The weather is warming up and kids everywhere are counting down the days until another school year comes to a close. As a mom and pediatric dentist in Washington, DC, I know it can be tough to keep little ones engaged and entertained all summer long. To help my fellow parents, I rounded up some super fun and free (really!) DC kids’ activities for summer 2022.
Go Roller Skating at The Wharf
On the second weekend of June, July and August (Saturdays from 10am to 10pm; Sundays from 3pm to 7pm), head to The Wharf Roller Rink, an outdoor skating rink on Transit Pier. Admission is free for all ages. Adults must bring their own skates, but skate rentals are available for kids. Get more details here. After skating, take advantage of the other Washington, DC family activities at The Wharf. Kids will love the oversized swings, watching the boats go by and playing their hearts out at 7th Street Park.
Celebrate at ConstructionFest
Cleveland Park Main Street is undergoing a major streetscape and drainage improvement project. To ensure construction doesn’t hurt local businesses, ConstructionFest is being held through June 18. The fun celebration will feature wacky window displays, a scavenger hunt, construction-themed storytimes, a Friday night music series with live music, food and drink specials, and more. Not only does the event give you something to do with the kids, it’s also a way to support small businesses.
Head to the Rooftop at Union Market for Storytime
Join the Northeast Library staff from DC Public Library on the Rooftop at Union Market for Family Storytime. The event, focused on kids from birth to age five, is held every Tuesday from 10:30am to 11:30am through June 28. Bring sunscreen and a blanket or towel to sit on while you enjoy books, songs and fingerplays. Can’t make it on Tuesdays? No problem! The Library has plenty of other DC children’s activities, including regular free storytimes at the various branches.
Attend a Maker Morning at the Hirshhorn Museum
The Hirshhorn, the national museum of modern and contemporary art, hosts a free series for kids of all ages on select Saturdays each month from 10am to 1pm. The events allow children (and adults!) to experience modern art through interactive, hands-on making activities. This year’s theme is “Breaking Boundaries” and activities are held throughout the Museum and Sculpture Garden. Check out the schedule here.
Watch a Movie Under the Stars
Outdoor movies are one of my favorite Washington, DC kids’ activities. There’s something special about watching a movie under the stars on a warm summer night. Thankfully, there are a number of free outdoor movie series in the area this summer to choose from, including:
- Adams Morgan Movie Night will be held every Tuesday night through June 21 on the soccer field at the Marie Reed School.
- Movies on the Potomac has Family Movie Nights at National Harbor on Sundays at 6pm through September 29. Kid-friendly films will be shown on the Plaza’s big screen.
- Georgetown Sunset Cinema will screen movies at Georgetown Waterfront Park on Tuesday nights at 7pm from August 2 until September 6.
Hang Out With Exotic Birds at the National Zoo
This summer, you can join renowned bird behaviorist Phung Luu and his flock of exotic birds at Birds in Flight, a limited-run program at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Visitors will gather on the Great Meadow, rain or shine, for an up-close look at the natural behaviors of birds, ranging from owls and falcons to macaws. Birds in Flight is free, open to the public, and held from 10am to 1pm every day except for Tuesday through September 5.
Take in a Free Live Performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage
Washington DC’s legendary performing arts venue holds free live performances Wednesday through Saturday at 6pm at Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer. Attend in person or watch the live streams online. With dance, music concerts and even poetry, there’s something for everyone. Take a look at the full schedule here.
Ride Bikes on Mount Vernon Trail
If you’re looking for more active things to do with kids in Washington, DC, consider going on a family bike ride on Mount Vernon Trail. The 18-mile, paved, multi-use trail winds alongside the Potomac River and offers great views. If you’ll be bringing younger kids with you, take a look at the trail map so you know where all of the bathrooms are.
Let Kids Get Their Hands Dirty at the U.S. Botanic Garden
The U.S. Botanic Garden has a special children’s garden that’s open daily now through fall. Admission is free and kids are invited to get hands-on in a garden. They can use watering cans and gardening tools, gently touch and smell the plants, and see what’s in bloom.
Cool Off at a DC Spray Park, Sprayground or Splash Pad
There’s all sorts of free water fun to be had in Washington, DC on hot summer days. A few family favorites include:
- The Fountain at Georgetown Waterfront Park
- Dancing Fountains at Canal Park
- Petworth Spray Park
- Turkey Thicket Spray Park
- Palisades Splash Park
- Yards Park Canal Basin (temporarily closed due to mechanical issues but stay tuned for re-opening details)
Be sure to browse the full list of DC spray parks to find the one closest to you.
Make Time for a Check-Up With a Kids’ Dentist in Washington, DC
I hope this guide to things to do in DC with kids helps you make the most of your summer. And, in between all of the family fun, be sure to schedule a visit at Smile Valley Pediatric Dentistry in Spring Valley, DC. Cross your kiddo’s check-up off your to-do list so they can head back to school with a healthy smile.