How to Spend a Rainy Day in Washington DC

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how to spend a rainy day in DC
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If you’ve ever lived in Washington, DC, you know that rain is an inevitability. This can put a damper on your plans if you’re on vacation (note: if you’re still planning your vacation, here are some great hotels).

Thankfully, DC actually has a ton of fun things to do indoors. Take a look at my list of favorite activities for a rainy day.

Libraries Are Amazing

There’s nothing I love more than reading a good book. Getting to read a good book in the Library of Congress is even better. The library is the largest in the world, and the inside is like something out of Harry Potter with the beautiful architecture and incredible ambiance. The library has over 32 million works, across all ranges of subjects and research. You’ll even find rare original prints of classic novels, found nowhere else in the world. Plus, getting a library card here is painless, and the public is allowed to read anything in their collection (as long as it’s in the library — no checking out books here).

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Visit a Smithsonian Museum

One of the best things I love about DC are the Smithsonian museums. Just in the National Mall area alone, there are 11 Smithsonian museums across a range of themes and studies. The most popular of them all is definitely the National Air and Space Museum, with its amazing collection of planes and spacecrafts. I would also suggest visiting the American Art Museum, which has an impressive collection of artwork throughout history. Biggest perk? All the Smithsonian museums are free to the public. So not only do you get a chance to learn something interesting or see something new, you also get to do it all for free! Try doing a museum crawl and visit all the Smithsonian museums in DC for a fun rainy day activity.

 

Catch an Imax Movie

Nothing’s better than eating popcorn and watching a movie, especially when the screen is bigger than your house. The Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater and Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater are great places to catch a documentary or movie on a rainy day. The tickets are cheap, and the seats are so comfy you might fall asleep (I know I did once… I think?).

 

Find Secret Doors and Hidden Rooms

The Mansion on O Street is something everyone should experience, and even more so on a rainy day. I’ve spent hours trying to find all 70 secret doors and it’s difficult, to the point that even Scooby Doo wouldn’t succeed in sleuthing. You’ll find incredible artwork and expensive guitars throughout the 100 rooms. Challenge accepted.

 

Bowling and Bocce Ball

Head over to Georgetown and visit a place called Pinstripes for a fun rainy day activity. Pinstripes is a great waterfront bistro with bowling and bocce ball! It’s a really fun place with a large bar as well and great food. Definitely a fun group activity on a rainy day, or even on a regular day. It’s really nice! The view of the water is really nice too, especially when it rains. I’m definitely a huge fan, and I’ve gotten pretty good at bowling too.

Indoor Nature

I love the United States Botanic Garden. The collection of flowers and environment themes are beautiful to walk through. The Botanic Garden is a great rainy day activity for anyone who loves nature and relaxing.

Climbing Wall

DC has a number of climbing walls, but my personal recommendation is the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria, VA. Whether you want to do the rock-climbing solo or with friends, it’s a great indoor activity to stay in shape while having fun. It’s affordable and you don’t have to have a membership, which is great for impromptu climbing!

Eastern Market

The Eastern Market is a foodie’s dream come true! An indoor farmers market, you’ll find a lot of interesting specialty foods, flowers and featured chefs making their signature dishes. I love farmers markets, and I guarantee you’ll have a fun time trying out different foods (for cheap I should add). I’m personally really fond of the bakery they have in there called Ma’ Brown’s Homemade Baked Goods, where they sell the best chocolate cake and pies. Definitely a great rainy day treat.

Shakespeare

A rainy day is a great time to visit the Shakespeare Theatre Company for a play! They do a mix of classics and contemporary, and have had great reviews locally and won a regional Tony Award. For any theater and performing arts fan, this is a great opportunity.

National Geographic Museum

The National Geographic Museum is a great museum to visit for anyone who loves traveling, photography and exploring the world. Oh, and obviously animals! I grew up loving the National Geographic magazines (I still have quite a few saved on my bookshelf), so this museum is really perfect for me. I can spend hours here, whether it’s raining or not! You’ll love the different exhibitions and the beautiful photography they feature from their contributors and photographers. If you’re with your children, they’ll be fascinated by the interactive displays and fun facts (and you’ll undoubtedly wanna join too, trust me).

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For the Bookworms (Again)

Head over to Dupont Circle and visit Kramerbooks & Afterwords. Why is this bookstore my favorite out of all the other bookstores DC has to offer? For one, it’s independently owned with an impressive selection of books to buy. Secondly, they also have a really nice garage door sunroom cafe to read your newly purchased books (I know the premise is that it’s raining, but books and rain go hand-in-hand in my opinion). Finally, the cafe also serves incredibly good food and serves drinks (for those who like a beer or wine when they read like me). It’s really just a great place to relax, whether you’re alone or with others, and it’s my favorite rainy day activity!

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As you can see, there are plenty of fun things to do in DC on a rainy day. No matter your interests, there’s a great variety to choose from that will appeal to anyone (in my case it’s mostly educational, which makes sense for a teacher) and I hope you have a fun time in DC!

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Kate Howard

Kate Howard is a loving mother and wife who likes to help people plan out their trip to DC through her website that she works on with her husband. When she’s not giving vacation advice and helping families plan their stay, she’s usually reading and teaching pre-school.

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