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Summer Fun on the Hill

Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

Summer Fun on the Hill

As a Thompson-Markward Hall resident, you’re in one of the district’s most celebrated neighborhoods with a mix of ages, demographics, backgrounds, and ethnicities. The area’s historic architecture, ample brick sidewalks, and old trees make it one of the best DC neighborhoods for a stroll or run. Surrounded by the landmarks of power, you’re also surrounded by some of the best experiences in the city. And summer is a fantastic time to explore!

Filled with patriotic institutions and world-renowned museums and exhibitions, Capitol Hill is full of shops, activities, and dining options, making it a vibrant art and cultural mecca. It’s even home to stunning green spaces—including 59 parks—providing many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

There are far too many fun activities to list, and of course, it all depends on your definition of fun, but here are a few of the highlights:

Eastern Market

At the heart of Capitol Hill is the Eastern Market, a popular public market nestled on 7th Street SE. Independent vendors sell everything from meat, produce, flowers, and baked goods each day, and a lively outdoor flea market held on-site every weekend takes the fun up a notch. It’s a great place to find handmade items, funky jewelry, local art, and plenty of unique souvenirs. It’s often referred to as the most fun thing to do, not only on the Hill but in DC!

Marine Barracks Friday Parades

If you enjoy pomp and circumstance, the free, summer evening Marine Barracks Friday Parades feature the President’s Own Marine Band, the Drum and Bugle Corps, the color guard, the silent drill platoon, and Chesty XIV, the bulldog mascot. 

U.S. Botanic Garden

Frequently host to various events, including gardening seminars, concerts, cooking classes, and more, the U.S. Botanic Gardens also provide an escape into a world of green. Located in a glassed-in Art Deco structure, this living plant museum focuses on the importance of plants to humans and the earth’s ecosystems as a whole. 

Another gem that’s part of the U.S. Botanic Gardens, Bartholdi Fountain (designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who also designed the Statue of Liberty), offers a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy the flower-packed park from one of the benches surrounding an ornate fountain with statues of women that once graced the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. In the summer months, it provides a cool respite from the humid temps. 

Supreme Court of the United States of America

Take a self-guided tour of the U.S. Supreme Court. The magnificent 1930s neoclassical building, with bronze, bas-relief doors, and columned interiors, is one of the city’s most impressive buildings. If you’re lucky, you may be able to hear an argument when the court is in session. On the days the court isn’t in session, docents provide short, free lectures on the building and its functions.

The Library of Congress

Gilded Age architecture awaits you at the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress. The library houses 164 million items, from books to photos to maps, in three separate buildings—Thomas Jefferson Building, James Madison Memorial Building, and the John Adams Building. 

The Folger Shakespeare Library

Another famous library, The Folger Shakespeare Library, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Bard’s work, also offers performances, concerts, and exhibitions. The building, modeled after an Elizabethan inn, with tiered wooden balconies and carved oak columns, is closed for renovations, but events are scheduled at other venues.

The U.S. Capitol 

For history, political and architectural buffs, touring one of the most recognizable buildings in the country is a must. The 19th-century neoclassical architectural jewel is the centerpiece of the Capitol campus and the focal point of the government’s legislative branch. 

And don’t miss the Summerhouse, a bucolic paradise located on the West Lawn of the U.S Capitol. The redbrick, open-air hexagonal building features arched doorways and seating—the perfect place to relax.

Dining and Nightlife

The Hill offers a wide selection of options to tempt your palate when it comes to dining and nightlife, whether you fancy a casual meal or a fine dining experience. And if nightlife is your thing, the Hill is brimming with an eclectic mix of bars and clubs to sample.

The Hill offers something for everyone, whether your idea of fun is relaxing in a beautiful park, touring some of the world’s most iconic buildings, or immersing yourself in neighborhood favorites. Although things are beginning to reopen, make sure to check hours and availability before venturing out just to be sure.

For those who prefer staying close to home, your new (temporary) home provides an excellent opportunity to meet and bond with other residents over a meal, in the recreation room, the piano room, or in the back garden.