Enjoy a splash in the fountain at Leesburg. Photo courtesy of Village of Leesburg
Enjoy a splash in the fountain at Leesburg. Photo courtesy of Village of Leesburg

30 Free Things To Do with Kids in DC this Summer

School's almost out, summer is just about here, and we're on a mission to keep kids busy and having fun all summer long without breaking the bank.

So we've put together a list chock full of FREE events (both recurring and one-time), plus some anytime activity ideas, to keep DC kids entertained. For more great events, check out our full event calendar: We'll be adding tons of more FREE events all summer long.

Free Recurring Summer Events for DC Kids 

1. Downtown DC Summer Flicks: Can I Kick It? — Washington, DC
Check out the new social distancing lawn design at the National Building Museum and catch a futuristic flick on Tuesday evenings.

2. Sunset Cinema at the Wharf — Washington, DC
Watch movies on a 20-foot outdoor screen on Thursday evenings at the Wharf. Advance online registration is required, but the films are free.

3. Thursdays in the Park Free Concert Series — North Bethesda, MD
Pop-Up Park hosts evenings dedicated to music, lawn games, and food (for purchase). All that, plus free parking.

4. Movies Under the Moon — Fairfax, VA
On the second Friday of the month, bring a blanket and a picnic to Van Dyck Park for a free, family-friendly movie screening under the stars.

5. Friday Movie Nights — Alexandria, VA
The United Community group hosts family films the last Friday of the month (with an exception in July), that include kid-friendly social workshops with community resources.

6. Cars & Cones & Kids — Laytonsville, MD
On Friday evenings, families can check out classic cars, bikes, and trucks while enjoying cold, delicious ice cream (for purchase) and listening to oldies tunes.

7. Cold War SciFi Film Series — Washington, DC
The U.S. Navy Museum screens sci-fi classics like Kingdom of the Spiders on Saturday mornings through July 31. Stick around after the movie for a tour of the museum's Cold War Gallery.

8. Plaza Party —  Leesburg, VA
On Fridays and Saturdays through July (and maybe beyond), local bands perform and kids can enjoy bubble shows, a pop-up fountain, and a play area.

RELATED: Great Summer Day Trips for DC Families

Enjoy a free concert in Cherry Hill Park. Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill Township

9. Concerts in the Park — Falls Church, VA
Bring a blanket and a picnic to Cherry Hill Park on Thursday evenings and listen to local bands perform.

10. Movie Night in Chantilly — Chantilly, VA
Tuesday evenings from June 22 to August 17 catch a family-friendly outdoor film on Chantilly's Town Green, Murray Park, or SRC Stage.

11. Rock the Block — Fairfax City, VA
Live music, a beer garden, and food vendors combine to create magical evenings in Old Town Square on Fridays from June 25 through September.

12. Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington — Washington, DC
Take the kids to ponder this outdoor exhibit, and learn a few things about hunger in America and food inequity.

13. Habitat — Washington, DC
Stroll around the Smithsonian Gardens and see if you can spot all 14 Habitat exhibits. Which one feels the most like "home"?

Friday, June 18, 2021

14. Bach to Rock Battle of the Bands — Sandy Spring, MD
School bands (from elementary to high school) battle it out for musical supremacy and prizes.

Commemorate Juneteenth as a community at Carlyle House. Photo courtesy of Visit Alexandria

Saturday, June 19, 2021

15. Juneteenth Celebration — Alexandria, VA
A free community event with live music, hands-on activities, and history and poetry readings unfurls on the Carlyle House lawn.

Friday, July 2, 2021

16. ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues Opening Weekend — Washington, DC
The National Museum of American History reveals a new bilingual exhibit examining the impact Latinos have had on baseball.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

17. Independence Day Parade — Fairfax, VA
The 55th annual Independence Day parade steps off at 10am, rain or shine, with nine high school marching bands, large inflatable parade balloons, floats, and clowns.

Saturday, July 3-Sunday, July 4

18. Fairfax City: A Hometown 4th Celebration — Fairfax, VA
The 55th annual Independence Day parade starts the weekend celebration on July 3, with music, dancing, and fireworks the evening of July 4.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

19. National Independence Day Parade — Washington, DC
Marching bands, floats, military units, and giant balloons congregate for a march down Constitution Ave to celebrate July 4. The parade is also live-streamed, if you'd rather watch from the comfort of home.

RELATED: Summer Activities Guide for DC Families 

A Capitol Fourth features music and fireworks. Photo courtesy of A Capitol Fourth 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

20. A Capitol Fourth — Washington, DC
This annual free concert and fireworks on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol draws a crowd of hundreds of thousands.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

21. Washington, DC July 4th Fireworks — Washington, DC
A summer highlight for many families, watch the fireworks blast off from West Potomac Park at various points in DC and VA.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

22. Silver Spring Arts & Crafts Summer Fair — Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring salutes the arts (and crafts) with the return of its seasonal arts and crafts fair. More than 60 vendors are scheduled to be on-site.

Saturday, August 14

23. Free Comic Book Day — Nationwide
Grab a free comic at your local comic store (check online first for a participating store near you).

RELATED: Great Family-Friendly Beaches Near DC

Kids can get crafty at the Library of Congress' National Book Festival. Photo by David Rice

September 17-26, 2021

24. Library of Congress National Book Festival — Washington, DC
Bookworms rejoice at the return of LoC's beloved annual fest, back this year as a hybrid virtual/in-person celebration of literature.

Free Anytime Summer Activities for Kids in DC

25. Cool off at a splash pad or sprayground.
26. Head to one of the many free museums the nation's capitol has to offer.
27. Explore Baltimore for the day.
28. Set up a sprinkler in the backyard.
29. Explore the natural world right in the heart of the city.
30. Ride bikes around the National Mall.

Writer Drew Kristofik contributed to this 2021 update.

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