You can have outdoor fun in D.C. this summer without spending a dime! Here's how.

Washington, D.C., is known as a political and urban hub, but this city has a lot to offer the outdoorsy person. Although you won’t be far from the hustle and bustle at these destinations, it can feel like you’re in a totally different city. Explore a whole other side to Washington, D.C., with these fun outdoor activities.

National Arboretum

national arboretum

Courtesy of Brianna Grant

WHERE: 3501 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C., 20002
HOURS: Open every day, except Christmas, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This plant and garden oasis can be found in the Northeast area. The National Arboretum stretches over 400 acres of land and gives visitors the opportunity to explore different plant and flower species. One highlight of this attraction is the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum which showcases the beautiful tiny trees Japan is known for. The National Capitol Columns, Corinthian-style columns behind a pool of water, makes for a great photo.

Rock Creek Park

people walking on a bridge

Courtesy of

WHERE: Rock Creek Park Nature Center & Planetarium | 5200 Glover Road, NW, Washington, D.C., 20015
HOURS: Year-round during daylight hours

You can find this free outdoor activity in the Northwest area. Half the fun of Rock Creek Park is the scenic drive through the trees and under various bridges to get to the park. It's easy to forget you're in the middle of the nation’s capital here. The 4.4-mile park is great for a leisurely stroll or a run to work off Ben’s Chili Bowl or another greasy D.C. staple.

The National Zoo

national zoo

Courtesy of Wikipedia

WHERE: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 20008
HOURS: Every day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Not only is the National Zoo full of fun animal exhibits, but it's also largely outdoors. You do have to pay for parking ($25 or so), but D.C. is a city where you don’t need a car to get around. The zoo features many amazing species such as orangutans, elephants, tigers, and more! The exotic species and beautiful scenery can make you feel like you’re visiting other countries, instead of being smack-dab in the nation's capital. You can easily spend hours greeting and learning about these amazing animals! 

Yard’s Park

]Yard's Park

Courtesy of Capitol Riverfront BID

WHERE: 355 Water Street SE, Washington, D.C., 20003
HOURS: Always accessible

Visit one of the hottest new neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and stroll along the Anacostia River. The Yard’s Park provides people with beautiful views of the waterfront and features modern designs, including a pedestrian bridge and waterfall that flows into a small pool. In the summer, you can even find people splashing around and cooling off in the water. Yard’s Park also hosts many outdoor events and concerts.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

bridge to island

Courtesy of AllTrails

WHERE: George Washington Memorial Parkway northbound lanes between Roosevelt Bridge and Key Bridge, Arlington, VA. 22209
WHEN: Every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This island was transformed from an overgrown farm into a memorial for President Theodore Roosevelt, who made land conservation a core component of his work. The island features hiking trails, a memorial for Roosevelt, and opportunities to kayak and canoe. Resembling a large forest, the island makes for a relaxing opportunity to meander around the wilderness.

Which of the above outdoor activities sounds the most interesting to you? Are there others we missed? Share them with us in the comments below!