Winter can be a little tough in DC between the holidays and cherry blossom season. But there are still plenty of events, fireside drinks, and places to explore. Even a few wineries in Virginia are worth a trip for a cozy winter drink. Here are 30 ways to have fun this winter!
Exhibits & Events
Faraway So Close at the Swedish Embassy features both photography and video art that show American culture and society through the eyes of prominent Swedish artists. The display will be open to the public on the weekends through February 19, 2023 at the Swedish Embassy in Georgetown. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood for a meal on the waterfront.
The Botanic Gardens near the US Capitol Building is a great place to warm up this winter. The greenhouse-like building feels warm and cozy to keep all the plants happy. Check out a variety of plant life, the monuments made from plants, and learn about where our food comes from in America. Plus, don’t miss the orchid display from February 17 to April 30.
Georgetown Glow, a non-holiday-themed art exhibit, will light up Georgetown until January 22. Explore the neighborhood to find all 5 pieces.
Smithsonian Museums: Winter is a great time to visit some of the more popular Smithsonian Museums since there aren’t as many tourists. This includes the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of American History, and the Museum of African American History. Another great spot to check out is the Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum near Chinatown. An enclosed courtyard that allows outside food connects these two museums. Explore these museums and then enjoy take-out food in the courtyard from a nearby restaurant.
Winter Celebrations at The Wharf: The Wharf has plenty of nice restaurants to keep you warm throughout the season but lookout for special event weekends. Fire and Ice on January 21 will feature ice sculptures, fire twirlers, whiskey tastings, and a DJ. There will also be opportunities to support Washington Area Fuel Fund to help keep families in DC warm this winter. On February 18, join the Wharf for Mardi Gras on The Wharf featuring a parade, live music, and fireworks.
Sip Cider at Capitol Cider House: Capitol Cider House in Petworth features rotating ciders sourced within 200 miles of the capitol and local DC liquors. Look out for a variety of special events including comedy nights, live music, and trivia. For winter, don’t miss the Winter Artisan Market (January 15), a virtual guided tasting (February 1), and the Valentine Artisan Market (February 11). Open Thursday to Sunday.
Museum of Illusions: Visit the newly opened (December 2022) Museum of Illusions near City Center for fun illusions and great photo opportunities. Illusions are both small tricks on your eyes and immersive experiences. Tickets are $24/adult and $19/child (5-12). Plan to spend about 1 hour exploring.
Plant and Book Swaps at Atlas Brew Works: Atlas Brew Works in Ivy City will host a plant swap (January 8) and a book swap (January 15). Bring plants and gardening supplies (and books!) to trade with others. Look out for more events to be added in February and March.
Eat & Drink
DC Winter Restaurant Week: Winter Restaurant Week is currently scheduled for January 16-22. Find two dinner price points ($40 and $55) and brunch/lunch deals for $25. Many restaurants are also offering take-out specials.
Alexandria Restaurant Week: Celebrate winter restaurant week in Alexandria from January 20-29 with $25, $35, and $45 deals per person. Over 70 restaurants are participating and many offer heated, outdoor seating.
Enjoy a drink by the fire:
- Metrobar (Rhode Island metro stop) offers heated areas for groups of 2-10 including heat lamps, firepits, and a heated tent. Plus, don’t miss special event nights like movies, live music, and a Super Bowl watch event.
- Lulu’s Winegarden (U Street) was one of my favorite heated spots when the pandemic first begin. Enjoy three different heated areas, hot dishes, and warm drinks outside all winter long.
- Urban Roast (Chinatown) offers firepit tables to keep you cozy this winter. Plus, warm up with fancy cocktails like whiskey cider, toasted cinnamon mezcal, expresso martini flight, and more. Drinks are pricey but it’s a perfect special occasion spot. Look out for their happy hour deals.
- Heurich House Museum (Dupont Circle) reopens its beer garden for the season in February. Enjoy local craft beers by a fire pit.
Take a Drive
Visit with Farm Animals at Frolic Fields: Escape the city and enjoy the peace of a farm with Mina and Tim! You may have seen these two selling colorful, feel-good art at markets around DC. This experience includes a visit with friendly animals, a tour of the 14-acre property, tapas, and time to enjoy the hammocks and wildlife on the property. Book a 2-hour afternoon or evening time slot for $45/per person. Frolic Fields is in Piscataway Park – about a 45-minute drive from DC. Make a full weekend out of it and stay at their private Airbnb on the property.
Sunday Brunch at Creek’s Edge Winery: (Lovettsville, VA) Creek’s Edge is cozy on any day but head over for a special brunch on Sunday. Starting at $50 for 2 people, enjoy a brunch board with pastries, waffles, fruits, yogurt, assorted cheeses, and more. Sized to the number of people in your party. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Hidden Brook Winery: (Leesburg, VA) Hidden Brook is open Wednesday to Sunday and features warm fire pits outside. Enjoy a wine flight with warm flatbreads or stay cozy with mulled wine or hot cider. Keep up with them on social media to keep up with slightly limited hours during the winter.
Gray Ghost Vineyards: (Amissville VA) Winery season doesn’t wait for warm weather. Enjoy wine at Gray Ghost vineyard during the colder months with special events or just an afternoon with friends.
- Chocolates and Cabernet: Celebrate a loved one (or BFF) with wine and chocolate on February 11-12 and 18-19. $35/person in advance or $40 at the door.
- Gray Ghost’s Annual Barrel Tasting: Taste developing wines directly from the barrel. $30/person. March 4-5.
Ice Skating and Parks
Sky Meadows State Park: Sky Meadows in Deplane, Virginia is a little over an hour from downtown DC. It is filled the hiking trails and places to enjoy a picnic that can be enjoyed in any season. Plus, the astronomy program continues through winter on January 21, February 18, March 18, and April 15.
Picnic at the National Arboretum: Bundle up and grab a picnic table in the Grove of State Trees at the National Arboretum. There are trash bins and plenty of parking and nearby. Pack your own food or stop at Roaming Rooster (3176 Bladensburg Rd NE) for chicken sandwiches on your way there. Roaming Rooster lets you choose your spice level so it’s perfect for kids and picky eaters. After you finish eating, enjoy the Capitol columns or head over to the Asian Gardens which looks beautiful in any season. Plus, you can also enjoy views of the Anacostia River which can be hauntingly beautiful on a crispy winter day.
Picnic on the National Mall: Enjoy monument views and thinner crowds on the mall this year. There are several places to grab food on your way over to the mall, but one of my favorite spots is Grilled Cheese DC right next to the White House. Enjoy many options for grown-up grilled cheese with loaded mac & cheese or tomato soup. It’s a perfect option for both kids and adults. Open Monday-Saturday 11 am to 7:30 pm.
Ice Skating at the Sculpture Garden: Enjoy skating at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall open daily through March 5. Skating times are 45 minutes long and start on the hour. Buy two sessions for $10 plus $5 skate rentals.
Ice Skating in Reston: Enjoy outdoor ice skating in Reston through March as weather permits. 90-minutes of skate time can be reserved for $10 plus $7 for skate rentals. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.