Top Things to do Memorial Day Weekend in DC

Our top recommendations of things to do during the long weekend in Washington DC!

Top Things to do Memorial Day Weekend in DC

Memorial Day weekend is a time for reflection, remembrance, and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country. As the nation’s capital, there's no better place to spend the long weekend than Washington DC for this holiday! If you're planning to visit DC over Memorial Day weekend, here are some must-see attractions and activities that you and your family can participate in while you’re here.


1. National Memorial Day Parade

One of the largest Memorial Day events in the country is the National Memorial Day Parade -- a spectacular tribute to America’s veterans and active-duty service members. The parade features marching bands, military units, veterans, and patriotic floats. Starting at Constitution Avenue, it travels from 7th to 17th Street, offering a moving experience that is both celebratory and solemn.

Compass Pro-Tip: Bring lots of water and snacks, especially if you have kids. The excessive crowds can make it feel hotter than usual, and the food trucks tend to have longer lines than usual on special event days.

Compass Coffee Breeze in front of the American flag
2. National Memorial Day Concert
The National Memorial Day Concert is another can’t-miss event that happens on Memorial Day at the United States Capitol. For more than 30 years, this award-winning event has become an American tradition, full of musical and visual performances. It is also one of PBS's highest-rated programs!

Compass Pro-Tip: Get there early (with coffee, of course) to grab the best spot! Parking can be tricky with the extra security, so we recommend taking a cab, walking, or scootering over.
Compass Coffee tote on a bike in front of the Capitol

3. Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally
Thousands of motorcyclists ride through the streets of DC every year for the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally. This demonstration is held to honor POWs and MIAs and raises awareness about veterans' issues. The rumble of engines and the sight of patriotic decorations make this a unique and fun event for the whole family!

Compass Pro-Tip: If you can’t make it to the motorcycle rally on Sunday, there will be a candlelight vigil held at the Lincoln Memorial the Friday before Memorial Day in honor of POWs and MIAs.


4. National Mall and Memorial Parks

The National Mall is home to numerous monuments and memorials that commemorate America's history and heroes. Key sites include the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the World War II Memorial. Take a walk or bike ride around the Mall to fully appreciate these iconic landmarks. Need a pick-me-up to keep you going? We have several cafes along the Mall and downtown DC for the perfect coffee and snack break!

Compass Pro-Tip: Walking the National Mall takes a lot longer than most people expect! If you get tired, there are several rentable bikes and scooters along the way to help you finish your journey.

 Compass Coffee nitro cold brew at the monuments

 5. Arlington National Cemetery

A visit to Arlington National Cemetery is a deeply moving way to pay respects to those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Attend the Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the President of the United States honors fallen soldiers, or participate in the Flowers of Remembrance Day on the Sunday before. The cemetery is also the final resting place of many notable figures, including President John F. Kennedy.

Compass Pro-Tip: The cemetery is very expansive – 639 acres to be exact! If you or someone in your group is unable to walk through the cemetery, the interpretive tour bus is free to visitors with disabilities, plus one companion. It stops at John F. Kennedy's gravesite, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other notable sites.


6. Nationals Park

Catch a Washington Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park and enjoy America’s favorite pastime as part of your Memorial Day weekend! Want to REALLY eat like a local? Try the Maryland crab dip pretzel at the concession stand (and get extra napkins.) Check the schedule for special Memorial Day events and promotions.

Compass Pro-Tip: Our Navy Yard cafe is only a few steps away from the ballpark! Stop by before the game for a Cold Brew or one of our refreshing Breezes to caffeinate before the game!


Compass Coffee at Nationals Park

Compass Coffee Navy Yard cafe 7. Walking Trails

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by exploring some of DC's beautiful walking trails. Rock Creek Park offers over 32 miles of trails through lush forests, meandering along Rock Creek. Other notable trails include the Mount Vernon Trail, which runs along the Potomac River, providing stunning views of the city and monuments.

Compass Pro-Tip: Go early in the morning and take one of our breakfast sandwiches to go so you can enjoy a quiet picnic before the crowd and heat picks up! Even better? Coffee will help with your post-hike sore muscles, too. :) 

Hiking with nitro cold brew

Hiking with Compass Coffee nitro cold brew

Our final Compass Pro-Tip might surprise you... but what's not surprising is that -- of course -- it involves coffee. No matter what you do, Cold Brew on Tap is a quick and convenient addition to have in your hotel room while you get ready, or to bring along on one of your many adventures! There's no better way to start the day with a full cup of cold brew, trust us. 

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