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10 Ways to Make the Most of Winter in Washington, DC

Holiday hotel packages, deals and discounts this winter in Washington, DC

The nation’s capital is full of winter whimsy with virtual and in-person holiday celebrations, date night delights and plenty of free events and things to do.

Wintertime is always the right time to visit DC. When the temperatures drop, the District heats up with dazzling light displays, seasonal deals, warm and comforting drinks and so much more. Plan the best vacation ever and discover holiday magic in Washington, DC. A quick reminder: please wear a face covering and maintain social distance when exploring the city.

Your ultimate guide to wintertime in Washington, DC

1 Discover free things to see and do galore

@202photo - United States Capitol Christmas Tree - Holiday displays in Washington, DC

There’s a wealth of free winter activities in the nation’s capital, making it a great destination to celebrate any winter holiday. From jaw-dropping displays to can't-miss shopping markets, DC features plenty of free events and things to do that are sure to inspire winter wonder.

2 The holidays mean can’t-miss events and light displays

The National Christmas Tree on Christmas Day in Washington, DC - Holiday Light Displays and Winter Events in DC
When the winter holidays roll around, DC might as well be the North Pole. A visit to the city from late November through New Year’s Eve isn't complete without enjoying these one-of-a-kind seasonal displays and events, including the National Christmas Tree, countless holiday markets and so much more. Virtual options are also available.

3 Find the perfect gift at a holiday market

Downtown Holiday Market - photo by Interstellar Studios
Shop ‘til you drop at all of the magical holiday marketplaces that can be enjoyed virtually and in-person this season. Find a special, thoughtful gift that the big retail stores can’t offer at the Downtown Holiday Market (through Dec. 23), peruse artisanal selections in Heurich House and DC Brau's online Hoptimist Holiday Market (through Dec. 11) and check out offerings from specialized vendors and savor hot chocolate at Victura Park at The REACH (through Dec. 20). 

4 See what's open in DC

@brenntravels - Summer sunset over DC skyline flying into Reagan Airport - Best views of Washington, DC
If you're planning to visit DC during the holidays, you'll need to know what to expect. Make sure to read through our summary of the city's current status, including COVID-19 protocols. You can also peruse what businesses are open, including hotels and restaurants.

5 Cozy up with a warm, seasonal drink

Barrel DC Fall Cocktail
Even during the coldest days of the year, the District’s bars and restaurants heat up with drinks sure to warm your soul. Check out an array of delicious winter drinks across the city, many of which can be ordered to-go. Spots like the Old Ebbitt Grill, Blue Duck Tavern and The Next Whisky Bar have gotten in on the fun.

6 Make your plans for the 2020 presidential inauguration

The White House and the National Christmas Tree - Presidential Holiday Traditions in Washington, DC
Although festivities will likely be altered this year, we've still got you covered for the upcoming U.S. presidential inauguration, which will be held on Jan. 20, 2021. Many hotels are offering deals for the special occasion, and DC has so much presidential history to explore.

7 Woo your boo with the perfect DC-themed date night

Couple at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC - Romantic outdoor activities and things to do
Putting together a special evening for Valentine’s Day (or any day, for that matter) is priority number one – and the nation’s capital shines as a date night destination with its scenic monuments, award-winning dining scene and outstanding attractions. Even in the time of COVID-19, you can still enjoy a wonderful DC-themed date night, whether safely exploring the town or chilling at home.

8 Take advantage of seasonal deals in the District

Stay Local DC Deals - Find the best local deals and discounts at hotels, restaurants and more in Washington, DC
DC hotels, attractions and restaurants are offering an array of seasonal deals for you to take advantage of this winter. Book an unforgettable holiday hotel stay and check out what discounts and deals businesses are offering during your visit. 

9 Check out what's going on during the week, weekend and month

@jne.jpg - CityCenter DC Holiday Lights
Throughout the winter, make sure to read our rundowns of what to do during the week, weekend and month. Options range from safe, in-person activities to wondrous, at-home entertainment.

10 Sip on some ridiculously delicious hot chocolate

@icecreamjubilee - Nutella Hot Chocolate from Ice Cream Jubilee - Where to Find the Best Hot Chocolate in Washington, DC

Brace yourselves, winter is here and along with it, the bitter cold. How will you weather the storm? Lucky for you, melty, chocolatey goodness awaits you at these places to get sweet, sinfully delicious and sometimes very adult hot chocolate. Most options are available to-go.

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