We know the Blizzard of 2016 has been a historic storm to get through and that nearly all of you have kids at home, but if you are plowed through or near the Metro and looking for something fun to do, definitely consider heading to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the 2016 Washington Auto Show, which plans to open tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 26. Since school is out, it’s a perfect day to stop by the show!

I was lucky enough to preview the WAS before the storm hit, and I can guarantee that it is sure to entertain your family for hours and give you the scoop on every automaker’s latest models, trends, and technologies. Here are five things to do while you’re there.

1. Camp Jeep: Wait in line to get in a new-model Jeep (I got to ride in a Wrangler Rubicon, but it could be a Renegade, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, including special editions), and a Jeep staffer will drive you over an indoor obstacle course that highlights the best parts of Jeep’s off-trail capabilities. I won’t spoil the fun, but it’s the closest thing to a theme-park ride inside the Auto Show, and will likely be the highlight of your time there. I kept daydreaming of owning that Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and its ability to handle all sorts of terrain — including snow — during the blizzard we just experienced. Note: Camp Jeep participants 17 years and under must be accompanied by a guardian and must be at least 44 inches tall.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition

The kind of Jeep you can ride in at Camp Jeep.

2. Art in Motion: I’m not sure how the snowstorm has impacted the Art in Motion exhibit, but it’s amazing. A live art car display, it featured graphic backdrops consisting of bikes, autos and murals, with painted vehicles, muralists spray-painting art, and, my favorite, artists painting a wrap on a car. I was lucky enough to watch live as DC visual artist (and barber) Jamaal Newman painted a Kia Sedona. It was fabulous to keep checking in on his progress, and what a unique way to feature local artists at the Auto Show!

Art in Motion at Washington Auto Show

Jamaal Newman painting on a Kia Sedona.


Washington Auto Show 2016

A motorcycle dedicated to Mom at the Washington Auto Show.

3. Family Car Shopping: We love looking at the latest model of our own family cars (for the record, that would be a 2011 Toyota Sienna and a 2004 Volvo V70), but also looking at other vehicles that would work for our family, all without a dealer trying to get us to commit right then and there. You can not only look at and in the cars, but you can get in them and talk to the reps about their features, MSRPs, etc. If you have a Toyota Sienna, like we do, take a look at the new Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest or try out the various third-row SUVs if you’re done needing the sliding doors.

4. Dream Car “Shopping”: What car do we get after the minivan? That’s the game I played while walking around the car show, looking at reasonable options and pie-in-the-sky options alike. Every family member can do this too. My friend Keryn of Walking On Travels got to pretend she was a passenger in a Protonic Blue BMW i8 (a $140,000 car). I had more modest ambitions and had my eyes set on a fully loaded Mini (from “Minivan” to “Mini” sounds lovely to me), which would actually be more affordable than the van at about $30,000. Of course, then there are the full slates of luxury brand vehicles if you’re itching to sit in an Audi, Jaguar, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, etc.

Mini at Washington Auto Show

Checking out the 2016 Mini Clubman at the Washington Show.

5. Family-Friendly Booths: Most of the automakers have kid-targeted events and goodies, like the Ford Stand, which is hosting the Panda Cam (sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund). Kids can grab a special panda sticker and catch a highlight reel of Bei Bei’s biggest moments. Ford will also be distributing 1,000 tickets good for a free ride on the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Conservation Carousel. In addition, there are several booths with kid-specific draws. They weren’t all operational during the press preview, but there will be a Family Fun Zone, where kids can meet familiar character friends like Scooby-Doo. The DC Metro booth will be giving out coloring pages, and there’s even a special LEGO Display.

Family Transportation Tips:

  • Take the Metro to Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center stop (closest), or walk a bit from Metro Center or Gallery Place stops. Figure out your best bet using WMATA’s Trip Planner.
  • Drive and park using Parking Panda. It’s easy-to-use, no money exchanges hands, and you don’t have to worry about looking for garage prices, because the app clearly tells you what the discounted prices will be during the Auto Show. Don’t have an account yet? Set up a Parking Panda account.*
  • Coat/Bag check: If you want to check your outerwear to have less to carry around, note it’s $5 to check items. I don’t know if that price is per item, but I’m guessing whatever the attendants can get on one hanger would still be $5.
  • Food: You can buy grill food and concessions at the Auto Show, or you can leave and eat in the surrounding vicinity (that’s what we always do).
  • Strollers/Accessibility: Strollers are allowed in the show. To rent wheelchairs and scooters, click here or call the Convention Center directly at 202-249-3000. Wheelchair and scooter rentals are first-come, first-served.


This post was sponsored by She Buys Cars. While I was compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are my own. *If you use this link, you receive a $5 credit, and I receive a $5. I receive no other compensation.