If you’re excited about holiday activities, DC is a pretty great place to be this time of year. There are so many fun, festive, and unique things to do around the area to celebrate the season — but not always enough time, energy, and — especially notable at this time of year — money to do everything. Costs add up quickly, especially on top of gifts and other holiday spending.
So, many of us want to be selective about the holiday activities we choose to do. Which is why I’ve been getting lots of inquiries about Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park. DC’s new big holiday attraction apparently is the world’s largest Christmas light maze and market — and somewhat of a splurge for a family of four to visit. A lot of people have been very intrigued, myself included, so of course our family had to go experience it.
I should start by mentioning that 1) I am a sucker for holiday light displays. I always find them kind of magical, whether walking through illuminated grounds or driving along roads lined by twinkling installations. 2) My family received complimentary admission to Enchant, which does alter the perspective since I could just enjoy without wondering if we wasted our money. (That said, I did keep in mind that I would be reviewing it for paying visitors.)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Enchant and tried to go in with an open mind, despite being underwhelmed by other popular holiday spectacles in past years. Things started off well as we walked through the Center Field gate to see a tall, white lit-up tree with smaller light formations nearby. The vibe was warm and festive with lots of people walking by looking relaxed and smiling. And there were dogs — it was a Paws & Claus night, so many people brought their pups along. But it was the scene just beyond it all that took my breath away (remember, I am an absolute cornball about this kind of thing).
The field has been transformed into a beautiful illuminated wonderland, a towering bright white tree the centerpiece of it all with blue, gold, and purple light installations and walls of sparkling holly surrounding it. An icy trail meanders through a section, skaters gliding along. And more people can be seen walking through the glowing landscape below.
We were eager to be part of it all, so after a quick peek at some of the vendor stands, we made our way down to the maze entrance, where we were handed a postcard with scratch off circles. Enchant includes a little adventure to find all of the reindeer within the maze, and you scratch off a circle each time you encounter one. Sasha was very into this, and Owen helped her out (though he was a bit more into Snapping pics — it’s a very social-media-share-worthy event).
Once inside, we wandered around, taking in the sparkling scenes. Some installations are just really pretty to view, others are interactive offering some fun and play as well as great photo ops. And while there are plenty of other people there, it never felt too crowded or chaotic, a benefit of ticketed entry. We spent well over an hour walking around it all — looking for reindeer, getting intentionally lost, and making sure we’d been down every path (that was me, anyway… I didn’t want to miss any neat light displays).
From there, we headed to the rink, though the kids passed on ice skating since they’d done a lot it over Thanksgiving break. But it looked like a lot of fun, the ice trail circling an illuminated “forest” under arches of glittering holly. Skating is included with admission, but rentals are $5/kids & $10/adults, a fee you can avoid if you BYO skates.
A couple of drink stands are on the field area, including the Ice Bar & Lounge, plus roaming hot chocolate vendors for warming up. There are even more food and drink options on the concourse upstairs, Ben’s Chili Bowl and local food vendors among them, so you can grab a bite there (or head to one of several nearby restaurants afterwards like we did).
Also on the concourse is a stage with live entertainment, plus the Christmas Market with over 40 local artisans selling everything from jewelry to art to edible treats to wearable accessories. You can do some holiday shopping, to boot!
Okay, the big question: Is Enchant worth it? My opinion: Yes! It is a splurge, but if you want to do something special with the family, this is a good one. The light displays are quite dazzling, there are multiple activities to enjoy, you can spend a good amount of time there, and it really captures the spirit of the holidays. And maybe not as important, but something about being at Nationals Park during the off-season after the big World Series win adds some extra allure to the experience. 🙂
Enchant Christmas is running at Nationals Park every evening, Christmas included, through December 29. Admission varies by date, time, and age, so check the website for details and see tips below for getting the best deal.
KFDC Tips to help plan for your Enchant experience:
* There is a Family 4-Pack ticket that offers 20% off admission, and you can add on guests as needed.
* Rates vary by date and time, so check out a few different ones if you have flexibility.
*Goldstar is offering ticket discounts, so be sure to check those, too.
* If you have ice skates, bring them to avoid a rental fee (and skate free!).
* Dress warmly — Enchant is all outdoors.
* And since it is all outdoors, it’s worth checking the forecast for the date you want to go.
* Tickets have been selling out, especially on weekends, so don’t wait until the last minute to get them.
