Get Off Your Screens, There’s So Much Summer To Do!

My Wish for Students this Summer

Over the summer, I’d like our students to explore, inquire and enjoy. Many parents are already struggling with managing their child’s screen time, and frustrated with kids who don’t know what else to do. Here are some ideas of activities that might engage tweens and teens (and adults!) From books to games to hikes and festivals, nature centers to mini-golf, there is so much to explore and do in and around our area. 

Bookmark this list and make 2018 the summer to remember. Be sure to share pictures of your summer highlights and tag us on social media. 

BOOKS – the perfect activity when you are alone or need a break

I recommend anything by Kwame Alexander  – he writes stories about youth centering around soccer, basketball and other high interest topics but it’s in verse. He’s written over 24 books that include The Crossover, Booked and Rebound.

Fantasy, Science Fiction & Dystopian

  • First Light by Rebecca Stead
  • Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  • The Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman


  • Grass Angel by Julie Schumacher
  • I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Peak by Roland Smith
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Tangerine by Edward Bloor
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


  • Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
  • Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Graphic Novels

  • Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
  • Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Relish: My life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
  • Solo by Kwame Alexander


  • Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
  • Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope  by William Kamkwamba
  • Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

GAMES – a fun way to engage with friends or family, in small groups or large

Games for one

  • Bananagrams
  • Card Games
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Puzzles
  • Memory
  • Robotics Kits
  • Word Finds
  • Sporcle – on-line educational games
  • Sudoku

Games for two or more

  • Blokus
  • Boogle
  • Card Games
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Codenames
  • Connect Four
  • Game of Things
  • Mancala
  • Quirkle
  • Scrabble
  • Sequence
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Ticket to Ride

Strategic Thinking Video games:

  • Access and Allies
  • Civilization
  • Europa Universalas
  • Risk

Museums & Summer Festivals

The Freer/Sackler has a Teen Only series. The National Building Museum will be putting on a Summer Block Party in the Great Hall.

Nat Geo Night: Every month the National Geographic Museum has an evening event featuring live stories from National Geographic Explorers, fun interactive activities, lively music, food, and drink specials.

Check out the monuments at night: Monuments by moonlight is a guided nighttime tour. 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is June 27-July 1 & July 4-8th. Armenia and Catalonia are the countries/regions being featured. Go to the website for a schedule of events that include musical performances, dance, hands-on activities, demonstrations, food and exhibits.

Capital Fringe Festival July 7-29
The annual Fringe Festival has offered the Metro-D.C. area avant-garde and alternative visual arts, dance and performance art since 2006, premiering more than 600 performance pieces since its inception and drawing audiences of roughly 40,000 each year.   DoahFest July 26-29 in Luray, VA
DoahFest’s motto is “unplug and connect,” inviting attendees to set aside all the chatter that clogs their daily lives and pull up an inner tube. Attractions include riverfront camping, sunrise yoga and concerts by the water, with a roster of performances ranging from reggae to New Orleans punk. 

Hosted by the Golden Triangle BID, Farragut Fridays is an event series that runs in Downtown DC’s Farragut Park from May through September. Free Wi-Fi, tables and chairs are offered throughout the day, while Picnic in the Park features lawn games and pop-up events including live music, food from local vendors and puppies in the park. At night, the park’s Golden Cinema series features outdoor movie screenings.

Free Summer Concerts


Concerts in the Park – Cherry Hill Park 312 Park Ave. Falls Church City

The Thursday evening concert series features local musicians of various genres.

Fridays at the Fountain – Crystal City Water Park – 1601 Crystal Drive, Arlington

Live music form local musicians and bands

5-9 p.m.

Lubber Run Amphitheater – North 2nd & North Columbus Streets, Arlington

Friday & Saturday Nights 8 p.m.

Sunday Nights 6 p.m. and select 11 a.m. shows

June 15-September 16

For the schedule, go to

Potomac Overlook Regional Park – 2845 N. Marcey Road, Arlington

Evening concerts are held on the second Saturdays of the month in summer.

Rock at the Row –  Pentagon Row, 1201 South Joyce St, Arlington

Thursdays, July 12 – August 23
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Spotlight by Starlight –  Mason District Park – 6621 Columbia Pike, Annandale

Wednesday, Friday & Sunday Nights June 17 – August 22 7:30 p.m.

Tysons Corner Center – 1961 Chain Bridge Road

Free concerts are held on the plaza on Friday evenings throughout the summer.


Capitol Riverfront at Yards Park

Every Friday night through August 30th,

Families can enjoy a variety of performances between 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Navy Yard.

Washington Harbor – Georgetown K Street NW

A variety of local bands perform on the plaza along the Potomac River waterfront on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer.

Free Outdoor Movie Nights


Arlington Mill – 909 S Dinwiddie St., Friday Nights – movies begin at sunset

  • July 6: Mary Poppins
  • July 13: The Sound of Music
  • July 20: Toy Story
  • July 27: Coco
  • August 3: Jailhouse Rock
  • August 10: Beauty & The Beast
  • August 17: Young Frankenstein
  • August 24: West Side Story
  • August 31: The Wizard of Oz

Penrose Square – 2501 9th Road S., Saturday Nights  – movies begin at sunset.

