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Top Ways to Beat Winter’s Chill in Arlington

The temperature has dropped, and the chilly temperatures are here to stay. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you’re stuck hibernating with nothing to do. In Arlington, there are tons of ways to have fun and beat the winter chill. Take a look at our top (in no particular order) ways to make the most of the winter season:

Unleash Your Inner Agent

DEA agent, that is. And you can do just that as you explore the new exhibits at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum. After a two-year renovation, the museum welcomes visitors back to a wide array of fascinating artifacts—green platform shoes worn by an undercover agent, a Harley Davidson motorcycle ridden by a member of the Hell’s Angels, and a prison uniform worn by drug king pin “El Chapo.” The exhibits explain how the DEA has conducted its investigations throughout its 48-year history and has interactive technology to engage younger visitors. The DEA Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free!

three visitors view an exhibit at DEA museum in Arlington
DEA Museum

Dine with the Celebrities

Well, at least the celebrity chefs. Arlington boasts cuisine from around the globe, and a number of stars from the culinary world have chosen Arlington as their home. Arlington welcomes New Orleans native Chef David Guas, who’s appeared on Good Morning America, Food Network’s “Chopped” and the Travel Channel showcasing his Cuban and Creole heritage. Stop in Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery to try award-winning sandwiches, New Orleans-style cocktails and luscious beignets. For casual fare with a touch of foodie fame, Top Chef favorite Spike Mendehlson's Good Stuff Eatery serves up burgers, fries and shakes for guests with home cooked flair. Considered by many to be the greatest Chinese chef in America, Chef Peter Chang tantalizes tastebuds at Peter Chang in Arlington. Look for super fresh ingredients and tongue-numbing, flavorful cuisine.

sugar covered beignets from Bayou Bakery via @a.dash.of.dc on Instagram
Beignets from Bayou Bakery via @a.dash.of.dc on Instagram

Embrace the Chill!

Okay – it’s cold. We get it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t great wintry fun in Arlington! Take some heart-pumping spins around the Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating rink, the largest ice rink in Northern Virginia. It’s open every day, and afterward, warm up by a dual-sided stone fireplace with a hot drink from Origin Coffee Lab & Kitchen or grab a bite to eat and any of the many restaurants and cafés that surround the rink.

Take Outdoor Fun…Indoors!

If there’s a brisk wind or freezing rain, but you still want some ice time, look no further! MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, the home of the Washington Capitals, offers the chance to try out your newest ice skating moves without ever going outside. After taking a few spins on the ice yourself, stick around to watch the Caps practice for the next big game!

Spectators watch a hockey game at Med Star Capital Ice Plex via @medstarcapitalsiceplex on Instagram
Training Camp at MedStar Capitals Iceplex via @medstarcapitalsiceplex on Instagram

Learn Civil War History

Beyond the birthplaces and battlefields, discover Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery. Recently reopened after a complete rehabilitation of the site, the home was originally constructed between 1802-1818 by George Washington Parke Custis as a memorial to his adoptive grandfather President George Washington. The Greek Revival residence was built by enslaved individuals who lived and labored on the estate. Custis’s daughter Mary Randolph Custis married General Robert E. Lee, and their family owned the house until it was seized during the Civil War. Arlington House became a hospital for wounded Union soldiers, and the adjacent land the site of Freedman’s Village, a temporary wartime refuge for emancipated African Americans and freedom-seeking enslaved people. Take a free, self-guided tour of the property to see the more than 1,000 artifacts and gain a complete picture of life during the Civil War.

tombstones in front of Arlington House at National Cemetery via @jz302502814008139 on Instagram
Arlington House via @jz302502814008139 on Instagram

Enjoy a Little Pampering

Go ahead – you deserve it. Enjoy pampering, and comfort and indulge yourself at Azure Dream Day Spa, a luxurious, yet cozy spa. The side-by-side customized massages will leave you both rejuvenated and ready to face the world together. At Origins Thai Spa, there’s plenty of relaxation to be found. The spa’s technicians create tailored wellness sessions that focus on massage and facials. Trained in thousand-year-old Southeast Asian practices, the treatments include gentle stretching to soothe aching limbs and quiet the mind. 

Explore Your Creative Side

Whether taking in a performance or browsing amazing works of art, Arlington’s arts scene is a wonderful way to escape the frigid temps outside. But why not be part of the show? Sharpen your left brain with a drawing or printing class at the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington. Unleash your inner artist and learn how to paint a beautiful masterpiece at Muse Paint Bar in Ballston Quarter.

Pull on your dancing shoes and join the pros at Synetic Theater for special movement and performance workshops for adults or kids. Express yourself at a theater seminar or explore Broadway performances at the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre. These are experiences you’ll long remember. 

kids in the Synetic Theatre camp pose for a photo
Synetic Theater

Discover New Cooking Techniques

Don an apron and pick up your chef’s knife for a whole new kind of culinary journey. From classes at Cookology and Sur La Table, to learning about the secrets of the hand-made chocolate masterpieces at Artisan Confections, you’ll leave with new skills and pick up some tips for your next dinner party.

Students learning to cook at a Cookology Culinary School class via @cookologyculinaryschool on Instagram
Cooking class at Cookology via @cookologyculinaryschool on Instagram

Indulge in Retail Therapy

There’s certainly no shortage of places to get out of the cold and into the midst of great bargains. Arlington has shopping galore! Peruse the boutiques at Ballston Quarter and find luxury goods and clothing at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Check out Crystal City Shops’ Art Underground, a combination of shopping, dining and a vibrant arts and cultural destination with galleries, studios, interactive exhibits and more.

Test your Deductive Skills

Arlington has three escape rooms where you can use your powers of deduction to solve clues to an eventual getaway. At 5 Wits, immerse in hidden secrets that incorporate sound, lights and special effects. Bond’s Escape Room is the largest in room venue on the East Coast with 15 challenges that range from Art Attack, at level one, to the terrifying Sleepover Slaughter House, level five. Escape Room Arlington changes themes with the seasons, but always challenges your talent for logic and strategy. No matter what Escape Room you choose, it’s going to be a test of skill and cooperation that leads to unforgettable fun.  

Sample Locally Made Brewskis

Arlington’s craft breweries are cozy places to stay warm and taste small-batch craft beer. If you like to play while you drink, get the gang together for a board game, snack on tasty apps, and tip back the award-winning craft beer made at The Board Room. Stop by Nighthawk Pizza, a low-ABV beer and pizza joint in the heart of Pentagon City featuring regional favorite Aslin Brewing. Catch a movie and enjoy delicious food and beer at the newly opened Alamo Drafthouse in Crystal City.

Header image credit: @medstarcapitalsiceplex on Instagram

Author: Renee Sklarew