* Strollers are not allowed in the maze, only up on the concourse. However, there is a stroller valet.
* There are Paws & Claus nights when dogs are welcome, so if you want to bring your pup or just like seeing them (some in festive wear), check the calendar for those dates.
* Garage parking is available for an extra charge (up to $22), but you can look for street parking in the area — I recommend trying on the other side of M Street and walking a couple of blocks.
* How could I forget? Santa is also there and available for photo ops. Pay for a professional photo, or snap your own for free.
Last Mother’s Day with my loves at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis
Moms’ big day is right around the corner, and it’s an occasion worth making extra special plans for — in my totally unbiased opinion, anyway. 😉 There are so many great ways to spend it (and prep for it), from activities and offerings especially for the day to special events that happen to coincide with the date. I’ve compiled a selection for you here and added in some of my own ideas, all coming from experience, that make for excellent celebrations. I hope they help make the day as fabulous as all the moms! Happy Mother’s Day!
Baking for Mom
Where: Williams-Sonoma Stores | Around the DMV
When: May 6, 10am
Kids ages 8-13 can prep for Mother’s Day by with a fun baking lesson from Williams-Sonoma, part of their Junior Chef Classes. They’ll teach participants to bake like a pro and create a dessert that is perfect for Mom. Contact your local store for more information and to register.
Where: Textile Museum | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: May 13, 10am – 12pm & 1-3pm
Admission: $15/adult & child together, $10 members
It may be called a Children’s Ball, but this event for the whole family will make it a special Mother’s Day weekend at the Textile Museum. Dress in your best and enjoy fun and fancy treats, dancing beats by GW Ballroom, and a kid-centered visit to the exhibition Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair. There are two time slots for this, 10am – 12pm and 1-3pm. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. Register online or call 202.994.7394.
Milkshake Celebrates Moms Concert
Where: Creative Alliance | Baltimore, MD
When: May 13, 12pm
Admission: $10/non-members, $8/members (+$3 at door) free for 2 and under
The Milkshake Band is hosting a mini-activist fair as part of their Celebrate Moms Concert. Kids can have their face painted, make Mother’s Day cards for mom, and even get their picture taken with Moo, Milkshake’s mascot. Every mom will get a flower and some chocolates, and Moms can also connect with some great non-profit organizations. Bring a diaper and/or diaper ointment donation for Share Baby and get a free Milkshake CD!
Savor the Day
Where: Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards
When: May 13-14
Admission: $10/over 21, $5/under 21
Head to the vineyard in Davidson, MD, for an afternoon of wine, food, and live music. Mother’s Day weekend is an official ticketed event at Sugarloaf for the first time ever, so if you’re a party over 4 people, be sure to make reservations in advance. Live music will last an hour longer then usual, and Atlantic Smokers will be there with delicious food! Sweet and Savory of Middletown will have mouth watering desserts for sale as well. Admission includes a souvenir glass and a glass of wine. Infants and stroller age toddlers are free. Be sure to read the rules about what you can and cannot bring before you go. Read more about Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards, in this KFDC post.
Mother’s Day on the Farm
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: May 13-14
Admission: $10/adult, $8/child
Why buy roses when you can buy Mom something as unique as a fresh bundle of asparagus? May is the peak month for Asparagus and it will be fresh and full of flavor. (FYI: PYO strawberries are also available now!) And Great Country has a terrific sprawling play area, while the kids are having a blast there, Mom can enjoy shopping in the Farm Market, which is stocked with jams & jellies, local meats, baked goods, and great gift ideas. Or she can simply relax over lunch and a roasted asparagus flatbread from the Roosteraunt concession stand. Each visiting mom will also receive a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry to thank her for her love, patience, and nurturing in raising the next generation.
Mother’s Day at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: May 13-14
Admission: $18/adult, $9/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under (online rates)
Join the Mother of our Country, Martha Washington, for special Mother’s Day activities at Mount Vernon, her digs with George back in the day. Stroll through the magnificent gardens in bloom and enjoy a tour of the mansion grounds through the eyes of Patty Peters, Martha’s granddaughter. Moms will also receive a lavender sachet from Lady Washington while supplies last.
