A Guide to Team Building Activities in D.C.
As America’s capital city, Washington, D.C. attracts a lot of businessmen, government officials and international tourists — by some estimates, over 20 million travelers make a trip to D.C. each year!
With so many visitors, it’s hardly a surprise that D.C. boasts numerous activities and events for groups. Whether your team prefers to treat themselves at a Michelin star restaurant, uncover historical gems or relax in nature, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in D.C.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to team building activities in the D.C. area.
Does My Team Really Need Team Building?
In our opinion, every team can benefit from team building exercises, whether they’ve been working together for years or they’re all rookies. Team building exercises not only deepen the social bonds between people, but it also improves communication. These important skills translate back into the office and help to make teams more efficient.
Of course, not everything is about work — team building activities are also a great excuse to have a bit of fun and let your hair down. Your team will appreciate the chance to hang out with coworkers who aren’t in their immediate team, as well as socializing with executives and leaders in a stress-free environment.
Will Team Building Help Grow My Business?
The most important component of growing any business, regardless of the industry, is a solid team. Yet as many hiring managers have found, it’s not enough to simply onboard as many talented people as possible. You also need to facilitate a company-wide culture that inspires and motivates your employees. The best teams are filled with people who are eager to be there and earnestly believe in the team’s goals.
There are many ways to build strong company cultures, but few are as effective as team building activities. Besides teaching your people valuable collaboration skills, team building activities also make employees feel valued and important. This increases long term retention, creating a strong foundation to grow your company on.
How Do I Find a Team Building Activity That Works for My Team?
Not all teams are created equally, and that’s a good thing! It’s important to celebrate the things that make your team unique.
When planning a team building event, it’s important to consider inclusivity. In some ways, this should be pretty obvious: A team filled with vegans isn’t going to be a great fit for an evening of BBQ.
However, inclusivity goes a bit further than that. Try to consider your team’s schedules and lives outside of work, and how the team building activity might impact that. Don’t be surprised if employees with kids or other jobs have limited availability — in fact, it might even make sense to plan the team building event during work hours.
Finally, try to choose a team building activity that gets people talking to each other. Sure, it might be fun to take everyone to see a movie, but it’s not likely to do much as far as strengthening your team’s relationships. Competitive activities, like sports or cooking classes, or activities that require group participation are a great way to involve everyone. Below, you'll find plenty of great examples to aid in your search of the perfect team building activities in D.C.
Additional Benefits to Team Building
Team building can be helpful in a variety of ways, including:
- Encourages creative thinking. Many team building activities challenge participants to think outside of the box if they want to succeed. This not only makes the event more enjoyable, but also teaches valuable skills that translate back to the office.
- Improves organization and efficiency. Whether you’re competing against others or the clock, chances are you’ll do better in your team building event with a bit of organization. Learning to use your time and resources efficiently is a valuable skill no matter who you are.
- Builds friendships. Your team might not stay together for the entirety of their careers, but they can maintain relationships in the future. Giving your team the opportunity to transition from coworkers to friends can be hugely beneficial.
Team Building Is Worth It
From improving relationships to learning communication skills to having some fun, there are a number of reasons why you might want to sign your team up for a fun activity. It’s not only rewarding your staff, but also helps to improve your team’s efficiency back in the office.
Bottom line: Team building is worth it.
Ready to get started? We’ve put together a list of D.C.’s best team building activities to help get your ideas flowing. Have fun out there!
18 Team Building Activities in D.C.
1. Discover the Smithsonian Museums
One of D.C.’s most popular attractions, the Smithsonian Institute is an impressive collection of dozens of museums, libraries, research centers and a zoo. If you have a team filled with curious creatives who like to learn, it’s hard to imagine a better destination than the Smithsonian Museums. Though they can be packed with tourists, these massive museums feature some of the largest and most eclectic collections in the world, making them a must-see for any teams visiting D.C.
2. Visit the International Spy Museum
D.C. is full of museums, but few are as intriguing — or mysterious — as the International Spy Museum. Dedicated to the art of espionage, this interactive museum features numerous high-tech gadgets, as well as stories and artifacts from the CIA, FBI and even fictional spies. One of the highlights is James Bonds’ 1963 Aston Martin DB5 from the movie Goldfinger. This museum makes for a great choice for a team of special agents who love movies, spy culture or gadgets.
3. Explore Dupont Circle
Although organized activities can be a blast, some teams prefer to simply go out for a few drinks or a show. If that’s your crew, you won’t want to miss Dupont Circle. This unique neighborhood has long been one of D.C.’s most vibrant areas, featuring countless restaurants, a lively nightlife scene and a handful of delightful museums. Some of the neighborhood’s most beloved venues include the D.C. Improv Comedy Club and the colorful Eighteenth Street Lounge.
4. Chill Out in Rock Creek Park
You don’t have to travel far from D.C. to unwind in nature. Rock Creek Park is one of D.C.’s natural highlights and offers plenty of activities, including hiking, picnicking and horseback riding. This massive park (which is more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park) makes for a perfect place for a team to recharge after a day of exploration.
