Credit: Stephanie Rudig

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The longest days of the year are upon us, so how will you take advantage of the extra hours of daylight? With temperatures cooking in the 90s, it’s tempting to spend the next 11 weeks watching Netflix and chilling—literally—in an air-conditioned spot of your choosing. But that would mean missing out on the seasonal events that Washingtonians and tourists can only enjoy for a short time each year. Whether you take a long walk after a rainstorm, paddle down the Potomac, or listen to live music outside, The Swamp gets a little more exciting in the summer. 

As professional proponents of life in the District, we here at Washington City Paper want our readers to make the most of their time, so we’ve created a list of 26 ways to celebrate summer in the city, running the gamut from A to Z. If you complete two activities a week and start right now, you’ll finish just in time for fall.  —Caroline Jones

A is for … Air Conditioning. It might be a sweltering 98 degrees outside, but worry not! Every indoor space you enter this summer will be a cool 65—max. That’s right: Restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and the Washington City Paper conference room all transform into igloos as soon as solstice hits. Your D.C. summer survival kit should include a fur-lined parka in addition to sunglasses and sunscreen. —Ella Feldman

Credit: Photographs by Darrow Montgomery

B is for … Boathouses. Despite D.C. being landlocked and more than a hundred miles from the Atlantic Ocean, water lovers still have plenty of opportunities to pilot their own crafts down D.C.’s scenic rivers. Consider, this summer, its boathouses. Rent a kayak at Ballpark Boathouse and coast through the Anacostia in search of foul balls. Work your core while taking a stand-up paddleboarding fitness class at the Wharf or Key Bridge. Visualize your Olympic dreams at Thompson Boat Center and sign up for a series of sculling or sweeping classes. There’s a craft for everyone, regardless of their boating abilities or upper body strength—pedal boats for couples and quartets leave from the Tidal Basin. —Caroline Jones

C is for … Crabs. If you plan to participate in the mid-Atlantic summer tradition of picking crabs, do yourself a favor and trim your nails first. Breaking a nail feels worse when a combination of crustacean guts, salt, and shell enters the wound. The hardest choice when it comes to crabs is where you’ll eat them and who you’ll eat them with. Will you host a gaggle of friends at your home and hope the smell of a bushel of steamed crabs dissipates after a few days? Will you head to Maine Avenue SW and get your crabs cooked on site, then enjoy them while taking in a view of the river? Or will you brave traffic and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to enjoy your crabs as close to the source as possible? As a native Marylander and frequent traverser of Route 50, I heartily endorse the third option. —Caroline Jones

D is for … Day Trips. Summer is for adventure. Let the season’s long days, warm weather, and laid-back vibes call you away from your routine, to places where the only goal is exploration. Cool off by dipping your toes in the ocean or taking to the skies in Shenandoah, get to know new cities like Baltimore or Charlottesville, Virginia, or find a day trip that doesn’t require going far at all, like the ever-quaint Old Town Alexandria. Wherever you’re going, clear your calendar for a day and take in all your destination offers. We’re lucky to have so many primo destinations within driving distance or accessible by public transit, so take advantage of them! Adventure is out there. —Will Warren

E is for … Escaleftors. They’re school groups from out of town. They’re families of tourists. They’re summer interns who haven’t figured out how to commute. And they’re EVERYWHERE, drifting back and forth, wasting precious minutes of people’s time for no apparent reason other than a sinister refusal to learn a very simple Metro escalator rule: stand right, walk left. Slight modification: stand right, walk left, or just leave. Please. —Ella Feldman

F is for … Fort Reno. During the year it’s a watering hole for the youth of Tenleytown, a hub of teenage angst and delinquency. But in the summer, the historic field off Belt Road NW transforms into the perfect venue for a summer sunset. Forget 9:30 Club and The Anthem, grab a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a lovely, music-filled evening on the top of the town. Starting in July, every Monday and Thursday, Fort Reno hosts a 7 p.m. concert for any and all, provided they keep their alcohol, drugs, and glass containers at home. Fort Reno, more like Fort Re-yes! —Ayomi Wolff

G is for … Garden, Jazz in the. Listening to jazz in the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden seems like a perfectly urbane way to close out the work week. Who wouldn’t want to listen to live music while checking out large works by Louise Bourgeois, Ellsworth Kelly, and Alexander Calder? But Jazz in the Garden, the NGA’s weekly summer concert series, tends to quickly devolve into chaos. When hundreds of chattering bodies (that get progressively louder as more sangria is drunk) pack the tiny space, the music and art become afterthoughts. If you want to hear good jazz, head to one of D.C.’s cozy jazz clubs. If you want to roll around on soft grass and drink some wine with your pals, well, there’s a place for you on the Mall most Friday nights. —Caroline Jones

H is for … Humidity. I hear a lot of people bitchin’ about the humidity around here. As someone who is already an entire week into his first D.C. summer, I’m here to say you’re wrong. Humidity is glorious. So your pits get a little sweaty, and you feel a little sluggish. We’re supposed to sweat. Suck it up! Guzzle an extra shot of espresso or whatever you losers drink to stay awake. Oh, is it hard to fall asleep at night because you’re sticky and your sheets are drenched? Ever hear of a fan? You can buy one for $4. And don’t even start with me about frizzy hair. I know all about frizzy hair. It’s not that bad. Plus, without humidity, your boogers would dry out and you’d get nosebleeds. Do you want nosebleeds? Didn’t think so. Science tells us that more humidity means baseballs travel farther. That same science tells us that those rules of physics only apply when the Nationals are batting. Ergo, if you hate humidity, you hate the Nationals. —Mitch Ryals

I is for … Ice. There’s just something about water that’s been chilled to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether it’s in coffee, whipped together with milk to make delicious ice cream, or shaved and flavored with syrup, it’ll satisfy the tongue. It even makes boring old water taste better. The letter “I” does not stand for ICE—and D.C. residents won’t stand for it either. The current administration first promised, then walked back, then carried on anyway with immigration raids, resulting in several arrests and families wrenched apart. Trump is as unpredictable as an afternoon thunderstorm watch, but it seems likely that he’ll continue with this cruelty, so stay vigilant this summer. Watch out for your neighbors, and check with organizations like Sanctuary DMV and RAICES to learn what you can do in the event of an ICE raid. —Stephanie Rudig

J is for … Jiffy Lube Live. Your favorite big-name musial act is coming to town, and the summer weather is perfect for an open-air concert. You text your friends to get a group together and whip out your credit card. STOP. Put that card away. Be honest, your favorite artist isn’t coming to town; they’re visiting the distant land known as Jiffy Lube Live, and going there requires a journey through the hellscape that is its parking lot. The concert itself will be pleasant—it’s a good place to watch famous people play music for thousands of fans—but the aftermath will leave you forever changed. After waiting for hours late at night for the chance to depart and then driving 36 miles back to D.C., you will question not only your decision to come here, but your fandom in general. You will leave a part of your soul in that parking lot. Some say it’s still there, waiting for its turn to exit and go home. —Will Warren

K is for … Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. There’s nothing more fun to photograph than the lotus flowers at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, with their swollen, sunny yellow centers and dramatic pink petals, especially on a clear day. Even if you’re not a shutterbug, taking the time to wind through ponds on paths and raised walkways is literally a breath of fresh air. Listen for bullfrogs croaking and see if you can spot some tadpoles or mating dragonflies, but watch out for slithering snakes. One additional perk of the park is that it’s dog friendly. Plan your visit to coincide with the Lotus and Water Lily Festival on July 13 and 14 or head over early on the weekend with your four-legged friend before the park gets busy. —Laura Hayes

L is for … Lawn.  Love lazy days but hate the heat? Love bed-laying but hate the bug spraying? In the National Building Museum’s new indoor installation, Lawn, opening July 4, you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without actually encountering any plants. With the museum’s carpeted floors now covered with lush turf field decorated with lawn chairs and hammocks, summer fun can be had without D.C’s swampy heat getting in the way of pure, unadulterated laziness. And that’s not all: The giant field features croquet sets, dominoes, and bocce balls, oh my! Finally, an acceptable place to lay down in a chair for $16. —Ayomi Wolff

M is for … Mueller. July 17 will be a big day for political enthusiasts who like to day drink while watching wall-to-wall news coverage. That’s when special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, and it’s only a matter of time before bars start announcing which themed cocktails they’ll serve to avid viewers. Prep for Mueller’s star turn six days earlier at Arena Stage, which will host a free, 11-hour reading of part two of the Mueller Report. Among the scheduled readers are D.C. Councilmembers Charles Allen and David Grosso, local theater directors Michael Kahn, Maria Manuela Goyanes, and David Muse, and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. If we’re going to spend the summer worrying about Russian election interference, at least we’ll have fun and drink Mueller-itas while we do it. —Caroline Jones

N is for … Nightswimming. “Nightswimming deserves a quiet night,” proclaims Michael Stipe on R.E.M.’s greatest song. A quiet summer night in D.C. is hard to find. Opportunities to swim late in the day are easier to come by. The Capitol Skyline Hotel keeps its pool open until 10 p.m. daily, with weekday passes going for $45. The Penthouse Pool Club closes at 11 p.m. on Thursdays, allowing its members to start the weekend early, and the rooftop pool at the Liaison Washington Capitol Hill offers an adult swim period for those over 21 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day for $25 during the week and $35 on weekends. The soundtracks won’t be as mellow as Stipe’s somber meditation on a dark dip with friends, but don’t let that stop you from taking the plunge. —Caroline Jones

O is for … Outdoor Movies. There’s nothing more summer than being with your best friends, spreading a blanket across a field, and laying down to watch the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap or last year’s heart-wrenching The Hate U Give. Maybe Thor: Ragnarok is more your thing. Lucky for us all, outdoor movie venues across the city will be playing these selections and many others all summer long. You can find outdoor movies at Canal Park, Freedom Plaza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Library of Congress, Storey Park, Union Market, and plenty of other spots in and around the city. If you love the 1992 feminist masterpiece A League of Their Own, consider yourself extra lucky—it’s screening outside four times this season. —Ella Feldman

P is for … Pirate Ship. Getting blasted on the Potomac aboard the Boomerang Pirate Ship is a right of passage. The red and black vessel, which departs from Georgetown, is available for 21+ party cruises that last two hours, as well as family cruises where you’re less likely to see a pack of bros in costumes doing the worm on the deck of the ship. (The most popular costumes during the 2018 season were parrots, sharks, and, of course, pirates.) Tickets range from $20 to $35 depending on dates and times and there’s a cash bar on board serving Pirate’s Punch made with spiced rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice, along with beer and wine. —Laura Hayes

Q is for … Quilts. What says summer more than thick, padded bedspreads with decorative stitching?! Absolutely nothing, that’s what. Regardless of the temperature outside , you can celebrate this cozy accessory with the new exhibition Everyday Luxury, on view to January 2020 at the National Museum of American History. Specifically, this collection focuses on fancy silk quilts known as “parlor throws” from the late 19th century—many of them rarely before seen—and also showcases quilt-making materials and details about quilt-making techniques. On top of it all, admission is free, so quilt sitting around and get your ass down to the Mall. —Ella Feldman

R is for … Rain. With residents from all 50 states and most countries on the planet, you can find any manner of conversation about weather in D.C. But all of these people should be able to converge on one point: D.C. has excellent summer rainstorms. They come suddenly, include thunder and lightning, and they’ll soak you in a second. Next time it rains, stop what you’re doing, find a friend or deskmate, and head to a window or doorway. Stand there and watch it come down: loud, steady, and bigger than you are. —Alexa Mills

S is for … Sidewalks.They’re abundant in D.C. And though the menace that is the electric scooter has polluted them as of late, outside of downtown it’s still possible to enjoy long stretches of appropriately used sidewalks. D.C. may be the best walking city in the country, and in the summer, nothing will clean you out and put you to sleep like a sweaty 15-mile walk. Pick a distant destination, put your phone away, find your best friend, and set out for an 8-hour stroll on a Saturday. —Alexa Mills

T is for … Tennis. A number of young, mostly international tennis stars are coming to play at the Citi Open from July 27 until Aug. 4 at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, and if rooftops are your thing, the Washington Kastles will play their home matches on the Union Market rooftop starting this month. But summer tennis goes beyond spectating pros at events helmed by City Paper owner and noted tennis enthusiast Mark Ein. Register for local United States Tennis Association tournaments where you can convince your friends to watch you play as you live out your childhood dream of being an elite athlete. Other people do that too, right? —Kelyn Soong

U is for … Underground. The sun is overrated. Haunt D.C.’s subterranean spots like a jilted Victorian ghost bride instead of withering in the smothering heat this summer. You know who doesn’t sweat profusely or get skin cancer? Victorian ghosts. Go underground to catch a comedy show downstairs at Big Hunt, a concert in the dark recesses of Songbyrd Music House, or a range of arts programming at Dupont Underground. You can also cool off with a cocktail in the blessedly windowless Sotto, Off the Record, or Denson Liquor Bar. Vitamin D comes in a tablet now, so step out of the sun for a little while and let the cool darkness take you in. —Elizabeth Tuten

V is for … Vote. On July 24th, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing on legislation that would make D.C. the 51st state, finally allowing D.C. to have voting representatives in Congress. The voteless Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has been beating this drum almost as long as she’s been in office, and brought about the only other House hearing on this issue in 1993. Since then, she’s continued to recruit other House members to co-sponsor the bill and now has the support of over 200 members, as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The current Senate has made clear that they will not pass this bill should it pass the House, but Washingtonians can dream. —Stephanie Rudig

W  is for … Water Taxi. Significant portions of the Blue and Yellow Lines are closed until Labor Day, upsetting the commutes of many Virginians. Now they’re stuck in their cars or on buses or on different configurations of trains. Alternatively, they could take to the sea, er, river. Morning and afternoon water taxi service between Old Town Alexandria and The Wharf is expected to pick up now that commuters will rely on it just as much as tourists do. Winds off the Potomac River provide a bracing start to the workday, after all. —Caroline Jones

X is for … Xylophone. I am not what you’d call a classical music aficionado and you’d be unlikely to find me listening to the National Symphony Orchestra when they’re in residence at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. That all changes when the NSO goes into the wild every summer. Beyond their annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture during the annual A Capitol Fourth concert—an all-time great D.C. summer experience in its own right—the District’s hometown orchestra will collaborate with a diverse stable of artists during its seasonal residency at Wolf Trap. Prepare to hear “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sarah McLachlan, and Nas as you’ve never heard them before, with the backing of a renowned set of classical musicians and plenty of extra flourishes. —Caroline Jones

Y is for … Youth. Summer is about a lot of things, but if you have kids, it’s really only about one thing: them. School is out, and the young ones need something to do. Luckily, with a bevy of free and world-class cultural institutions, it’s not hard to build a themed summer around your kids’ interests, whatever they might be. Take the soccer fanatic to a D.C. United game to see all-time great Wayne Rooney, the outdoor movie screening of Bend It Like Beckham in NoMa, and to see memorabilia from Briana Scurry at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The comic book nerd gets a trip to see the Library of Congress’ impressive collection and some drawing classes. Tying these trips to a theme your kid is into will have them excited to visit these age-old institutions. You know your kid best, and this city has something for everyone. —Will Warren

Z is for … Zzzzzs. The sun is out longer, the heat is hotter, and the sweat is stickier this time of year. During these long, activity-filled days you’re probably feeling pretty drowsy, so make like the Spaniards and take a nap in the middle of the day. It can happen outside or in your bed, for 15 minutes or an hour, so long as you close your eyes and snooze. —Stephanie Rudig

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