  • July 7: Dick Tracy
  • July 14: The Sound of Music
  • July 21: Singin’ in the Rain
  • July 28: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • August 4: Newsies
  • August 11: Beauty & The Beast
  • August 18: Young Frankenstein
  • August 25: West Side Story
  • September 1: The Wizard of Oz

Rosslyn Cinema Outdoor Movie Festival – Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Friday Nights – movies begin at dusk.

  • July 6: “Bridesmaids”
  • July 13: “Coco”
  • July 20: “Amelie”
  • July 27: “La La Land”
  • Aug. 3: “Argo”
  • Aug. 10: “Lethal Weapon”
  • Aug. 17: “The Lion King”
  • Aug. 24: “Four Weddings and a Funeral”

Washington, DC 

Capitol Riverfront –  Canal Park, 200 M St SEThursday Nights

  • July 5: National Treasure
  • July 12: A League of Their Own
  • July 19: The Greatest Showman
  • July 26: Coco
  • Aug. 2: Black Panther
  • Aug. 9: Wonder Woman

Georgetown Summer Sunset Cinema Series – Georgetown Waterfront Park, Tuesday Nights

  • July 10 – Dirty Dancing
  • July 17 – Pitch Perfect
  • July 24 – Footloose
  • July 31 – Dreamgirls
  • August 7 – Grease

Golden Triangle: Golden Cinema Series – Farragut Square Park, Connecticut Avenue NW and K Street NW., Friday Nights

  • July 6: “Back to the Future”
  • July 13: “Coco”
  • July 20: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (2017)
  • July 27: “Casablanca”
  • Aug. 3: “Black Panther”

Outdoor Fun


  • Billy Goat Trail – 11710 MacArthur Blvd. Potomac, MD
  • Bull Run Regional Park – 7700 Bull Run Drive Centreville, VA 22039
  • Burke Lake Park -7315 Ox Road Fairfax Station, VA
  • Great Falls Park – 9200 Old Dominion Drive McLean, VA
  • Huntley Meadows Park – 3701 Lockheed Blvd. Alexandria, VA
  • Mason Neck State Park-  7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, VA
  • Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge – 14050 Dawson Beach Rd, Woodbridge, VA
  • Pohick Stream Valley Trail –  9495 Burke Rd, Burke, VA
  • Riverbend Park –  8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, VA
  • Scotts Run Nature Preserve –  7400 Georgetown Pike McLean, VA
  • Teddy Roosevelt Island – George Washington Parkway Arlington, VA
  • Turkey Run Park – George Washington Parkway McLean, VA
  • Windy Run Park and Nature Trail – 2420 N Kenmore St. Arlington, VA

Nature Centers in Arlington

Gulf Branch – 3608 North Military Rd. Arlington, VA 22207

Features exhibits, classroom (20 person capacity), children’s Discovery Room, pollinator garden, live animal exhibit room, pond, restored log cabin and an observation bee hive.

Unique feature: has a blacksmith

Long Branch – 625 S Carlin Springs Rd, Arlington, VA 22204

Features exhibits, a classroom (40 person capacity), a children’s Discovery Room, live animal displays, interpretive gardens, a viewing pond, space for birthday parties, and a Nature Discovery Area. The Center hosts year-round programs and special events, including story times, campfires, invasive plant removals and nature walks.

Unique Feature: It is a collection site for the Growing Native program, a year-round volunteer project that collects hardwood seeds and plants trees to help restore and protect rivers and streams in the Potomac River watershed.

Potomac Overlook – 2845 N. Marcey Road Arlington, VA 22207

The Energerium & Nature Center houses live animals, a library, an interactive MiScope, and displays that highlight the role energy has played throughout human history.  Outdoor energy exhibits include a 1KW solar array on our stage. Park staff also present programs featuring the interactive “Energy Cycle”. The facility also includes a large auditorium which can be rented. Additional features include interpretive gardens, a picnic shelter and hiking trails.

Unique Feature: Energereum & hosts a summer concert series.


  • Burke Lake Park – 7315 Ox Rd, Fairfax Station, VA
  • Frying Pan Farm Park – 2709 Ox Road Fairfax, VA
  • Lake Accotink Park – 7500 Accotink Park Road Springfield, VA
  • Lake Fairfax – 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr, Reston, VA 20190
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park – 12521 Lee Highway Manassas, VA 20109

Batting Cages

  • Cameron Run Park – Alexandria, VA
  • Columbia SportsPark – Columbia, MD
  • Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center – Woodbridge, VA
  • Diamond Heroes Baseball – Fairfax, VA
  • Dulles Gulf Center & Sports Park – Dulles, VA
  • Pitchers Edge – Vienna, VA
  • Pure Performance – Fairfax, VA
  • Strikezone – Alexandria, VA
  • United Sports Edge  -Manassas, VA
  • Upton Hill Regional Park – Arlington, VA

