5 Best Holiday Activities in Washington DC

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Stories September 17, 2021 5 Best Holiday Activities in Washington DC

Y’all, Christmas is next week!

It’s time to squeeze in all of the merriment we can — listen to all of our fav holiday carols, drink our fill of spiked eggnog (or mulled wine!), and soak up all of the magical vibes from twinkling light displays!

For all of you in the DC area looking to fill up this last week with as many holiday activities and as much cheer as you possibly can, I see you, I hear you, and this list is for you!

Without further ado, here are our five favorite holiday activities to do in DC right now.

#1: Check Out “ZooLights” At The National Zoo

The annual ZooLights event at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo definitely deserves the title of “winter wonderland”!

This year at ZooLights you’ll find:

  • more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights,
  • not one but TWO epic laser light shows set to music,
  • a holiday-themed obstacle course,
  • a Gingerbread Village (complete with an insta-worthy gingerbread throne),
  • yummy holiday treats like frosted cookies, spiced cider, and glowing cotton candy, and, last but not least,
  • festive live holiday music!

#2: Visit DC’s Botanical Gardens

There are TWO great events to check out at DC’s botanical gardens.

First up, Meadowlark Botanical Garden’s Annual “Winter Walk of Lights”.

The Meadowlark staff and NOVA Park volunteers have once again transformed their garden into a magically festive storybook setting. It takes three months to install the entire walk, which is a little less than a half mile long. While visiting, make sure you stop to admire the Fountains of Lights, the Garden of Light, and Lakeside Lights.

After you’re done there, head over to U.S. Botanic Garden’s Annual Season’s Greenings Holiday Show, “All Aboard!”

You probs already guessed — this event is all about trains. It features 30+ train station models from around the United States, which are all made from plants and natural materials. The exhibit includes one of our personal fav models of NYC’s Grand Central Terminal!

You can also head over to the garden’s Conservatory, where you’ll find poinsettias aplenty and two of the largest indoor decorated trees in DC.

#3: All Of The Lights

There are TONS of twinkly lights to see in DC. Here are some of our favorites!

The National Tree: The National Christmas Tree is lit every day beginning around 4:30 pm. It also hosts free nightly musical performances! See the schedule here.

Symphony of Lights: This family-friendly event has more than 100 larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations on display. Over the past 20 years, this event has raised $8 million to benefit Howard County General Hospital.

Georgetown GLOW: Check out some awesome outdoor public light art installations in one of DC’s oldest neighborhoods. Get the most out of your visit by reserving a spot on one of four unique GLOW walking tours.

#4: Shopping At The Downtown Holiday Market

The 14th annual Downtown Holiday Market is open every day from noon – 8 pm. Located on the F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery, it’s the perfect place to visit after a Museum Hack Tour at NPG… just sayin 😉!

Home to 150+ regional artisans, crafters, and boutique businesses, you are sure to find the perfect gift for anyone still on your list. Don’t forget to check out the daily live music performances on the Market Stage.

#5: Grab A Drink At A Holiday Themed Pop-Up Bar

The holidays can be a little stressful! This year, between the shopping and various holiday events, treat yourself to a fun night (or day, no one here is judging!) out at a holiday-themed pop-up bar.

DC has not one but TWO awesome holiday-themed bars to choose from!

If you are looking to escape the cold and like your Santa in a tank top and flip flops, the tropical pop-up Sippin’ Santa over at Archipelago is the spot for you.

If you love waaaay over the top holiday decor, pandas, and themed cocktails called “Cookie Dough & Snuggles”, then the Miracle on Seventh Street  at 1843 7th Street NW is for you!

Wishing a very happy holidays to all of you in DC! 🐼🌴🎅🏻

By the way, if you are celebrating the holidays online this year, check out this list of ideas for virtual Christmas parties.

P.S. Did we miss any super awesome holiday events happening right now in the DC area?? Please leave the info in the comments below.

written with 💖 by Taylor Gmahling

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