Snow has fallen, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go outside in D.C. When you are trying to figure out what to do in Washington, D.C. in winter, especially when it snows a few inches or a winter storm is in the forecast, your options are limitless.
The city transforms under a blanket of white, fluffy powder, creating a winter playground you would never expect.
Even with only a few inches of snow, you can have fun sledding, ice skating, snow tubing, making snowmen, sipping hot cocoa and even a stroll through the monuments and memorials, a trip to the REACH at the Kennedy Center or past the White House.
So, when snow is in the forecast, make your plan, throw on some layers to combat winter weather and get outside to enjoy the rare site of snow in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
- 1 Go sledding in D.C.
- 2 Ice Skating in D.C.
- 3 Take Part in a Giant Snowball Fight
- 4 Build a Snowman at the Washington Monument
- 5 Fly a Kite on the National Mall
- 6 Go Snow tubing at the National Zoo
- 7 Walk the National Mall
- 8 Hike through Rock Creek Park
- 9 See the monuments and memorials under snow
- 10 Try the best Washington DC Hot Chocolates
- 11 S’mores at Camp Wharf
- 12 Bar Hopping with Friends
- 13 Find a Firepit and Cozy Up
- 14 Walk the D.C. Neighborhoods
- 15 Head out for a day of skiing near DC
- 16 Pin it and Start Planning
Go sledding in D.C.
When the snow starts to fall, Washington, D.C. locals hit up all of the best D.C. sledding spots. We’ve checked out a ton for ourselves, but anywhere there are hills, you will find families, couples and adrenaline junkies on the “slopes” of D.C. and across the D.C. area.
Sledding on the grounds of the grounds of the capitol building is pretty much a must when you are in D.C., but there are known and secret spots all across the city to conquer.
Whether you are a tiny tot, a teen with a need for speed or simply looking for a snowy date idea, the hills around Washington, D.C. will have you giggling like a 5 year old all day long.
Oh, and if D.C. gets a significant snowfall, you can sled down the Lincoln Memorial. But you will need more than a foot or two to make it happen.
Read our guide to the best places to go sledding in DC.
Ice Skating in D.C.
Ice skating and winter go hand and hand, and lucky for you there are loads of ice skating rinks in and around Washington D.C.
Whether you want outdoor ice skating or an indoor ice rink, you are sure to find what you need, including lessons and skate rentals, in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
Read our full list of ice skating in DC!
Take Part in a Giant Snowball Fight
Keep an eye on the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association’s Facebook page for epic snowball fights. Snowball fights generally take place in Dupont Circle, Meridian Hill Park and the National Mall.
Although, you can always start your own snowball flight with friends in your own neighborhood or outside of your hotel too.
Build a Snowman at the Washington Monument
When there is snow, and mind you it doesn’t even have to be heavy snow, you will find snowmen and snow women being built all over the National Mall, especially near the Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian museums and around the Washington Monument.
Get in on the fun and make a massive snowman, or a few baby snow kids.
Or you can be lazy like most of us and just take photos with the snow people other’s build earlier in the day as soon as the snow begins to fall.
Fly a Kite on the National Mall
The National Mall near the George Washington Monument is one of the top places in the District to fly a kite. But, did you know you can fly a kite even in winter in D.C.?
You can even go “snow kiting” if there is enough snowfall. Even if you don’t know how to kite surf, if you have a kite at home, bring it over to the National Mall to have a little fun and try something new to do in winter in D.C.
Just watch out for freezing rain, as those pellets could take out your kite.
Go Snow tubing at the National Zoo
Snowless tubing at the National Zoo is one of my kids favorite activities all year round. When it actually does snow, that tubing hill transforms into a winter tubing wonderland.
Check out more D.C. snow tubing in and around the city.
Walk the National Mall
One of my favorite things to do in Washington DC in winter is walk around the National Mall to see all of the monuments and locals having fun.
The crowds aren’t as big and if there is snow, the Mall takes on a whole new character.
