When you think of winters in D.C., hanging out on the waterfront may not be the first (or second) place that comes to mind. Yards Park is a summer hot spot (no pun intended) because of its giant splash pad and boardwalk. The Wharf is buzzing with its outdoor concerts and piers. However, the fun doesn’t cool off in the winter (pun definitely intended), and here’s why.

Photo: Lakeside

Ice Skating at Canal Park
Gather the entire family for a fun day on the ice or for the newbie, to take lessons. If your little penguin is celebrating a birthday during the winter months, the rink also offers a birthday party package. Open daily from through February, including Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Photo: Steadfast Supply DC

One-Stop Holiday Shopping
There are over 30 places to shop along the waterfront, with options for just about everyone in the family (including the dog!). You’ll find some well-known stores and some unique spots- like Steadfast Supply DC, which is a conceptual retail store that carries a number of independent creative brands from both local and national retailers. Grab something hot to drink from Philz Coffee to keep warm in between store stops.

Family-friendly events can be enjoyed throughout the year along the waterfront-especially in the winter. At the Wharf, enjoy a holiday lights boat parade and fireworks in early December, or Christmas Caroling closer to the holiday. Light Yards features two outdoor light installations, with this year’s installment inviting visitors to hop, skip and jump across interactive circular pads of light and to pose with five giant, neon-colored wings and halos (sounds so cool). The interactive sculptures can be enjoyed through Jan. 4. For more fun check out the Capitol Riverfront calendar here and the Wharf DC calendar here.

Photo: Ice Cream Jubilee

Food, Glorious Food
So, what does your family like to eat? Mexican, sandwiches, BBQ, or burgers? The waterfront is teeming with restaurants. For the child that isn’t deterred by the weather, Ice Cream Jubilee offers homemade, all-natural ice cream with seasonal flavors (think: Apple Butter Oatmeal Cookie and Maple Rye Pecan). Who am I kidding—adults love ice cream in the winter too!

—Yolanda Johnson