Tag Archives: Holidays in DC

5 Ideas for a Fun Family Evening Out in DC During the Holiday Season


The holidays are always a fabulous time of the year in DC, especially in the evenings when twinkling lights make the cityscape sparkle and there is “illuminated” fun to enjoy.  Even better, you can make a night of it and experience those lit activities and enjoy a family dinner out, too. Here are five ideas for doing just that, all of them centered around a main activity with recommendations for places to eat, plus some suggestions for nearby fun to tack on if you want to make a day (or longer night) of it, too.  Happy Holiday-ing!



CityCenterDC Winter Wonderland
Where: Around 10th & I NW | Downtown DC
When: Nightly through the holiday season
Admission: FREE!
This isn’t officially called Winter Wonderland, but I’m calling it that, because CityCenterDC’s seasonal decor has the feel of one.  Walk under a canopy of large delicate snowflakes, check out festive window displays, maybe stop in some shops, see 25-foot reindeer in the courtyard area, then head to the plaza along 10th & I Streets showcasing a stunning 75-foot tree with smaller colorful tree installation adjacent and many more real trees lit up with lights.  It’s such a gorgeous and joyful scene!

Get a glimpse here!

Dinner: Tatte Bakery & Cafe, right across I street from the plaza, is casual and cozy and has excellent treats.  Capital City Brewing Company is very family-friendly and right around the corner if you want sit-down service.  If you don’t mind walking a bit, there are many more places in the area great for a meal out with kids.

Tack on more fun: The Downtown Holiday Market (FREE!) is just a few blocks away and worth a stroll, though be aware that it can get crowded.  The National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum (FREE!) are close by and open until 7pm. MLK Library (FREE!) is also nearby and a great place to go with kids — it has interesting exhibits, a cafe, a lovely rooftop, and an amazing slide!  The Museum of Illusions is a unique experience and right there within CityCenterDC ($23.50/13+, $18.95/age 5-12, free/4 & under).


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Georgetown GLOW
Where: Commercial District | Georgetown, DC
When: Nightly through January 7, 5-10pm
Admission: FREE!

If your crew doesn’t mind doing some walking, a tour of the installations in this annual outdoor light art exhibition is a must-do during the holiday season. It’s so fun to see the whimsical, beautiful works brighten up different areas of the bustling neighborhood. It makes for great photo ops and is guaranteed to elicit smiles.

Get a glimpse here (and of a previous year here)!

Dinner: Reren Lamen n Bar has ramen, dumplings, and more to satisfy the whole family. Martin’s Tavern is a DC institution with a warm, cozy ambience. Pinstripes has a large, kid-pleasing menu, plus bowling (extra cost). There are many more family-friendly places, too.

Tack on more fun: Roam the enchanting garden at Dumbarton Oaks before seeing the lights — admission is FREE this time of year. Skate under the stars at Washington Harbour Ice Rink ($11/adult, $9/child, $7/skate rental). Go bowling at Pinstripes (and get dinner, too).


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Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: Nightly through January 1
Admission: Free

The holiday display practically in the White House backyard is a quintessential DC holiday activity. See the National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah (starting December 7), plus smaller trees representing all 50 states as festive music plays. All of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a brilliant holiday scene.

Dinner:  Old Ebbit Grill is a DC hot spot and just a few blocks away.  Or try its sister restaurant, The Hamilton, at 14th & F — it’s huge, with a menu to match, and always has an upbeat vibe.  There is also a Cheesecake Factory right across from the White House at 15th & H.

Tack on more fun:  Visit the Renwick Gallery, American History Museum, or African American History & Culture Museum before  — all are a short walk to the Ellipse and open until 5:30pm (all FREE!).  Go up in the Washington Monument for breathtaking views of the city. Walk across 15th Street to the Willard Hotel to see the beautiful seasonal decor (FREE!)…or even go for afternoon tea before the Ellipse.


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Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Nightly through January 7
Admission: FREE!

Every year, The Yards presents a special light exhibition during the holidays, which always features large-scale illuminations that are interactive and fun.  During this 8th year, Yards Park is merry and bright with Swinging Bells, five, 13-foot tall bells that play a jingle as you swing beneath them.

Get a glimpse here (and herehere, and here).

Dinner: Lots of options at The Yards!  We love Emmy Squared Pizza. Get a good pasta dinner at Osteri Morini. Blue Jacket is a family crowd pleaser. For fast casual, Takorean and sweetgreen are faves.  If you don’t mind an extra chill, stop at Ice Cream Jubilee for a scoop.  There are even more family-friendly options in the Navy Yard.

Tack on more fun: Glide the night away at Canal ParkIce Rink — get tix in advance online to save ($13/adult, $10/child, $6/rental).  Go big and splurge on a visit to Enchant — read about our experience last year ($32+/adult, $24+/age 3-17).


