Washington D.C. is a travel destination I would suggest at anytime of the year. This was our second trip to the area. The first trip was a quick three day whirlwind. This time we wanted to spend a full week in the city and the surrounding areas. When making our itinerary we also wanted to pack in as many holiday activities into our trip as we could.
We had a late start to the first day, but eventually made it to the U.S Capital Building. After the tour, we spent some time in the House of Representatives and Senate. After passing through two metal detectors and dropping off our bags, we sat in the visitors gallery to watch our Government at work. This experience was like watching C-SPAN. But being in the same room as our politicians made it feel different; more important, like things were being accomplished. I know that can seem like an oxymoron, but if you have the time and the patience I would suggest going. You never know, you might see your State Representative or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, like we did.
After almost falling asleep in the Senate visitors gallery; we headed over to the U.S Botanic Garden. Throughout the Garden were small scale models of D.C monuments made entirely out of plant material. On this particular night the gardens also had and orchestra playing popular Christmas songs.
The Library of Congress is the most beautiful building in D.C. The tour is also one of the best. The rich history of the importance of books and architecture is overwhelming.
The U.S Capital Christmas tree lighting was at the top of our list. This years tree was sponsored by the state of New Mexico. This blue spruce tree, was beautifully decorated with ornaments representing the state. After standing in freezing rain, the guest of honor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pushed the button and the tree came to life with thousand of led light bulbs.
Enchanted!!! It seems like these light up holiday mazes took over every baseball stadium in the country this season. Luckily, we went on a weekday. The place had just the right amount of people and the weather was perfectly cool. The only thing we didn’t enjoy were the drinks and food offerings. I would plan on eat elsewhere, unless you are in the mood for hamburgers and hot-dogs.
Ice skating was the perfect way to end the evening after searching for all of Santa’s reindeer in the winding maze. Make sure you bring conferrable/thick socks; those ice skates are not forgiving on your feet.
The U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum was a lengthily and powerful museum. Plan for over three hours to fully see and read everything.
Outside of the National Portrait Gallery was the downtown holiday market. Tents lined the street with homemade gifts, artist prints, and (my personal favorite) food vendors. We started with dessert; mini donuts. Made fresh and the topping were diy at an adjoining table. We opted for chocolate and peanut butter on one side and lemon syrup, powder sugar, and fruity pebbles on the other side.
No holiday market is complete without a German food tent. Here we picked up Bratwurst, marzipan, and cookies for breakfast.
Since we were outside side of the National Portrait Gallery we stopped in to look at the presidential portraits. Little did we know a. the place is huge (again plane for 3+ hours of time) b. it would have a modern art section. This is where we found what Aaron dubbed ‘Counter Top’. It was what looked like a slab of counter top leaded against the wall. I guess we aren’t sophisticated.
To end the day we met up with some friend who where in town for dinner and drinks. We ended the night at Cotton & Reed for delicious craft cocktails.
My favorite place we visited was the U.S. National Arboretum. Even thought it was winter there was still so much to see. We walked for hours and covers hundreds of acres. There were trees with just the right amount of fall color, a section of perfectly manicured Japanese bonsai trees, and a section of trees donated from each state, just to name a few. The department of agriculture conducts on going research for different types of golf course grass to be resistance to the winter cold. I could go on and on, it’s also a dog friendly place. If you like the out doors I highly recommend stopping by the Arboretum.
We when to the Chicago Zoo last year, which was filled with animals and a synchronized light displayed. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo did not live up to the same expatiation. There were no animals to see and other than a few food trucks and tents selling handmade art there wasn’t much else to do. We made the most of it by wearing our ugly Christmas sweaters.
We traveled outside of D.C to neighboring Alexandra, VA. It was so cool, thankfully Aaron bought me a coffee and made sure I was standing in the sun once the Scottish Christmas Parade started. The parade had bagpipe players, every breed for Scottish dog, dance troops, and to end it all; Santa.
The afternoon was spent weaving in and out of boutique shops and antique stores. We decided to eat dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar. We were seated in a circular window table. Like something you would see in a Victorian house. Best. seat. in. the. house. You know you’re on vacation when you start dinner with shots. The Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters where surprisingly good. Would recommend. For dinner we split the Seafood Plateau for two. Very fresh and delicious, but we were still hungry and ended up spilling a shrimp po’boy.
After dinner we continued walking through tiny shops and eventually made our way down to the river for the Alexandria Boat Parade. Boats of all shapes and sizes lit up the river with decorative lights and Christmas music.
We went back and forth between visiting Mount Vernon during the day or attending the Mount Vernon by Candlelight Tour. Ultimately, choosing to attend the Candlelight Tour. Our tour guide led us down to the main house where we traveled from room-to-room and met with a charter or visitor who would have stayed in the house during the Christmas season in the 1700s. At the end of the tour we learned a short 18th century dance and made our way down to see Aladdin the Christmas camel.
Overall, I wish we would have gone during the day. We took the 7:30 time slot. The Candlelight tour felt rushed and it was hard to see the beauty of the property in the darkness. If we find ourselves in D.C again, I would definitely visit during the day. I loved learning about the history of our first president and the Christmas traditions during this historic time.
On the last day we chose the Newseum as our museum to spend the majority of the day. Sadly, this museum closed at the end of December 2019. This is the reason we picked this museum; it was now or never. This museum is five stories full of the history and importance of journalism. The larger exhibits covered big news stories such as the Berlin Wall removal and September 11th. We spent five hours reading and watching videos on these events both from the public’s point of view and also from a journalist prospective.
The Newseum has the best views of the Capital Building. They have a deck on the top floor that provided the perfect photo op. On the fourth floor of the museum is a working news room that can be rented out for interviews or other T.V broadcast. Every U.S President since the creation of the Newseum has been interviewed in that news room, except for the current President (#45).
On our last night we ventured over the Georgetown. It was explained to us by our tour guide, this is where the who’s who of D.C live. The annual Georgetown Glow is a free art experience. We opted to do the pay-what-you-want tour. If you are savvy with reading the artist interpenetration from the website and able to follow the arrows on the sidewalks; I would suggest skipping the tour guild. I did enjoy the art and the use of color in the installations. Most of the displays were made of very common objects; fishnet stockings stretched over hula hoops, zip ties formed into spiky orbs. While walking to each display you also get to explore the beauty of this small town. This was the perfect ending to our vacation.
We packed in so much in our six day trip and we still feel like there is more to see for next time. It was perfectly balanced between the visiting museums and holiday events.
4 thoughts on “Christmas in Washington D.C”
Karissa your site is awesome, I wish you a lot of success.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post!