5. Go on a City Scavenger Hunt
From historic landmarks to hidden corners, there's always something to discover in Washington, D.C. City Hunt provides various scavenger hunts — from themed hunts to team trivia — guaranteed to provide a fun option for team building in D.C. The company has had over one million "City Hunters" play their Washington Corporate Team Builder to date!
6. Learn Cuisine From Around the World
Between government workers and tourists, D.C. is a truly international city, which means there’s delicious, authentic cuisine from all over the world just waiting to be eaten. If you want to get your hands dirty, consider attending one of our numerous chef-led team building cooking classes. You can learn the basics of vegetarian Indian cuisine, experiment with eye-catching sushi or taste the flavors of the Caribbean.
7. Stroll Through the National Mall
Easily Washington’s most popular attraction, the National Mall is the center point of the city’s massive network of government buildings and museums. Here, your team can gander at the Washington Monument, walk the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or visit the Smithsonian Museums. The National Mall is also the home of the beautiful reflecting pool, one of D.C.’s most recognizable sites. This makes it a great central point for any team building activities in D.C. that you have planned.
8. Visit the White House
Did you know that it’s completely free for any American citizen to visit the White House? While you can’t just show up and expect to be let in, your team can reserve a tour by submitting a request to your congressional representatives ahead of time. Not only can you view the seat of the American executive branch for yourself, but you’ll also get to see some iconic American art and history.
9. Hop on a Pedal Bike Tour
Book a pedal tour with Pedal Saloon, a unique and fun team building activity in Arlington. These 14-person pedal bars give you a new chance to soak up the sights and views of your city. Your team will pedal together, laugh, and have the opportunity to play games such as scavenger hunts or Pedal Saloon BINGO. You create your itinerary and lists of stops, which can be anything from restaurants to bars!
10. Explore the Eastern Market
Since opening in the early 1800s, the Eastern Market has been one of D.C.’s premier destinations for fresh food, handmade goods and people watching. These days, the market is still one of D.C.’s top commercial destinations, but it’s also become a popular event space and tourist attraction. Whether you’re buying or just window shopping, a trip to the Eastern Market makes for a delightful way to spend a morning with your team.
11. Catch a Concert at the Anthem
Over the years, D.C. has established itself as a music capital thanks to its numerous esteemed concert halls. One of the city’s top auditoriums, the Anthem, regularly attracts A-list artists and top-rated shows. Best of all, the Anthem sits right on the banks of the Potomac just a few minutes from the National Mall, making it a perfect way to end a day of team building. Treating your team to a show or a concert is a great way to show your appreciation and spend some quality time together.
12. Make Handmade Pasta
As one of the world’s most beloved foods, it’s a shame that most of us eat our pasta from a box. If you’re looking for a truly unique D.C. experience, consider learning how to roll pasta by hand. You can work alongside a professional chef who will teach you everything you need to know, or you can split your team up for a friendly cooking competition. Either way, you’re sure to have a deliciously good time.
13. Try an Escape Room
To challenge your team and get them creatively thinking, try a popular and trendy escape room experience. But not just any room: Escape Room Live is the #1 rated escape room in both Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA. Complete with cocktails, board games, and Hollywood-style sets, Escape Room Live improves morale and the ability to problem solve while having fun.
14. Catch a Capitals Game
Washington takes its sports seriously, and few teams have as devoted of a following as their NHL team, the Washington Capitals. If you’re in town between October and April, it’s always worth trying to catch a home game at Capital One Arena. This arena is also home to the city’s beloved professional basketball team, the Washington Wizards. Both make great options for sports-loving teams.
15. Take a River Cruise
One of the defining features of D.C.’s topography is the Potomac River. If you’d like to explore this historic body of water for yourself, consider taking a riverboat cruise with your team. You’ll get to see a new angle on many of D.C.’s monuments in addition to having plenty of chances to socialize with your group. Many riverboat cruises also serve mouthwatering dinners and feature well-stocked bars.
16. Play Topgolf
Topgolf is an interactive golfing experience that’s growing rapidly in popularity — and you can experience it for yourself right here in D.C.! Topgolf is a fun way to work on your swing while playing games, experimenting with technology and socializing with colleagues in a lively environment.
17. Try Your Hand at Axe Throwing
Play lumberjack for the day with your team at Bad Axe Throwing. Axe throwing is anything but your typical corporate event, providing your team a chance to learn a new skill while having fun in the process. Bring your own food and drinks at no extra charge, or have your team building event catered. Bad Axe is perfect for every skill level, even true beginners, and provides trained professionals and coaches to walk your team through axe throwing 101.
18. Ride Roller Coasters at Six Flags America
If you’d like to get your adrenaline pumping, consider taking a day trip to Six Flags America. This massive theme park features some of the country’s top thrill rides, such as The Joker and Superman. You’ll also find plenty of kid-friendly attractions, making it a smart choice if your team wants to bring their families along.
Washington, D.C. has no shortage of exciting, engaging and downright fun team building events. And by taking these opportunities to bond with your team, you'll leave them reinvigorated with a boost in morale, productivity and creative thinking. Which activity will your team try?
For even more fun things to do in D.C., check out Cozymeal's team building activities in Washington D.C.!