Illustration: Jeffrey Everett
Illustration: Jeffrey Everett

50 Free Things To Do in the DMV

Summer is almost over, marking everyone’s scramble to get in a final getaway or staycation. If you’re in the latter camp, why not explore the DMV’s free options? Most local events making headlines these days involve tickets, but not everything worth experiencing comes with a receipt. There are actually tons of activities in the DC area that only require you to show up. From open houses at art institutions to international pizza samples, your calendar could be completely packed without ever having to pay for entry. You might have to pay for a drink or two, but they say nothing is entirely free. Well, except for these events. Enjoy!

Acoustic Open Mic in The Den
Offered every Wednesday, this open mic night is a great opportunity for local musicians to get onstage. You’ll find all musical styles take part, with the room typically packed with area musicians, and the environment is very welcoming to newcomers. Starts 8 p.m. downstairs. The Den at Politics and Prose: 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.politics-prose.com

Art on 8th by Dance Place
Thursday nights at the Monroe Street Market are funky and full of soul. The Arts Plaza hosts free outdoor concerts, featuring a mix of jazz vocalists, Latin artists and soul bands. Pack some food, grab a friend and settle in for a breezy musical evening. Starts 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 3 and Thursday, August 10, and 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 17 and Thursday, September 21. Monroe Street Market: 716 Monroe St. NE, DC; www.monroestreetmarket.com

Arts N Beats
Every first Wednesday of the month, take in live performances and art installations from local talent while enjoying delicious food and beverages at Arts N Beats. Doors open at 6 p.m. and each week offers a range of entertainment including DJs, singers and producers. Smith Public Trust: 3514 12th St. NE, DC; www.smithpublictrustdc.com

Birds of a Feather Art Show Opening
Four local artists use birds as a source of inspiration for an eclectic and exciting art exhibit set to open on Friday, August 4. Come enjoy the opening reception at 7 p.m. and view the different styles and media each artist uses. The exhibit will show through Friday, September 1. Cuba Cuba Gallery Café: #2309 18th St. NW, DC;
@cubacubagallerycafe

Books & Bars
Books and beer: two of our favorite things. Join DC Public Library for their Books & Bars series at Gordon Biersch. Mingle with other book lovers over a brew or two as DCPL librarians lead discussions on some of today’s favorite literature. Wednesday, August 16 from 7-10 p.m. Gordon Biersch: 900 F St. NW, DC; www.gordonbiersch.com

Capitol Riverfront Movie Series
Grab your blanket and bring a picnic to Canal Park on Thursday nights for their outdoor movie series featuring recent box office hits like La La Land (Thursday, August 3) and Beauty and the Beast (Thursday, August 17). You can arrive as early as 7 p.m., with movies starting at sundown. Runs through August. Canal Park: 200 M St. SE, DC; www.capitolriverfront.org

Chinatown Park Movie Nights
Head to Chinatown Park for a free screening of the feel-good, Oscar-nominated film Lion. The biographical flick is a coming-of-age story about young Saroo, who is in search of lost family and friends from childhood. Popcorn and popsicles included! Wednesday, August 16 from 8-10 p.m. Chinatown Park: I Street in NW, DC; www.apia.dc.gov

Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival
Head out to the lawn at Strathmore for three nights of free outdoor films benefiting the National Institutes of Health’s charities. Movies start at dusk, but get there at 7:30 p.m. to enjoy preshow activities and stake out a spot. Thursday, August 24 to Saturday, August 26. Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org

DC VegFest
Save the date for September 2. DC VegFest features free vegan food samples, cooking demonstrations, a beer garden, live music and more than 130 veg-friendly vendors. It’s a tasty paradise for vegans and meat-eating foodies alike. Saturday, September 2. Yards Park: 355 Water St. SE, DC; www.dcvegfest.com

Farragut Fridays
Every Friday during the summer, Farragut Square holds a variety of activities throughout the day, including an all-day outdoor office complete with Wi-Fi, and a picnic-in-the-park lunch with weekly pop-up events. At sunset, enjoy a movie under the stars with Golden Cinema, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Friday, August 4. Farragut Square Park: 17th Street in NW, DC; www.goldentriangledc.com

FestAfrica!
Mark your calendars for FestAfrica!, the fifteenth annual free African festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. Enjoy over 50 musical performances from African bands and artists, cultural dances and fashion shows, African cuisine, arts and craft exhibits, and much more. All events are held outside. Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, 13 from 1-8 p.m. Veterans Place Plaza: 1 Veterans Pl. Silver Spring, MD; www.festafricausa.com

