washington dc in may

Washington DC in May is a lot of fun. The pleasant weather, fun cultural events, and beautiful blooming foliage make it a perfect time to visit Washington DC. 

Washington DC In May: Weather & Sunlight

With an average daily high of 76 degrees and an average daily low of 54 degrees, May has perfect weather conditions to enjoy outdoor activities. 

Temperature Range: In Washington D.C., the average temperatures in May usually range from lows of about 58°F (14°C) to highs around 76°F (24°C). Early in the month, temperatures might still be a bit cool, often in the 60s, but by the end of May, it’s common to see days reaching into the mid-70s.

Rainfall: May in Washington D.C. is known for its moderate rainfall. On average, the city experiences around 10 to 11 days of rain in May. Snowfall during this month is extremely rare.

Sunlight: There is plenty of sunlight for outdoor activities if you visit Washington DC in May. The average daylight duration in May extends from about 14 to 14.5 hours per day. This longer daylight provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Sunrise and Sunset: To give you a more specific idea of how long the days are during May. In Washington D.C., on May 15, 2024, you can expect the sunrise to be around 5:54 AM, and sunset will be close to 8:16 PM. These times can vary slightly depending on your exact location in the city.

Overall Climate: May in Washington D.C. marks the shift from spring to the early stages of summer. The weather is generally mild and increasingly warm, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities. While some days might still have a hint of spring coolness, the trend is towards warmer, summer-like conditions. Always check the weather forecast as your travel date approaches so you know what to pack for your Washington DC trip. 

Washington DC In May: 2024 DC Events

May is a great time of year to visit DC. There are many key events here during this time and in general DC is a great spot when the weather is nice. From museums to national parks, there’s a ton to do here.  

Passport DC Festival

One notable event during May is the Passport DC festival, a month-long celebration of the region’s culture and history, which offers unprecedented opportunities to tour the city’s embassies and museums. For music fans, the Jazz in the Garden concert series takes place every Friday evening, showcasing a diverse range of jazz artists and styles.

National Memorial Day Concert And Parade

As expected, there will be many events on and around Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27, 2024. There will be live performances including a concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol as well as a parade.

Flower Mart Market At Washington National Cathedral

The Flower Mart event is hosted by All Hallows Guild. It is a charming and vibrant festival held at the Washington National Cathedral. It takes place on the first Friday and Saturday of May each year. This year, it is scheduled for May 3rd and 4th, 2024, and has been a tradition since 1939.

The Flower Mart has two days filled with a variety of flowers, fun activities, and entertainment for your entire family. The location of the event is at the Washington National Cathedral, which is located north of Georgetown on Wisconsin Avenue. 

Washington DC In May: Crowds

May is the end of high season, which is typically lasts from late March to the end of the Cherry Blossoms in April. Although you have missed the high prices associated with the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms in early April, there are still school groups that are visiting during May. 

You will see more crowds on holidays like Memorial Day Weekend. There will be fewer tourists if you visit earlier in the month and during weekdays rather than weekends. 

Washington DC In May: Outdoor Sightseeing

One of the best things about Washington DC in May is that the weather is great for outdoor sightseeing, especially the iconic monuments. The end of May especially usually has much warmer weather as the hot summer months approach. Here are some popular outdoor sights and attractions you can explore.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. It’s a tall, impressive obelisk that honors George Washington, the first American president. 

In May, the weather in Washington D.C. is usually warm and pleasant, making it a perfect time to visit. You can enjoy clear skies and comfortable temperatures while enjoying the greenery around the National Mall, where the monument is located.

Lincoln Memorial & Reflecting Pool

The Lincoln Memorial, with the Reflecting Pool in front of it, is a must-see in Washington D.C. This memorial honors Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American president. It is also the site of the famous I Have A Dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr. 

In May, the weather is typically mild and sunny, ideal for walking around and exploring this historic site. The Reflecting Pool, a long, narrow body of water, offers a stunning reflection of the memorial, and the surrounding area is often filled with blooming flowers, making it a picturesque spot for photos.

War Memorials

There are many war memorials you can visit in Washington DC in May. Some popular ones include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War 2 Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial), which is located near Arlington National Cemetery.

Picnic At Gravelly Point

Gravelly Point is a park located just north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It’s a fantastic place for a picnic, especially in May when the weather is usually warm but not too hot. You can sit on the grass, enjoy your food, and watch airplanes take off and land right over your head. The park’s open space and riverside location make it a relaxing spot to spend a few hours outdoors.

