20 Winter Things to Do in Washington, DC

Okay guys, the lights are down, the festivities are over, and winter has officially set in. How are you going to keep yourself busy until Cherry Blossom season? Well, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a list of 20 winter things to do in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to add any we missed in the comments!

Events are loosely listed in the order they occur, by location. Ongoing events are listed first. Updated for 2020.

Snowman Winter Things to do in Washington, DC

Things to do this winter in Washington, DC

Ice Skating: One easy way to battle the cold while still enjoying the outdoors is to go ice skating. Find ice skating all winter long at Canal Park (through February), Sculpture Garden (through March 15, weather dependent), and Washington Harbor (through March 15). Rentals, group rates, and season passes are available.

Go to one of the Smithsonian museums: The cold weather is the perfect excuse to spend some time inside at one of the Smithsonian museums. They are open every day except Christmas and they are free! Crowds are often thinner during the winter and on weekdays. Check out our round-up of all 19 museums and galleries.

Game Nights at The Wharf: Get active on select nights at the Wharf with lots of activities!

  • Cocktails and Curling: This free event is for all levels (ages 8+ – kids and adults welcome). All equipment is provided and “skating” should be done in tennis shoes which players should bring from home. Sign up is on-site and is first-come, first-served. Spectators are also welcome to watch and enjoy while sipping cocktails for purchase.
  • Broomball and Brews: Another free event honoring a hockey-like game created by our friends in Canada. Sign up is onsite and first-come, first-served and spectators are welcome. All equipment is provided but tennis shoes are required. 21+.

Watercolor Cocktails at Union Market: Find your creative side with DC-based cookbook author and artist Marcella Kriebel. On January 8, February 11, and March 11 at 6:30 pm, she will share follow-along watercolor techniques while painting a recipe illustration. Tickets include us of all materials and a cocktail by Buffalo and Bergen. Event is 21+ and tickets are $55.

Winter Restaurant Week: Try some new restaurants this winter at discounted prices during Washington, DC’s Winter Restaurant Week.  Restaurant Week runs from January 13-19. Deals are available for both lunch and dinner. Look out for a few places doing brunch as well!

Chinese New Year Parade: Usher in the Year of the Rat in Chinatown on Sunday, January 26 at 2:00 pm.  Enjoy dancers, firecrackers, and music!

Things to do this winter in Virginia

Ice Skating: Virginia is full of places ice skate.  Find skates rinks with rentals, lessons, and group events at Reston Towne Center (through March 15), Ashburn Ice House (indoor), Fairfax Ice Arena (indoor), and Prince William Ice Center (indoor).

Chocolate Lover’s Festival: Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and that means it’s time to enjoy delicious chocolate. Head to the City of Fairfax January 31 – February 2 for chocolate tasting, chocolate art, and more! Check the website for free and ticketed events.

Gray Ghost Vineyards: Winery season doesn’t wait for warm weather.

  • Tasted limited supply, vintage wines from Gray Ghost on January 26 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. $25/person.
  • Celebrate a loved one (or BFF) with wine and chocolate on February 8-9. $30/person.
  • Join the vineyard March 8-9 to taste developing wines straight from the barrel. Tickets include a wine glass with a logo and snacks. $25/person.

Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week: Stroll the cozy streets of Old Town Alexandria to chase those winter blues away.  Then, warm up with restaurant deals from January 17-26.

Alexandria President’s Day Parade: Head to Old Town Alexandria on President’s Day (February 17) to see floats and music from local organizations. Plus, stick around to see which local restaurants came up with the best cherry recipes in honor of George Washington.

Washington’s Birthday Celebration at Mount Vernon: If you are off work, head to Mount Vernon February 17 to celebrate President Washington’s birthday. Enjoy cake, storytelling, dancing, and historical characters. There is normally an admission fee to visit but Washington’s birthday party is free.

Things to do this winter in Maryland

Ice Skating: Maryland is also home to several ice rinks. Find rentals, lessons, and group rates at Rockville Outdoor Ice Rink, Cabin John Ice Rink, and Silver Spring Ice Skating at the Pavilion.

Step Afrika: Discover traditional and contemporary African step dancing at the Strathmore on January 12. Tickets range from $35 to $75.

Polar Bear Plunge: Brave enough to take on the Chesapeake Bay in January? If so, take the plunge at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis to raise money for the Special Olympics Maryland. There are four plunge events from January 23-24 including a cool school plunge, police plunge, corporate plunge, and main plunge for all. Participants must raise a minimum of $75 to plunge but teachers and students can participate in the cool school plunge for $50.

First Saturday – Fire and Ice: Fredrick, Maryland hosts a day of fun on the first Saturday of every month. Join them on Saturday, February 1 for Fire and Ice to discover ice sculptures, carving demos, fire dancers, and an ice bar on the creek. This event gets super crowded so go early and plan to make dinner reservations or eat away from the main street.

Maryland Restaurants Weeks: Maryland has you covered this winter as far as restaurant deals are concerned. Check out Bethesda Restaurant Week (January 10-19) and Annapolis Restaurant Week (February 29 – March 8).

Frozen Harbor Music Festival: Who says you have to wait until summer to kick off the music festival season? Head to Baltimore February 28 – March 1 for the Frozen Harbor Music Festival. 150+ acts will perform on 10 stages during this two-day festival. Ticket packages range from $20 to $125.

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