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30+ Things to Do This May in Washington, DC

Plan a mix of virtual and safe, in-person activities this spring in Washington, DC

As you continue to practice social distancing and DC gradually reopens, we've gathered up some things to do this May, including safe in-person activities and virtual events. You can also check out tons of on-demand virtual museum toursneighborhood toursTV and movies streaming ideas with a DC bent, DC-inspired music playlists and Washington, DC Zoom meeting backgrounds. Be sure to read our things to do during the week and weekend and check up on what’s open around the city as well.

If you're interested in a staycation in the District, make sure to check out our Stay Local DC content and deals.

Visit reopened DC museums
Many of DC's most beloved museums will reopen their doors this May, with capacity limits, timed tickets and safety policies in place. The wondrous list of reopenings includes the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (May 5), the National Museum of African American History and Culture (May 14), the National Portrait Gallery (May 14), the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery (May 14), the National Gallery of Art (May 14), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (May 17), the National Museum of the American Indian (May 21), the National Museum of American History (May 21) and the Smithsonian's National Zoo (May 21). Check out our What's Open page to see what other DC locales you can visit this month.

Midnight at The Never Get – April 30 – June 21
Stream this scintillating performance from Signature Theatre Company, which takes place in New York City circa 1965. Trevor, a cabaret singer, is in love with his songwriter, Arthur. With their relationship forbidden, the duo takes to the back room of an illegal Greenwich Village gay bar to create The Never Get. The Off-Broadway musical offers whimsical tunes and a powerful love story.  You can purchase a ticket and stream the show on-demand through the Marquee TV app.

Passport DC @Home – May 1-31
The beloved tradition of Passport DC returns as a virtual event this year. The month-long program will highlight DC's international and diplomatic community through live and pre-recorded activities delivered by embassies, restaurants and cultural institutions. You can learn about international culture through programs and presentations that will focus on history, the humanities, the performing and visual arts, concerts, author talks, cooking demonstrations and much more. All programs will be free to enjoy.

Virtual Yoga from the Garden – May 1, 8, 15, 22
The U.S. Botanic Garden’s weekly yoga class continues virtually throughout the month thanks to WithLoveDC. Although the class usually rakes place in-person inside the Garden’s Conservatory, this online version features a live yoga instructor guiding you through a one-hour meditation and yoga practice. Pre-registration is required, but all classes are free to attend.

George Washington Whiskey Tasting – May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Sample whiskey and other distilled spirits in the Colonial style at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, a wondrous way to spend a Saturday afternoon in spring. This rare opportunity to try Mount Vernon’s unique spirits takes place at the distillery and gristmill on the estate, an area you can tour during your visit. Choose three out of five spirits offered to sample and learn distilling methods and techniques along the way. Make sure to review Mount Vernon’s safety protocols before your visit.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121

Blindness – Through June 13
Based on a novel by Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago, this new production from Shakespeare Theatre Company deals with the disturbing premise of a pandemic that causes blindness. A recorded audio performance by Olivier Award winner Juliet Stevenson mixes with an intense sound and light installation to create a story of government indifference of paranoia that turns into a cry of hope and resilience. The actor-less installation will be limited to 40 guests at a time inside Sidney Harman Hall.
Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

The Story of the Lūʻau: Dance and Cooking Demonstration – May 1-31
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s YouTube channel will showcase this fascinating lūʻau demonstrations all May long. Explore the Native Hawaiian tradition with Vicky Holt Takamine, a kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance). Kumu Vicky will reveal the history of the dance, which will be followed by a dance presentation. Chef Kealoha Domingo will demonstrate recipes associated with the lūʻau, many of which are healthy and sustainable and represent a spiritual connection between the ‘āina (land), kanaka (humankind) and mea ʻai (food).
More info

Virtual Literary Hill BookFest – May 2
After the success of 2020’s virtual edition, the Literary Hill BookFest will again host its beloved celebration of the written word online this year. You can enjoy panel discussions, writing workshops, poetry readings and much more, all for free. Authors from a range of genres, including fiction, history, fantasy, politics, children’s literature and mystery will be on-hand. Enter the festival’s giveaway on Instagram and browse the website for a schedule and participants.

International Family Equality Day Virtual Celebration – May 2
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo will honor family diversity with a virtual program on the first Sunday in May. The Zoo will offer its webcams for live animal enrichment that the entire family can enjoy, perfect for engaging curiosity while the physical location remains closed (for the time being). Stay tuned to the link above for scheduling updates.

