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Top 10 Indoor Activities in Washington D.C

September 3, 2020 7 min read No Comments

Washington D.C., where politics, culture, history, and adventure all coincide with one another in a metropolis along the East Coast. The nation’s capital is full of indoor activities ranging from kid-friendly museums to date night-worthy theater performances. Check out our list of the top 10 indoor activities to do around Washington D.C.!

So, whether you are fleeing snowy weather, taking cover from the rain, or trying to beat the heat in summer, we have complied a list of wonderful indoor activities. Amidst the hundreds of things to do and places to visit – we thought it would be good to help narrow things down for your planning purposes.

1) The Smithsonian’s

No holiday to Washington is complete without a visit to the Smithsonian’s…or all 20. The Smithsonian’s are where eager minds of all ages can learn about everything from the origins of man and the future of flight to the history of art across multiple continents. The museums, collectively, contain nearly 140 million objects, works of specimens, and art. The best part: you will not have to pay a penny to experience it as admission is free at every location. You will want to ensure you are wearing good footwear because there is a lot of ground to cover.

A little advice, since there are so many museums with a lot of remarkably diverse subjects. You should do some research before your trip and narrow down where you want to go so that way you can allocate time in your travel schedule.

2) Report for Spy Duty

007 will have nothing on you! Explore through this state-of-the-art International Spy Museum in L’Enfant Plaza you will learn more about the world of spies from around the world. Open from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday – Sunday, to explore all the spy-related, fun activities to fill an entire day. With the in-depth exhibits, this attraction will entertain the whole family to discover the fascinating world of espionage.

If you don’t want to spend all day here, you are able to do so by not exploring every exhibit. However, we do recommend you do so! You never know what you will find around each corner and you would not want to miss anything here.

Top 10 Indoor Activities in Washington D.C
Views around D.C.

3) Indoor Skydiving

Rain or shine this exhilarating activity is one that you can do to get your heart rate through the roof! Jump into a wind tunnel and try some airborne gymnastics at iFLY, an indoor skydiving facility in Ashburn, Va. This is a wonderful way if you are traveling with children and they need to burn off some energy. Believe it or not, this activity is very safe for children as young as 6 years old!

4) Explore Union Market

This is a true gathering place that serves as an enticing fusion of old-world heritage and new world opportunities. From its roots as Centre Market, a fresh food venue born over 200 years ago has since been a great unifier for D.C. An authentic district that expands beyond its culinary origins to include music, retail, hotel, and residential uses. 

This is the perfect market to explore! Release your inner food lover and explore around the stalls from the food vendors, that offer an array of cuisine. In a “one-stop-shop” you can pick up Korean Tacos to enjoy for lunch in the food court, or you can shop for something to take home like exotic African spices or fine wine selections from around the world.

Or for those who happen to venture into this happening bazaar will also find kitchenware boutique Salt & Sundry, or enjoy the lovable offshoot Little Leaf, which specializes in plant and paper products. If you follow them on social media, you will be able to see all the events and festivals that are held at the market! They host some phenomenal events and you would not want to miss it!  

Top 10 Indoor Activities in Washington D.C

5) Relax the Day Away

Many of the finer hotels spread across D.C. you will find several spa services offered. For example, the spa at the Four Seasons in Georgetown features massage for single and couples, facial and an indoor pool with a eucalyptus steam room and a sauna. I think that you would especially love the Zen-like Spa at the Mandarin Oriental fills 10,000 square feet with jetted jacuzzies, a serene relaxation area and treatment rooms for East-meets-West services like cherry blossom massages or customized facials.

If you do not want to relax the day away at a hotel there are hundreds of spas you will be able to find around the city. These include specialty spas with treatments like hot chocolate massages, Pizzichilli, Cinnamon Honey Body Scrub, The Shuddi Spice Bath. It is easy to find a place to relax in all the districts of Washington.

6) Attend the Theater

As previously mentioned, Washington is a very historical place. Not exactly the “birthplace” of our country. However, when Jefferson inaugurated, he was the first President to take office in the new and lasting capital of Washington, D.C. in March 1801. Now, there are lots of theaters that you can attend a show in D.C. We are referring more specifically to Ford’s Theatre. Not only is Ford’s Theatre a functional theater you can attend a show. You can also discover the history of Ford’s Theatre and what happened to the building after Lincoln’s assassination. Enjoy and explore the theatre’s origin as a church in 1861 and how it has changed over the years.

7) Visit the US Capitol Building

One of the great activates you can do and be indoors is visiting the US Capitol Building. There are a few tips that we would like to share before you head up the steps. The building is open to the public for tours inside. Most people will encounter a delay because most people do not know that tickets are required, even if they are free. You can order your tickets online before your visit which can save you a lot of time. While you are in the area, we also suggest that you visit the Library of Congress! It is one of the more impressive libraries in the world. This is a grand sight to see! While you’re within the proximity, why waste the chance to experience something amazing?

Top 10 Indoor Activities in Washington D.C
US Capitol Building – Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (believe it or not a relative of mine!)

8) Going Under Ground

Many travelers tend to stick to activities above ground; however, did you know that you can explore UNDER Washington D.C.? Like Dupont Circle. Did you know that there is a long-abandoned trolley station that was been turned into an urban art gallery? Or that D.C. has a catacomb? Franciscan monks created a facsimile of the Holy Land for North Americans who could not afford the trip overseas and have been endorsed by the Pope! Of course, these are not as old or as extravagant as the catacombs you would find in Europe. But it does give you a view of D.C. that many people never get to see. Bonus adventure, you can do a self-scavenger hunt to find which tomb is the only real tomb in the catacombs.

 9) Tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

This is always a solid activity for you and the whole family. The tour takes you through the interesting process of how money is made! You learn the history of step along the process of the printing and engraving of money. The entire tour takes roughly 40 minutes, which is a great way to spend a morning. We do recommend that you make a reservation early and not to show up the “day of” and expect admittance. Suggested to save yourself more time if you want to enjoy this activity. If you go before lunch, there are some great restaurants near by for you to enjoy afterwards

10) Take a walk at the Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens are one of the great places where you can relish the outdoors while being indoors! You can enjoy scavenger or photo hunts throughout the building. Or you can focus on learning about thousands of different kinds of plants that make their home in the gardens. Spend the afternoon appreciating a living plant museum. The Botanical Gardens has informed a one million-plus visitors a year of the importance of plants to not just human beings, but the earth’s ecosystems. You will also be delighted to learn that this is another free entry “museum”! There is a dedicated lilac room, and a children’s garden. If you happen to visit during the holidays you will find the museum is decorated! When we say that there is something for everyone, there is something for everyone.

Washington D.C. is full of all kinds of indoor activities. We wanted to share the top 10 activities to help you get started. Washington D.C is an amazing city where around every corner you can learn about, taste and experience the world. If you are planning a trip to D.C. you should also visit my blog post “How to Spend a Few Days in Washington D.C.”

Happy and safe wandering!


The things I love the most...Wine, traveling, and photography! Join me on my adventures as I travel the world and share my experiences as I travel with my daughter, top places to visit and how to travel on a budget!

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The Backpacker Mom

Hey there! I'm Phylicia, but you probably know me as "The Backpacker Mom." As a passionate wine educator and travel blogger, my daughter and I embark on exciting adventures around the world, sipping wine and creating unforgettable memories together. Join us on our wonderful adventures around the globe! Read More Here

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