Hike through Rock Creek Park
Grab your sled or snow boots to wander through Rock Creek Park when it is covered in a blanket of snow. Look for animal tracks and winter critters coming out to play.
You may spot a fox or a few deer as you wander. Keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of nature encounters.
See the monuments and memorials under snow
We love to see the monuments and memorials under freshly fallen snow, along with the rest of the locals.
Wander the mall, or head to the Tidal Basin to check out Jefferson, MLK Jr., FDR and more with a little white powder surrounding them.
Try the best Washington DC Hot Chocolates
Snow equals hot chocolate in Washington DC, and we’ve tested out the best just for you. Find your favorite hot cocoa in D.C. this year, and let us know if we missed one of your favorites.
MUST READ: D.C. Hot Chocolate Guide
S’mores at Camp Wharf
Anyone who has been to the Wharf knows that there is a little camper offering up s’mores packages to roast over the fire pit at Camp Wharf.
S’mores are the perfect way to stay warm in winter, while also getting a sweet treat. Indulge in a hot cocoa from Colada just around the corner to make it a truly magical winter’s night.
Bar Hopping with Friends
Checking out some of the city’s best bars in D.C. with friends is a great way to stay warm when the National Weather Service is calling for snow.
Whether you enjoy an Old Fashion at Bar Harbor in Hyatt Place National Harbor or Service Bar over on U Street NW, you will stay toasty warm, even if you are sipping outside.
Here are a few of our favorite D.C. bars to check out:
- Cotton & Reed
- The Green Zone,
- Copycat Co.
- Dacha Beer Garden
- The Imperial
- Jack Rose Dining Saloon
- Columbia Room
Find a Firepit and Cozy Up
Grab your friends and enjoy some of the city’s tastiest bites at these D.C. restaurants with fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. We are going beyond the outdoor space heater, to give you a true sense of the outdoors while you dine.
Stay safe and warm outside in D.C. this winter, and check out somewhere new with friends and family. Or, you know, grab a date and enjoy snuggling up by the fire. Snow is always a great excuse to cuddle.
- The Terraza at Officina
- Top of the Gate at The Watergate Hotel
- Bar Harbor at Hyatt Place National Harbor
- Ana at District Winery
- Art and Soul
- Dirty Habit
- Hook Hall
- St. Vincent Wine
- Atlas Brew Works
- The Pub & The People
- Wunder Garten
- WILD DAYS at Eaton Hotel
- Dacha Navy Yard
Walk the D.C. Neighborhoods
If you really want to see D.C. as a local, you get out into the neighborhoods. Washington, D.C. snow brings out the kid in all of us.
You will see neighbors stopping for a chat as they shoveling their step and sidewalks, couples walking their dogs and kids finding any bit of snow to play in, no matter how much is falling from the sky.
My own kids have used the snow on my car to make one snowball when we got a flurry one morning. Never underestimate what kids can do when snow comes to D.C.
The best time to walk the Washington D.C. streets? Just as the sun sets over the District.
We love to see the glow of the lights on freshly fallen snow, especially if snow is still drifting down. An eery, yet beautiful, calm settles all around you. Don’t miss it!
Head out for a day of skiing near DC
Washington, D.C skiing is easy to find, but you will have to head outside of the city into Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia for the best skiing and snowboarding in the area. Most ski resorts have snow tubing and ice skating, as well as dining on site, so it’s easy to make a weekend out of it.
Remember- fresh powder is rare in the Mid-Atlantic, so when it snows take a personal day and head out to the slopes. It will be worth it!
Read our full guide to Ski resorts near Washington DC.
Looking for a Washington DC Hotel?
- Hotel Hive – Affordable, trendy, pet-friendly hotel
- Eaton Hotel – Stay in the heart of DC
- Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC – DC luxury at it’s best
- Kimpton Hotel George – Great for families and pets
- Willard InterContinental Washington – Historic hotel right near the White House