Free Community Days at the National Museum of Women in the Arts – May 2 & 16
One of DC’s premier art museums usually opens its doors for free just one Sunday each month, but May is special. The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) will host two free community days this month. Visitors will be granted access to NMWA’s extensive collection of seminal work by female artists, which includes pieces by Frida Kahlo, Amy Sherman, Judy Chicago and many more. Exhibits from Sonya Clark and Mary Ellen Mark can also be experienced. For safety details, tickets, hours and more, visit the museum’s website.
National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005

Live Virtual Spies & Spymasters Happy Hour: Spies in Toyland – May 6
This free program from the International Spy Museum will delve into the mystery of … spy-themed toys! The museum’s collection is quite robust, including garden gnomes, games, action figures and even a diabolical doll code. Fascinating items will be introduced throughout spy toyland, with a special focus on the spy gnome and their intriguing adventures. Silver Branch Brewing Company partnered with the museum for the event and will share drafts live (you can pick up at the store or order online beforehand, but only if you are 21 years of age or older).
5:30 p.m. |  Register

Smithsonian Social Studies Online: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Live Program – May 6
Join the National Museum of American History for a virtual voyage into Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage and culture. Hosted live on the museum’s YouTube channel, the free program will shine a light on key topics using in-depth resources from the Smithsonian Institution.
More info

Jordan Rock at DC Improv – May 6-8
Saturday Night Live star and stand-up comedian Jordan Rock will headline the DC Improv for the fourth time. Yes, he is the younger brother of Chris Rock, but Jordan has his own thing going on. He’s been making the rounds on Netflix series and films and his stand-up set packs a punch. Fresh off filming his first special, Rock will visit the District and fill the first full weekend in May with laughs at the city’s comedy hot spot. COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the Improv, with tables for two, four or six people available.
DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

The Tea: MovaKween – May 7
This free online series from the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) features women musicians performing original work via live-stream as well as a short interview over tea in which the artist reveals her creative process. For May’s edition, NMWA will welcome MovaKween, a native of Baltimore, Md. who’s currently working on a debut album. NMWA is also open for in-person visits – check out the museum’s website for more information.
12-1 p.m. |  Live Stream Link

Fairmont’s Mother’s Day Royal Tea – May 7-9
Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown will dress up its private Queen of Hearts Lounge for a special Mother’s Day celebration. All mothers will be queen for a day inside the lounge, where elegant afternoon tea will be served on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mothers will be crowned on their way to tea service and can enjoy citrus strawberries and cream, a classic English favorite.

Capitol Riverfront Spring Drive-In Movie Series – May 7, 14, 21, 28
The Stacks in Buzzard Point will host the Capitol Riverfront BID’s six-week drive-in movie series, which offers four screenings in the month of May. The contact-free experience will feature space for 100 vehicles at a cost of $20 per car, per movie. All funds will be donated to local charities, including DC Central Kitchen, Unity Health Care, Living Classrooms and the Capital Area Food Bank. Oh, you’d like to know the movies? Catch Ocean’s Eight on May 7, Remember the Titans on May 14, Booksmart on May 21 and Bridesmaids on May 28.
Screenings begin at 8 p.m. | Tickets
The Stacks, 101 V Street SW, Washington, DC 20003

See the Washington National Cathedral's Les Colombes in-person – Options available beginning May 7
German artist Michael Pendry, whose work has been featured at prominent Cathedrals all over the globe, has brought thousands of meticulously crafted paper doves to the Washington National Cathedral. Suspended from a vaulted, 100-foot-high ceiling, the doves represent optimism and hope for the year 2021 after the challenges of 2020. Evening exhibit walks can be booked beginning May 14, with daytime tours available starting May 17. The Cathedral is also hosting two special events dedicated to the exhibit (May 8-9, May 19). Please make sure to read the Cathedral’s COVID-19 guidelines before your visit.
Options & Tickets
Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016

Enjoy Mother's Day weekend at Riggs Washington, DC & Lyle – May 7-9
Two luxurious hotels in Washington, DC, Riggs Washington, DC and Lyle, have awesome offerings for Mother's Day this year. The former features the First Lady Package, which includes accommodations in a First Lady Suite, a bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne and canapés on arrival, breakfast for two, and a $150 dining credit for brunch or dinner at Café Riggs. Lyle, which recently opened in Dupont Circle, will launch its brunch service at in-house restaurant Lyle’s on Saturday, May 8, making it a great option for Mother's Day weekend brunch (check out the menu).
Riggs Washington, DC, 900 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Lyle, 1731 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009


AdMo Art Walk – Through May 14
The Adams Morgan neighborhood turns into your own personal art gallery with this new experience brought to you by the Adams Morgan Partnership BID and the DC Arts Center. Local artists have works on display at 11 Adams Morgan businesses, including Sakuraramen, Copacabana, The Potter’s House, Lost City Books and many more. Embark on the AdMo Art Walk and see each fascinating piece, in addition to exploring the neighborhood’s Heritage Trail and additional murals. Self-guided art walk tours can be enjoyed through May 14.

