Take one of the world's largest collections of free museums and add some of the best weekend hotel deals you'll find on the Eastern Seaboard and there you have it – Washington, DC is the king of winter breaks. But that's just the beginning – from oyster happy hours to sledding on Capitol Hill, there's no shortage of fun during the District's coldest months. Ready for some reasonably-priced fun? Grab your best winter coat and go.
Those museums, though
From the thrilling modern art of the Hirshhorn to the overwhelming collection at the National Gallery of Art to the exuberant, recently-reborn Renwick just steps from the White House, there's no shortage of incredible museums here – and that's just art we're talking bout. Too many people think of the many branches of the Smithsonian Institution as something you visit on school field trips – if that was the last time you were in town, it's definitely time to get back here. Best of all, nearly every museum worth visiting never charges admission. Ever.
Good hotels at great prices
If you're not looking for the height of luxury – not that it doesn't go on sale quite frequently around here, this being a Monday-Friday kind of town – it's easy to get in to a decent hotel near the White House or Dupont Circle for around $100/night, pretty much any weekend there isn't a major event. Those who think a little more creatively will be able to upgrade their stays (and stay longer) for even less. Venture just a few stops away from town on the city's expanding Metro system and watch rates plummet even further – the five-star (and transit-accessible) Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City often goes for around $150, just across the Potomac. Meanwhile, one walkable bridge away from the rarified air of Georgetown, the perfectly nice Key Bridge Marriott can be had for around $95 on upcoming weekends. As at many local hotels, these dramatically discounted weekend rates are generally available Thursday-Monday, making a long weekend nice and affordable. Finally, as long as you're not, say, 20 miles away from the city, it really doesn't matter where you stay anymore, in terms of accessibility – everyone uses Uber (or Lyft) to get around now.
You can go sledding at the Capitol again
After years of next-level paranoia, the super-vigilant Capitol Police have been ordered to stand down and let DC's children retake their rightful place at the top of Capitol Hill. With their sleds. And inner tubes. And pieces of plastic salvaged from basements. Snow coming down when you're in town? Hint: There might be some sleds left at the giant Walmart – of all things – just a few minutes on foot north of the Capitol, at 1st and H Streets. When you can't feel your extremities anymore, pop into the hill-adjacent United States Botanic Garden for a warm-up – inside the historic Lord & Burnham-designed Conservatory, it's always summertime.
The happiest happy hours, ever
Running the world's most powerful city is thirsty work – come happy hour, DC needs a drink. Make that a lot of drinks, actually. From clubby bars to civilized hotel lounges, you'll be amazed by the depth and breadth of the daily deals – start anywhere that has $1 Rappahannock oysters, briny local gems that bivalve enthusiasts can't suck down enough of. Going to the source at Union Market, where the Virginia-based Rappahannock Oyster Company has it's own (very good) oyster bar, is a smart start ($1 oysters offered 4-7, Tuesday-Friday only).