Thursday, November 17, 2016

Family fun during the holidays in Washington DC

There is just so much going on in Washington D.C. (and Northern Virginia) during the holidays, it’s hard to keep up with it all. If you’re looking for something to do with the kids at any given time during this year's festive season, you won’t be lacking for places to go. Here are a few ideas -

Zoolights, at the National Zoo

Zoolights is a fun time for the kids. On our last visit, we went during the holiday break and, while it was a little chilly, there was enough to see and do to keep us moving around. Lots of lights and enough of the animals were awake to visit with. During the week between Christmas and New Year it’s likely to be a bit crowded, but is still a great time. Admission is free!

Season’s Greetings at the US Botanic Garden

The USBG is a wonderful place. Always free admission year-round, during Season’s Greetings, the gardens transform into a botanical winter wonderland. You’ll find festive displays and, one of its popular exhibits, are the model trains that are displayed each year. Season’s Greetings usually starts in late November and runs to early January, usually ending just after New Year’s Day. USBG is located a hop, skip and a jump from the U.S. Capitol.

ICE! At the National Harbor 

Every year the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center hosts its ICE! Extravaganza. The theme changes each year and it’s touted as a day of family (albeit verrry chilly!) fun. We finally got down there in 2016 and we had a great time. Prices typically vary depending on the day of your visit (peak vs. non-peak). Check the official website for more information as there are other things to do too from what I hear. There are also some discounts available if you qualify. They give you a parka to wear but still dress warmly and definitely don't forget the hat and gloves!

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting

Union Station, which is a historic building worth seeing in itself, hosts its annual Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting. As a longstanding custom for 20 years now, Norway presents a Christmas tree to the people of Washington as a recognition of friendship between the two nations. On the evening of the event, Santa makes an appearance and there is live music. Additionally, there is a holiday train display on exhibit in the Main Hall. The trains are hand-made replicas of Norwegian trains set in a Norwegian landscape. Admission is free. Check the official website for details. Even if you can't make the lighting, the tree and trains will be on display throughout December. 

When walking around town, check out the National Christmas Tree and Pageant of Peace. The tree is located in the White House ellipse and is usually lit early in the season (tickets for this evening are given out via an online lottery) and after the initial lighting the tree is open to the public to view. The Capitol Tree is usually lit the first week in December and shines each night through the holidays.

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