Summer is an ideal time to visit Washington, D.C. Attractions that have been closed for the winter have reopened, the weather is warm and there’s an extra hour or two of daylight to enjoy the sights. Here are some of the top things to do during summer in Washington, D.C.

1) Have a Close Encounter With a Giant Panda
Summer is a great time to spend the day at the National Zoo. They’re open later and there are several air-conditioned exhibits. The National Zoo is home to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, some of the world’s favorite Giant Pandas. It’s also where you can get up close and personal with more than 2000 animals of 400 different species. Located within the lush Rock Creek National Park in the heart of D.C., this 163-acre zoological park is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and a leader in animal care, science and education. As a part of the Smithsonian Institution, a visit here is free and provides a day of discovering fascinating animals like Asian elephants, lions, gazelles, cheetahs, zebras, apes, reptiles, invertebrates, birds, beavers, otters, eagles, wolves and much more. Ride the Speedwell Conservation Carousel, take a guided tour, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the specialty restaurants on site and be sure to watch one of the zoo’s animal training, feeding demonstrations and keeper talks.

2) Journey Back in Time
If you love history and sightseeing, get your seat aboard the Old Town Trolley Tour. You’ll have a chance to see more than 100 of the most popular historical points of interest and to get off and spend as much time as you like at each one. This flexible and comprehensive tour has been transporting guests to the best sights in the city for more than 25 years. You’ll see the White House, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Capitol Building. You’ll also see Ford’s Theatre, the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Museums, the Tidal Basin and much more. Hop off in Georgetown to do some shopping and enjoy a great meal. Everywhere the trolley goes, you’ll have a chance to take your time and explore. The onboard guide makes it a fun, entertaining and educational experience for children and adults.

3) Shop at the Eastern Market
Located on Capitol Hill, the Eastern Market is home to the city’s oldest fresh food market. The market was completed in 1873, and is now a popular location for both locals and visitors. Sample locally grown food, listen to live music and shop at more than 100 merchant booths set up throughout the market. You’ll find anything from beautiful flowers and handcrafted art to delicious cheese and baked goods.

4) Explore Nature at Great Falls Park
Just 16 miles outside the city, Great Falls Park is 800 acres of gorgeous natural beauty, dramatic waterfalls and cascading rapids. Three waterfall overlooks provide picturesque views of the falls while the River Trail offers exceptional vistas of the Potomac. There are also bike and hiking trails, opportunities for whitewater kayaking, climbing, fishing, horseback riding and more. There are nearly 163 species of birds and a variety of beautiful wildlife that make the park their home, so bring your binoculars and get your camera ready. Pack a picnic and enjoy the magnificence of this natural treasure. 

5) See the Monuments by Moonlight
A special way to see the monuments, this tour is a perfect outing in the summertime. You can spend the whole day sightseeing, then hop on Old Town Trolley’s Monuments by Moonlight Tour to see the city as it sparkles in the moonlight. This unique tour includes stops at several monuments including the FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Iwo Jima Memorial. As you travel down the streets of Washington, D.C., the experienced tour guide will share some of the city’s most fascinating historical stories. An evening of history and adventure awaits adults and children.

6) Ride a Paddleboat in the Tidal Basin
A favorite activity for guests to Washington, D.C. is a visit to the Tidal Basin. When summer hits, you can rent a paddleboat and take a leisurely ride while enjoying views of the Jefferson Memorial and the cherry trees from the water. There are also walking paths, shady trees and several concession stands offering food and drink.

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