Discovering inexpensive after-hours entertainment in Washington, D.C. can prove challenging. You can spend weeks, or even months, knocking off the museums, yes, but do you want to spend all your hours inside? Sure, you can walk to all the outdoor memorials, but at some point your feet need a break – and your tired brain craves a different sort of stimulation — like some music or a sculpture garden.

So don’t miss this: Annual free jazz concerts in the stupendous Sculpture Garden on the National Mall that is part of the National Museum of Art. Let me repeat, free. Entering its 17th season in 2017, the series includes many genres of jazz to suit all tastes. And, yes, they are – I’ll say it again – free.

Sculpture Garden at the National Museum of Art in Washington DC

Every Friday, from about May through August – so mark you calendar now for next year — the 6.1-acre garden opens its gates to music from 5-8:30 p.m. while its café also offers a grab-and-go concert menu (with adult beverages). You can also bring your own picnic, but not alcohol. Rest assured, you can buy beer, wine and perhaps sangria on site.

Washington DC stage at free concert in the sculpture garden.

Be forewarned, these are popular events for all ages, as well as groups, couples and families. The lawns and benches are spread with blankets early, taking up nearly every square inch of space, especially under all the canopies of trees if it is a warm day. You will find folks dipping their bare feet in the fountain (sitting around it – no swimming allowed!), while others dance in the walkways.

It’s a Friday evening party that is at its best on a warm summer evening.

HITT Tip: Take the metro. The Archives stop is the closest, but you can also use the Federal Triangle or L’Enfant Plaza stops if you don’t mind walking a few extra blocks and that offers fewer transfers. And get there early to claim your space in the sculpture garden. You don’t really have to be near the stage since the music is piped around the grounds on speakers.

Map of Washington D.C.

In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on Washington D.C.. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information.

George Mason Memorial

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

Air Force Memorial

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

National Gallery of Art

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

National Archives

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

National Archives

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

United States Botanic Garden

For more information, see our story Six Things To Do In D.C. That Many Don't But Should

Boathouse and Fletcher's Cove

For more information, see our article C&O Canal Trail in Washington, D.C., a Recreational Wonder.

Capital Crescent Trail

For more information, see our article C&O Canal Trail in Washington, D.C., a Recreational Wonder.

Start of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath

For more information, see our article C&O Canal Trail in Washington, D.C., a Recreational Wonder.

The Newseum

To learn more about The Newseum, go to our article, Newseum: Must-See D.C. Museum for News, Politics & History Buffs.

Sculpture Garden on the National Mall

A magnificent Sculpture Garden in the summer, and an ice skating rink in the winter. Learn more about the free concerts offered in the summer by referring to our article, Jazzin' It Up In D.C.'s Sculpture Garden

Arlington National Cemetery

Heads up! This information on Washington D.C. Sculpture Garden was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.
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Therese Iknoian

Traveler at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian spent a decade as a daily newspaper journalist before launching a freelance writing career specializing in outdoor, fitness and training. All the while trotting the globe, her focus finally turned to travel. Fluent in German, Therese runs a translation business (www.ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. Also a French speaker, she loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication and the search for great travel discoveries.
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