This list of our favorite things to do in February in Washington DC contains some of the best winter events and some activities unique to this time of year, like Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Most of these things to do are family and budget friendly events.
This section covers our top ten list for February. When possible, we’ve noted activities that are free or kid-friendly. For more ideas on popular things to do in DC, check out our posts on bus tours and walking tours of the city.
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
Dumbarton Oaks – Voxare String Quartet – Is there anything more romantic than live music in a beautiful setting? This young group of musicians is considered one of the best chamber music groups in America and they’ll be performing February 11th and 12th at Dumbarton Oaks, nestled in historic Georgetown. The house dates to 1801 and was extensively renovated in the 1920s, to accommodate the growing gardens, research library, and art collection.
The National Mall is particularly romantic at night – our 5:30pm Memorials & Moonlight tour lets you explore the National Mall after the sun sets. With the memorials illuminated against the night sky, there is an extra level of beauty and atmosphere. You’ll also avoid the crowds by heading out at night – making it easier to get the perfect couple selfie! Reserve your spot today!
D.C. is a major sports town, with sporting events taking place throughout the year. In February, both the Washington Wizards, our basketball team, and the Washington Capitals, our hockey team, are in season.
Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday – In honor of President’s Day weekend, why not visit the home of our first President, George Washington? Admission to Mount Vernon is FREE on Monday, February 18th, 2019 with a dozens of special events and ceremonies taking place throughout the day. Additional special programs will happen through the entire weekend. More information can be found here: http://www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/washingtons-birthday-celebration/
Experience a Parade – Every year, Old Town Alexandria hosts a parade to honor our first President. It is the oldest and largest parade dedicated to George Washington. In addition to the event itself, the parade hosts a “cherry challenge” among the restaurants in Alexandria – keep an eye on the menu if you dine in Old Town! For parade details, visit here: http://washingtonbirthday.com/parade/
Attend a Birthnight Banquet & Ball – Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria (featured on our Old Town Alexandria tour) hosts an annual recreation of the famous celebration of Washington’s birthday. The event includes an 18th century banquet, re-enactors, dancing, and more! The party is not inexpensive but for those who dream of time traveling, this is about as close as you can get! Ticket information can be found here: http://apps.alexandriava.gov/Calendar/Detail.aspx?si=17237
Black History Month is the annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history. Throughout the month of February, various museums will host special events in conjunction with Black History Month.
Smithsonian Museums – The Smithsonian Institution will host a series of film screenings, panel discussions, and special events for Black History Month. You can see a list of events here: https://www.si.edu/events/heritagemonth
DC Public Library – The DC Public Library system not only hosts events throughout the city to celebrate Black History Month, they’ve also included a recommended reading list on their website. This is a great resource for families visiting DC! Check it out here: https://www.dclibrary.org/blackhistory
Take a self guided tour that focuses on Black History of DC
Visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture – the newest Smithsonian is also one of the most popular museums of the National Mall. We highly recommend a visit to this museum and have detailed how to get tickets here.
The Kennedy Center is our national cultural center and a memorial to President John F. Kennedy. There are performances 7 days a week, 365 days a year from opera to ballet, musical theatre, comedy, music, and more!
Arrive early and explore our self-guided tour of the Kennedy Center!
The full calendar of events with ticket information can be found at http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/ but some highlights for February include:
NSO Pops: Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Concert – Watch the classic film with a live orchestra performing John Williams’ memorable score. Special snacks will be available and can be taken into the Concert Hall (February 21st-22nd)
Broadway Center Stage: The Music Man – Tony Award® nominee Norm Lewis (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess) and Tony Award® winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful, Carousel) will bring the tale of travelling sales/conman Harold Hill as he visits River City, Iowa. (February 6, 2019 – February 10, 2019)
The National Ballet of China: Raise the Red Lantern – The visiting company returns with the award-winning ballet, performed with full orchestra as part of the Kennedy Center’s 2019 Lunar New Year festivities. (February 13, 2019 – February 16, 2019)
This year, Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year) falls on Tuesday February 5, 2019 and will mark the beginning of The Year of the Pig. The celebration marks the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. There are usually special events at restaurants and museums throughout the city.
The main event in D.C. is the Chinese New Year Parade, which will take place on Sunday, February 10, 2019 in Chinatown. The event includes the traditional dragon dance, music, fireworks, and more!
To keep updated on parade route and times, visit http://dcparade.com/.
Did you know we have had 45 presidents … but only 44 men (and not because there was a women)? One president served two non-consecutive terms. Find out who it was at Madame Tussauds.
Celebrate President’s Day by taking a photo with them all. Washington DC’s Madame Tussauds has the usual A-list celebrities, but also boasts a life size wax figure of each president.
You can get FREE entrance to Madame Tussauds with a discount tourist pass. Find out how these can save you money.
A Tour Of Her Own is hosting their next women’s tourism event on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019. This includes women’s history focused walking tours and book talks by some of our Free Tours by Foot guides.
You can register for this event here – A Tour of Her Own
A unique way to see the memorials is from the Potomac River and with enclosed decks and meals included, brunch and dinner cruises are a great option for the colder winter months.
A Washington DC Lunch Cruise includes sightseeing tour, brunch and live DJ for an enjoyable afternoon regardless of the temperatures. You’ll be able to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Kennedy Center, Alexandria and more.
Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE celebrates the 10th year of the Intersections festival in 2019. This is a local arts festival that brings art and real world together in a community setting for a real local vibe with incredible art, music, dance and more.
You’ll find Family Fun Days February 23 & March 2 from 9:00-12:00 PM with both free and ticketed performances and a craft station.
