It is true that the best time to be in Washington DC is from the months of September to November and from March to May. In September we welcome autumn when the dry summer heat has just left (and the tourists along with it). Cue the perfect breeze and that yellow-orange hue. Whatever the season, you won’t have any problems looking for any accommodations here as there are your usual hotels as well as unique Airbnbs and Sonder vacation rentals found all over the place. But, what if you get stuck in the middle of the wet season when everything is damp and cold. It will definitely make you want to snuggle into your comforter. However, there’s more to it than meets your eye. Here’s a list of what to do on a rainy day in Washington DC.
1. Travel back in time at the National Postal Museum
The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is the best place to go if you want to learn more about the country’s postal service history—and history in general. Opened in 1993, this amazing museum is a joint project of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institute and the United States Postal Service, displaying a wide collection of stamps and other philatelic materials that come from different times and locations all over the world.
The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, the world’s most valuable stamp, which was sold for almost 10 million USD was even displayed here for a time. Another interesting collection to see here is singer/songwriter John Lennon’s childhood stamp collection.
National Postal Museum
Address: 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States
Website: National Postal Museum
Opening hours: Fri - Tue: 10am - 5:30pm (closed on Wed & Thu)
Price: Free Admission
2. Enjoy a Shakespearean play at the Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Shakespeare Theatre Company is the go-to place in Washington DC if you want to watch a play from the Shakespeare canon or even other theatrical masterpieces created by other popular playwrights including Shaw, Wilde, Schiller, Tennessee Williams, Ibsen, and more. Some of the plays that can be enjoyed here include The Bard’s famous works like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night, and a lot more.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company features two theater spaces, namely the Michael R. Klein Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall. It has hosted a whopping 150 productions that entertained more than 2 million audiences from different parts of the globe.
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Address: 610 F Street NW Washington, DC 20004 and 450 7th Street NW Washington, DC 20004
Website: Shakespeare Theatre Company
3. Take a tour and visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
If you’re stuck indoors on a rainy day in DC, take this opportunity to finally meet and one-sidedly greet (although, you probably still won’t get that autograph) the world’s most famous faces. A moment with these wax figures is a step closer to achieving your dreams of finally meeting those actors and actresses you swore only to see on television. These replicas range from movie stars and celebrities, US Presidents, to some of whose names were immortalized in the Walk of Fame. Learn the secrets on how they were able to make all those replicas by participating in behind-the-scenes activities. Definitely worth the ‘gram.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Address: 1001 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
Website: Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Opening hours: Sun: 10am - 5pm; Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Price: 20-40 USD
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4. Indulge in an artistic exploration at The Phillips Collection
Even an individual who does not care for art would be left awestruck. This is an internationally renowned museum in Washington DC’s colorful Dupont Circle neighborhood. With excellent curators, they surely make your stay worth its price. Art and paintings by Renoir and Rothko, Van Gogh and Diebenkorn are merely some of the Impressionist and modern works that are hung on the walls of this quaint museum. The collection of exquisite art continues to flourish with new critically appraised masterpieces by contemporary artists. This will surely make your rainy afternoon a lot more impressive.
The Phillips Collection
Address: 1600 21st Street, NW Washington, DC 20009
Website: The Phillips Collection
Opening hours: Sun: 11am - 7pm; Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: FREE on weekdays | 8-10 USD on weekends
5. Entertain your curiosity while educating your brain at the Smithsonian Institution
If you’re looking for things to do in DC on a rainy day, check this out. Having a total of 17 museums and galleries, anyone will surely find their whole day packed with a whole list of things to do and places to see. This infamous museum and research complex is widely known as the Smithsonian Institution. One of the places to be is the National Zoo. This is home to thousands of animals of various species. A replica of the Amazon Rainforest’s ecosystem, complete with a rushing river, palm trees, and a huge aquarium, is home to animals like monkeys, hummingbirds, amongst others. The visit to the Zoo includes a short trek up a hilly terrain and steep paths. Definitely a perfect escape from a rainy day.
Address: Central Washington DC
Website: Smithsonian Institution
Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 8am - 7pm
6. Snack on some delicious delicacies and tasteful books at Kramerbooks & Afterwords
What used to be an indie bookstore back in 1976 is now a crowded and throbbing cafe of the present. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe is known to be the first bookstore-cafe-in-one in the country that came with a bar, as well as provisions to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, and late supper. For your rainy season, this cafe can be your go-to buddy for seven days a week. Sporting aesthetic indoors and sidewalk cafes, a full-service bar, live entertainment, and an upscale American menu, this cafe is surely one for the books!
