Things To Do in DC in the Rain

Are you looking for things to do in DC on a rainy day? DC in the rainIt’s no secret that the weather in Washington, DC can be unpredictable – sunny one moment, and storms the next. Although we get our fair share of glorious sunny days, there are also those that are wet, wet, wet.

So what to do when the weather turns bad during your time in DC? Read on for our list of things to do in DC when it rains!

Visit a Museum or Gallery – There is no shortage for museums in the nation’s capital. The Smithsonian alone has over 20!

Or tour some of the lesser visited museums because you know everyone else will have this idea. The Brewmaster’s Castle in Dupont Circle is one of our favorites. It’s not always open, so do check first.

The Army Medical Museum (officially National Museum of Health and Medicine) is a unique one and since its outside of DC but still Metro accessible, its not as crowded. If you’re heard about Daniel Sickles, you know about this place. And if you haven’t, take our White House at Night tour!

The National Botanical Gardens is just next to the Air and Space and while there are some outdoor gardens, most of it is inside!


Go to the Theatre — Ford’s Theatre, that is! You can easily spend a few hours in this historic theatre where you have a variety of ticket options during the day – from watching a play about that tragic night, or sitting in the theatre to listen to a ranger tell you the details. There is a museum in the basement and a multifloor education experience across the street.

Find out more about visiting Ford’s Theatre…


Go to the Zoo – probably weren’t expecting that one were you? Yes, the zoo is almost all outdoors so in the worst of the rain it might not be the best. But if its just dreary and light rain, this is a great day to go. First, you might be the only people there but also the animals are more likely to be out on a cloudy day than on one of our hot humid summer days!

Find about more about the zoo here.


Visit the US Capitol Building – The US Capitol Building is open to the public for tours inside. Tickets are required, but they are free. Or better yet, take our Capitol Hill walking tour that has the tickets pre-resevered for you!

If you can’t go with us, find out how to go on your own and reserve tickets.

And while you’re there, explore the Library of Congress (also a stop on our Capitol Hill tour!) This is one of our favorite places in the city. If you have extra time and want to stay indoor, go get a library card as well – you don’t have to be a citizen, just 18 or older!


Do What You Were Going to Do, Anyway!  – Bad weather means visitors will be following advice like the list we have set out above which means rainy days can be crowded museums. So if you’ve got your waterproof jacket and some warm shoes, just stick with your original plan! Chances are you may enjoy the benefit of fewer people and shorter lines wherever you go.


Go on a Tour!Our tours run rain or shine, so open up your umbrellas and come along! It’s really rare to have a day of non-stop constant rain…and even when we do, we’ll have a great time exploring the town together! Some of the memorials are better in the rain and watching the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery in the rain can really put it in perspective.

About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel.

With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.