There’s still time left to check the boxes on your summer to-do list, even as we bid frosé farewell and welcome pumpkin spice season. The long Labor Day weekend offers ample opportunity to get outside and enjoy the waning days of summer.
Check out our full guide to Labor Day Weekend in the DMV from lazy weekend ideas to events. Fear not if you can’t fit it all into the long weekend: Fall doesn’t officially start until September 22, after all.
Go back in time during the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The Maryland Renaissance Festival can be a perfect Labor Day Weekend getaway as well. The event is held every fall in Crownsville, about 45 mins by car from D.C. This unique festival reflects the times of Henry VIII of England and is set in Revel Grove, a replica of a 16th-century English village, opening on the last weekend of August. This village occupies 27 acres and features over 130 shops and about 40 pubs and restaurants with delicious food. There are four small stages, eight theaters, and a jousting arena for 3,000 spectators. Over 1,300 participants populate the village, including 200 performers.
Get your grill on. Spend more time enjoying the waning days of summer and less time cooking with tasty grill kits and ready-to-eat sides from local eateries like Neighborhood Provisions and Rose's at Home.
Raise a glass at a local winery or distillery. Cheers to summer! Raise a glass and enjoy fantastic river views at District Winery – DC’s first urban winery. Or try a DIY distillery crawl in Ivy City, DC’s unofficial distillery district, with four within walking distance from one another. There’s Green Hat, One Eight, Republic Restoratives, and Jos. A. Magnus. And throw Atlas Brew Works in the mix for good measure. If you hit them all and are somehow still thirsty, bounce around to some of the city’s other top shelf distilleries, like Cotton and Reed, District Distilling, or Don Ciccio & Figli.
Dive in. Come on in, the water's fine! There's still time to dive into adventure and chill out in a refreshing watering hole near DC. Don't forget your sunscreen and floaties!
Show off your best jazz hands. Celebrate the long weekend with the sounds of jazz at the 2021 DC JazzFest. From September 1-5, there will be 20+ concerts, interviews and exclusive events featuring international superstars and homegrown talent. The signature event, DC JazzFest at The Wharf will take place September 4-5, as a hybrid of in-person and livestream performances to a worldwide audience.
End summer on a high note at the Labor Day Capitol Concert. The Labor Day Capitol Concert relocates this year from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to the REACH Plaza! The free-of-charge music event features patriotic classics that emphasize the sounds of the American landscape conducted by Larry Loh with special guests NSO Artistic Advisor Ben Folds and saxophonist Charlie Young. This special concert will include music from Duke Ellington, new Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Carlos Simon, Jessie Montgomery, and Michael Abels.
See Nats Park like you’ve never seen it before. It’s America’s favorite pastime: baseball. You can tour plenty of stadiums around the country, but let’s get real, touring Nationals Stadium in the Nation’s capital city is the most American thing you can do! Tours are available on non-game days; check out the Nationals Stadium Tour Page.
Paddle boat around the Tidal Basin. Say goodbye to summer with a final ride on the Tidal Basin Paddle Boats. Paddle your way around the Tidal Basin for a waterfront view of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.
Appreciate art at DC's smaller museums. Venture beyond the National Mall to check out some of DC’s smaller art museums beyond the ones in the Smithsonian family, like The Phillips Collection, Katzen Arts Center at American University, Kreeger museum, The Fridge and Honfleur Gallery, to name a few.
Watch movies under the stars. Don’t pack up your blankets and lawn chairs yet. There’s still time to enjoy classic movies and first-run features outside under the stars.
Take a water taxi for a day out in Georgetown, Alexandria or National Harbor. If you’re checking out the region’s waterfront destinations, there’s no better way to travel than by water taxi. Catch a ride to Georgetown, Old Town in Alexandria or National Harbor in Maryland—and enjoy the scenic views of the nation’s capital from the Potomac.
Have a picnic at an off-the-beaten-path park. Enjoy the waning days of summer with a picnic packed with local fixins’ at a newly discovered outdoor spot. Several local picnic companies offer elaborate setups in local parks complete with fancy cheese and charcuterie spreads and photo-worthy decor so you can really step up your dining al fresco game. Takeout and delivery service also remains a safe dining option, if you want to bring home a delicious meal and hang out on your own deck or patio.
Spend your day at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s prior estate that also features a museum and you won't regret it. Enjoy a panoramic view of the Potomac River, explore Gardens, the Mansion, the Tombs, or the Gristmill and Distillery. Start from the Ford Orientation Center to see a film, and then enjoy your visit with the help of the living history guides. You can find all of this treasure just 30 mins from Washington DC by car.
Celebrate festival season at the REACH. The REACH at Kennedy Center has been celebrating summer with a series of Millennium Stage mini festivals. Each week, enjoy different themed entertainment featuring films, live performances, arts vendors, dance, and yoga lessons. National Theater for the Deaf, Smithsonian Asian American Center, Creative Nomads, SAMASAMA, D.C. Legendary Musicians, Step Afrika!, and more, are among the scheduled performers. Oh, did we mention it's all free?!
Explore Kingman and Heritage Islands. Locals know it as the site of the popular Kingman Island Festival, but minus the crowds and music stages, there are over 50 acres of green space to be explored on these two island habitats. This Southeast gem is a little off the beaten path, but is perfect for people looking for a spot removed from the crowds. You'll find heavily wooded trails, broad bridges over the river, and peace and quiet. Wooded trails, river views, and wetlands comprise much of the sights to be experienced when visiting the park. But if you pause on the bridge to fish or take to the water in a kayak, you can see RFK Stadium in the distance. More secluded than Roosevelt Island, the park offers hikers the chance to glimpse jasmine trees, monarch butterflies, and other natural beauties.
Feel the rhythm at Malcolm X drum circle. The 50+-year old drum circle is an event which is truly unique to Washington DC. The drum circle draws a kaleidoscope of drummers, dancers, jugglers, acrobats and artists from all walks of life and backgrounds to it every Sunday around 3pm and is really a quintessential Washington experience not to be found anywhere else. To see more of the drum circle, join the Facebook group Friends of Malcolm X Park Drum Circle .
Curious? There's more!
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it