Washington DC Memorial Day Weekend 2018 – 10+ Fun Things to Do in May

Everyone knows that Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, heralding in the beginning of festival season, great concerts, and delightful outdoor adventures.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to get away for the weekend to celebrate the warm weather and the onset of the new season, consider a trip to our nation’s capital.

If you’re looking for Washington DC Memorial Day Weekend 2018 ideas, check out some of these local activities and fun things do in Washington, DC in May, including…

  • Big Bus Washington DC Sightseeing Tour
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon
  • Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour
  • The Capital Wheel
  • Newseum
  • National Memorial Day Parade
  • And more!

Save on Admission to Popular Attractions

Regular admission to a number of these attractions are included on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Choose as you go from a bunch of Washington DC attractions & activities and save up to 40% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes and Washington DC attractions – Learn more.

Please note, some of these special May and Memorial Day weekend events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Big Bus Washington DC Sightseeing Tour

Hop-On-Hop-Off-big-bus-washington-dc-1-Day-Patriot-Tour-3If you’re a first time visitor to DC, or if you have been but your excursions have been confined to only a few places, consider a hop-on hop-off DC bus tour.

The flexibility it provides is great for a start-of-summer vacation, because when the mood strikes you can get off and explore further. Then, when you’re tired or bored, hop back on for some more guided narration.

Plus, you can always ride on the open-air top of the bus to enjoy the sun and the sights.

Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Washington DC tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

One of the gardens at Mount Vernon. Image credit: George Washington's Mount Vernon website.

One of the gardens at Mount Vernon. Image credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon website.

Memorial Day is an excellent time of year for remembering our nation’s history – and what better place to explore that history than at the home of one of our Founding Fathers?

Pay a visit to the beauty estate of Mount Vernon, where you’ll see the lovingly restored home and grounds of our first President.

Take a guided tour where you’ll enjoy eighteenth-century sites like a real gristmill and distillery, beautiful gardens, and of course, the mansion house itself.

Getting In: George Washington’s Mount Vernon tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

The Capital Wheel

Wdc-CapitalWheel-day-4cA visit to the delightful Capital Wheel in Washington Harbor is a fun way to see the whole city without the time commitment of a tour.

Enjoy expansive vistas of DC, from downtown Alexandria to the Washington Monument. Be sure you’ve got your phone or camera charged for this one!

Plus, it’s located in an entertainment complex, so there’s plenty to do in the area once you’ve descended from the Wheel, like ride the Carousel, snap photos of “The Awakening” sculpture installation, or just enjoy a delicious meal.

Getting In: The Capital Wheel tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.


Image Credit: Sam Kittner/Newseum

Image Credit: Sam Kittner/Newseum

Another one for the history buffs, the Newseum is an especially valuable destination this Memorial Day. Dedicated to preserving and exploring the history of journalism in America and around the world, the Newseum showcases important movements and moments in time through newspapers and other media.

An especially poignant exhibit to explore this Memorial Day will be the Today’s Front Pages Gallery, which pulls the front pages of newspapers from across the country for display.

Of course, you’ll also be able to explore other enlightening exhibits like those showcasing the history of the FBI, the First Amendment, and even the part that rock music played in news making. 

Getting In: Newseum tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour

Nationals-Ballpark-TourOne of summer’s greatest pastimes is baseball – so why not pay a visit to the popular Nationals Park? One of the country’s newest stadiums, it’s spacious and inviting with some great food and drink options.

A behind-the-scenes tour is an ideal way to explore the park to the fullest extent, as you get to see important places in the park like the Nationals Dugout, a luxury box, and the Nats Bullpen.

Or, if you’d like, the Nats are playing a series against the San Diego Padres this Memorial Day Weekend, so consider picking up a few tickets!

Getting In: Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

DC Walking Tours

Washington-Walks-2Join a walking tour hosted by Washington Walks for a delightful outdoorsy excursion that’s sure to teach you a thing or two about history.

Choose from several seasonal options, including tours of the iconic Embassy Row, lovely Georgetown, and multiple unique neighborhoods on their “Get Local” tour series.

Just for Memorial Day, in honor of JFK’s birthday, they’re also running a special tour series called “John F. Kennedy in Georgetown.”

Keep in mind that by Memorial Day, DC is often quite hot, so be prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and some water.

Getting In: DC Walking Tour tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

Washington Monuments Cruise

Washington Monuments Cruise along the Potomac RiverEnjoy the beautiful weather and get out on the water for another delightful tour option – a Washington Monuments Cruise.

Because the Potomac River is so conveniently located, it’s an easy way to see much of the top landmarks in Northwest DC from aboard a comfortable cruise vessel.

A few of the highlights you’ll enjoy along your cruise include the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, Old Town Alexandria, and much more.

Getting In: Washington Monuments Cruise tickets are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

DC Bike Rentals

DC is a super bike-friendly city, and Memorial Day Weekend is an excellent time to explore the city streets and bike paths when most people are off from work and the government offices are shut down.

Pedal around the Tidal Basin or the National Mall for some sightseeing while you bike, or choose to follow a route from your bike map to explore more of the city.

It’s a fun and healthy way to explore the city, and the whole family will love it.

Getting In: Bike rentals by Bike and Roll DC are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.

National Memorial Day Parade

The largest parade of its kind in the country, the National Memorial Day Parade is a signature event this weekend in the DMV area. Designed to honor all those who serve or have served their country, it’s an inspiring salute to our heroes.

Featuring floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and marchers of all sorts, it’s a fun parade to watch for a while, or for the whole time.

It begins at 2:00 pm on Monday, May 28, 2018, and runs along Constitution Avenue.

Getting In: The National Memorial Day Parade is free and open to the public.

National Memorial Day Concert

Another popular local tradition on Memorial Day Weekend is this concert.

On Sunday, May 27, 2018, enjoy an evening concert put on by a star-studded lineup. Festivities begin at 8:00 pm, on the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building. Actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna will be hosting the concert, featuring multiple celebrity performers.

However, we recommend arriving much earlier with a blanket if you want a seat. It’s immensely popular with locals and they’ll start staking out spots hours in advance.

It’s also televised on PBS if you can’t get to the site itself.

Getting In: The National Memorial Day Concert is free and open to the public.

National Mall Memorials

Memorial Day is importantly about remembrance, and there are few places better suited to honoring and remembering our fallen soldiers and valued service men and women than on the National Mall.

There, you can visit monuments designed to honor heroes of wars past, from World War II to Vietnam and beyond.

Lay down some flowers if you’d like, or just think of those who came before us.

Getting In: The National Mall and its Memorials are free to explore. 

Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally

The Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally began in 1988 to raise awareness about and honor veterans who were missing in action or prisoners of war. Since it’s humble beginnings the rally has grown to almost a million riders.

The rally is on Sunday, May 27th and starts at the Pentagon, winds through West Potomac Park.

Concessions, memorabilia and other goods will be sold all weekend. There will also be speakers and information about veterans and how you can help them available all weekend.

Getting In: The Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally is free and open to the public. 

Let’s Recap

There you go – plenty of fun ideas for things to do in Washington DC in May to help you plan your Memorial Day weekend itinerary.

Remember, many of these great ideas are included on the Washington DC Explorer Pass, where you can save up to 40% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

We really hope you consider adding a few of these popular options to your upcoming plans. Enjoy!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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