How to Spend a Summer Weekend in D.C.

If you find yourself in Washington D.C. in the summer and are looking for some cool places to visit – both literally and figuratively – we recently spend a very hot weekend in the capitol and

One of the hottest museums to visit in Washington D.C. is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The NMAAHC is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive space devoted exclusively to exploring and documenting the African American story and its impact on American history. Established by an Act of Congress in 2003, it opened its doors in 2016 as the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution. The NMAAHC is open daily with free, timed tickets. Passes are released at 8:00 a.m., for time slots 30 days out. If you missed the release date, same-day passes are released beginning at 8:15 a.m.

I did not plan ahead and was not able to get the advance tickets, but was able to snag day-of tickets at exactly 8:15 a.m. They have a fair amount of tickets for all the time slots at the day-of drop, so don’t get dejected if you can’t grab tickets in advance. We spent about 3 hours in the museum and only finished about 1/3 of the exhibits. You can easily spend the entire day here if you take the time to go through all the exhibits. It’s a tough topic to read and learn about, but I think it’s a very worthwhile lesson to be taught. We will definitely have to return to the NMAAHC the next time we’re in town, as I would love to finish the exhibits.

In a more figuratively cool manner, July and August are a great time to visit the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, the only national park site devoted to cultivated water-loving plants. Every summer, the Gardens’ lotus and water lily flowers bloom, transforming the park. In July, the tropical lilies begin to bloom and the lotus reach peak bloom. In early August, the Victoria and tropical lilies are in full bloom and the ponds are alive with dragonflies and butterflies.

When we visited in early August, there were still some late bloomers sticking around. Even without the tropical lilies, the Aquatic Gardens are a nice place to just stroll and enjoy some fresh air. But if you do want to catch the lilies, I highly recommend coming mid-July through late-July.

After spending the day at either of these spots, kick back for a nice dinner at The Wharf, a mile-long stretch along the Potomac River lined with restaurants, retailers, residences, and businesses. If you time dinner just right, you can catch sunset along the boardwalk after your meal. There are a ton of swings and benches for you to sit down and enjoy the Potomac and new restaurants opening soon.

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