Whether you've got relatives in town for the holidays or need to entertain the kids over winter break, you're probably in the market for fun winter activities. Maybe you think you know all the local attractions, but you might be surprised to discover the range of hidden gems and unusual things to do in the Washington area -- including a number of lesser-known spots within familiar institutions. We've got the scoop on what to do now that winter's here.
Winter Family Fun: Activities In D.C., Maryland And Virginia
Ice Skating Rinks
What: Georgetown Waterfront's Washington Harbour Ice Rink. At 11,800 square feet, it's Washington’s largest outdoor ice skating venue and also larger than New York City’s Rockefeller Center rink.
Where: Georgetown waterfront, Washington, D.C.
When: Open annually from November until March for recreational skating every day, including all
Price: Adults: $10.00; Children/Seniors/Military: $8.00; Skate Rental: $5.00
What: Canal Park Skating Rink
Where: Capitol Riverfront neighborhood
When: Opening day pushed to mid-December. Monday-Friday: noon-9 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Price: $8 Adults, $7 Children (under 12)/Seniors (55+)/Military. Skate Rentals: $3.
What: Cabin John Regional Park Ice Rink
Where: Rockville, Md.
When: The indoor facility is open year round.
What: National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink
Where: On the National Mall, view magnificent works of sculpture while skating in the open air and enjoying music from the state-of-the-art sound system.
When: Open mid-November through mid-March, weather permitting
Price: (Two-hour sessions, beginning on the hour) $8.00 adults; $7.00 seniors (age 50 and over); $7.00 students (with school ID); $7.00 children (age 12 and under); $195.00 season pass
What: Fort Dupont Ice Arena
Where: The only public indoor ice rink in Washington, D.C.
When: Open year-round
What: Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating Rink
Where: Arlington, Va.
When: Open every day including holidays mid-November to Jan. 1.
Price: Two hour skate rentals. Adults $8, kids 12 and under $7, skate rentals $3
What: Wheaton Ice Arena –Where: Wheaton, Md.
When: Indoor and outdoor
What: The Gardens Ice House features 3 ice rinks
Where: Laurel, Md.
Nighttime Lights Festivals
What: U.S. Botanic Garden Christmas Display. A perennial favorite, with a fanciful train display and inventive replicas of the city's monuments.
Where: Washington, D.C.
When: November 28, 2013 through January 5, 2014
What: National Christmas Tree and National Menorah on the Mall. Seasonal displays include a Yule log, a large-scale model train and a Christmas manger.
Where: Ellipse in Washington, D.C.
When: Open December 6, 2013 to January 1, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
What: Zoo Lights at the National Zoo
Where: Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, D.C.
When: November 29 to January 1, except for Dec. 24, 25 and 31.
Price: Admission is free. Parking is $9 for members; $16 for non-members
What: Washington, D.C. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints, also known as the Mormon Temple, features Christmas lights plus a different local musical group performs a live concert nightly. Temple grounds glow with 600,000 Lights and feature an exhibit of more than 100 Crèches from multiple nations.
Where: Kensington, Md.
When: Lights illuminated from dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. Nativity scene is open each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m.
What: Brookside Gardens has a lights and train display
Where: Wheaton, Md.
When: Friday, November 29, 2013 – Sunday, January 5, 2014. Open every night except December 24 & 25, January 1 & 2.
Price: Cars/Vans (Monday - Thursday): $20 (cash only)
Car/Vans (Friday - Sunday): $25 (cash only)
What: B&O Railroad Museum holiday festival of trains and toys
Where: Baltimore, Md.
When: Friday, November 29 - Tuesday, December 31; Monday - Saturday (10am - 4pm) & Sunday (11:00am - 4pm)
Price: $16 Adults, $14 Seniors (60+), $10 Children (2-12), B&O Members FREE!