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Bill Couch

Family on snowy Washington Monument grounds on the National Mall - The best snow day activities in Washington, DC

The 7 Best Snow Day Activities & Things to Do in Washington, DC

You’ll be happy to let it snow, let it snow, let it snow the next time the weather forecast calls for a winter wonderland with these things to do, places to eat and so much more.

In Washington, DC, even major blizzards don’t stop District residents and visitors from donning their snow gear and taking to the streets to play. Join in a snowball fight, sled in the shadow of historic monuments and memorials or start your own snow day bar crawl at award-winning restaurants and bars that dare to deliver a cozy ski lodge atmosphere 70 miles from the nearest slopes.

Here are a few must-dos the next time you encounter a snowstorm in the nation’s capital. Just remember to check the DC weather report and be careful when venturing out into the cold.


Sled with monuments and historic landmarks as your backdrop

When the snow comes down, take to the District’s most well-known hill – yes, Capitol Hill – for a once-in-a-lifetime, congressionally backed sledding experience. Kids and thrill-seekers can continue down different slopes in DC at Rock Creek Park. Bring your sled to the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Calvert Street, where steep hills descend from the nearby Omni Shoreham Hotel all the way down to the park. Great views of the Taft Bridge add to a majestic wintery scene. Georgetown’s Book Hill also pairs your need for speed with stunning views of the city’s oldest neighborhood.

Peak your interest: True speed demons will want to check out DC’s highest point, Fort Reno, in Upper Northwest.


Show off your snowball-making skills

After attracting only a handful of people for a snowball fight in December 2009, DC resident Michael Lipin realized he’d have to up the ante the next time the forecast called for snow. And did he ever. Lipin and friend Ami Greener took to social media, informed radio and news stations and used word of mouth to attract 3,000 so-called “snow elves” for a snowball fight of epic proportions. Now DC’s snowball fight veterans organize events each winter throughout the city, from the iconic fountain in Dupont Circle to Meridian Hill Park and the National Mall.

Making it official: The snowball fight success marked the beginnings of the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association, which has kept busy every winter since.


Snap the perfect winter Instagram

Layer up with your camera in tow and capture the various snowy scenes around Washington, DC. From scenic views of the National Mall or Rock Creek Park blanketed in snow to urban scenes, like DC street murals or historic rowhouses in Georgetown, the city looks stunning as ever. Even if you only take pictures with your phone, the trip alone is worth it.

A decent exposure: While they’re incredibly picturesque, snow-covered sights can be very bright in daytime and difficult to capture on camera. Check your camera’s exposure settings to manually correct exposure levels.


Start your very own snow day bar crawl

A full range of restaurants and bars around the city regularly offer snow day specials, such as early openings, happy hours and select food and drink discounts. Check out the best places to eat and drink in DC and map out a day filled with creative cocktails and delicious dishes.

Come in from the cold: Some local favorites that have offered deals in the past include Osteria Morini on the Capitol RiverfrontJack Rose in Adams Morgan and Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights.


Go ice skating

Ice Skating on Georgetown Waterfront - Washington Harbour - Washington, DC

Sam Kittner / Georgetown BID

One easy thing to do in the nation’s capital is rent a pair of ice skates. That’s because the city hosts many very different, awesome ice rinks. Whether it’s underneath the stars at The Wharf, on the banks of the Potomac River or even a hotel rooftop, glean everything you need to know about each experience and find the best places to ice skate in DC.

Go figure: Located near Nationals Park in Capitol Riverfront, the Canal Park ice rink sets itself apart from other rinks with a figure eight-style track. The rink boasts another snow day bonus: nearby beer-friendly diversions, including Gordon Biersch and Bluejacket Brewery.


Get cozy at these fire-centric restaurants


A post shared by Iron Gate (@irongatedc) on

When the temperatures dip and the snow starts to fall, plenty of DC bars and restaurants heat up with fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and crackling wood-fired ovens. Each and every one of these restaurants is a prime spot for getting cozy, so shake off the brr of winter and warm up with an open fire and dishes and drinks sure to satisfy the appetite.

Heat things up: Often considered one of the most romantic restaurants in the city, Iron Gate in Dupont Circle delights with a sizzling indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pits underneath the wisteria-adorned courtyard.


Sip on some ridiculously delicious hot chocolate

No snow day is complete without the rich, melty goodness that comes from a hot mug of cocoa. The best way to weather the storm involves these melted chocolate beverages that are sweet, sinfully delicious and sometimes very adult.

Not your average cup of cocoa: Head to any of Pitango Gelato’s three DC locations for a cup of traditional sipping chocolate. This intense, bittersweet ambrosia from Torino, Italy, is packed full of pure cocoa, and best enjoyed with steamed milk, a shot of espresso or even straight up.

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