Picnic On The National Mall

The National Mall is a large open park in downtown Washington D.C., surrounded by famous museums and monuments. In May, with the comfortable weather and lots of sunshine, it’s a great place for a picnic. You can find a spot on the grass, enjoy your meal, and then visit nearby attractions like the Smithsonian museums or the Capitol Building.

Georgetown Waterfront & Shopping

Georgetown is a historic neighborhood known for its charming streets, upscale shops, and the scenic waterfront along the Potomac River. In May, the weather is usually perfect for strolling through the streets, shopping, and dining at outdoor restaurants. The Georgetown Waterfront Park is a lovely place to relax, with great views of the river and the Kennedy Center.

Boat Ride On C&O Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, commonly known as the C&O Canal, runs through Georgetown. Taking a boat ride on the canal in May is a delightful experience. The weather is usually warm enough to be comfortable but not too hot, and you’ll get to see the historic canal and its surroundings from a unique perspective.

Tickets can usually be bought at the Georgetown Visitor Center, which is located near the canal. It’s a good idea to check in advance for ticket availability and tour times. 

The boat tours usually depart from the Georgetown area, specifically from the dock near the intersection of 31st and Thomas Jefferson Streets. These tours often last about an hour, providing a relaxing and informative journey along the canal. During the ride, your tour guide will share fascinating stories about the history of the canal and the role it played in the development of the city. 

Arlington National Cemetery

Visiting Arlington National Cemetery in May is a moving and memorable experience. This famous cemetery is where many American soldiers and important figures are buried. The weather in May in Washington DC is usually warm and pleasant, so it is a good time to walk around. 

One of the most famous spots is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here, you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony. This ceremony is a powerful tribute to soldiers who died without their remains being identified. Arlington National Cemetery is a peaceful place to think about the sacrifices made by those who served in the military.

National Gallery Of Art Sculpture Garden

This outdoor sculpture garden is part of the National Gallery of Art. It features a variety of modern and contemporary sculptures in a beautifully landscaped setting. May’s pleasant temperatures make it an ideal time to wander through the garden, enjoy the art, and maybe even catch a live jazz performance if you’re there on a Friday evening.

Water Taxi to National Harbor

Taking a water taxi from Washington D.C. to National Harbor is a fun way to travel and see the sights along the Potomac River. In May, the weather is typically ideal for a boat ride – not too hot and with a lower chance of rain. National Harbor has lots of shops, restaurants, and a giant Ferris wheel with great views of the area.

Water Taxi to Old Town Alexandria

Another great water taxi trip is to Old Town Alexandria, a charming, historic town just south of Washington D.C. The boat ride lets you enjoy the cool breezes off the Potomac River, and May’s mild weather is perfect for exploring the town’s cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and waterfront area.

Old Town Alexandria is also a great place for dining and drinking. There are some lovely restaurants including some with beautiful rooftops and views of the Potomac River. 

Visit A Winery

Whether you traveling with friends, kids or a romantic partner, there are so many fantastic wineries near Washington DC. It’s a great way to sample some local wine and spend a beautiful day outdoors. Some wineries also offer delicious food. It is one of the favorite things for locals to do during this time of year. 

Depending on how far you are able to travel there are amazing wineries all over Maryland, from wineries near Annapolis to wineries near Deep Creek Lake. 

Virginia also has a thriving wine and food scene with there being many popular restaurants in Middleburg, Virginia, which is a cute historic town about an hour from DC. If you don’t want to drive, there are also many bus tours of Virginia wineries.

US Botanical Garden And Bartholdi Park

The US Botanical Garden is a really cool place full of plants from all over the world. It’s like a living museum for plants and one of the oldest of its kind in North America. Congress started it way back in 1820, and it shows how important and awesome plants are in many ways, like how they look, what they do for the environment, and even how they can be used in medicine.

When you go to the US Botanical Gardens, you should definitely check out the Conservatory first. It’s like a big greenhouse with different rooms that have all sorts of plants, including some that are really rare and unusual. If you’re lucky, you might see the Orchid Room full of blooming orchids.

May is the perfect time to walk around the outdoor gardens. This is when you can see lots of spring flowers, and everything looks really pretty. There’s the National Garden with the Rose Garden and other cool areas, like the First Ladies Water Garden, which are especially nice to see in May.