Spring Makers Market – May 15
Dumbarton House will host this market for local vendors on its grounds with capacity limits in place. Chances are, you’ve done a ton of online shopping over the past year. Pick this May Saturday to enjoy the beautiful estate at Dumbarton House and check out an array of home goods, jewelry and much more. Outdoor shopping and supporting local businesses – now that’s a solid spring day. Make sure to register beforehand. Masks are required and social distancing will be enforced.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. |  Register
Dumbarton House, 2715 Q Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Animal Wisdom – May 15 – June 13
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company teamed up with American Conservatory Theater to present this special on-demand performance of Heather Christian’s “one-of-a-kind opus”. Animal Wisdom is a sort of musical séance, a film that allows singer/songwriter/soothsayer Heather Christian to lay to rest the souls that haunt her. She shifts shapes from rock star to priestess to folklorist, a riveting performance that digs into family mythology and the notion of ghosts. Streaming begins May 15, but you can purchase tickets now.

Virtual Baking with Buttercream’s Tiffany MacIsaac – May 16
One of DC’s most popular bakers, Tiffany MacIsaac, will show you, step-by-step, the art of crafting a delicious shortcake with berries during this virtual event. MacIsaac will unveil the technique she uses at Buttercream Bake Shop thanks to New Endeavors by Women, which works to assist women in DC who have experienced homelessness. All proceeds will go to the local organization. Make sure to grab your ingredients beforehand!
3-4:30 p.m. |  Tickets

Intersections: Marley Dawson – May 20 – Sept. 5
The Phillips Collection will host two site-specific art pieces by Australian artist Marley Dawson as part of its ongoing Intersections series. The first, inspired by the Goh Annex stairway at the museum, features two groups of kinetic sculptures that form a spiral. The second is a wall-mounted sculpture that features hundreds of brass rods hung on a brass track, a piece in conversation with Morris Louis’ painting Number 182. Make sure to read through The Phillips Collection’s health and safety guidelines as you plan your visit.
Hours & Tickets
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

DC Music Summit – May 21-23
This virtual event aims to support musicians and industry professionals in growing their businesses and creating sustainability along the way. Sessions will focus on navigating the music business in DC, as well as the art, community, connections and opportunities it inspires. Resources and inspiration will be plentiful, as you’ll hear solutions and enjoy engagement from entrepreneurs and have the opportunity to virtually network.

The Confluence of Three Asian American Artists – May 26
The National Portrait Gallery’s Choreographer-in-Residence Dana Tai Soon Burgess will have an in-depth conversation with the museum's Prints and Drawings Curator Robyn Asleson to explore the complex interconnections and complementary experiences that link the modern dance innovator Michio Ito, the sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi, and Burgess himself. The virtual event is free, but registration is required. Note that the Portrait Gallery will officially reopen for in-person visits on May 14.

Rolling to Remember DC – May 30
This motorcycle rally on Memorial Day Weekend is conducted to raise awareness of critical issues faced by veterans every day, as well as in tribute to those missing in action and prisoners of war. Rolling to Remember aims to deliver a message to Congress and the American people that veterans are in need of assistance, as the group struggles with a suicide crisis. Visit the event website for scheduling updates and to register.

Mary Ellen Mark: Girlhood – Through May 31
Considered an icon of photography, Mary Ellen Mark captured subjects living outside of the mainstream candidly and vividly. With this exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, you can see the world through Mark’s incredible camera, particularly her depictions of young women and girls living in a range of circumstances all over the world. This collection of dozens of Mark’s photographs features some of her most renowned work. Timed tickets are required for museum entry. For more details about visiting, check out the museum’s website.
Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Sunday, 12-5 p.m. |  Tickets
National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005


Family Fun Nights at O Museum & The Mansion on O Street – Fridays and Saturdays
Book a night filled with discovery for the entire family at the O Museum & The Mansion on O Street. Your adventure includes a socially distant tour through more than 70 secret doors, with all types of history, intrigue and mystery awaiting behind each one. Bring a shopping bag, as all items are for sale. Note that children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
O Museum & The Mansion on O Street, 2020 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

Photo Safaris in Washington, DC
Washington Photo Safari features a variety of DC photography excursions that allow you to see some of the city’s most gorgeous sites while learning how to take professional images. Along the way, you’ll hear colorful history and learn tips on lighting, exposure and composition. Glean through Washington Photo Safari’s many options and book an adventure. Night-time voyages are offered!