First Friday: Gallery Underground’s Fifth Anniversary
Come celebrate with the Arlington Artists Alliance during the culmination of its first five years. Gallery Underground’s free monthly opening receptions are part of Crystal City’s Art Underground “First Friday” events, where you can also jam at ArtJamz Underground, take a stroll along the Fotowalk, see what’s happening at TechShop and catch Synetic Theater’s scheduled shows. Friday, August 4 from 5-8 p.m. Gallery Underground at Crystal City Shops: 2100 Crystal Dr. Suite 2120-A, Arlington, VA; www.galleryunderground.org

Free Community Day at the National Museum of Women in the Arts
Art museum junkie? The National Museum of Women in the Arts is hosting a free community day the first Sunday of the month. Peruse the museum’s current exhibitions and newly reinstalled collection, featuring women artists’ sculpture, photography and video works. Sunday, August 6 at 12 p.m. National Museum of Women in the Arts: 1250 New York Ave. NW, DC; www.nmwa.org

Friday Night Concert Series at Yards Park
Head to the Yards Park boardwalk for some amazing live music with a gorgeous river backdrop. A variety of bands are scheduled to perform this month including Party Like It’s (Friday, August 4) and Sam Grow (Friday, August 11), with music going from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday nights. Yards Park: 355 Water St. SE, DC; www.capitolriverfront.org

Guided Parkrun
Local parkrun volunteers host a weekly 5K walk/jog/run every Saturday at 9 a.m. on Theodore Roosevelt Island. Run for free at any parkrun event across the U.S. by registering once online at www.parkrun.us. Theodore Roosevelt Island: George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington, VA; www.parkrun.us

Humanitini: Video Games & Storytelling
Think and drink with some of DC’s movers and shakers. Humanitini DC is a happy hour series exploring topics central to Washington’s culture. What’s the connection between video games and storytelling? Register for free and find out on Thursday, August 3 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Ten Tigers Parlour: 3813 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.tentigersdc.com

Improv Night
Want to mix things up on your Saturday night? Check out the Little Theatre of Alexandria for some interactive improv comedy! Your input crafts the show’s theme, putting you in the center of the action. Snacks and drinks provided. Saturday, August 19 from 8-9:30 p.m. The Little Theatre of Alexandria: 600 Wolfe St. Alexandria, VA; www.thelittletheatre.com

Jazz in the Garden
Jazz in the Garden is the perfect way to celebrate a summer evening. Sip sangria in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden and enjoy some live jazz tunes. Bluesy and eclectic groups including Incendio, Zili and Black Masala are lined up to perform. Fridays through August 25 from 5-8:30 p.m. National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden: Between 3rd and 9th Streets and Constitution Avenue in NW, DC; www.nga.gov

Joy of Motion Swing Class
Dance it out with an outdoor Joy of Motion swing class. Lead by Megan Morrison, one of the Center’s premier dance instructors, this class will teach you the fundamentals of swing and the art of moving with finesse. Wednesday, August 9 at 5:30 p.m. The Shops at Wisconsin Place: 5310 Western Ave. NW, Chevy Chase, MD; www.joyofmotion.org

Late Night Music at The Hamilton
Enjoy a variety of scheduled acts on select Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in August and throughout the rest of the year at the Loft at The Hamilton. Located in the loft bar of the restaurant, the space provides amazing acoustics for live music, with the full-service bar and menu at your fingertips. The Loft at The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.live.thehamiltondc.com

Lincoln Assassination Tour
Journey back in time with the DC by Foot staff as they take you through the intrigue and conspiracy surrounding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Walk the streets on this guided tour to various DC landmarks as you dig deeper into the timeline of events. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. Lafayette Square: Andrew Jackson Statue, north front of the White House in Washington, DC; www.freetoursbyfoot.com

Live from the Lawn
Strathmore’s Live from the Lawn concert series is summer in a song. Camp out with food and friends and jam to everything from reggae to bluegrass. Held every Wednesday evening August 2 through September 9. Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org

LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn
Head out to Capitol Hill for the Library of Congress’ Summer Movies on the Lawn. This August they’re screening old-school favorites, including Back to the Future, Top Gun and Ghostbusters. Not a bad way to spend a Summer evening at all. August 2, 10 and 17 from 8-10:30 p.m. Library of Congress: 10 First St. SE, DC; www.loc.gov

Lubber Run Summer Concerts
Arlington’s got an outdoor space perfect for world-class music. Lubber Run Amphitheater’s free summer concert series hosts groups like Dupont Brass and Rico Amero, and features a cabaret by Signature Theatre. Pack a picnic and head out for an unforgettable evening. Friday, August 4 – Sunday, August 6; Friday, August 11 – Sunday, August 13; Sunday, August 27; and Sunday, September 10 and Sunday, September 17. Lubber Run Amphitheater: 200 N Columbus St. Arlington, VA; www.arlingtonarts.org