Free events can also be found daily in the lobby of the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Find out more about Intersections on their website.
There are a number of things to do in DC at night. For additional ideas on how to spend your evening, make sure to check out our master Things to do at Night in DC post. Some of our Top 10 offers nighttime options, like the Atlas Intersections Festival and President’s Day Weekend special events.
Take a tour!
With February marking the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth, why not learn about the conspiracy that brought about his death?
Our Lincoln Assassination tour is a deep dive into the last 24 hours of the President’s life and the conspirators who sought to topple the Union government. This family friendly tour brings the story to life, as we walk the streets and see the building where history took place. Reserve your spot today!
Phillips After 5
February 7, 2019
Each month, Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle stays open late for a night of fun and art. Come celebrate Carnival at the Phillips! Decorate a mask, grab a drink, and warm up with lively music and celebratory activities.
$12; $10 for visitors 62 and over and students. We highly encourage advanced tickets.
Cupid’s Bar Crawl
February 9, 2019
This annual celebration around Dupont Circle brings brightly clad singles, couples and more to celebrate the season of love. Dress up in whatever inspires you but cupids and angels are a common theme. The event is limited to a certain number of tickets and includes special promotions, drink deals and music from 2pm-10pm.
Tickets go on sale Wednesday, January 2, 2019. RSVP for more: https://www.facebook.com/events/745147782524735/
Warm up with a drink or bite to eat!
For some winter nightlife, check out Adams Morgan, U Street NW, H Street NE, and Georgetown.
Our favorite cocktail lounges, restaurants, and snacks are listed in our Nightlife Guide
For February 2019, one of the best ways to do this will be on February 23 at the DC Chocolate, Wine and Whiskey Festival! Indulge in your favorites at https://chocolatewinewhiskey.com/
Catch a Concert
D.C. has a diverse music scene, with both great local artists and international music stars performing throughout the city on any given night. The cold temperatures of February are a great excuse to head inside and take in a concert.
A few of the bigger shows you can find in February are:
DC offers a lot of family-friendly activities and attractions any day of the year. Here are a few more family-friendly ideas for February. For more read about Visiting Washington DC with Kids.
Ice Skating Rinks
Put on those ice skates and make the most of winter weather with skating – day and night. All the venues listed on our Ice Skating in Washington DC post are open every day in February (pending weather conditions), so take advantage of a crisp winter day with a skating adventure!
Discover Engineering Family Day at the National Building Museum
February 16, 2019
To start Engineer Week in DC, this event is in its 27th year and is geared to introducing children aged 4-12 to the wonders of engineering. In years past they have met astronauts and see Jeff Gordan’s race car!
Improv Comedy with Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center
Another Kennedy Center tradition is taking in a performance of Shear Madness. The comedy is the second-longest running show in America and has been performed at Kennedy Center more than 13,200 times!
The show combines topical, improvisational humor with audience sleuthing to turn a whodunit into a night of hilarity. The show is great for groups and for families with teenagers, who enjoy the slightly ribald humor.
Information on tickets and show times can be found here http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/TSMAD but don’t be afraid to check around for discount tickets.
Harry Potter Themed Scavenger Hunt
Feb 2, 2019
The popular Harry Potter themed Wizard School often sells out in advance so be quick! There are two options on Feb 2, 2019 – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
If you are a muggle and have no interest in the Wizard School, Watson Adventures offers a number of different themes, including kids versions.
Feb 14, 2019 through March 2019
Enjoy an evening under the big top for this one ring circus. You’ll see clowns, dancing dogs, tightrope walkers and contortionists. It’s small setting means you’re never far from the action.
With a little planning, there are a lot of free activities available to do in DC. Some of the events we’ve mentioned in this post like our walking tours are free of charge! Here are a few more ideas for free activities in February but for our comprehensive list, visiting our Free Things to Do in DC post.
Some of our Top 10 Things to do in February also have free options – check out the free lobby performances at the Intersections Festival or free Black History Month events.
Community Day at National Museum of Women in the Arts
February 3, 2019
Visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Community Day for FREE admission to the museum
Visit Tudor Place
Okay, so this isn’t technically free but for the entire month of February, tours at historic Tudor Place in Georgetown are only $1 a person! It will only cost you one “Washington dollar” to see the only historic house in D.C. with direct family ties to George and Martha Washington.
It’s such a steal, it might as well be free. Tickets and schedule information here
Check out our guide to Georgetown while you’re visiting Tudor Place for direction, restaurant and other things to do suggestions.
Watch a free Concert at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage
Every night of the year, there is a free performance at 6pm. The schedule runs the gamut from jazz and soul to opera and comedy. Seating is first-come, first-seated but it’s always free! We recommend checking the schedule and planning around your artistic tastes – http://www.kennedy-center.org/video/upcoming.
Arrive early and take our Self Guided Tour of the Kennedy Center
Visit the Presidents at the National Portrait Gallery
President’s Day celebrated on Monday February 18, 2019 and what better place to celebrate Washington, Lincoln, and the rest of America’s past presidents than at the National Portrait Gallery. This is the only place you can see a complete collection of Presidential Portraits outside of the White House.
February in DC can be chilly and windy and on those days, it’s best to head inside. There are so many great things to do inside in DC – from museums to historic buildings. Check out our Things to do in DC post for our guides to museums and government buildings you can tour for free!
Capitol Hill Tour – This tour begins outside but once you go inside to tour the Library of Congress, you are indoors for the rest. For guests worried about being in the cold for too long, this is the best tour to take.
National Archives – Here you can find the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. If you want to spend more times, you’ll want to check out the newest exhibit Remembering Vietnam, which takes a look at twelve critical moments during the Vietnam War.