10 Wonderful Ways To Spend Christmas in Washington D.C.

10 Wonderful Ways To Spend Christmas in Washington D.C.

Spending December in the US Capitol? Here are 10 ways to enjoy the holidays in Washington D.C.

It’s the holidays, and whether you want to stay at home or visit a different city for a vacation, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. No matter what type of weather you’re stuck in: hot, cold, wet, dry, humid, etc. The country comes to life this time of year, despite what religion you practice or your nationality. It’s a time to come together, meet new people, be thankful for who we are, and to give gifts to each other, showing our appreciation.

So, what are you planning on doing for the holidays? Perhaps head to the big apple, New York City, and discover the urban winter wonderland? Or how about something a little less conventional, like Orlando or sunny Los Angeles? It doesn’t matter where you’re visiting this year, just make sure to have a safe and happy holiday, but if you’re still itching to find a place vacation, then here are ten wonderful ways to spend Christmas in Washington D.C.

Gaylord National Resort's ICE!

Now, what do we think about when it comes to Christmas? Winter is the first thing to pop into people’s heads, and winter equals cold and chilly for most. Take a short drive from D.C. and you’ll find yourself in National Harbor, Maryland, where Gaylord National Resort exists. During the holidays, the resort is home to one of the most spectacular exhibits in the country, and it is entitled “ICE!” Visit the resort and walk through two million pounds of ice, sculpted in many shapes and sizes. There are five ice slides, so you and the kids can have some fun sliding down something so unconventional. Even if you don’t want to participate in the exhibit’s activities, seeing huge ice sculptures crafted with perfection is still amazing. Plus, the resort is also home to the “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” exhibit this year, so you’ll be able to experience a retelling of the classic television special.

Address: 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, Maryland 20745
Phone: (301) 965-4000

Historic Homes

Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have a lot of history between them. So much history that the homes of famous historical figures still stand on their grounds to this day. There are many historic homes that have been turned into museums around the D.C. area. These are great attractions to visit during the holidays, not only because of the Christmas lights, but the mood and the feelings these homes give feel nothing less than authentic, adding to your vacation and your holiday experience. Many of the historic home museums have special events during the holidays, like to putting on candlelight tours, playing seasonal music, and providing holiday treats. These museums are perfect for you and a loved one to get bundled up in your best winter attire and go soak up some history and holiday cheer.

Holiday Concerts

D.C. is home to many concert halls and theaters that put on shows during this wonderful season. One of the most popular concerts to attend is Wolf Trap’s “Holiday Sing-A-Long.” It’s a 2-hour special, complete with candlelight, where everyone gets together and sings along to some holiday favorites performed by the United States Marine Band and local choirs and music groups.

Visit wolftrap.org for more information on this event, but make sure to check out other concerts going on during the holiday season in D.C. A little bit of music can go a very long way.

The National Christmas Tree & Pathway of Peace

On the Ellipse right outside the White House, there exists one of the most famous Christmas trees in America. It’s the National Christmas Tree, which the President lights himself every year. You can see this tree all throughout the holidays, because viewing is free to the public, but the actual lighting ceremony itself requires tickets. Don’t worry if you miss that though, there’s so much to see and do around D.C. during the holidays that seeing the tree alone will make your trip worthwhile.

Though, the Christmas Tree isn’t the only thing to see here. There’s also the Pathway of Peace, which includes state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments. It’s a fun walk and truly invigorates you with the Christmas spirit. I’ve personally been on the Pathway of Peace and have seen the National Christmas Tree. It’s a beautiful experience and seeing the model trains traveling around the base of the Christmas Tree just lights up the adolescence inside of me. I cannot wait to visit it again later this month.

Christmas Lights Throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to go look at Christmas lights. Whatever you may have seen in New York or Boston, the D.C. area does Christmas Lights correctly. Hopping in a car and driving around D.C., the northern parts of Virginia, and the Southern parts of Maryland, you’ll find some of the most incredibly decorated houses. What makes them better is that many of the houses are decades and centuries old, so if you enjoyed your tour through the museums of the historic homes around the area, then just wait until you see hundreds of them lit up at night. And these houses aren’t in rows like many housing communities these days. They are on hills and in valleys and are separated, making your anticipation increases when you can see an awesome house in the distance.

It’s funny how a simple drive can spread Christmas cheer and warm your heart. There are many excellent places to do so around the country during the holidays, but there are very few that do it just like the D.C. area. I highly recommend everyone do this during his or her stay.

Holiday Shows

Like I said before, D.C. is home to many concert halls and theaters; the Kennedy Center being one of the most popular. But not many people know that D.C. is the #2 live theater city in the United States, #1 being New York City, of course. There are a lot of theaters in D.C. and the surrounding areas, and I mean a lot. You’ll find a vast array of Community and Equity shows that will leave you with smiles on your faces. The theaters take advantage of the heightened tourism in D.C. over the holidays by putting on their own holiday shows, whether they are classics or originals. How about getting some tickets and going to a show one night? You and a loved one can get dressed up and soak up the culture live theater injects into you. My favorite to see is A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. Check it out!

National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting

During the eight day Jewish holiday, a gigantic Menorah is lit outside the White House on the Ellipse, the same place where the National Christmas Tree lives. This ceremony is open to all, but there are tickets for those who would like a seat. There are live musical performances and classic Jewish treats available, which are delicious by the way. So, if you celebrate Hanukkah or you want to experience something a little different from the traditional Christmas events, then I suggest going to this ceremony and take hold of all the culture and love you’ll experience.

Union Station

Union Station is one of Washington D.C.’s best venues for holiday shopping. The building is decked out when it comes to decorations, so you can’t help but absorb the Christmas spirit after walking in. This train station and shopping mall entertains people with events and special performances throughout the year, but it seems like they always outdo themselves during the holidays. It’s a blast, and the Holiday Model Train Display is incredible. It’s a Giant Model Train exhibit, where the trains are hand-made to replicate real Norwegian Trains, including Norwegian landscape and mountains.

Check this place out and get some shopping done as well.

Botanical Gardens

Union Station is one of Washington D.C.’s best venues for holiday shopping. The building is decked out when it comes to decorations, so you can’t help but absorb the Christmas spirit after walking in. This train station and shopping mall entertains people with events and special performances throughout the year, but it seems like they always outdo themselves during the holidays. It’s a blast, and the Holiday Model Train Display is incredible. It’s a Giant Model Train exhibit, where the trains are hand-made to replicate real Norwegian Trains, including Norwegian landscape and mountains.

Check this place out and get some shopping done as well.

New Year's

Now, most don’t get the luxury of being able to stay on their holiday vacation after Christmas, but for those that do get to, then I suggest staying in D.C. for the holidays, including New Year’s. Where better to stay for the turn of the year than the nation’s capital? So many events, including parties, occur on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day that you’ll have a hard time choosing when and where to go. But something that D.C. always does right on New Year’s is their fireworks show. There are many places to watch the spectacular fireworks show that occurs above the city, but I suggest watching from either Gravelly Point, one of D.C.’s famous monuments & memorials, or from the Memorial Bridge. This fireworks show is something truly spectacular, so no matter where you see it from, you won’t be disappointed.

Holidays can be enjoyed from just about anywhere, including work…sometimes. While there’s nothing better than being with family during this time of year, taking a vacation to an excellent city like Washington D.C. is just as rewarding. Take the trip and try one of my ten wonderful ways to spend Christmas in D.C.

Thanks for reading,

Brunhofer

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