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Your Washington, DC Winter Bucket List

Throughout the holiday season and beyond, DC has can’t-miss things to do this winter.

The nation’s capital is a winter wonderland, whether you are visiting to celebrate the holidays or staying for a winter escape. Read below and plan an excursion in DC.


Go ice skating in DC

DC’s year-round temps are pretty moderate, but during the winter – when cold Canadian winds whistle down the Potomac and Anacostia rivers – Washingtonians bundle up for a day (or a night) on the ice. Public ice skating rinks can be found in multiple neighborhoods in DC proper, so check out the best places to hit the ice in the nation's capital.


Toast to the winter

Savor the season at Urban Roast with different varieties of hot chocolate and s’mores to be enjoyed in a winter wonderland atmosphere. Be transported to the Alps with ski chalet pop-ups at Hook Hall and Dirty Habit and winter igloos at The Next Whisky Bar. Go deeper over on our hot and cozy drinks page.


Try a half-smoke

Ben’s Chili Bowl is home to one of DC’s signature eats, the half-smoke. After you visit that institution, check out the other dining options in the city, including new spots, Michelin-starred restaurants, Bib Gourmands and bites on a budget.


Escape to a tropical garden

Cold temperatures are here and we can’t help but dream of a tropical island getaway. While you may not be able to hop on a plane this instant, you can check out the tropic house at the U.S. Botanic Garden for a breath of warm air and towering palms or visit the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens greenhouse, which has one of the most extensive private collection of orchids.


Check out Georgetown GLOW

Stroll through DC’s most historic neighborhood to see jaw-dropping illuminated artworks. Georgetown GLOW (Dec. 1 through Jan. 7, 2024) is always a hit in the District, a pure celebration of holiday-themed artistry. Participants range from locally renowned to internationally celebrated, while their works gorgeously adorn outdoor spaces throughout the neighborhood. Make sure to check out other holiday light displays and events all over the city.


Attend a Washington Capitals or Washington Wizards game

Capital One Arena is in full swing throughout the winter season, with numerous Capitals and Wizards games to enjoy through the beginning of April.


Have a spa day

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you’re due for some rest and relaxation. Browse through salons and spas in the area.


Gather knowledge at a museum

Numerous DC museums offer exciting programming and timely exhibits all winter long. Can’t-miss destinations include the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian and many more.


Stand beside Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Visit this incredible monument on MLK Day (Jan. 15, 2024) or at any other time throughout the winter. The four-acre crescent-shaped site in West Potomac Park on the Tidal Basin was selected for the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial. President Obama dedicated the memorial on Oct. 16, 2011. The two mountains represent the “Mountain of Despair” reaching for “Hope from Despair,” while the space in the middle symbolizes the distance between them. The memorial is one of the highlights of the National Mall.


Sip at a speakeasy

DC has numerous hidden bars, speakeasies and “secret” lounges that pair imaginative cocktails with 1920s vibes.


Get cozy by a fireplace

Outdoor patio with fire at Barcelona Wine Bar on 14th Street - Restaurants with patios and fires in Washington, DC

As the temps stay low in the early part of the year, many popular DC bars and restaurants stay heated up with fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, themed drinks, small plates and much more.

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