Mayor’s Cup Amateur Boxing Tournament
Check out the future world and pro regional champions at the Mayor’s Cup Amateur Boxing Tournament. This historic three-day event showcases the most talented male and female amateur boxers in a variety of age categories, with many participants going on to claim professional titles. Friday, August 18 – Sunday, August 20 at various times. Raymond Recreation Center: 3725 10th St. NW, DC; www.dpr.dc.gov

Meeting Bowls
This public art initiative is a way to foster conversation and explore the interaction between civic space and civic life. Stop by and sit with friends, or meet new ones in one of these urban furniture installations. In November, the exhibit moves to Miami Beach’s famed Art Basel. Courthouse Neighborhood: 1310 N Courthouse Rd. Arlington, VA; www.publicart.arlingtonva.us

Millennium Stage Performances
The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage offers free performances every day at 6 p.m., featuring a range of artists and performers. No tickets are required, and guests can show up and enjoy everything from rock and jazz to comedy and dance. Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

National Book Festival
Bookworms, unite! The 2017 National Book Festival is Saturday, September 2, and features readings, discussions and (of course) books by some of the nation’s top authors. The festival celebrates everything from science fiction to poetry, giving you a taste for all things literature. Mount Vernon Place: 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW, DC; www.loc.gov

National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day Concert
Head to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for this annual tradition, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra, and guitarist and songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. The America-inspired musical program includes folk, marches and classics. Sunday, September 3 at 8 p.m. National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day Concert: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

NoMA Summer Screen
NoMA Summer Screen offers music, giveaways and amazing films every Wednesday evening. This year’s theme is Power, Politics & Popcorn, including Legally Blonde: Red, White & Blonde (Wednesday, August 9) and Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Wednesday, August 16). Bring chairs and a picnic. If you bike, they have a two-wheel valet to park and watch your bikes! Runs through August. Doors open at 7 p.m. Storey Park: 1005 First St. NE, DC; www.nomadbid.org

‘Othello’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company
Thanks to generous sponsors, enjoy free performances of Othello on select evenings in August during Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All. You can win tickets for a select performance via an online lottery, or get tickets in line the day of the show. Tuesday, August 15 – Sunday, August 27. Sidney Harman Hall: 610 F St. NW, DC; www.shakespearetheatre.org

People & Stories
Enjoy a good story? Join People & Stories, Shaw Library’s reading and discussion group. Each session, a short story is read aloud, followed by group conversation and analysis. Held on Fridays, August 4-18 at 3 p.m. Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Library: 1630 7th St. NW, DC; www.dclibrary.org/watha

Picnic in the Park
Join DC Metro Circle of Friends for their fourth annual Picnic in the Park. You’ll help build unity within the DMV’s LGBTQ community with food, drinks and fellowship. The purple balloons mark the spot – keep a look out in the picnic area. Saturday, August 19 from 12-7 p.m. Rock Creek Park: Picnic area #6 on West Beach Dr. NW, DC; www.nps.gov/rocr

Pizza Fest DC
Clarendon’s first annual Pizza Fest is serious business. The event offers dozens of free pizza samples, from hearty Chicago-style pies to thin and crispy Italian-inspired bakes. Pair your samples with a frosty glass of beer, and you’re in for a delicious afternoon. Saturday, August 5 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Clarendon Central Park: 3140 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.clarendon.org

RowVigor Bootcamp
Start your Sunday off with a bang with RowVigor Bootcamp. This free outdoor class consists of intervals on the erg, strength exercises and dynamic moves that will keep your heart pumping. Grab a friend and some water, and come ready to move. Sunday, August 6 from 9-10 a.m. Canal Park: 200 M St. SE, DC; www.capitolriverfront.org

Rosslyn Cinema + Pub in the Park
Every Friday evening, enjoy movies at dusk in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park, with their Pub in the Park offering beer, wine and seasonal sangria, and different local food trucks each week. Bring blankets and chairs, and arrive early for tunes from the DJ and yard games. Movies include When Harry Met Sally (Friday, August 4) and The Avengers (Friday, August 18). Gateway Park: 1300 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA; www.rosslynva.org

SAAM Arcade
Enter video game heaven at this annual event featuring 150 independent developers submitting their games to be shown at the SAAM Arcade, and loads of additional arcade cabinets and consoles provided by sponsors. There will also be a full schedule of game-building workshops, music and more. Saturday, August 5 and Sunday, August 6 from 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Smithsonian American Art Museum: 8th and F Streets in NW, DC; www.americanart.si.edu

