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Know Before You Go: Visiting Washington DC in Winter

By Viator, February 2018

4.5 781 Reviews | Add your review

Perhaps surprisingly, winter is an excellent time to visit Washington DC. The weather is mild compared to many other parts of the US, and there’s much to experience—and smaller crowds to navigate—during this time. Here are some tips for making the most of a low-season visit to the nation’s capital.

Pack for cold weather
Those who embrace the cold will be rewarded in DC. Temperatures hover between 20°F and 40°F (-6°C and 4°C), but with freezing temperatures come lower hotel prices and the benefit of having the city’s top outdoor attractions—including the National Mall, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and National Zoo—almost all to yourself. Pack lots of layers (thermal underwear, a coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf) and wear warm, waterproof boots for walking the sometimes snowy sidewalks.

Lace up your skates and hit the ice
Ice skating is a popular winter pastime in DC, and rinks pop up around town throughout the winter season. Choose between rinks at Canal Park, Washington Harbour, or the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Most rinks offer skate rentals and vendors selling hot chocolate and other warming treats.

Take advantage of indoor attractions
The cold isn’t for everyone, but luckily Washington DC has loads of indoor attractions perfect for warming up and shedding some layers. Head to one of the capital’s many museums—the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, International Spy Museum, and National Museum of Crime and Punishment, to name a few. Take a self-guided tour of the White House to learn about our government’s executive branch, or visit the Washington National Cathedral.

Attend a winter festival
While winter is one of DC’s quietest seasons, it packs the city’s calendar with a slew of fun events. The Washington DC International Food and Wine Festival showcases celebrity-chef meals and over 1,700 wines from around the world, while the Winter Arts Festival features local products, art, music, and food. Other seasonal highlights include Scottish Walk Weekend, Christmas on the Potomac, the Downtown Holiday Festival, First Night Alexandria, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, NatsFest, the DC Independent Film Festival, and the Chocolate Lovers Festival.

Tours & Tickets

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Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour, Washington DC, null
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Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 445 Reviews

See the very best of Washington DC in one day! Aboard a state-of-the-art, luxury 30-passenger coach for a narrated 6-hour tour, see the White House, the ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $74.00
International Spy Museum, Washington DC, City Tours
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International Spy Museum

4.5 star rating: Recommended 211 Reviews

At Washington DC’s International Spy Museum, enter a world of gadgets, weapons, cameras, vehicles and technologies used for espionage throughout the world. ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: Flexible

From USD $18.95
$24.26 Save $5.31
Spirit of Washington DC Sunset Dinner Cruise with Buffet, Washington DC, Museum Tickets & Passes
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Spirit of Washington DC Sunset Dinner Cruise with Buffet

4 star rating: Recommended 42 Reviews

Experience the Potomac River on a sunset dinner, dancing and sightseeing cruise, where you'll see Washington DC’s famous skyline from a luxury boat. As your ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $122.23
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Washington DC, Dinner Cruises
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Busch Gardens Williamsburg

4.5 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

Take a break from Washington DC sightseeing at Bush Gardens Williamsburg! This European-themed park offers fun for the whole family, from roller coasters to ...  Read more

Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $64.99
$95.99 Save $31.00
Admission to Washington DC Newseum, Washington DC, Theme Park Tickets & Tours
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Admission to Washington DC Newseum

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 42 Reviews

At the Newseum in Washington DC, immerse yourself in the culmination of five centuries of news history with up-to-date technology and hands-on exhibits. ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: Varies

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Madame Tussauds Washington DC, Washington DC, Museum Tickets & Passes
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Madame Tussauds Washington DC

4 star rating: Recommended 28 Reviews

Madame Tussauds gives you an interactive, full-sensory experience where you can touch, see and hear historical events and celebrities in a way unlike ever ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: Flexible

From USD $19.99
$23.27 Save $3.28
National Gallery of Art Small-Group Walking Tour, Washington DC, Attraction Tickets
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National Gallery of Art Small-Group Walking Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 6 Reviews

With an art historian as your guide, take a three-hour small-group tour of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. In a group of no ...  Read more

Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $85.00

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