Right near the US Botanical Gardens, there’s Bartholdi Park. It’s named after the Bartholdi Fountain, which is a big, beautiful fountain there. This park is a great place to relax and enjoy the plants and flowers.

Dumbarton Oaks Museum & Gardens

Visiting Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Gardens in May is a great choice. The gardens at Dumbarton Oaks are beautiful and its just off the more touristy part of Georgetown. There is a museum here as well as gardens that you can walk. An May visit to DC, especially in the beginning of the month, means you’ll likely avoid the larger crowds too.

Glenstone Museum

The Glenstone Museum is a unique destination about a 45 minute from Downtown DC. It is located in Potomac, Maryland which is one of the most popular suburbs of DC. 

The museum is an indoor and outdoor experience. Glenstone has outdoor sculptures and installations set against the backdrop of lush greenery and blooming flowers. The indoor galleries also have a great collection of modern and contemporary art. The pleasant May weather provides the perfect atmosphere for leisurely strolls through the museum’s grounds.

This is not a kid friendly museum, unless they are newborns or over 12. 

Visiting in May is particularly special because the museum’s expansive outdoor grounds are in full bloom, offering a serene and beautiful setting. 

Smithsonian National Zoo

May is an excellent time to visit the Smithsonian National Zoo, as the warmer weather brings many of the animals out and about, making them more visible and active. The zoo, home to over 1,500 animals across 300 different species, offers an exciting and educational experience. 

The comfortable temperatures allow for a full day of exploration without the summer heat, making it a great time for families and wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoor exhibits and learn about animal conservation.

Outdoor Mini Golf At Perch Putt

Playing mini golf at Perch Putt is a fun and relaxed outdoor activity that’s perfect for a May. Perch Putt is located at The Perch, which is like a park in the sky in Tysons, Virginia. Tysons is easily accessible from DC by metro or ride share. 

Perch Putt has a fun outdoor 18-hole mini-golf course that’s full of fun and tricky designs. There’s food stalls and drinks available as well.

Take A Day Trip From DC

May is a good time of year to visit some of the nearby sites. There are some great day trips that you can take fro DC. These include visiting Mount Vernon, heading to Annapolis, or visiting the nearby cities of Baltimore or Charlottesville. For a complete list you can head to 

Washington DC In May: Indoor Activities

When it rains in May in DC you will want to have some fun places to visit that are indoors. Most of these are free things to do so you will be able to save some cash as well. 

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

This is one of the most well known museums in the nation’s capital. Because it is one of the best places to visit in DC, it is also very popular. Be sure to plan ahead.

You will need to make a reservation online for a timed entry. Like many of the DC museums, this one is also has free admission. Because many school trips do visit during this time, be sure to secure you reservations for May on their website. 

The Capitol & Supreme Court

A Washington DC trip would not be complete without a visit to the United States Capitol. This iconic building is the perfect backdrop for taking pictures. Very close to the Capitol Building is the US Supreme Court. Depending on how much time you want to spend in Capitol Hill, you can also enjoy one of the many popular restaurants here. 

Visit The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Holocaust Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except on Yom Kippur and Christmas Day. It’s located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. While the museum itself is free, timed-entry tickets are required to enter the museum’s Permanent Exhibition from May 1 to August 31. These tickets may be subject to a transaction fee. It’s important to note that tickets are not required for other exhibitions like Daniel’s Story or special exhibitions

The National Museum Of African American History & National Museum Of African Art 

Visiting the National Museum of African American History in May is a great idea for several reasons. Firstly, May is often less crowded, allowing for a more intimate and contemplative experience of the exhibits. Secondly, it’s an educational opportunity to deeply engage with African American history and culture. The best time to visit is during the week as weekends are naturally more crowded.

The National Museum of African Art should not be confused with the National Museum of African American History. The National Museum of African Art and the National Museum of African American History and Culture are distinct entities within the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., each with a unique focus.

The National Museum of African Art, established in 1964, is dedicated to the art and culture of Africa. It showcases a diverse collection of traditional and contemporary African art, including sculptures, paintings, textiles, and decorative arts from across the continent.

