Winter in DC - Best 42 Things To Do during in the Washington DC area

Winter Activities Washington DC
winter in dc things to do

Winter in DC has a lot going for it: fewer tourists, pretty mild weather, and a near-endless list of free museums and beautiful parks! Below are top things to do in the DC area organized by:

Table of Contents:

  1. DC Indoor
  2. DC Outdoor
  3. Family Visit Washington DCNorthern Virginia Indoor
  4. Northern Virginia Outdoor
  5. Maryland Indoor
  6. Maryland Outdoor
  7. Holiday Light Displays open between Christmas and New Years

DC Winter Indoor Spots

  1. Library of Congress: Details here and open daily except for Xmas day and New Year’s Day.
  2. Great Museums for All Ages: Planet Word, American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Museum of the American Indian(great play area!), US Botanic Garden (#2 on the Holiday Display blog)
  3. Great Museums for Younger Kids: National Children’s Museum
  4. Great Museums for Older Kids: Spy Museum (my 9 year old loved it but my 5 year old was a little scared), Museum on O Street, National Gallery of Art, NMAAHC, Hirshhorn, and the Kusama Exhibit!! (reel here)
  5. Viewpoints of the City: Washington Monument, The View of DC (in Arlington), Old Post Office Tower
  6. Food Markets: Union Market, Eastern Market, Union Station
  7. Indoor Ice Skating: Fort Dupont Ice Arena
  8. DMV Bowling
  9. DC Public Libraries
  10. 20 Museums for Children in DC
national gallery of art winter in dc

Outdoor Winter Activities in Washington DC

  1. The Wharf: S’mores, swings, walking around
  2. Theodore Roosevelt Island Trails
  3. National Zoo (put my formerly paid Guide all in this free blog!)
  4. Yards Park: Light up bell swings, restaurants, walking around
  5. National Mall: Bring bikes, scooters, kites…and hand warmers! Heated restrooms near the WWII monument
  6. Ice Skating: Georgetown Washington Harbor, NGA Sculpture Garden, The Wharf
  7. 33 DC Playgrounds with Top 14 here.
  8. Tregaron Conservancy Walks
  9. Fort Lincoln Park
  10. 45 DC Parks on the DMV Database (select “DC only”)
Georgetown Waterfront Winter in DC

Washington, D.C. Family Visit

  1. Best Family Hotels in Washington DC for all Budgets
  2. 4-Day Itinerary in Washington DC (with morning, afternoon, and evening schedules matched with great restaurants)
  3. 30 Kid Friendly Restaurants in DC for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner
  4. 15 Best Playgrounds in DC

Northern Virginia Indoor Winter Activities

  1. 45 Virginia Indoor Play (Soft Play Rooms, Roller Skating, Trampoline, Laser Tag, Bowling)
  2. Nature Centers: Buddie Ford Nature Centerin Alexandria, Hidden Pond in Springfield, Hidden Oaks in Annandale, Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, Gulf Branch Nature Center in Arlington, Potomac Overlook in Arlington
  3. Trampoline Parks (VA & MD)
  4. Laser Tag (VA & MD)
  5. Libraries: Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax(Pohick, Lorton & Main have good kids sections, Prince William, Loudoun
  6. DMV Bowling
  7. (Nice!) Food Courts: Ballston Quarter, Galleria Tysons II Urbanspace
  8. Indoor Ice Skating: Fairfax Ice Arena, Prince William Ice Center, Ashburn Ice House Skatequest, MedStar Capitals Iceplex
buddy ford nature center Alexandria winer spot

Buddie Ford Nature Center, Alexandria - FREE!

Northern Virginia Outdoor Winter Activities

  1. Ice Skating: Pentagon Row, Reston Town Center, Cameron Run Ice and Lights, Harris Pavilion
  2. 45 Best Nova Playgrounds
  3. 20 Nova Hikes/Walks about half are stroller friendly!
  4. 73 DC Parks on the DMV Database (select “VA only”)
lubber run playground near dc in winter

Lubber Run Playground, Arlington

Indoor Winter Spots in Maryland (near DC)

  1. Nature Centers: Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, Locust Grove Nature Center in Bethesda, Robinson Nature Center in Columbia
  2. Libraries: Montgomery County, Prince George’s County
  3. Trampoline Parks (VA & MD)
  4. DMV Bowling
  5. Indoor Ice Skating: Cabin John Ice Rink, Rockville Ice Rink, Wheaton Regional Ice Rink

Outdoor Winter Spots in Maryland (near DC)

  1. Great Falls Maryland Side
  2. 12 Best MD Playgrounds
  3. Laser Tag (VA & MD)
  4. Ice Skating: Color Burst Park, Quiet Waters State Park
  5. 41 MD Parks on the DMV Database (select “MD only”)
great falls Maryland side

Great Falls Maryland Side

Holiday Light Displays Still Open Dec 26 - Jan 1

All the details on each here.


  1. ZooLighs ends on December 30th
  2. US Botanic Gardens Holiday Display & Trains ends January 2nd
  3. National Christmas Tree ends January 1st
  4. Enchant DC ends January 1st
  5. Light Yards ends January 1st
  6. DC Main Streets Holiday Lights ends January 8


  1. Meadowlark ends January 2
  2. Bull Run Drive Through ends January 8
  3. Cameron Run Ice and Lights ends January 1


  1. Brookside Gardens ends January 1st
  2. National Harbor Holiday Tree ends January 3rd
  3. Light Show at Gaylord National Hotel ends December 31
  4. Winter Lights fEstival at Seneca Creek ends December 31
  5. Maryland Zoo Lights ends December 31
  6. Watkins Regional Park Festival of Lights ends January 1
  7. Frederick Maryland Sailing Through Winter Solstice ends March 4. 2023
holiday light displays dc in winter