Signature Theatre’s Open House
Get a taste for Signature Theatre’s stellar upcoming season at its annual open house. The event features free performances every 15 minutes, special ticket offers, raffles and a grand finale concert. This jam-packed day is a theatre celebration you won’t want to miss. Sunday, August 6 from 12-8:30 p.m. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

Skywatching: Solar Eclipse Party
Got plans for this month’s solar eclipse? Camp out for the day in Gaithersburg’s Latitude Observatory and enjoy the eclipse at 80 percent totality. The event includes solar-related activities and observations with safe solar viewers. Monday, August 21 from 1-4 p.m. Observatory Park: 100 DeSellum Ave. Gaithersburg, MD; www.gaithersburgmd.gov

Sour Beer Samplings
If you’re a beer lover with a taste for tangy brews, you’ve got to visit the Sovereign in Georgetown. This Belgian-inspired bistro and bar serves up a slew of sour beers every Wednesday, free for sampling. Happy hour, anyone? Wednesdays, August 2-16 at 5 p.m. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Summer Sounds: 7 Deadlies
On Thursday nights, relax along the Southwest Waterfront promenade as you listen to live music. Each week offers something different, with everything from powerhouse jam to roots rock and jump blues. On Thursday, August 3, enjoy the 80s, 90s and top hit musical talents of 7 Deadlies. 6:30-8:30 p.m. District Wharf: 690 Water St. SW, DC; www.wharfdc.com

Sunset Fitness in the Park
Enjoy a variety of free outdoor yoga, Pilates and barre classes hosted by Georgetown area studios. Classes begin at 6 p.m. and take place at the picturesque Georgetown Waterfront, with registration recommended (classes are capped at 100 participants). Bring a yoga mat, and they’ll provide water and snacks. Georgetown Waterfront: 34th Street in NW, DC; www.georgetowndc.com

Take 5! Live Jazz
Every third Thursday at 5 p.m., enjoy live jazz music in the gorgeous glass-enclosed Kogod Courtyard, located in the same building as the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum. Grab refreshments from the Courtyard Café and sit with your friends as you unwind after the work day. Kogod Courtyard: 8th and F Streets NW, DC; www.americanart.si.edu

A Taste of Northern Spain Wine Tasting
Whether you are a novice wine drinker or well-traveled connoisseur, come take part in a tasting of the wines from Northern Spain at Cork & Fork. Saturday, August 5 from 3-6 p.m. Be sure to reserve your tickets online. Cork & Fork: 1522 14th St. NW, DC; www.corkandfork.co

Tasting at Ten
Need a coffee break? Counter Culture Coffee hosts a tasty sampling session Fridays at 10 a.m. Try a delicious line-up of their global coffees, guided by the company’s bean brewing experts. A perfect mid-morning break and pick-me-up. Fridays, August 4-25 at 10 a.m. Counter Culture Coffee Training Center: 3504 13th St. NW, DC; www.counterculturecoffee.com

Thirsty Thursday Beer Tasting
Expand your knowledge of craft beers every Thursday night from 5-7 p.m., at Crystal City Wine Shop with their free beer tasting. Mingle with fellow beer lovers as you enjoy free samples and learn from the beer savvy staff on the next great brew. Crystal City Wine Shop: 220 20th St. South, Arlington, VA; www.crystalcitywineshop.com

Underground Comedy
Check out DC’s best standup comics every Sunday night at Wonderland Ballroom. This Columbia Heights dive hosts the group Underground Comedy, dubbed “Washington’s Laugh Leader” by the Washington Post. What better way to start your week? 8-9:30 p.m. Wonderland Ball Room: 1101 Kenyon St. NW, DC; www.undergroundcomedydc.com

Vigilante Coffee Tasting
Every third Saturday of the month, enjoy a free vigilante coffee cupping at Pitango Gelato Capitol Hill. Taste the latest offerings from Vigilante as you learn more about the bean-roasting process and how Pitango serves up expertly crafted coffee. Saturday, August 19. Pitango Gelato Capitol Hill: 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC; www.pitangogelato.com

Yoga in the Park
Find your zen at Meridian Hill Park with Yoga in the Park. Bring your mat and find a grassy spot for a 90-minute class on Sunday afternoons. Classes are taught by a variety of DC’s best yoga teachers. Sundays, August 6-27 from 5-6:30 p.m. Meridian Hill Park: 2400 15th St. NW, DC; www.hotspotdupont.com