The weather in Washington DC in March is considered the first month of Spring. Since it is the transition between the season, the earlier half is colder and can even see snow, while the second half of March is usually warmer.
This section covers our top ten things to do outdoors in DC. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just want to enjoy the sunshine on a great day, we have something for everyone listed below. For more ideas of things to do in DC, check out our Top Things to Do in DC post.
For more ideas on popular things to do in DC, check out our other posts:
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
1. Walk the National Mall
The best part of DC is outside! The National Mall is a free national park that extends from the Capitol Building all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial, just over 2 miles. It’s an expanse of grass fields for recreational sports, picnics, and visiting our memorials and monuments. The Washington Monument is also on the National Mall, which you can go up into and get an incredible view of the entire city! We recommend exploring the National Mall on a free walking tour so that one of our expert guides can tell you the history and stories behind the memorials you can find there.
2. Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is the largest green space in DC! It’s a great (and free!) place to hike, wander, bike, and climb. You can also find the National Zoo there! It’s open all the time, but we recommend going during daylight house. There are multiple access points to the park, it is North of Georgetown and West of Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan.
3. Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island is what’s called a “living” presidential memorial and is a great place to hike and picnic at. It’s free to enter and is open from sunrise to sunset every day.
How to get there: The nearest metro stop is Rosslyn (check out our DC Metro riding guide here). Exit metro and turn left on Wilson Blvd, then an immediate left onto Moore St. Make a right onto US-29, then left to Lynn St. Signs will point you down Mount Vernon Trail and a small footbridge and it’s a 15-minute walk.
Parking is also ample at the Island.
3. Visit an Outdoor Market
There are a number of markets throughout DC. We have two permanent markets, Union Market and Eastern Market, of which we offer an Eastern Market History & Desserts Tour. We also have farmers markets that pop-up throughout the year:
Located at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Capital Harvest on the Plaza is open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Fridays from May-November.
If you’re coming in the winter, there are a number of holiday markets in DC. For more things to do in DC in the winter, check out our winter guide.
4. United States National Arboretum
If you love trees, you can’t miss the United States National Arboretum! There’sthe National Grove of State trees, you can walk around the Bonsai tree collection, and check out the original columns from the Capitol. It’s a great place to lay out a blanket, have a picnic, and even fly a kite! It’s great for wandering even for those who simply enjoy the company of beautiful trees.
Admission is free and the arboretum is open Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
To get there by Metro can be a bit tricky, but here are the directions: theeasiest metro stop is Stadium-Armory (orange/silver/blue lines). Once you exit the metro, take the B2 bus toward Mt Ranier. Get off at Bladensburg Rd and Rand Pl.
5. Kayaking on the Potomac
For those more adventurous, we suggest kayaking the Potomac. It’s a great way to exercise and see the sites of DC from a boat! There are also paddle boards and canoes available for rent.
Georgetown is an incredible place to spend the afternoon wandering and exploring. Older than the city itself, Georgetown is DC’s oldest neighborhood, full of shopping, food, and incredible desserts, which you can experience on our Georgetown Cupcake & Desserts tour. You can find the oldest unchanged building in DC, the Old Stone House, there. There’s also Georgetown University, which you can take a self-guided tour of. You can visit Georgetown any time of the day or year and learn more about it on our Historic Georgetown tour. For those brave of heart, we recommend coming back after dark for out Ghosts of Georgetown tour.
Unsure where to start? We recommend starting at the Old Stone House, at the corner of M Street and Thomas Jefferson. From there, the neighborhood extends behind you, so make a left on M, and then an immediate left onto 30th street.
To get to the Old Stone House, take Metro to Foggy Bottom, make left out of the station. At the circle, keep going left until you get to Pennsylvania Ave. Walk down Pennsylvania Ave until it turns into M Street. The Old Stone House is 3 blocks on the left.
7. Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Spend the day at the Zoo! It’s free and a great way to get kids outside and burn some energy off. There’s the must-see panda exhibit and plenty for all ages to enjoy. The National Zoo is open daily from 8am-5pm. We recommend checking them out online too since they have a number of fun events year-round, not just for little ones! We personally love some of the boozy events they host for adults.
How to get there: the Zoo is midway between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Metro stations on the red line.
Pro tip: Arrive via Cleveland Park, and walk downhill to the zoo. When leaving the zoo, continue to walk downhill to the Woodley Metro.
There is a parking lot at $25/car. If you get a zoo membership parking is free!
8. Biking the Mount Vernon Trail
DC is a bike-friendly city, with lots of trails to explore. We recommend biking the Mount Vernon Trail, an18-mile scenic route from DC to George Washington’s Mount Vernon home. We recommend checking out our Guide to Visiting Mount Vernon to make the best of your trip now that you’ve arrived.