Events at The Hamilton Live
This state-of-the-art venue is open for socially distanced live concerts and film screenings. May highlights include performances by Pressing Strings, Eric Scott, Jamie McLean Band and The 19th Street Band. You can also hang at The Hamilton for Mother’s Day Brunch, which will feature a screening of Mamma Mia. For tickets, details and safety protocols, visit The Hamilton Live’s website.

Georgetown Glow Spring 2021 in Georgetown DC

Georgetown GLOW: Spring Edition – Through June 27
After the 2020 edition was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, Georgetown GLOW has returned with a two-part series of outdoor installations, with the first lighting up DC’s most historic neighborhood through June 27. The region’s only free, curated, outdoor public light experience will be open to all both day and night, and you can read up on the spring edition’s artists and installations (there are five in total) on Georgetown GLOW’s official website. Mark your calendar of the summer edition as well, slated to run from July 2 – Sept. 26.
More info

Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend – Through June 27
The National Museum of Women in the Arts features this fascinating exhibit from textile artist Sonya Clark, renowned for her work in mixed media that addresses Blackness, history and identity. This first survey of her 25-year career offers her most acclaimed sculptures, including pieces made from currency, beads, cotton plants, pencils, a hair salon chair and much more. In total, 100 works of art are highlighted in the exhibit, focusing on themes of labor, language, heritage and visibility. Timed tickets are required for museum entry. For more details about visiting, check out the museum’s website.
Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Sunday, 12-5 p.m. |  Tickets
National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005

Renewal 2121 – Through Sept. 6
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising concerns over climate change, this installation at ARTECHOUSE transports you 100 years into the future. You’ll be immersed in an industrial city where nature is combating the onslaught of an overreaching metropolis, a stark warning if mankind continues at its current pace. Hope is found through cherry blossoms peeking through neon lights, showing the way for those ready to take action. Renewal 2121 is an original ARTECHOUSE production and was inspired by DC’s illustrious cherry blossom season. Use the 'Tickets' link below for a special 10% discount.
Monday – Thursday: 12-8 p.m. |  Friday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. |  Tickets
Safety guidelines
ARTECHOUSE, 1238 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

Visit the reopened National Building Museum
After a 16-month hiatus, the National Building Museum, including its Great Hall and gift shop, has reopened to the public. You will be able to check out new and timely exhibits when you re-enter the museum, including Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group and Alan Karchmer: The Architects' Photographer, as well as the museum's Gun Violence Memorial Project. Public programs will still be held virtually and the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit will remain temporarily closed. The museum will follow all of DC's COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Friday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. |  Tickets & Safety Information
National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

Visit the reopened Tudor Place
You can now visit this scenic estate again on weekends. Tudor Place offers self-guided visits to the historic house and its gorgeous gardens with free timed tickets. Make sure to review its health and safety guidelines as you plan your visit.
Saturday & Sunday, 12-4 p.m. |  Tickets
Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Victura Park at The REACH
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' grand expansion, The REACH, hosts this outdoor pop-up wine garden and cafe on weekends. The Hilton Brothers and Chef Erik Bruner-Yang have collaborated on this winery-inspired setting, which offers charcuterie boards and light snacks, as well as beer, wine, adult seltzers and other beverages. Check out the full menu. Note that guests are required to maintain social distance and wear a mask when not sitting down. No more than 10 guests are allowed inside the Pavilion for ordering and payment. You can read about the safety protocols before attending this free pop-up event.
Friday: 4-9 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday: 12-9 p.m.
The REACH at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566


Experience The Capital Wheel
Soar 180 feet in the air on the area’s only observation wheel, which spins right on the National Harbor’s majestic waterfront. The Capital Wheel features 42 climate-controlled gondola cars that seat up to eight and circle every day and night of the year, providing stunning views of Alexandria, Va., DC’s monuments and the Potomac River. Sunset rides are particularly scenic. Use code VISITDC for a 10% discount on tickets through Dec. 31, 2021.
Monday – Thursday, 4-8 p.m. |  Friday – Sunday, 12-8 p.m. |  Tickets
The Capital Wheel at National Harbor, 141 American Way, National Harbor, MD 20745


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