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These winter outings in Northern Virginia will help you fight cabin fever and escape the cold on chilly days in the Washington DC region. Whether you’re dealing with last minute school cancellations, or looking for an adults only escape, we’ve got ideas for warm winter fun.
Bookmark our list of winter outings in Northern Virginia, and check back for new wineries, breweries, and restaurants where you can snuggle up by the fire. The bluebells and cherry blossoms will return, but for now we have to make it through the cold days of winter in Northern Virginia.
When the days turn so very, very cold we can all get a little stir crazy. Too cold for a winter hike, too cold for a park, too cold for anywhere that requires more than a few feet of walking. Yes, chilly days and school cancellations often lead to cabin fever. We have to get out of the house!
True story: In the late 90s, I would take my twins to Dulles Airport for a cold day outing. We would ride the shuttle to terminal B or C, play at an empty gate, watch the planes take off and land, have lunch, and watch the baggage claim conveyor belt. My toddlers were amazed and amused and usually followed our outing with a great nap.
Sadly, but for good reasons, open access to terminals is a thing of the past. Whether you have kids along or not, here are some of our favorite winter outings that offer a change of scene close to home.
Visit the Library
We are lucky to have a robust network of 25 libraries throughout Fairfax County. Many of them have wonderful spots to research, read, or just hang out. Libraries make great winter outings on no school days, when you don’t have time to plan ahead. Last time we visited, the children’s area in Great Falls Library looked adorable and cozy.
Grab a chair by the window to enjoy this peaceful view from Dolly Madison Library in McLean.
Libraries are a great break from home because they offer free parking, free reading, and free peace. Many libraries also schedule free or low-cost classes and events. Double-check branch hours before you head out since budget cutbacks have led to reduced opening times.
Walk, Shop, and Spend the Night
If you’re missing your neighborhood walks, an indoor mall is a reasonable alternative to stretch your legs and stay warm while you do it. You don’t have to join the official mall walker crowd, though Fair Oaks Mall opens at 7:00 AM to accommodate walkers.
For a slower indoor shopping experience, I love a long stroll through IKEA followed by lunch in their low-cost restaurant. I can easily spend half a day at the Potomac Mills IKEA and I usually come away with a few fun trinkets.
Extend your mall winter outings even more with a warm stay at the Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner. The luxurious hotel and spa are attached to Tysons Galleria mall, so you won’t even have to step outside for dinner and some shopping.
Read our full review of Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner and plan your stay.
Tysons Corner is another excellent option for a mall-connected staycation. Book a weekend at the Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner and enjoy shopping, movies, meals, and fun without ever venturing outdoors.
Read our full review of Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner now.
Catch a Movie
Movies make good winter outings if you only have a few hours to play. There are plenty of theaters in the area, but for minimal outdoor time we favor a Tysons Corner matinee followed by lunch at Seasons 52 (tasty flatbread and fish tacos).
Angelika Film Center in Fairfax’s Mosaic District is another great option for movie-going. You can reserve seats in advance, and the concession stand offers gourmet popcorn, unusual snacks, wine, and beer.
Take a Dip in the Pool
Sometimes the best way to fight winter is by pretending it’s summer. Cub Run Rec Center features a leisure entertainment pool with a 30-foot-high slide that exits the building in an enclosed tube. There’s also a 20-foot-high slide with an open tube, a spa, a vortex, a current channel, an open shallow water area and a water playground with interactive play features, a tiny-tot slide, and a zero depth entry. There is a separate 25-yard by 25-meter competition pool. Check the calendar for public pool availability.
The renovated Oak Marr Rec Center has a heated, Olympic-sized, indoor pool with spa, beach, and wading area, plus a diving complex with one-meter and three-meter boards and a five-meter tower. Pool availability is limited to classes and lap swim (no beach) on weekend mornings, but you can bring the kids for open swim from 8:00 – noon on weekdays. Check the calendar for pool schedule details.
Winter Outings by the Fireplace
There is nothing quite like sitting by a fireplace when it’s cold outside. Combine that fireplace with food or a drink, and you have an ideal scenario for tasty local winter outings.
Here’s a lovely fireplace spot to enjoy wine and music at Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn.
If you prefer craft beer, 2 Silos Brewing in Prince William County has several seating areas around fire pits. They also have a gorgeous stone fireplace near the barn.
Read our full review of 2 Silos Brewing for more details and pictures.
Bear Chase Brewing, in Bluemont, has a nice fireplace warming their large space. There’s a gorgeous view outside to enjoy on warmer days.
You can also enjoy a great view, a fireplace, and both beer and wine at Hillsborough Vineyard in Hillsboro.
In Great Falls, Katie’s Coffee Shop is a nice spot for a lazy breakfast or mid-morning coffee break by the fireplace. The Great Falls Starbucks also has a fireplace, but Katie’s is a more intimate setting.
For lunch or dinner and a pint by the fire, head to Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville. The vibe is relaxed, and the menu emphasizes organic, local, non-GMO meat and produce.
Explore our full list of cozy and fun Northern Virginia pubs.
Need something more to clear the winter blues? Maybe it’s time to plan a weekend getaway or a winter escape. Find inspiration and tips for your trip:
You’ll find more ideas for great getaways in these related articles:
- 15 Romantic Getaways from Washington DC
- 8 Great Overnight Getaways In and Near Northern Virginia
- 8 More Wonderful Overnight Getaways Near Northern Virginia
How do you fight cabin fever on a cold winter day? Please share your suggestions for escaping winter cold in the comments below.
This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2019.