You can rent a bike from a number of places, like Capital Bike Share, which is just $8 a bike for 24 hours. Biking the trail itself is free! The trail is open daily from 6am-10pm.
How to get there: the Mount Vernon trail starts near Theodore Roosevelt Island, so the easiest way is to Metro to Rosslyn and rent a bike near there.
9. Meridian Hill Park
Explore Meridian Hill Park, a hidden gem in Washington, DC. It was once a private estate, now made into a lovely public park. It boasts the longest cascading fountain in the United States and is home to the only female equestrian statue in DC (Joan of Arc!). It’s free to go there and is located near Adams Morgan, a fun neighborhood to explore. The park is open during daylight hours.
How to get there: The closest Metro is U Street. Take the 13th Street exit and make a left onto U Street. Walk toward 16th street, making a right onto 16th. 2 blocks up 16th will be the south end of the park.
10. Stroll up Embassy Row
Change countries without leaving DC by going on a stroll on Embassy Row! While there are over 180 embassy’s scattered around DC, many are in a charming area known as Embassy Row. A stroll up Massachusetts Ave will take you through the heart of the area. We recommend learning about a few on our Embassy Row tour, but you can check out which embassies you can walk by on their website and follow along on a self-guided tour.
It’s free to just walk around, and daytime will allow you to get the best views of the homes and statues.
How to get there: Take Metro to Dupont Circle (red line). Get off either exit, and head toward the circle. Once you are in the circle, look for the PNC bank. That is Massachusetts Ave. Start walking up and the embassies are on either side of the street for blocks. You can see many all the way up to the Naval Observatory, where the Vice President lives.
There are a number of outdoor things to do in DC at night. We mentioned visiting the National Zoo in the top 10 section above, which hosts some after-dark events. For more, check out the list below.
For a complete list of things to do in DC at night, check out our master post here.
Outdoor Cocktails at the Watergate Hotel
The Watergate is a pretty well-known hotel for scandalous reasons but is today a thriving residential building. Their rooftop features a bar with great cocktails and an incredible view of the city that the public can enjoy. Getting up there is free, though cocktail prices can sometimes get expensive. In the winter, they occasionally host ice skating up there! The rooftop is open daily from 5pm-midnight.
How to get there: Take Metro to Foggy Bottom (orange/silver/blue lines). immediately upon leaving the station, turn right until you are facing away from the street. walk through the park, make a left onto New Hampshire Ave. When you get to the circle, make the first right onto Virginia Ave, the Watergate is in front of you. The main entrance is slightly to your right down Virginia.
Head to the top of the Kennedy Center for great rooftop views of the city. Bonus, the Kennedy Center has a free concert every day at 6pm on the Millennium Stage! Admission is free, just go inside the elevator and hit the Terrace button. You might even catch a proposal up there, it’s one of the most romantic places in DC.
How to get there: There is a shuttle from the Foggy Bottom metro (orange/silver/blue lines). The shuttle signs are to the left as you exit the Metro. There is a paid parking lot at the Kennedy Center as well.
Gravelly Point Park
Gravelly Point Park is a great park for hanging out, playing bocci ball, and just relaxing. But the main reason people go out there is to see the planes take off and land since it’s located near Reagan National Airport! Gravelly Point Park is just off the main runway at the airport and has picnic tables and ample parking to enjoy seeing the jets soaring overhead. And it’s free!
Thepark is open all the time but places stop at the airport around 10pm.
How to get there: It’s difficult to get to the park via Metro, so a car is probably the easiest option, and there is plenty of parking. You can also bike there on the Mount Vernon Trail (see above).
DC offers a lot of family-friendly activities and attractions any day of the year. Here are a few more family-friendly ideas.
For a more complete list of things to do with kids in DC, check out our master post here.
Mini Golfing at East Potomac Park
You can mini-golf
within sight of the monuments on the National Mall at East Potomac Park. This is a great activity for the whole family! There’s also a regulation course and a driving range.
Admission is $7/adult, $6/under 18
Hours: Generally 10am-sundown, weather permitting. During the winter months, the course is closed on weekdays.
How to get there: The closest public transit would be the Circulator city bus, the National Mall route, which can be boarded in a number of places, especially Union Station. Once on the Circulator, exit at stop 6, and continue along 15th Street, over the bridge. Immediately on the other side of the bridge, make a left onto Ohio drive, walk down Ohio until you come to the entrance.
Metro: Using the Smithsonian stop (orange/silver/blue), take the 12th street/Holocaust Museum exit. Walk along Independence Ave, making a right on 15th street. Follow 15th street over the bridge, making a left on Ohio drive.
There is also ample parking, though it can get crowded in the busy season.