Putt-Putt Golf

  • Burke Lake Park Mini Golf Course – Burke, VA
  • Cameron Run Regional Park – Alexandria, VA
  • Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park – Dulles, VA
  • Fountainhead Regional Park – Fairfax Station, VA
  • Jefferson Golf Course – Falls Church, VA
  • Lake Accotink Park Lucky Duck Miniature Golf Course – Springfield, VA
  • Monster Mini Golf – Chantilly, VA
  • Oak Mar Mini-Golf – Oakton, VA
  • Pohick Bay Treasure Island Mini Golf – Lorton, VA
  • ShadowLand Laser Adventures Glow Golf – Alexandria, VA
  • Upton Hill Regional Park – Arlington, VA


  • Atlantis, Centreville
  • Great Waves, Alexandria
  • Ocean Dunes, Arlington
  • Pirates Cove at Pohick Bay, Lorton
  • Signal Bay, Manassas
  • Splashdown, Manassas
  • Volcano Island, Sterling
  • Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole, Reston
  • Waterworks, Dale City

Boating (e.g., canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, paddle boards)

  • Belle Haven Marina, Alexandria
  • Burke Lake Park, Fairfax Station
  • Fountainhead Regional Park, Clifton
  • Lake Accotink, Fairfax
  • Lake Anne, Reston
  • Lake Fairfax Park, Reston
  • Lake Ridge Park and Marina, Woodbridge
  • Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge
  • Mason Neck Park, Mason Neck
  • Occoquan Regional Park, Lorton
  • Pohick Bay Regional Park, Mason Neck
  • Riverbend Park, Great Falls

Rafting and Tubing

  • Great White Water Sports, Norfolk, VA
  • Harpers Fairy Adventure Center, Purcellville, VA
  • Hungry Mother Adventures, Marion, VA
  • James River Reeling and Rafting, Scottsville, VA
  • New River Outdoor Adventures, Galax, VA
  • New River Outdoor Co, Pembroke, VA
  • Rivanna River Company, Charlottesville, VA
  • River and Trail Outfitters, Brunswick, MD
  • Riverside Outfitters, Richmond, VA
  • RVA Paddlesports, Richmond, VA
  • Shenandoah River Outfitters Luray, VA


  • Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center Weirwood, VA
  • Go Ape at South Run Park in Springfield, VA: outdoor climbing, ropes course & zipline
  • Sandy Spring Adventure Park, MD – Includes outdoor climbing, ropes course & zip lines.

Pick Your Own Fruit

Amusement Parks

  • Adventure Park USA – New Market, MD
  • Busch Gardens – Williamsburg, VA
  • Central Park Funland – Fredricksburg, VA
  • Diggerland USA – West Berlin, NJ
  • Hersheypark – Hershey, PA
  • Kings Dominion – Doswell, VA
  • Six Flags America – Upper Marlboro, MD

Indoor Fun

Art Activities

  • All Fired Up – Cleveland Park & Bethesda
  • Clay Café Studios – Falls Church & Chantilly, VA
  • Color Me Mine – Tysons Corner, VA
  • Jimmy Potters Studio & Workshop – Fairfax, VA


  • AMF Annandale – Centreville, Leesburg, Dale City, VA
  • Bowl America – Falls Church, Fairfax, Burke, Chantilly, Manassas, Woodbridge VA
  • Fort Myer – Arlington, VA
  • Lucky Strike – Penn Quarter

Escape Rooms

  • Breakout Games – Falls Church, VA
  • Escape Room – Arlington, Herndon, Loudoun, Manassas, Woodbridge VA
  • Escape Room Live – Alexandria, VA & Georgetown
  • Escape Quest – Alexandria, VA

Indoor Rock Climbing Facilities 

  • Badlands Play Space
  • Burke Swim and Racquet Club – Burke, VA
  • Climb Zone – Laurel, MD
  • Earth Trecks Climbing Center – Crystal City, VA
  • Sportsrock Climbing Center – Alexandria & Sterling, VA
  • Vertical Rock Indoor Climbing Center – Manassas, VA

Laser Tag

  • ShadowLand Laser Tag Adventures – Alexandria, VA
  • Skate N Fun Zone – Manassas, VA (roller-skating too)
  • Ultrazone – Falls Church, VA


  • Challenger Center – Alexandria, VA
  • Children’s Science Center – Fair Oaks Mall
  • David M. Brown Planetarium – Arlington, VA
  • Thinkabit Lab – Falls Church, VA

Trampoline Parks

  • Flight Trampoline Park – Springfield, VA
  • Rebounderz – Sterling, VA
  • Sky Zone Trampoline Park – Manassas, VA
  • Zava Zone – Sterling, VA

Day Trips

Antietam National Battlefield Sharpsburg, MD 

Assateague State Park Berlin, MD

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Cambridge, MD

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum St. Michaels, MD

Claude Moore Colonial Farm McLean, VA

Harpers Ferry, WV

Fredericksburg, VA

Gettysburg, PA

Gunpowder Falls State Park Middle River, MD

Kent Island, MD

Maryland Science Center Baltimore, MD

Mount Vernon, VA

Luray Caverns, VA

Manassas Battle Field, VA

Rocks State Park Jarrettsville, MD

Sandy Point State Park, MD

Shenandoah National Park, VA

Solomons Island, MD 

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