Kramerbooks & Afterwords
Address: 1517 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036
Website: Kramerbooks & Afterwords
Opening hours: Fri - Sat: 7am - 3am; Sun - Thu: 7am - 1am
Price: 8-15 USD
7. Visit the Union Station to have a filling experience at snacking and shopping
Looking for interesting indoor activities in DC? One of the first union railroad terminals of America was the Washington Union Station. Just blocks away from the Capitol Building, the Union Station is a place to marvel at history in color, enjoy the intermodal transportation, and find the time to loosen the belt off your wallet in the shopping center. So make the most out of the rainy season and take a train to (or from) Union Station.
Address: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Website: Union Station
Opening hours: Sun: 12pm - 6pm; Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm
8. Visit various indoor amusement centres like imagiNATIONS Activity Center or Playseum
Thinking of what to do in Washington DC when it rains? Here’s one that will surely interest you. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has a dedicated third-floor exhibit developed for children and families alike. It provides various opportunities to experience activities first-hand e.g. educate the children on Native Americans and highlight their culture. Find the time to take the kids away from the iPads and create meaningful moments together outside of your home.
imagiNATIONS Activity Center
Address: Washington, DC 20024
Website: imagiNATIONS Activity Center
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 11am - 4pm
9. Visit Pinstripes to enjoy bowling or play bocce
It’s time to stop canceling those weekend plans because of the rain and just go! Take time to relax in the company of your friends and workmates in Pinstripes. Excuse yourself from the routine and engage in the classic American pastime of bowling. Pinstripes can keep you and your company busy and full throughout the night.
Address: 1064 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007,
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 11pm; Fri: 11am - 1am; Sat: 10am - 1am; Sun: 10am - 10pm
Price: Bowling (12-20 USD) | Bocce (5-15 USD)
10. Watch a film at the IMAX movie theater
Enjoy watching those stunning IMAX films on a six-story screen and forget about the roaring winds outside. They offer a dual 4K laser projection and 2D and 3D presentations of all the blockbuster films that you surely shouldn’t miss. Want to make it a day to remember for you and your loved one or for your friends? You can definitely watch your own film of preference with the Smithsonian’s IMAX on Demand.
Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater
Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 2059
Website: Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm
Price: 15 USD
11. Rejuvenate at the spa
Take time to pamper yourself to release all the stresses away from your body and spirit. Even the gloomy weather cannot wane your spirit to escape the demands of everyday life. You deserve to walk into an oasis of serenity and come back to that young and beautiful you.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Georgetown
Address: 3100 South Street NW Washington, DC 20007
Website: The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Georgetown
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 9am - 7pm; Mon - Fri: 11am - 8pm
Price: 180-600 USD
12. Get a look into the architecture and history of the National Cathedral
This is one you surely would not want to skip. The Washington National Cathedral is known to be the spiritual home of the nation. The Cathedral is open for sight-seeing and tours. Get to participate in concerts and advocacies. Home of prayer and pilgrimage, this famous building in Washington DC invites individuals to reflect on and learn in beliefs greater than themselves.
Address: 3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20016
Website: National Cathedral
Opening hours: Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 8am - 4pm; Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm
Price: 12 USD (Adults) | 8 USD (Youth) | FREE (Children under 5)
Wherever you go, bring your own sunshine
Make your day worthy of irreplaceable memories and moments to live for no matter the weather. Bask in the beauty of Washington DC despite the weather outside. Turn the gloomy rainy day into a wonderful opportunity to bond with your family, your loved ones, and even take time out for yourself. Go through each activity and maybe you’ll find something you’ve long wanted to tick off your bucket list. Take this as a sign to step out and enjoy!
Learn more about the capital by checking out this list of top FAQs about Washington DC!
Frequently asked questions about what to do on a rainy day in Washington DC
1. Which are the best indoor things to do in Washington DC for families?
Family activities are everywhere in DC, with family-friendly museums like the National Postal Museum, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, imagiNATIONS Activity Center, and more found in almost every corner of the city.
2. Which are the best indoor things to do in Washington DC for friends?
If you’re traveling to Washington DC with your friends and you’re looking for indoor activities that would interest you, check out Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Smithsonian Institution, and Union Station.
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