14 Actually Cool Things to Do in DC This Spring

Open-air concerts, highly anticipated museum exhibits, and so much more.

Spring is arguably the most beautiful (though certainly the most fleeting) time of year in Washington, DC. Seemingly overnight, frost and gloomy skies turn over to reveal green buds, cherry blossoms, and sunny days.

Washingtonians have to make the most of this precious time, when afternoons are not yet meltingly hot and patios are calling our names to make bottomless brunch reservations. And there are plenty of ways to get outside: picnicking, exploring gardens, hitting happy hours, and more. From the long-awaited Yayoi Kusama exhibition to open-air concerts and quick road trips out of town, here are all the coolest things to do in DC this spring.

Tuesday, March 22
Union Market
Alternative music duo Foreign Air has teamed up with Erik Bruner-Yang for a super cool three-course dinner with an intimate musical performance on March 22 at Songbyrd in the Union Market District. The event celebrates the band’s new EP, “Why Don’t You Feel The Way I Do?” and a portion of the proceeds will go towards Bruner-Yang's Power of 10 Initiative—a charity that aims to alleviate the negative impacts that COVID-19 had on many restaurant workers and the local community.

Smithsonian
Smithsonian

Now through March 27
National Mall
Women’s History Month isn’t over yet! Until March 27, head over to the National Mall to find more than 120 bright orange, 3D-printed statues of iconic women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics around the Smithsonian museums. An initiative of the Lyda Hill Philanthropies “designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers,” it's the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled together.

ARTECHOUSE
ARTECHOUSE

Now through May
Southwest
If you’re ready to experience cherry blossom season in a new way this year, stop by the new installation at ARTECHOUSE, now on view until the end of May. Called PIXELBLOOM, the art exhibit emerges visitors into the virtual world of bright blossoms and includes a 22-minute audiovisual installation that will make you wish you visited a dispensary before heading over.

QAGOMA Photography
QAGOMA Photography

Starting Friday, April 1
National Mall
If you missed Yayoi Kusama’s last DC exhibit several years ago, now is your shot to see her work IRL. The Hirshhorn contemporary art museum will be displaying five of her works from the museum’s permanent collection, including two of the iconic Infinity Mirror Rooms. The exhibition will be on view starting in April, and free timed passes will be required to enter.

Flickr/RonCogswell
Glenstone Museum | Flickr/RonCogswell

Ongoing
Potomac
Glenstone is technically around a 40-minute drive outside of the city, but it’s a quick and scenic trip that delivers you to nearly 300 acres of beautiful landscape, sculpture, and other art. The privately-owned gallery is always free but a reservation is necessary and slots can book up well in advance. Arriving there, you’ll feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city—surrounded by nature and in an artsy world of your own (it’s also the perfect place to grab a pic for the ‘gram).

Broccoli City
Broccoli City

Friday, May 6 – Sunday, May 8
Capitol Hill East
If you haven’t been to Broccoli City Festival yet, what are you doing? The popular music festival is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary and is obviously planning on hosting its biggest one yet for May 6-8th. This year’s theme is “BLK Change,” focused on tapping into the power of young people, local companies, and community organizations to move towards true racial equality. Expect big headliners like 21 Savage and Summer Walker as well as fan favorites like Rico Nasty and Wale.

Cultural Tourism DC
Potomac River Gorge | Cultural Tourism DC

Throughout May
Multiple locations
The beloved spring festival celebrating DC’s international culture is finally returning this year. For the entire month of May, also known as International Cultural Awareness Month in Washington, more than 70 of the city’s embassies and cultural institutions will have exciting programming to check out as part of Passport DC. Stop by the National Cathedral for Flower Mart, sign up for the Around the World Embassy Tour, or check out the European Union Open House. The best part is that most of the events are completely free.

Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral

Ongoing
Cathedral Heights
Those who spend most of their time on Capitol Hill or downtown might not think to venture north to the National Cathedral, but it’s worth the trip. Take a tour of the cathedral that explores the more than 200 gargoyles and grotesques that adorn the building. Casual strollers can also just walk in and poke around for themselves, taking a moment to gaze up at the stained glass windows and venturing to the top of the tower for a view of the city. Hungry? Many don’t realize that there’s actually an Open City at the National Cathedral where you can grab brunch. Another insider tip: Don’t skip out on the gardens in the back, which are beautiful during the springtime.

Now through June
Dupont Circle
Legendary artist Pablo Picasso is best known for his abstract portraits, but many art fans have a deep appreciation for what is known as his “Blue Period.” At the outset of Picasso’s career, much of his work had a moodier and monochromatic feel. His paintings during this important time will be on view at the Phillips Collection from now until mid-June, and it is the first exhibition in the city in 25 years to focus on Picasso’s early works.

Take a day trip to Alexandria

Ongoing
Alexandria
A quick train ride will have you traveling from Union Station to Alexandria, Virginia in less than 30 minutes, leaving the whole day open for springtime activities. Venture around the cobblestone streets of Old Town, picking out your favorite historic homes and shopping on King Street—the main road in town, full of charming independent boutiques, quaint cafes, and restaurants. Make your way down to the waterfront with an iced coffee or another refreshing beverage or check out the Torpedo Factory Art Center to see what works of art they have on view.

Friends of Meridian Hill
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens | Friends of Meridian Hill

Grab coffee and walk around Meridian Hill Park

Ongoing
Columbia Heights
Sometimes simple activities are actually the most fun, like meeting up with a friend for a walk around the park. Next time you’re fidgeting at your desk with perfect weather outside, give yourself a well-deserved break by grabbing a cup at a local coffee shop and making your way over to Meridian Hill Park for a walk and some fresh air. During the spring, the park’s trees are blooming with pink magnolias, and it's practically guaranteed that around lunchtime there will be tons of dogs to pet.

The Anthem
The Anthem

See live music at a local venue

Ongoing
Multiple locations
Get ready to hear some live music again after over a year. Most of our favorite local venues have reopened, which means it’s the perfect time to go out and support them. The iconic 9:30 Club’s doors are back open, and its sister venues The Anthem and Merriweather Post Pavilion are open now as well. Shows are back on at City Winery, and massive electronic music venue Echostage which was recently named the world’s best nightlife venue.

Shop (and eat) your heart out in Georgetown

Ongoing
Georgetown
Despite being DC’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown remains one of the best areas of the city to spend time in—especially on an afternoon with optimal walking weather. Grab your morning brew at Grace Street Coffee Roasters or enjoy brunch al fresco at the euro-centric Kafe Leopold before strolling your way down M Street for some quality shopping, where you can find storefronts from big retailers like J.Crew, Outdoor Voices, and Reformation, as well as small businesses like Paddywax Candle Bar, a studio where you can learn how to pour your own custom candle to take home.

The DC Improv Comedy Club
The DC Improv Comedy Club

Ongoing
Downtown
For the past two years, we’ve been laughing along at comedians’ Netflix specials and tuning in to shows streaming online. But the time has finally come to grab a friend and see a show in person at the city’s most notable comedy club. Make sure to snag your tickets early, though, as only 50 seats are available for each performance.

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Austa Somvichian-Clausen is a contributor for Thrillist.