to try something new!
8. Visit the National Zoo
Take a trip to the National Zoo where you can see animals from around the world…Yes, even a panda. Check out the many events offered by the zoo that focus on animal conservation and education. The zoo also houses great dining, such as Elevation Burgers at Mane Grill, Auntie Anne’s & Carvel, Sbarro and Jimmy’s Famous Sea Food. You can even tune in from the webcams on their website to see the animals in their everyday routine. If your family decides to visit this summer, that provides the perfect opportunity to take your younger siblings on a trip to the zoo!
9. Visit Jazz in the garden: National Gallery of Art
Looking for a moment to relax with live musical performances? Enjoy the jazz in the garden at the National Gallery of Art where you can sit in the outdoor Sculpture Garden every Friday. The concert features jazz, Afro-Cuban and bluegrass music. They only sell a limited number of tickets, so try registering beforehand at 10 a.m. to avoid a booked-up venue. Bring your friends and a picnic blanket to spend a nice summer evening after clocking out of your internship.
“Every Friday at 6:00 p.m., jazz in the garden is a great way to spend evenings outdoors while enjoying live music despite the summer heat!” George Washington senior Isha Trivedi said. “The National Gallery of Art also offers a variety of snacks, sweets and nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages like sangria.”
If you love jazz, keep an eye out for tickets to the D.C. Jazz fest occurring in late August. There you can hear renowned jazz artists and learn more about the history of jazz. The fest includes an international contest where jazz bands from around the world come to compete for a 15-thousand-dollar award and a customized business career. Bring your friends as you listen to the music and make the most of the view since the event happens at the Wharf. You can walk around to the restaurants or stores on the boardwalk to enjoy a great evening. Buy your tickets now before they sell out!
10. Go to a Free Performance at the Shakespeare Theater Company
Are you a big Shakespeare fan? Want to take a break from Netflix and movies? Then try to attend a performance by the Shakespeare Theater Company this summer to see one of his fantastic plays in action. After the play, grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants near the theater like Jaleo or Karma Modern Indian. If you feel bold enough, you can also swing by for some classical acting lessons with the members of the company. Who knows, you might end up becoming a classical actor!
As the summer days drift away, make the most of your time away from school. Take advantage of the newfound solace to learn more about D.C. and yourself with these attractions. Tell your fellow interns or school friends to accompany you on your tour around the city. You might even make some new friends along the way. Be sure to take this summer by the reigns and make it your summer. Don’t let your work stress you out too much and have fun exploring the crooks and nooks of what makes D.C. the city to be!