The DMV region has no shortage of exciting events – including many that are absolutely free in Washington, D.C. Here’s a narrowed-down list of January activities. Keep in mind that venues’ COVID-related health and safety measures may vary. Check in advance to see what rules are in place.
Click here to find out the latest COVID-related openings, reopenings, closings, and cancellations in Washington, D.C.
What’s Free in D.C.?
January’s exhibits include:
- The New Woman Behind the Camera – Learn about the diverse “new women” who embraced photography as a mode of professional and personal expression from the 1920s to the 1950s.
- Clouds, Ice, and Bounty: The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Collection of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings
- Aquatint: From Its Origins to Goya – A new printmaking technique developed in the second half of the eighteenth century vastly expanded the creation and dissemination of images across Europe.
Also at the National Gallery of Art:
- Ice skating returns at the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink.
- The Sketchbook Club (registration required) – the National Gallery of Art’s teaching artists lead free, 30-minute sketches inspired by works of art from the National Gallery’s collection.
- Enjoy the National Gallery from home through podcasts, blogs, and resources for educators.
Located on the National Mall exactly halfway between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, the Hirshhorn features contemporary art and culture. Along with exhibitions for all ages, Hirshhorn Kids – a way to get kids engaged with art and the museum experience:
- Art Cart – (no registration required) Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon, each week’s Art Cart offers a fun theme featuring an artwork on view, an art making activity to do at the Museum, and kids projects to extend the fun at home.
- ARTLAB for teens (virtual) – “A radically inclusive digital art studio” for young creators 13 to 19 years old.
Check out all the Hirshhorn’s programs, both virtually and in person here: https://hirshhorn.si.edu/hirshhorninsideout/#art-is-everywhere.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
On-site public tours and programs are currently suspended, but the museum is reopening to the public. Download their mobile app to make your visit more meaningful.
Also, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) recently launched its newest digital initiative, the Searchable Museum.
Upcoming online events include:
- Thursday, January 13 at 7 p.m. – Passing: A Film Discussion with Director/Writer Rebecca Hall and Actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga (Registration recommended)
- Monday, January 17 and Monday, January 24 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. – History Alive! Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: The Last Five Years
Memorial Sites – For a more meaningful visit, check out these sites online before in-person to learn more about the context of the history, the people and the structures.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- Washington Monument – Note: Tickets for the Washington Monument are currently available online from recreation.gov (1-877-444-6777) only; there is no onsite distribution of tickets. There are no walk up or “day-of visit” tickets available at this time.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo – Sitting on 163 acres in the heart of D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, the Zoo is home to 2,700 animals representing more than 390 species. It’s so much more than seeing interesting animals. Their mission is to “save species by using cutting-edge science, sharing knowledge and providing inspirational experiences for our guests.”
Rock Creek Park – Founded in 1890 by the U.S. Congress, Rock Creek Park is 1,700 acres of hardwood trees, asphalt trails, a brook and rocky outcrops. What else? A planetarium, a 19th century gristmill, equestrian trails, a tennis center and a golf course!
The REACH – A new expansion at the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, The REACH is a place where visitors, and artists can come together for collaboration, experimentation, and exploration. It’s an interactive and inspiring arts and culture destination for all ages.
Worth Checking Out in Maryland
Bethesda is known as the go-to place for ethnic restaurants and great shopping. Bethesda’s Arts and Entertainment District offers venues like the Strathmore and Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club.
The Strathmore’s January calendar features Wanda Sykes, Dinosaur World Live, Brian McKnight, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Branford Marsalis, and Philadanco!
Imagination Stage in Bethesda – Corduroy (based on the popular children’s books) will be presented through January 23. Special note: January 22 is Planet Word Day at Corduroy. All children attending will receive a copy of the book “Corduroy.”
Frederick is both hip and historic. The downtown district has been named one of the “Prettiest Painted-Places in America.” It’s Civil War-era buildings hold specialty shops, galleries, museums, theaters, and restaurants with cutting-edge cuisine. Don’t miss a tribute to The Beatles: “1964 The Tribute” on January 7 at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.
Worth Checking Out in Virginia
The Barns at Wolf Trap – Built from two restored 18th-century barns, The Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va. is a popular spot for music lovers in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The intimate 382-seat theater offers audiences a chance to experience superb acoustics and impressive performances from top-notch artists across genres in an intimate setting. January performances include A BandHouse Gigs Tribute to Linda Ronstadt, The Spanish Hour Sharon Isbin on guitar, An Evening with Branford Marsalis and Enter the Haggis.
Alexandria Restaurant Week – For 10 days and two weekends (January 21 to 30), more than 60 restaurants in Alexandria, Virginia will offer a $35 prix fixe dinner for one or two people. Special menus will be available in-person at participating restaurants, many with heated outdoor dining options. More than 50 restaurants will also offer to-go options.
Download our DMV January travel checklist below!