Great Falls Park is a 15-mile drive from DC, which can be tricky for those without a car, but absolutely worth it to go out of your way to explore. This is kidly-friendly, and a lot of families driving into DC with cars can take a little excursion to see these incredible waterfalls. There’s hiking and biking trails, places fish, and even to go horseback riding!
The park is open year-round and parking is $15/per vehicle.
There are a ton of free things to do in DC, and a lot are outside! We have a number of things mentioned in our other sections, like taking a free walking tour on the National Mall. For more, check out our list below.
For more free things to do in DC, check out our master post here.
Find the DC Boundary Stones
For those with a sense of adventure, hunting down the boundary stones of DC is like a true treasure hunt! Back when we decided on the original boundaries of Washington, DC, we set out these boundary stones to mark the district. There a few still around, and you can go find them and see what are now the country’s oldest federal monuments. They’re free to find, and sometimes you can find them in unlikely places, like someone’s front lawn!
How to get there: See this website for a printable map of the 36 remaining boundary stones throughout DC.
Visit a Cemetery
Dc has some incredible historic cemeteries. These are great places to visit to pay respects to loved ones who might be buried there, learn the history of the area, and spend the day out and about. For example, not only is Arlington National Cemetery the final resting spot of over 400,000 heroes, it’s actually an arboretum! The cemetery offers horticulture tours for whose interested.
The Sculpture Garden is a great outdoor place to explore for those who love art. It’s also a great place for taking pictures, hanging out and reading, and attending one of the events they host throughout the year like their summer Jazz in the Garden series.
Use our 1, 2, & 3 Day Itinerary for Washington, DC suggestions to help plan your quick trip to the city. It’s hard to see everything DC has to offer but you can make the most of a weekend trip with our suggestions below.
If you’re arriving in DC on the weekend, we recommend a DC brunch for breakfast. A lot of restaurants offer unlimited food/drink options for brunch, giving you the most for your money. Our favorite is Ambar on 8th street near Eastern Market, which we suggest exploring afterward. There are numerous restaurants and cafes in the area if you’re looking for a lighter breakfast.
After exploring Eastern Market, head over to the Capitol, just a short walk away. We offer a Capitol Hill tour that includes tickets to go into the Capitol, but you can also explore the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court on your own. They’re all free to go inside! Click here for more free things to do in DC.
For lunch, head over to Georgetown and check out Martin’s Tavern, which was a favorite of President John F. Kennedy. Rumor has it he allegedly proposed to Jacquie Kennedy in what is now known as the proposal booth! Explore Georgetown, DC’s oldest neighborhood, after lunch, where you can enjoy shopping and desserts. You can do these with a guide or on your own. You can also explore Georgetown University.
From there, head to Chinatown. Though small, it hides some cool stuff, like the National Portrait Gallery, which is free to explore and contains the largest collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. There’s also Capital One Arena, home to some of our local sports teams, the Washington Capitals hockey team and the Wizards basketball team. For dinner, there are a number of great food options in Chinatown, including Daikaya for ramen.
Start your last day in DC at Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington, located in Alexandria. You might need to take a Lyft to get there. Use discount code “BODCBYFOOT” for a discount on your first ride.
In the evening, head to the Kennedy Center for a performance. They host free nightly performances at the Millenium Stage at 6pm. Be sure to go up to the terrace before or after the show for an incredible view of DC and Virginia.
For more ideas of things to do in DC, look into getting a DC Tourist Discount Pass. This will give you a bunch of discounts on a number of popular DC attractions. To learn more, click here.
The month of January is the coldest month of the year in the nation’s capital with morning low temperatures mostly in the mid to upper 20s F (-2 to -3C) with afternoon highs in the low to mid-40s F (6 to 7C). Read more »
This post is about visiting the National Archives in Washington, DC, how to plan your visit, what there is to see. It’s more than just the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Current Exhibit at the Lawrence O’Brien Gallery (rotating)
From May 10, 2019 – January 3, 2021, the current exhibit at the National Archives is Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote.
This display celebrates the centennial of the 19th Amendment’s ratification and retells the struggle for women’s right to vote.
There are over 90 objects, from the original 19th Amendment to a number of photographs and artifacts. You can see more about women’s suffrage movement at the Library of Congress with their display in their Southwest Gallery on the Second Floor, which you can explore when we go inside on our Capitol Hill walking tour.
This permanent exhibit discusses how Americans sought to continue the rights enshrined in the founding documents.
This interactive gallery features 17 touchscreen tables to explore the records. The timeline of America as an independent country is explored with documents of individual citizens and how their rights evolved.
The highlight of this gallery is the Magna Carta. This original document from 1297 is one of four original copies remaining.
The Magna Carta was an agreement between King John and the barons protecting their rights and land.
The rebellious American colonists would be inspired by this document when they believed they had the same rights as Englishmen.