Memorial Day weekend. A time to honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country, the unofficial start to summer, an annual getaway for us. But if you’re sticking around town — or visiting DC for the holiday weekend — you’ve got your pick of things to do. Whether you seek events to observe the holiday, are ready to embrace that summer feeling, or just want to enjoy some quality time with the kids over the long weekend, these ideas for family recreation should have you covered. Happy Weekend!
Summer in the City
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity
Celebrate the unofficial start of summer with an activity exclusive to this time of year. Jazz in the Garden begins this evening and other free concert series have already started; outdoor public pools, spraygrounds, and water parks open Saturday; the strawberry picking season is underway; and blue crabs are making many a feaster very happy. This post has specifics on all of the special events and series that come with the warm months.
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
When: Friday – Sunday, 6-9pm
Admission: $18/adults, $12/ages 6-11, free for children 5 and under
Visit Mount Vernon after the daytime crowds have departed for a special Memorial Day weekend celebration. Guests can take evening tours of the Mansion, relax and enjoy wine and desserts available for purchase, and delight in 18th-century music, dancing, games, and wagon rides. Stroll the lantern-lit grounds and immerse yourself in the 18th century as the sun sets on the plantation and costumed residents like the charming Lady Washington and her granddaughter Nelly interact with visitors. This family-friendly event celebrates the beginning of summer on the plantation
National Memorial Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th to 17th Streets
When: Monday, 2pm
The annual National Memorial Day Parade celebrates and honors American veterans with a grand procession through the city. Get a curbside view of military units and vehicles, marching bands, flag teams, and hundreds of veterans as they travel up Constitution Avenue. This year’s parade will feature a tribute to the generation that served and sacrificed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, following the formal end of the war last December.
National Memorial Day Concert
Where: West lawn of the Capitol
When: Sunday, 8-9:30pm, gates open at 5pm (or Saturday for the dress rehearsal)
Why watch on TV when you can be there in person? The 2012 National Memorial Day Concert will take place on the west lawn of the Capitol on Sunday from 8 – 9:30pm. Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna are hosting the event once again, and an all-star line-up of artists will join the National Symphony Orchestra in honoring those who have served and sacrificed for the U.S. If you’re planning to go, this FAQ page on the concert website is worth a read. If you can’t make Sunday’s show or don’t want to deal with the crowds, Saturday’s dress rehearsal is also open to the public — gates open at 5pm, and the show begins at 7:30pm.
Memorials on the Mall
Where: National Mall
When: All Weekend
Tributes to those who have served our country will take place at the many memorials and monuments on the National Mall throughout the weekend. Times vary, but you can look for schedules on the National Park Service website. The Mall is guaranteed to be crowded, so plan accordingly.
DC United Kids Day
Where: RFK Stadium
When: Saturday, 6:30pm
Admission: Free with admission to match
Kick it DC United-style before Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution! This family-friendly event is designed specifically with the smallest fans in mind. The fun begins at 6:30pm when gates open in the VW Garage. Kids get a passport upon entry that gets stamped as they complete a variety of fun, interactive stations, including a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center astronaut photo booth, soccer obstacle cours, Memorial Day Thank You cards for the troops, a cheer card station, and a National Air & Space Museum interactive motion exhibit. When they have 8-10 stamps, they can redeem their passport for an exclusive Kids’ Day goody bag.
Titanic: 100 Year Obsession
Where: National Geographic Museum
Admission: $6/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under
This is a must-experience for anyone with even a mild interest in the Titanic. Covering the ship’s complete history, from construction to completion, its demise to the search for remains, its discovery to continued exploration, the exhibit is presented through a variety of fascinating and many interactive displays. Read the KFDC review for more info.
Where: U.S. Botanic Garden
When: All Weekend (runs May 26 – October 8th)
This exhibit all about carnivorous plants is opening at the Botanic Garden on Saturday. Savage Gardens tells the story of their astounding adaptations to inhospitable habitats. Through displays in the Conservatory Terrace, East Gallery, and National Garden, feed your senses with the captivating, the bizarre, the larger-than-life, real and imaginary world of these unique plants.
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10:30am – 5pm
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the museum welcomes Hawaiian artists, performers, and practitioners of traditional Hawaiian healing and culture. Visitors can learn about living a life of “aloha” by watching and learning about hula, watching films and presentations, and meeting and greeting Hawaiian guests.
Reap the Fruits
Where: Farms throughout the area
When: All weekend
Admission: Varies by location
The strawberry season is in full swing, and the pickings are still good at area farms. You can get in on the pick-your-own action; this post has all the info you need to get started.
Best in Shows
Where: Theatres around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue
Five Little Monkeys is at Adventure Theatre. Tiny Tots and Pinocchio are on The Puppet Co. stage. Shine and the Moonbeams is performing at Jammin’ Java. Find details on all of these shows in this post about live entertainment in late spring.
For even more ideas for fun with the kids, outside and in, check out these popular KFDC posts: