Things to Do

Our Summer Bucket List for Eating, Drinking, and Playing Around DC

Get crackin' at Maryland's top crab houses. Photograph by Jay Fleming.

Summer is heating up and our staff is dreaming of their warm weather to-do lists, from hiking excursions to crab feasts.

Crack Chesapeake crabs

Visiting Cantler’s in Annapolis for Chesapeake blue crabs is on my summer bucket list. They also have the best crab dip and soft-shell clams.” –Jessica Sidman, food editor 

Cross it off your list: Whether you’re looking for crabs nearby or destination crustaceans, Old Bay your way through our favorite Chesapeake crab houses.

Boat with brews

Although it is basic AF, I really do want to try the paddle pub. I’m down for anything that gets me out on the water, and the view of the monuments from the river is great. And I’m no nutritionist, but I’m pretty sure that if you pedal while drinking beer, you negate all calories. So it’s basically good for you.” –Mimi Montgomery, associate editor 

Cross it off your list: Reserve a seat on the booze cruise or rent the boat for a private Potomac River outing. Don’t forget that libations are BYOB.

Potomac Paddle Pub
Pedal down the river while drinking beer on the Potomac Paddle Pub. Photograph courtesy of Potomac Paddle Pub.

Drink ALL the piña coladas

“It was the first drink I ever tried, and I still love it so. My current favorites are at Tiki TNT, Suburbia, and Colada Shop, but I’m looking forward to trying them at Little Havana, Whaley’s Rose Garden, and Estadio, where Adam Bernbach switches out rum for sherry. ” -Ann Limpert, food editor

Cross it off your list: If you like piña coladas…you should head to an al fresco happy hour for a tropical staycation courtesy of the pineapple drink. Try the classic with a matcha twist or discover more refreshing drinks local bartenders are sipping this summer.

Frolic in a field of sunflowers

“I love sunflowers—they’re not only cheery, but they embody summer. So on my summer bucket list is a visit to the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland, when its 30 acres of sunflowers peak in mid-to-late July. I went two years ago, and it was not only an Instagram slam dunk, but it was fun to see so many visitors smiling and happy.” -Sherri Dalphonse, executive editor

Cross it off your list: Capture the perfect summer ‘gram at the sunflower oasis. Remember: the flowers are good for pictures, not picking.

Snap a summer Instagram with 30 acres of sunflowers as the background.

Hike the great outdoors 

“I’ve been dying to do more hiking this year, so I’m excited to hike along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Blue Ridge is a massive collection of peaks that stretch through five states. From what I’ve seen, you can witness some gorgeous sunsets at their peaks. I’d like to see one of those sunsets, though I doubt I’ll make it to the top!” -Kaila Philo, editorial fellow 

Cross it off your list: You don’t have to go far for a peaceful day of hiking in nature, thanks to the DC area’s ample trails.

Feast on some barbecue 

“When the humidity dials up, I start craving barbecue favorites like smoky brisket and pulled pork. I’ll be kicking off my Summer of Meat Sweats at the National Capital Barbecue Battle, catching all the saucy action before eating my way through the different regional styles.” -Daniella Byck, assistant editor 

Cross it off your list: Get a crash course in ‘cue with our guide to Washington BBQ.

Dig in to some barbecue at Texas Jacks in Arlington. Photo by Scott Suchman.
Dig into some barbecue at Texas Jacks in Arlington. Photo by Scott Suchman

Get to the Nationals Crab Feast

“Is anything more summery than cracking crabs while sitting on (yes, on) the field at Nationals Park, drinking cold Buds, and watching a game on the Jumbotron? This year, the Nats Feast on the Field is July 16. While the team plays the Orioles, home fans take the field for all-you-can-eat-and-drink Chesapeake blue crabs (take that, Baltimore), beer and wine, and sides.” -Anna Spiegel, food editor

Cross it off your list: Tickets are $85 to $125 ($35 for kids under 12). Don’t forget to snag a photo in the dug out.

Go cherry picking at Homestead Farm

“Sour cherry jam, sour cherry pie, sour cherry clafoutis—bring it on. When the season opens in mid-June, I’ll be at this Poolesville farm with my two-and-a-half year-old apprentice (who will likely get sidetracked by the goats and chickens, but oh well).” -Ann Limpert

Cross it off your list: To pluck the official fruit of the District or soon-to-be-in-season berries, head to a pick-your-own farm in Maryland or Virginia. Prefer your fruit pre-picked? Support local farmers at DC-area farmers markets to stock up on the season’s abundant offerings.

Pick your own cherries and berries at a local farm. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Tetsuya Kankubo.
Pick your own cherries and berries at a local farm. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Tetsuya Kankubo.

Bike and camp at the C&O Canal

“If your problem with camping is that there are often too many people, or—let’s be honest—your problem with everything is that there are often too many people, try bike camping, because even on the nicest day there may be, like, four other people doing it. Throw everything you need on your bike (sleeping bag, small tent, food) and head out on the C&O Canal towpath. The first of the Park Service’s 31 free campsites is a reasonable 16 miles from Georgetown (pack a spare tube and pump; that path can wreak havoc on your tires). You can spend the night under the stars and return to “civilization” in less than 24 hours, refreshed and ready to act as if you enjoy the company of others for another week.” -Andrew Beaujon, senior editor

Cross it off your list: Our round-up of DC-area camping spots will help you find a kid-friendly site or a lodge to skip the tent and go glamping.

Cruise on the water taxi 

“I want to ride the water taxi from Old Town to the Wharf, enjoying both waterfronts and the ride over, wind in my (long and luscious) hair. Some may want to try the new Potomac paddleboat pub (which sounds both terrible and awesome). I just want the good ole fashioned water taxi.” -Elliot Williams, assistant editor 

Cross it off your list: Water taxi starting points are in DC and Virginia. Check multiple boxes with one ride by taking a boat to a Nationals or DC United game.

A ferry at the Wharf. Photograph by Evy Mages.
The water taxi has starting locations in DC and Virginia. Photograph by Evy Mages

Be a tourist in DC’s neighborhoods 

“I moved to DC in January, and the only other time I’ve been here was during an 8th grade field trip. So, I’m still pretty fresh. Thus, I’m converting my summer bucket list into a DC neighborhood bucket list. Becoming invested and candid in a community comes from familiarizing yourself with it, one weekend excursion at a time.” -Will Peischel, editorial fellow 

Cross it off your list: Take advantage of sunny days and walk the city with our DC neighborhood guide.

Explore the thriving Mexican food (and margarita) scene

“Our friends from California and Texas always complained about Washington’s Mexican food scene, but lately they’ve been a lot quieter (probably too busy eating tacos). There’s an exciting new wave of great taquerias and restaurants in town, whether you’re looking for inexpensive street-style eats or a blowout taco omakase (yep, that’s a thing).” -Anna Spiegel

Cross it off your list: Make your way to one of the new Mexican restaurants around DC to try the diverse types of tacos the city has to sample.

Crispy skate, Coca-Cola–marinated carnitas, and fried-shrimp tacos at Tacos, Tortas & Tequila.
Crispy skate, Coca-Cola–marinated carnitas, and fried-shrimp tacos at Tacos, Tortas & Tequila.

Get creative with rosé 

“To my mind, there are few better summer coolers than a cold glass of minerally, salmon-pink rosé from Provence. But even I am starting to feel rosé fatigue. So, I’ve turned to the pale blue cans of rosé cider from DC cider-maker Anxo, which you can pick up at places like Batch 13 and Metro Wine & Spirits. You have to like sour brews (this one is very puckery), but it’s really refreshing.” -Ann Limpert

Cross it off your list: Check out a new outdoor bar to see who is pouring the hybrid drink, like Dacha’s Navy Yard outpost. If you’re still ride or die rosé, head to a bottomless rosé brunch.

Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

“Baseball tends to elude me, but I’ll still be donning the “W” hat in support of our hometown team. Sure, I might be singing about peanuts and Cracker Jacks, but you can find me sampling the new concessions in between home runs.” -Daniella Byck

Cross it off your list: Snatch up tickets for a home game at Nationals Park. Looking for a spot to eat and drink around the stadium? We’ve got you covered. 

Don some red, white, and blue to cheer on the Nationals. Photograph courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.
Don some red, white, and blue to cheer on the Nationals. Photograph courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.

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Daniella Byck

Daniella joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad and lives in Columbia Heights.