Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.

What could be better than a night of free entertainment under the stars? D.C. has plenty to offer in that department, and not only is the fun dirt cheap, but it's also widely appealing. From favorite '90s movies to Hawaiian music and hula dancing, it has never been easier to spend a cheap night out in the district. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket and check out our picks of where to enjoy D.C. for free every day of the week. Your friends (and your wallet) will thank you. (Photo: a movie screening at National Harbor Plaza)

Updated: August 27, 2010

Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Mondays


National Mall

no address, Washington, DC 20599

Washingtonians descend upon the National Mall (between Fourth and Seventh streets) in July and August, picnic blankets and food in hand, to watch free films projected onto a giant screen with the Capitol as the backdrop. Films start at dusk--around 8:30pm--but arrive between 6pm and 7pm for a good spot. For more information, call the Screen on the Green hotline: (877) 262-5866.


Bell Street Courtyard

18th St S & S Bell St, Arlington, VA 22201

Every Monday at sundown from June 7 through Aug. 16, the Crystal City Business Improvement District airs a different ?Star Trek? movie at 18th and Bell streets, across from the Crystal City Metro. Look for special giveaways and sponsors each week. Visit www.crystalcity.org for more info.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Tuesdays


U.S. Navy Memorial

701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Catch the United States Navy Band for Concerts on the Avenue at the Navy Memorial, 8pm Tuesday nights, Memorial Day through Labor Day. You can also see them Mondays at 8pm at the west side of the Capitol. Some nights will also include Navy Band specialty groups, such as the jazz ensemble, the Commodores. Visit http://bit.ly/a15tTr for more information.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Wednesdays


New York Avenue Metro Station

200 Florida Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

The North Capitol Hill (NoMa) Business Improvement District will host Summer Screen, a series of outdoor films on L Street between 2nd and 3rd streets in northeast Washington from May through July. The events include movies that fit the theme "The Future Is Now" as well as local barbecue from Smokin' Somethin' and music by Fatback. Visit http://bit.ly/bKgcZM for more information.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Thursdays


Farragut Square Park

17th St NW & I St NW, Washington, DC 20006

Each Thursday from June 3 through July 15, rock, funk and Latin music concerts are held on the lawn at 5:30pm. Acts range from a Dave Matthews tribute band to a Latin group complete with salsa dancers. Watch for giveaways and chances to win local gift certificates. Visit http://bit.ly/aTF2ew for more information.


Smithsonian's National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20008

Head to the zoo from July 22 through Aug. 5 for the Sunset Serenades, a series of free concerts from 6:30pm to 8pm. Outside food is welcome, or dine at the Mane Restaurant, which also sells beer and wine. Visit http://bit.ly/bC1MAP for more information.


Veteran's Park

Woodmont Ave & Norfolk Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

This Bethesda park at the corner of Woodmont and Norfolk avenues hosts free concerts every Thursday evening from 6pm to 8pm through July 22. Acts range from soul and Motown to original alt rock and pop. Visit www.bethesda.org for the complete lineup.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Fridays


National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

7th St NW & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Jazz in the Garden is one of Washington's favorite summer pastimes. The 10th season begins May 28 and runs every Friday through Sept. 10 from 5pm to 8:30pm, when rotating jazz ensembles perform in front of the Sculpture Garden's impressive fountain. Food and beverages are available at the Pavilion Cafe. Visit http://www.nga.gov/programs/jazz/ for the full schedule.


Gateway Park

1300 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22209

Every Friday at 8pm between April 30 and Sept. 3, the Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival takes place at Gateway Park. The "I [Heart] the 90s" lineup includes films such as ?Edward Scissorhands? and ?Empire Records.? Bring a picnic and arrive early for the 90s-themed pre-show with games and prizes. Visit http://bit.ly/cOXqgo for more information.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Saturdays


Fort Dupont Park

Fort Davis Dr SE & Ridge Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

The Fort Dupont Summer Concert Series returns for the 2010 season on July 10 and is held every Saturday night at 8pm through Aug. 21. Enter the park on Minnesota Avenue and F Street between Ely Place and Randle Circle to be near the summer theater. Visit http://bit.ly/azjKEy for more information.


National Museum of the American Indian

4th St SW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

Now in its fifth year, the Indian Summer Showcase is a series of concerts and cultural festivals showcasing the music, art, dance, film and food of native communities. The celebration kicks off with a three-day celebration of Hawaiian native culture on May 29 and continues through Aug. 8. Visit http://bit.ly/9Wgx7N for the schedule.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Sundays


National Harbor Plaza

137 National Plz, Oxon Hill, MD 20745

Enjoy movies every Sunday night after sunset on the National Harbor Plaza's big screen. May and June feature animated favorites, followed by '80s classics in July, a superhero series in August and Spielberg films through September. Lawn chairs are recommended, but coolers with food or alcoholic beverages are not allowed. Visit http://bit.ly/99EbBV for the lineup.


Free Outdoor Fun in D.C.: Multiple Nights of the Week


Fort Reno Park

3800 Donaldson Pl NW, Washington, DC 20016

The Fort Reno Summer Concerts have been a D.C. tradition for more than 40 years and continue with twice-weekly shows from 7:15pm to 9:30pm, mid June through mid August. Visit www.fortreno.com for acts and dates. Kids and pets are welcome; glass bottles are not.