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Washington D.C. Christmastime


Visit the National Tree

Check a visit to the National Christmas Tree off your list this holiday season. Located between the White House and the Washington Memorial, the National Christmas Tree, surrounded by 56 smaller trees on the “Pathway of Peace” is an iconic part of Christmas in DC.

Price: Free!

Hours: You can see the tree all the time, but it is lit from about 4:30 until 10:00 every night.


Stop by the Willard Hotel

This won’t take much time out of your evening, but a stop by the historic Willard Hotel is a must during the holiday season. Pop in to warm up, marvel at the Christmas tree in the lobby, and peek inside the gingerbread house. If nothing else, you just have to see the inside of the beautiful hotel that has hosted guests such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Martin Luther King Jr. Wanna know more? Check out their website here.

Price: Free

Hours: Always open


Walk Through the National Zoo Lights

What’s better than the Washington National Zoo? The Zoo covered in thousands of lights, with holiday music playing and special treats galore! Every night at 5:00, the zoo transforms into a twinkling winter wonderland. You can find information about transportation and special events throughout the season on their website here.

Price: Free!

Hours: Everyday from 5:00pm – 9:00pm (though the zoo itself opens at 9:00am)


Attend a Concert (or Service) at the National Cathedral

There’s something about the National Cathedral during Christmastime that makes us all remember what Christmas is really about. I can’t think of a better time to visit the cathedral. Don’t forget to take a tour and learn more than you ever imaged about the cathedral from exceptionally knowledgable tour guides. Then sit and listen to some of the beautiful concerts happening throughout the season. There are also tickets available for Christmas services. Find it all here!

Price: General admission is $12.00 for adults. Ticket prices for concerts and services vary

Hours: Generally, the cathedral is open at 10:00am. Concert and service times vary, so be sure to check the link above!


Shop at the Downtown Holiday Market

Don’t miss your chance to do some quality Christmas shopping at the Downtown DC Holiday Market. With more than 150 artists and crafters, you’re sure to find something you love. The market is located near the American Portrait Gallery, right in the heart of DC, and will make a great stop during site-seeing. Find all the good information here.

Price: Free, but you’ll need to buy some gifts

Hours: Noon until 8:00pm daily through December 23


Drive Through the Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek State Park

Drive a few miles north of Washington DC and you stumble upon Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland. During this holiday season, hundreds of light displays light up the park. While driving through the park, you will happen upon Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, and even the North Pole. Bring some cookies and hot cocoa and play Christmas music in the car and you have a perfect evening in store! Get details and directions here.

Price: $12.00 on weeknights, $15.00 on the weekends

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 6 – 9pm, Friday-Saturday 6 – 10pm


Experience Christmas at Mount Vernon

Have you ever wonder what Christmas was like for George Washington? At his Mount Vernon home, just south of downtown DC on the Potomac River, you can find out! Tour the first Presidents home, his property, and get a taste of colonial chocolate making. Get more information and discounted tickets here.

Price: $20.00 dollars for adults, $10.00 for youth 6-11, and children under 5 are free!

Hours: Everyday from 9:00am – 4:00pm


Visit the Christmas Tree at the Library of Congress

The White House isn’t the only place to find a Christmas tree in Washington DC. Head over to the Library of Congress to not only see their beautiful tree, but just to walk through the museums and take a peek at the reading room. The Library of Congress is gorgeous and one of my person favorite tourist spots in DC!

Price: Free!

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30am – 5:00pm, Closed on Sundays and Holidays


See The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre

Not only is The Nutcracker a classic Christmas ballet, but the Warner Theatre is a gorgeous environment. What better way to treat yourself than with a night out on the town surrounded by Christmas magic! Find show times and purchase your tickets here!

Price: Tickets range from $30.00 – $120.00

Dates: Most days through December, though times vary


Ice Skate at the National Gallery of Art

Fun for all ages, ice skating at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden will surely not disappoint. As a bonus, there is a cafe next door for hot coco breaks! You can read all about the various prices, times, classes, and special events here.

Price: $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for students and skaters over 50 or under 12 years of age.

Hours: Monday–Thursday 10:00–9:00, Friday 10:00–11:00, Saturday 11:00–11:00, Sunday 11:00–9:00


Bonus: Visit Baltimore’s German Christmas Village

Just a 45 minute drive from Washington, a visit to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon or evening. From Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, the Inner Harbor transforms into a European Winter Wonderland. Vendors selling their arts and crafts, as well as authentic German foods, make for a wonderful Christmas shopping experience. Get all the info here.

Price: Free! With the exception of gift buying of course.

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. & Friday-Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.



Share this article

  • Coryn
    December 1, 2016

    These are great suggestions! I’ll have to try a few this year.

    Also, the new blog looks so beautiful 🙂

    • Jennifer Leigh
      December 1, 2016

      Thank you, Coryn! I hope you do get a chance to try some! I had so much fun making this list, I think we’re going to cross off five of these activities just this weekend 🙂

  • Jenn
    December 1, 2016

    I lived right outside of DC most of my life and have never been to any of these. I usually only visited in Spring and Fall. If we ever move back to MD I’ll definitely be going to some of these!

    • Jennifer Leigh
      December 1, 2016

      I hope you do! We’re only going to be in DC a few more months, and I want to make sure we check as much off our list as possible! This time of year is especially fun 🙂

  • Ashley Yano
    December 1, 2016

    Don’t forget the wonderful free concerts at the LDS Temple’s Visitor’s Center!! All are welcome!!!

    • Jennifer Leigh
      December 1, 2016

      Oh yes, that is a great one Ashley! Thanks for adding that to the list, and for the link!

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