Come winter, we’re craving a hot drink by an ever hotter fire. These bars and restaurants go above and beyond the average patio heater with al fresco fireplaces, alpine decor, and private outdoor spaces (chalets! igloos!) for cold weather fun. Obviously, the more enclosed a structure is, the less outdoors it becomes. Pay attention—and abide by—the businesses’ mask mandates and vaccination requirements. And as always, be respectful of employees entering enclosed spaces.
Winter Lodge at Residents
1306 18th St., NW
The trendy Dupont Circle hangout will get diners in a mountain mood thanks to a new winter dreamscape on the patio—all designed by local design studio, Bee Inspired Events. Grab a seat on a wooden log—with pillows and blankets for comfort—amidst a forest of pine tree branches, pine cones, and faux snow. The regular brunch and dinner menus are on offer with seasonal specials. Hot drinks and espresso martinis too? You bet.
Chalets at Four Seasons Georgetown
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Get an alpine escape minus the cost of a plane ticket at the Four Seasons Georgetown, which recently custom-built outdoor pine “suites” inspired by the luxury chain’s hotels in ski destinations in the French Alps, Jackson Hole, and beyond. Each chalet is outfitted with blankets and pillows, rustic-chic decor, and themed food and drink such as ice-wine martinis, buttery shellfish platters, and smoked s’mores (the full Bourbon Steak menu is also available). As you probably guessed, these swanky shacks aren’t cheap—reservations start at $300 per chalet, plus a $200 food/beverage minimum (so bring five of your fanciest friends). The hotel is also hosting an outdoor holiday market on weekends (through December 19) around a giant Christmas tree with spiked cocoa and lots of gifts.
1309 Fifth St., NE
Union Market’s massive rooftop bar/restaurant is getting a fun winter makeover. Climb up to “Mount Hi-Lawn” for serious après ski vibes—mulled wine, hot booze, 20 fire pits, shotskis (yes, that’s shots from a ski) and comforting eats like grilled cheese sandwiches and frankfurters. There’s also a huge 2,500 square-foot tent with heaters for when the temperature drops, outfitted with retro-mountain decor. They’re celebrating the launch with an ugly sweater party on Friday, December 17, and have weekly entertainment nights including live music on Thursdays.
Scandal Igloos at the Watergate
2650 Virginia Ave., NW
Drink like it’s 1972 at the Watergate Hotel, which just launched outdoor “scandal igloos” themed around the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s infamous crimes. The domes are outfitted with cozy blankets and Playboy-esque velvet chairs, working Victrola record players, nonworking typewriters, books about the Watergate, and other scandal-era accents. Food and drink also hearken back to 1972—think Singapore Slings, lamb chops with mint jelly, chocolate cigars, and the aforementioned fondue. Rentals start at $150 with a $75 food and beverage minimum per person.
Lulu’s Wine Garden Chimineas
1940 11th St., NW
The indoor/outdoor setup at this U Street Corridor wine garden has always been warm thanks to the desert-inspired Southwest touches. A semi-sheltered streatery is protected by an airy wooden structure hung with plants and basket lamps, while wood-burning chimineas keep things toasty on the front and back patios. There’s also a “warm up” menu—all contact free QR code service—with hot thermos cocktails, cheesy chicken tortilla soup, and blankets available for purchase. You can even adjust your table’s heater on your phone.
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Zinnia Winter Garden
9201 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring
Silver Spring’s new restaurant and garden—which takes over the historic Mr. K’s Tollhouse space—is ready for winter. A holiday market runs every Friday through Sunday leading up to Christmas with crafts, warm drinks, and more. Patrons can make reservations in the extensive gardens at heated patio picnic tables or around fire pits, with warming eats like crab dip and braised short rib sliders.
Aprés Ski Rooftop at the Conrad Hotel
950 New York Ave., NW
You can’t hit the slopes near CityCenterDC, but you can channel mountain vibes at the lofty rooftop of the Conrad Hotel. Catch views of the monuments while sipping rum-spiked hot chocolate and warm rosemary-infused bourbon cocktails, plus cozy heaters and blankets. Food is French-inspired—think cheeses, meats, and a toasty croque madame. The pop-up runs through December 26.
Waterfront Igloos at Del Mar, Fiola Mare
791 Wharf St., SW; 3100 K St NW
Is the faux igloo trend a little ridic? Yes. Does it seem overly indulgent to rent a plastic orb for $175. Probably. That being said, we wouldn’t complain if a friend rented one of these tricked-out snow globes at Fabio Trabocchi’s seafood-centric restaurants in Georgetown or at the Wharf—and then treated us to a shellfish plateau. (Note: rental fees vary over the holidays, and there’s a six person limit.)
Winterfest at Wundergarten
1101 First St., NE
NoMa’s huge outdoor beer garden is in the midst of its annual WinterFest celebration (through December 23) where you’ll find a Christmas tree lot, holiday pop-up markets, and more. Even after it wraps up, revelers can expect warm cocktails, spiked cider, and hot chocolate; seasonal winter beers; roaring fire pits; and private cabanas lit with colorful lights (prices vary by size and date). See a schedule of fun activities here.
Winter Wonderland at HalfSmoke
651 Florida Ave., NW
Owner Andre McCain debuted a big “winter wonderland” pop-up outside his Shaw restaurant last year with socially distanced seating for 100 guests. The patio is set with 12 heated and ventilated igloos for two-to-six that can be reserved, breakfast through dinner, as well as open-air picnic tables. You can reserve the globes here.
Candy Cane Greenhouses at Maxwell Park Navy Yard
1346 Fourth St., SE
You may know Maxwell for its whimsical wine lists—now sommelier Brent Kroll and friend Adriana Salame Aspiazu (part of the talent behind the former Miracle on 7th Street Christmas bar) are getting creative with a pop-up holiday wine bar. There are fun decoration indoors and out, plenty of Champagne, and themed drinks like eggnog shooters. If you want to celebrate outside, book a candy cane greenhouse (which requires a $300 deposit) outfitted with heating and speakers for holiday carols. Available through December 31.