I love living in the DC area in the winter. Generally, the weather is cold, but bearable, so it’s a great time to get downtown without the huge numbers of tourists that we see during the summer. We tend to hit a lot of the museums during this time period, but it’s also a great time to visit some outdoor attractions that only come around once a year.
[Tweet “Looking for fun things to do in #WashingtonDC in December? Here are 5 kid friendly things! #kidfun #lifewithkids #fitfam”]
1. Visit the National Christmas tree – Not only is this a beautiful tree to visit after dark every year, but it’s also a great location to visit during the day. The Pathway of Peace that winds around the tree has 56 trees representing all of the US states and territories. It’s open from 10am-10pm, December 15-January 1 and is well worth the visit.
Credit: Richard Gillin
2. Go see ICE at the Gaylord or the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo – The Gaylord ICE exhibit is in National Harbor (the finish line of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon if you’ve run that) and consists of 2 million pounds of carved ice sculptures. This walk through exhibit, kept at a chilly 9 degrees, includes four slides and multiple rooms depicting the story of Frosty the Snowman. The National Zoo’s ZooLights offers the opportunity to see the zoo decorated with thousands of lights, as well as the chance to see the nocturnal animals awake. (That’s my kids’ favorite part!)
3. Visit the train display at Union Station or at the Botanic Garden – Union Station is an amazing building to visit any time of year with it’s high ceilings and grand interior, but it’s even better in the winter when the Norwegian Christmas tree is up (donated to the US from Norway each year) and the train is on display. Another train option is the Botanic Garden (can you tell I have boys?). This display includes model trains and some amazing replicas of Washington DC monuments, as well as a separate display of seasonal plants.
4. Attend a 1st night event – One of the closest to DC is First Night Alexandria. This is a fun family event that offers musical entertainment, kid activities like moon bounces, face painting, and singalongs, and concludes with fireworks. Since it takes place in Old Town Alexandria, there are plenty of restaurant options and nearly everything is walkable
5. Run a New Year’s eve or New Year’s day race – One of the favorite races in the area is the Fairfax Four. Held at 6pm, so that you can still go out for the evening, this hugely popular race offers a hoodie as the race swag. If you’d rather run off your hangover, there are plenty of “resolution” runs. My favorite is the Predictions & Resolutions 5k that starts in Virginia near the Key Bridge. Why is this my favorite? It starts at noon.
Credit: Swim Bike Run Photography
What are your favorite activities around the holidays? Check out the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Mar and Courtney to see everyone else likes to do in the winter.
27 thoughts on “Five awesome things to do in DC in the winter”
I think the ICE exhibit would be cool to see! It would be cold but that’s something you don’t see everyday!
That Christmas tree is beautiful. That ICE exhibit sounds so cool. I would love to go visit DC around the holidays.
The U.S. Botanic Garden is on my list. I’ll be participating in the Predictions & Resolutions 5k, will you?
OOOH BRACE YERSELF.
I may be there in FEB!!
The National Christmas Tree & Pathway of Peace sounds beautiful! Sounds like DC is really awesome this time of year. I would love to do a New Years Day 5K, but it doesn’t look like there’s any local. I’ll probably just run on my own. 🙂
I love these ideas! I’ve got family in DC and I need to make my way down there after Christmas….thanks for the suggestions!!
Oh this post makes me miss the DC area(I’m from northern Virginia originally and I’m currently lobbying to move back 😉 The National Christmas Tree is so beautiful!
We were in DC the spring…it was SO cold. I’d love to go back and see the Christmas decorations. The union station train display would definitely be a must see.
We are planning to get into DC over the kids school break this year–we just don’t do it enough! Thanks for the ideas. We haven’t done the ICE exhibit in a few years but would like to hit that again. And of course, the museums!
We have a Gaylord in Grapevine, though I don’t know what the theme is this year for the ICE exhibit.
There are so many fun Christmas things to do in our area. Its impossible to do everything every year (although I certainly wish that I could!).
There are so many awesome ways to enjoy winter in teh DC area and I am jealous of all your choices. That Christmas tree is absolutely stunning.
i ran past all the major christmas trees last night and it was awesome!
All of those are exceptional things. I’m very jealous of your city’s festive displays. That tree is just spectacular.
Oh what a great list. I have only been to DC once. I would love to go back to visit! 🙂
I forgot about the ICE event! I went to it a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. Zoo Lights is one of my favorite holiday things in the area.
I’ve been wanting to go see the Ice display at the Gaylord. It’s like ridiculously expensive though huh?
This definitely makes me miss DC! Ahhh, it’s such a great place for festive activities!
Oooh these sound great!!! I want to check out the Ice thing.
yes to ALL of these! I love traipsing around DC during the winter b/c it is SO less crowded. And the views are great.
Great list! We have done all but a NewYears day/eve race because I’m always working on New Years…rather that than Christmas. And we actually have never gone down to the National tree if you can believe it!!
The National Tree is pretty awesome!
I think it would be awesome to take a DC trip in the winter. Lately Chris has been talking about maybe moving to DC in a few years when he finishes his time with the Guard – not sure how I feel about that since I was thinking more about moving to a warm beach!!
Mine would be:
1. Themed Runs – Gobble Wobble & Reindeer Run
2. Watching Holiday Moves – Love Actually, The Holiday, Elf, & Home Alone are yearly musts.
3. Buy Presents for others. I get too into it.
4. Baking/cooking Christmas treats. Peppermint Fudge time!
5. Seeing houses lit up!
You’ve made me want to come visit. The Christmas tree is beautiful and there’s nothing I like better than going to the zoo.
Your Tree photo is beautiful!!!!! We used to get to go to DC a bit when my mother in law lived there, but we had to move her down here a few years ago to be closer to us.
I love traveling to DC. Out of all the times of year I have visited, I have yet to go around Christmas. I would love to see the Christmas tree someday. #wowlinkup