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Top 10 Summertime Activities in Washington, DC

So you’re thinking of traveling down to Washington, DC for a few days this summer. You know the city has more than enough to keep you busy: monuments, museums, gardens, restaurants. How will you choose to spend your precious time away?

The 10 suggestions below are proven winners. Whether you’re newlyweds or newly retired, have children in tow or managed to sneak away for a romantic weekend, this list has something for you.

1. Interactive Museum Exhibits. Forget following the kids around whispering, “Don’t touch.” The International Spy Museum has hands-on stations throughout, including the Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains exhibit where you can practice your skills for diffusing a bomb or fending off a shark attack. In July, the newly renovated Spark!Lab opens at the National Museum of American History. Kids can make their own discoveries inside the inventor’s workshop.

2. The Barbecue Battle. On June 27-28, the smell of smoked meat wafts down Pennsylvania Avenue as pit masters compete in cooking contests. Lucky for attendees, the event has plenty of samples. Other attractions include a beverage garden, cooking demonstrations, and 30 bands on three stages.

3. The Citi Open. Early August brings tennis stars to town for nine days of competition at Rock Creek Tennis Center. The tournament benefits the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, which uses tennis to teach life lessons to underprivileged youth. The only way to make spectator sports even more fun is to link them to a worthy cause.

4. Nationals Baseball. Speaking of sports, the Capital City’s hometown Major League Baseball team, the Washington Nationals, will play ball all summer long at Nationals Park. Located along the Capitol Riverfront, the ballpark offers panoramic views of the Navy Yard, Capitol, and Washington Monument. With concession offerings from eateries such as Ben’s Chili Bowl and Shake Shack, the ballpark is the quintessential DC experience.

5. Movies Under the Stars. Catching a flick outside has become a Washington, DC must for the summer. The activity is free and often comes with a stunning backdrop. Screen on the Green shows movies on the National Mall. At National Harbor, the Potomac River sets the scene. For those who remember the old drive-in experience (or those who wish they did), these screenings come pretty close.

6. The Great Outdoors. Although Washington, DC, is a large, powerful city, nature isn’t hard to find. Rock Creek Park has 4.4 square miles of space to hike, bike, and explore. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is the only national park devoted to the study of aquatic plants and has 45 ponds on the property. If you want to lose yourself in the outdoors, The U.S. National Arboretum has 446 acres.

7. Stand-Up Paddleboarding. Being out on the water isn’t all about floating or lounging. The Key Bridge Boathouse rents stand-up paddleboards. Spend an afternoon navigating one of these boards for an intense abdominal workout. Or if something seated is more your speed, the boathouse also rents kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats.

8. Dine N Dash. Forget what you know about this old adage, and check out this food-filled event on June 9. Yes, you have to purchase tickets, but once you do, you’ll enjoy a three-hour culinary tour of Penn Quarter followed by a two-hour after-party with José Andrés and desserts and drinks at Carnegie Library.

9. Beer Gardens. Slip into the local scene by taking a seat in one of DC’s beer gardens. From longtime favorites to swank new spaces, these outdoor oases are hot spots during the summer. Café Berlin has been a Capitol Hill staple for three decades. It’s an authentic German experience, from the food on the menu to the beer in the bierstiefel (a glass shaped like a boot). On the less traditional side, newcomer Maketto has a long communal table on its back patio where guests enjoy kombucha and pan-Asian cuisine.

10. Rooftop Bars. End your vacation on a high note by savoring city views. Several hotels have topped off their bar offerings with rooftop spaces including The Embassy Row Hotel, W Hotel, and The Donovan, a Kimpton Hotel.

Fill your summer vacation in Washington, DC, with activities that suit your style. Click here to make your plans.