You are here

5 Days of Winter Activities in Washington, DC

@dccitygirl - Union Station Illuminated During the Holidays - Washington, DC

Wintertime is the right time to plan a trip to the District. Discover all of the winter activities to do in Washington, DC with this itinerary.

Looking for more DC cold weather activities? Check out our guide to winter whimsy in the District.

Day 1: Arrive in a Winter Wonderland

Morning

Arrive on Amtrak and start your holiday right away at Union Station. The historic building decks the halls in December with a 30-foot tree donated from the Embassy of Norway as well as a Norwegian Holiday Market. Plus, Union Station’s holiday model train display delights as the locomotive winds its way through the snowy mountains and fjords of Norway.

Korean War Veterans Memorial - National Mall - Washington, DC

Afternoon

Spend your day taking a tour of Washington, DC’s iconic monuments and memorials on the National Mall. With Big Bus Tours, you can stay warm and cozy as you see some of DC’s most popular attractions, such as the Washington Monument; the LincolnJeffersonWorld War II, Korean War Veterans and Vietnam Veterans memorials; and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo - Holiday Displays in Washington, DC

Evening

When night falls, check out the ZooLights (select evenings in November and December) at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The free exhibit features nightly walk-through, environmentally friendly animal light displays. Many of the animal houses also remain open in the evening for special animal keeper talks.

Day 2: District Institutions

@ray.payys

Morning

Warm up your morning with a visit to one of Washington, DC's many Smithsonian museums. From dinosaurs to dramatic art, each one offers a treasure trove of family-friendly exhibits.

The Washington Ballet's Nutcracker - Holiday Performances in Washington, DC

Afternoon

Take in an evening performance of Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker at Warner Theatre. Set in historic Georgetown, this nation's capital-centric version features George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker and King George III as the Rat King.

Evening

After the show, enjoy a late-night dinner or cocktails at the Washington institution Old Ebbitt Grill. At Christmas time, two larger-than-life wooden soldiers stand guard at the door.

Day 3: Chinatown & the Downtown Holiday Market

Downtown Holiday Market - Winter Holidays in Washington, DC

Morning

Metro to Chinatown for some shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market. With more than 150 exhibitors and artisans displaying everything from fine arts to fair trade, you can find great gifts for everyone on your list.

Afternoon

For lunch, try one of the neighborhood's many restaurants, such as Hill Country Barbecue Market or Jaleo. Then take a refreshing stroll a few blocks to reach the National Mall.

@dccitygirl - Winter Ice Skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden - Washington, DC

Evening

Feel like a kid again at the National Gallery of Art, where you can go ice skating in the Sculpture Garden until late and then warm up with some hot chocolate.

Day 4: The White House & National Christmas Tree

Morning

During the holidays, the White House pulls out all the stops with twinkling trees and historically significant decorations. Self-guided holiday tours are available to the public during December. Visitors must submit a request no later than 21 days in advance through their member of Congress. The White House Visitor Center across the street also offers an insider’s glimpse into The White House.

Afternoon

Walk over to the nearby historic Willard InterContinental Hotel. The gorgeous lobby is decked out with all the holiday trimmings. Warm up with a pre-theater hot toddy in the Round Robin Bar or, during the day, drink in the holiday tea service.

christmas tree

Evening

At dusk, the National Christmas Tree and Pageant of Peace on the White House Ellipse features a nightly tree lighting, menorah lighting and free musical entertainment. Every state and territory decorates a smaller tree for the beautiful display, so be sure and find the tree from your home state. Take in an evening performance of Handel’s Messiah at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. White Christmas and a number of holiday-themed performances are also on tap. See a sweeping view of the city after the show from the Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace Restaurant.

Day 5: Shop 'Til You Drop

georgetown holiday shopping

Morning

Spend the morning doing some holiday shopping in Georgetown, one of DC’s oldest and most famous neighborhoods that is full of fashionable shops.

Blue Duck Tavern - Farm-to-Table Dining in Washington, DC

Afternoon

For lunch, warm up with a meal at Blue Duck Tavern in the Park Hyatt Washington. One of DC's top farm-to-table restaurants, the Obamas gave it their seal of approval with one of their famous date nights.

Evening

Spend the evening at historic Ford’s Theatre, where A Christmas Carol is playing for the holidays. The classic tale of redemption has been hailed by the Washington Post as "musically high-spirited" and "infectiously jolly."

Looking for more wintertime ideas for your visit to Washington, DC? Explore the winter wonderland that is the nation's capital.

5 Days of Winter Activities in Washington, DC