The famed cherry blossoms are months from blooming and the mercury has dropped but there’s still alot going on in Washington, D.C. I’ve been here for a year now and I’ve come to the conclusion that the winter is the best time to visit. Being an election year this will not hold true for the weekend of the inauguration, but otherwise here’s why you should consider a winter visit to “The District”.
10. Ice Skating
What could be cooler than ice skating on the National Mall, or while overlooking the Potomac River? There’s even a rink by the Washington Nationals Stadium in a newish neighborhood called The Yards Park.
Where to skate:
November through mid -March The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is located right on the National Mall. In addition to being right in the middle of all the museum action you can treat yourself to a hot cocoa at their adjacent garden cafe.
November through February 26th Canal Park is located in a recently built up neighborhood. Nearby are new coffee shops (Philz), breweries (Blue Jacket), and ice cream parlors (Ice Cream Jubilee) that are worth a visit before or after your adventure.
November through March The Washington Harbour Ice Rink located in Georgetown is a great place to take in sweeping views of the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Kennedy Center.
9. Same Day Tour of the Capitol Building
Advanced reservations will guarantee you a spot on the Capitol tour, but on the off season you are likely to be able to get a same day spot. The tour begins and ends in the Capitol building visitor’s center and you’ll see the crypt, national statuary hall and the rotunda. For more information see their website, here.
8. You’ll Have the National Zoo all to Yourself
Winter is a great time to see giant pandas Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, Bei Bei, and Bao Bao lounging in their house without any crowds. Other indoor houses offering great places to see exotic animals while sheltering you from the cold include the small mammal house, bird house, elephant house, the great ape house, and my favorite Amazonia. Amazonia features giant pre-historic fish in a faux jungle, a little slice of summer all year round. Check the zoo schedule for daily events, here.
7. You Can Find Parking on the National Mall
Parking in D.C. can be nearly impossible. During the winter the metered parking around and on the National Mall is usually available. If you don’t want to risk finding parking I’d recommend using Parking Panda.
6. You Won’t Get Trampled at the National Air and Space Museum
I’d bet money that this is the most popular museum on the National Mall, and it’s always packed. Winter is the right time to visit The Air and Space Museum without being overwhelmed by the crowds. And if you have young children might I suggest you go on a Friday morning, they have a free Sesame Street movie which you can learn more about, here.
5. The Same Goes For the Rest of the Museums Too
There are 16 other Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. that you can have all to yourself this time of year. And don’t forget the non-Smithsonian museums in town including, Madam Tussauds, The National Geographic Museum, The Spy Museum and The Newseum.
4. You Won’t Melt
Washington isn’t called “The Swamp” for no reason, it gets HOT in the Summer. Think high 90’s plus humidity.
3. Hotels Will be Cheaper
Hotels reach their peak rates from March through October. Now is the time to score a swanky suite Downtown in an otherwise unaffordable room.
I can’t promise you this will happen but if it snows you will have one heck of a time sledding down the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial or on the lawn of the Capitol building.
1. No crowds
Imagine, you can get a picture in front of the Washington Monument without half a dozen middle schoolers posing with it as their, you know. Everyone and their grandmother is in the district from spring to fall, literally, between international vacationers and school groups it’s packed. So I argue, save yourself the hassle of losing a child in the crowds or bickering in the heat and come in the winter.