International Spy Museum

This is an interactive museum where visitors can participate in spy missions and solve puzzles, making it a dynamic and fun learning environment for all ages. The museum also has immersive exhibits that allow guests to experience the life of a spy, including assuming a cover identity. There are also detailed presentations on historical and contemporary espionage activities. It’s a great place for both adults as well as young audiences.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a must-visit destination for art and history enthusiasts. This gallery has a huge collection of portraits of significant figures in American history. Visitors can explore a range of works, from paintings and sculptures to photographs and multimedia installations, featuring presidents, activists, celebrities, and other influential personalities. 

The gallery’s design is tranquil and inspiring. The National Portrait Gallery, along with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, share a stunningly renovated historic building in Washington D.C., which features a famous atrium known as the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard. The Kogod Courtyard is a spacious, light-filled area that offers a peaceful retreat for visitors, complete with a water feature and indoor landscaping. It’s a popular spot for relaxation and contemplation, and it also serves as a special event venue and has year-round programs hosted by the museums.

White House Tour

Plan ahead if you want to see the White House in May. As expected, you can’t just show up expecting to be let in.

First, you need to request a tour through your member of Congress. You should do this as early as possible, up to three months in advance. Tours are free, but they’re given on a first-come, first-served basis, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get in even if you ask early. 

If you’re not from the U.S., you have to contact your country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., to try to arrange a tour. Remember, you can not bring bags or cameras inside, and you’ll go through a security check before your tour starts.

Washington DC In May: Explore DC Neighborhoods

Washington DC has so many distinct and fun neighborhoods. When the weather conditions are pleasant and not raining, be sure to walk around these fun neighborhoods in Washington DC.

Georgetown

Georgetown shines in May with its waterfront parks and cobblestone streets coming to life in the spring warmth. This historic neighborhood is known for its upscale shopping, dining, and picturesque views along the Potomac River. 

For great shopping and cute coffee shops, head to M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. These two streets make up the heart of Georgetown. Unlike other DC neighborhoods, Georgetown offers a pretty blend of colonial charm and modern luxury. When you’re done exploring eat dinner at one of the iconic Italian restaurants here or have a nightcap at one of the swanky cocktail bars. 

U Street

U Street in Washington D.C. really comes alive in May. This historic neighborhood is known for its rich African American culture and history.

May is the perfect time to explore U Street’s vibrant music scene, with jazz clubs and live music venues. The U Street Corridor, once known as “Black Broadway,” also has small eclectic shops, art galleries, and murals that tell the story of the neighborhood’s past and present. The warmer weather in May encourages walking tours, which are a great way to dive into the area’s history, including the African American Civil War Memorial.

U Street’s nightlife is another highlight. There are many U street restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges that you can explore for a fun night out. Whether you’re into history, music, food, or just soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, U street is definitely a fun vibe. 

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is really beautiful in May. The neighborhood’s residential streets are lined with beautiful Victorian homes and flowering trees. 

Eastern Market, a highlight of Capitol Hill, becomes especially vibrant in May, with local vendors selling fresh produce, crafts, and antiques. This neighborhood contrasts with others by offering a deep dive into America’s political heart, paired with a strong sense of community and history.

Adams Morgan

Known for its eclectic and lively vibe, Adams Morgan is a stark contrast to the more polished and serene neighborhoods like Georgetown. In May, the neighborhood’s diverse culture is on full display at outdoor markets, international restaurants, and colorful murals that decorate the area. 

There is a ton to do when it comes to nightlife here. Many places have live music venues, bars, and clubs that stay active until the early hours. If you love restaurants, there are also many popular places to eat here from sushi to Michelin star restaurants. Be sure to have a drink at the historic Line Hotel as well. 

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle stands out with its mix of cultural institutions, such as museums and embassies, and its lively urban park. In May, the neighborhood’s farmers market is a hub of activity, offering locally sourced goods and a chance to mingle with residents. 

There is also a thriving art scene here. On first fridays in Dupont you can experience different art galleries along with a glass of wine. 

Washington DC In May: Summary

A visit to Washington DC in May is great for having some of the best weather and reasonable hotel prices. From the several free Smithsonian Museums to all the beautiful monuments and memorials, May is a great time to visit this popular east coast city. It’s the perfect spot for single travelers, business travelers, families and couples. 

While it may not be low season, you won’t experience the long lines of high season or the crowds from the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s a great month for self-guided tours since the weather is so good. Explore fun neighborhoods, all the green spaces and of course the iconic monuments and museums in May in DC. 

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