DC Green Festival – Discount for Moms
Where: Washington Convention Center | Mt. Vernon Square, DC
When: May 13-14
Admission: $12/one day, $22/weekend (before discount)
Go green and enjoy family time with a special discount for moms at the nation’s premier sustainability event. As a Mother’s Day treat, moms get 50% off admission (kids 16 and under are free). Explore over 250 exhibitors, hear from inspirational speakers, indulge in delicious vegan or vegetarian food, and the PG County Parks and Recreation Family Fun Pavilion will host interactive educational activities and entertainment for kids all day.
Wings of Fancy
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: Through September 17
Admission: $8/adult, $5/child
Celebrate the day in a beautiful place with an activity the whole family will enjoy. At the the wonderful Wings of Fancy exhibit, walk amid a garden of butterflies in the annual display of live butterflies and caterpillars from all over the world. It’s a guaranteed delight for all ages. Stay to explore the rest of Brookside’s lovely grounds and be sure make time to play in the adorable Children’s Garden. Read more about the exhibit in this KFDC post.
Family Style Tasting Menu
Where: Joselito Casa de Comidas | Capitol Hill, DC
When: May 14
Admission: Cost of meal
My new favorite neighborhood restaurant is offering a special tasting menu for Mother’s Day! Joselito, located on Capitol Hill, serves delicious Spanish cuisine in a lively, warm and welcoming setting. They recently debuted brunch, and a kids’ menu is on the way — though their regular menu has dishes that make patrons of all ages happy. Bring the whole fam or make it a moms’ meal out — you’re in for a treat no matter what! The tasting menu is $50/adult ($80 with wine pairings), and kids can order from the a la carte menu. I recommend making reservations, as they often book up (and let them know where you heard about it!).
A Day at the Ballpark
Where: Nationals Park | Navy Yard, DC
When: May 14
Admission:Ticket prices vary
For mommas who are Nats fans, catch a baseball game with the fam! The Phillies will be in town for the weekend, and Sunday’s game will include a carnation giveaway for the first 5,000 fans to arrive. Unfortunately, the special Mother’s Day brunch is already sold out, but for a lot of us moms, a ballpark hotdog, a beer, and a fun outing with our favorite people will do just as well.
Mother’s Day on the Patuxent
Where: Solomons Island, MD
When: Mother’s Day weekend (or anytime)
Admission: Rates vary by boat & time
This isn’t an event, per se, but a really great way we celebrated Mother’s Day with friends a few years ago. A pontoon boat outing on the Patuxent River was a super fun and relaxing time for all. Pack a cooler, don the swimsuits, slather on sunscreen, and get ready for a fantastic day on the water.
Go with the Flow
Where: Throughout the DMV
Admission: Varies by locale
For other Mother’s Day adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse then picnic and play at Yards Park. We spent a fantastic Mother’s Day last year at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis — with lots of options for outdoor recreation along with paddling, it’s particularly awesome. This post has of round-up of even more places to cruise the local waterways.
DC Bike Ride
Where: Throughout Washington, DC
When: May 14, 8am – 1pm
Admission: $70/ages 8 and up, $50/ Girl Scouts, free for 7 and under
Celebrate the day, our communities and amazing city, and life on two wheels! In its second year, the DC Bike Ride is a closed-roads, car-free, 20-mile bike ride through DC. The inaugural ride had over 7,000 participants and raised more than $38,000, and this year they hope to do even better. There will be entertainment on the course for a lively atmosphere, plus kids ages 3-7 ride for free (though they need to be in a bike seat, tagalong, trailer, or tandem). Admission fee includes a sling backpack. There is also a VIP entry for $125 that inclues a tech half zip pullover, guaranteed first corral, & lunch.
Do Some Garden-ing
Where: Throughout the DMV
Admission: Varies by locale
Instead of bringing flowers to mom, take her to them instead! With the bloom season upon us, and landscapes bursting with color, a visit to a garden is a fantastic outing, especially when there’s often more to do than just look at the plants and flowers. Explore and play at the National Arboretum, wander around Green Spring Gardens on a scavenger hunt, venture out to the gorgeous Meadowlark Botanical Garden, relish in the peace at the Brookland Monastery, stroll among the many multi-tiered plats at Dumbarton Oaks, or stop and smell the roses (and more) at the U.S. Botanic Garden. You can bring along a picnic to many of these places and make it a whole day’s outing.
