Winter Wonderland: Enjoy the Season in the Capital Region

Enjoy Many Things to Do in Winter in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia

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Create lasting memories with a wintertime visit to Capital Region USA, where the winter season is all about celebrating traditions (or starting new ones) and feeling cosy.

Winter Holiday Traditions in Washington DC

America’s capital is especially beautiful – magical, even – when dressed up for the holidays. Special activities, events and performances across Washington, DC make it easy to get in the spirit. For a nostalgic experience, go ice-skating at the open-air National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink, then head to the White House Ellipse to admire the National Christmas Tree, a tradition since 1923. The ornaments come from all 50 states, and popular musicians entertain and participate in the annual tree-lighting ceremony. See Tchaikovsky’s family classic “The Nutcracker” at the Kennedy Center Opera House every December.

Winter Sports & Ski Lodges in Maryland & Virginia

Want to know where to ski and enjoy winter sports in Maryland and Virginia? You'll find thrilling winter activities with a day of skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing in both states, or settle in at a ski lodge or mountain resort for the ultimate winter escape.

In Maryland, take in beautiful forest views from the cross-country ski trails at New Germany State Park or go snowshoeing or sledding around Herrington Manor State Park. Reach heights of 700 feet at Wisp Resort in the mountains, where skiing and snowboarding down the 34 slopes can be breathtaking, especially on the black diamond-rated trail “The Face.”

In Virginia, go skiing, snowboarding and snow-tubing at Massanutten Resort in the Shenandoah Valley, or indulge in winter sports on the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains at nearby Wintergreen Resort. A favourite of U.S. presidents, The Omni Homestead Resort is rich with Southern elegance and historic beauty, and its hot springs and spa are sublime. Only two hours from DC, Bryce Resort is an upscale, family-friendly retreat in the Shenandoah Valley.

Restaurants & Wineries in DC, Maryland & Virginia

There’s no better time to savour satisfying cuisine in intimate (and warm!) settings. In Washington, DC, Dirty Habit turns its outdoor patio space into a warm winter lounge on chilly evenings Thursdays through Saturdays, complete with an outdoor fire pit, robes and warm cocktails with names like Chai Me Up! At the Tabard Inn, housed in a historic hotel, feast on seasonal American fare and listen to live jazz in the fireplace lounge, a cosy Victorian sitting area. Live music is available every Sunday through Tuesday night.

In Columbia, Maryland, The Kings Contrivance Restaurant is set in an old farmhouse and praised for its classic cuisine and romantic ambiance. In Falls Church, Virginia, the award-winning 2941 Restaurant offers contemporary American dining with dramatic outdoor views showing off a landscape featuring waterfalls and koi ponds.

Winemaking is big in the Capital Region, and many wineries welcome visitors year-round. In Baltimore, check out Boordy Vineyards, set in rolling farmlands and home to a charming wine cellar. In Virginia, favourite places to gather ‘round the fire for wine and conversation include The Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, Naked Mountain Winery in Markham and Old House Vineyards in Culpeper.

For more local restaurants and wineries, visit our Wine & Cuisine page.

Where to Shop for Gifts

Find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list at indoor shopping centres around the region.

A historic landmark, Washington, DC’s Union Station is a hub for transportation, shopping and dining. Browse three floors of stores, including H&M, MAC Cosmetics and Swarovski Crystal, plus find shops devoted to jewellery, shoes, cigars and chocolate.

In Maryland, the fashion-conscious flock to downtown Baltimore’s The Gallery at Harborplace, which features a mix of national retailers and local boutiques. The largest shopping destination in the region is Northern Virginia’s Tysons Corner Center, stocked with desirable names such as Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Apple Store, spread across three adjacent shopping centres.

For more information on spending a winter holiday in the Capital Region, view our latest Holiday Guide online, or sign up for our enewsletter!

And if you're planning a visit during another time of year, check out these things to do in every season!