Mother’s Day Campfire
Where: Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
When: May 14, 6-7:30pm
Enjoy a campfire at Burke Lake Park with mom and investigate the hard work that goes into raising the young and toast marshmallows around the campfire. Register an adult with any registered child. For ages 4 and up.
Mother’s Day Walk & Draw
Where: The Lemon Bowl & Nearby Streets | Georgia Ave., DC
When: May 14, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: $45/individual, $80/pair
Moms and kids can channel their inner artists at this Learning to Travel Sketch: Walk & Draw workshop. Taught by DC architect Lindsey May, the class will meet for 30 minutes at the Lemon Bowl for a sketching intro, then walk to nearby landmarks and practice sketching architectural features in en plein air (a fancy way to say ‘in the outside open-ness of real fresh air), doing a guided sketch exercise, then individual sketching. Admission fee includes everything you will need for a successful travel sketching afternoon including notebook, pens, a sketching tutorial, and hands on assistance in the field. The Lemon Bowl is located at 3015 Georgia Avenue NW.
Family Scavenger Hunt Adventure
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: May 14, 11am
Admission: $19.50/adult, $17.50/child
For moms who love some sleuthing (a penchant for Harry Potter helps, too), the next Wizard School Scavenger Hunt by Watson Adventures happens to fall on Mother’s Day. The fun, unique activity for families has you on a mission competing against other team to find art that echoes characters, places, and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies, with the help of clever Harry Potter-themed clues. Spots are still left in the 11am session. And while the website says it’s for ages 10 and up, kids younger than that definitely can partake, too! This KFDC post has more about this awesome adventure.
Brunch & Bowl
Where: Pinstripes | Georgetown, DC
When: May 14
Admission: $36/adult, $15/ages 5-12, free for under 5 (bowling is extra!)
Dine and play on Mother’s Day! Treat mom to an expansive bottomless brunch fit for a queen with favorites like made-to-order omelets, carved prime rib and fresh shrimp, bagels with spreads and smoked salmon, and so much more. Moms will be especially encouraged to sit back and relax with mimosas and bloody Mary’s as the kids are taken care of at the ‘Kids Corner’ station with pizzas, chicken fingers, Mac and cheese and more. Stay for some family bowling (or bocce) after — be sure to reserve a lane in advance to ensure you get game time.
Kids in the Kitchen, Brunch, & Pampering
Where: Watergate Hotel | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: May 14
Admission: Varies by activity (see below)
Want to get fancy? The iconic hotel has special offerings for mom and kids on Mother’s Day. From 11am – 4pm, Executive Chef Michael Santoro will teach kids ages 6-12 how to impress their moms with a hands-on class, where each participant chooses from a three-course, kid-safe menu to bring home to their Mom, or right to their table at Kingbird ($25/child and includes the meal and printed recipes – call 202.827.1600 to sign up). If you want to do the brunch, it will be served at the Kingbird restaurant from 10:30am – 4:30pm, with options to suit every palate ($110/adult and $55/children ages of 5-12, 4 and under eat free – make a reservation through Open Table or 202.827.1600). After brunch, mmoms who have any mani/pedi or spa treatments booked are welcome to come to Argentta Spa with their families — children’s movies will be playing at the pool area from 1pm onward.
Free in the Trees
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
When: May 14
For adventurous moms who love the outdoors, particular being in the trees, an afternoon in the aerial adventure forest of the Adventure Park at Sandy Springs is the perfect way to spend the day — especially when mom’s admission is on them. Buy one ticket and get mom’s ticket free using the promo code MOM17. (FYI: This is one of my very favorite adventures in the area — read more about it here.)
Mother’s Day Pontoon Ride
Where: Black Hill Nature Programs | Boyds, MD
When: May 14, 6:30-8pm
Here’s a nice nature treat for moms who enjoy the outdoors. Take a sunset tour of Little Seneca Lake and enjoy the beauty all around with the people mom loves as you cruise the lake and look for nature activity. All participants must register in advance. Meet at the pontoon boat dock located by the boat rental area.
Walk in the Woods
Where: Around the DMV
Admission: Varies by locale
Take a hike as you celebrate. See flowers in bloom, tramp in places with scenic views, walk and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. Bring along a picnic for lunch al fresco, too. A particular favorite for a special day is the hike from Riverbend Park to Great Falls. A day trip to Harpers Ferry would make a great outing, too. And this go-to KFDC post has even more recommendations for good places to hit the trail with kids.