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Where: Franklin Park | Downtown DC
When: Through December 17
Admission: FREE!

This may be one to save for the weekend when there is more going on, though parts are lit for photos on weekdays, too…   Franklin Park is transformed into a glistening Frosted wonderland aglow with lights. There will be lots of fun holiday festivities to enjoy — appearances by Santa, The Grinch and Lulu, Ice Sculpture Island, Holiday Lane, the Frosted Maker’s Market, a larger than life Snow Globe Main Stage, and more!  See the website for the schedule.

Dinner: Same suggestions as the Ellipse… Cheesecake Factory at 15th & H is closest. Old Ebbit Grill is a DC hot spot and just a few blocks away.  The Hamilton, at 14th & F, is a little further — it’s huge, with a menu to match, and always has an upbeat vibe.

Tack on more fun: Visit the wonderful Planet Word museum before you go — it’s right across 13th Street and open until 6pm weekends/5pm weekdays (FREE! with tickets).  The National Museum of Women in the Arts is also fairly close, but I’d recommend it more for older kids… open until 5pm ($15/adult, $13/DC residents, FREE for 21 and under).


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Filed under 2023, DC, Holidays

Five Things for Today: January 13, 2022


1. One result of the Omicron surge: Less crowded museums (in my experience, anyway).  On a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art West Building, there were significantly less people than I’m used to seeing and even had whole galleries to myself at times.  Plus, it’s so spacious, it’s easy to maintain comfortable distance from others.  Something to keep in mind if you’re looking for indoor places to go when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor adventures, or you just want to get a good art fix.  The museum on the National Mall (6th St and Constitution Ave NW) is open daily 10am – 5pm, and admission is free.


2. In case you missed them earlier this week, there are a couple of new posts.  One is a guest post by local author JoAnn Hill sharing stories and secrets behind five DC area museums.  The other is a round-up of ways to celebrate MLK Day around the area.


3. Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week is January 17-23. See which places are participating and make your reservations!


4.  The New York Times annual list of travel destinations published at the beginning of the year is a little different for 2022. 52 Places for a Changed World “highlights places around the globe where travelers can be part of the solution.”  And it sparks just as much wanderlust as previous years.


5. This made me lol (and roll my eyes) because it’s true 😂🙄

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Filed under 2022, DC, Five Things for Today, Winter

Five Things for Today: January 4, 2022


1. Capitol Hill is open for sledding!  The grounds apparently were closed early in the day yesterday, but opened up later for kids and kids at heart to whiz down.  Passed by this morning and saw sledders, and it wasn’t crowded…yet.  [Side note: We have so many great memories of sledding down our neighborhood hill, my favorite when we joined the 2015 sled-in (see #9!) to protest the ban.]


2. There may be snow outside, but you can still start thinking about summer.  Smithsonian Summer Camps has released its 2022 schedule and camp options.  Registration doesn’t open until the week of February 14, but it’s always a popular one, so it’s good to review the different camps and be prepared for sign up ahead of time.


3.  Omicron advice from a pediatrician to parents of kids under 5.


4. 10 Happy Things for January ❤️


5. Haha… so true.


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Filed under 2022, DC, Five Things for Today, Winter

Five Things for Today: December 29, 2021


1. Not that you haven’t heard, but Covid is everywhere.  Our family had our own bout with it, which resulted in a canceled trip to see family, a winter break quarantine, and a Christmas celebration over the basement stairwell, since two of us were negative, two were positive at the time. (There is more to it, which you can read about here.)  The CDC just shortened the recommended isolation time for Covid-infected people without symptoms.  It’s now only five days instead of 10, then five days of wearing a mask around others.  Also, it is now being reported that rapid antigen tests are not picking up Omicron as reliably as PCR.


2.  If you’re looking for family New Year’s Eve celebrations, Noon Yards Eve is returning to Yards Park on Friday.  The free, outdoor annual event features a magician, live music, carnival games, glitter tattoos, crafts, 2022 giveaways, a giant blow up slide, and more!  Catering to kids of all ages, it will all culminate in a countdown to noon for young ones who might not make it to midnight. UPDATE: This even has been canceled.

Metrobar in NE is also hosting a family-friendly NYE sesh.  Starting at 4pm, there will be festive cocktails  for adults along with kids activities and games. Countdown the New Year with a 7pm toast (bubbly for adults, sparkling cider for kids) and watch the ball drop at midnight in London on a 20-foot screen. Firepits, patio heaters, a heated tent, deck heat lamp, and hot cocktails will keep everyone cozy outdoors. Free admission, but plan to purchase food and drinks, of course.

And a couple of other annual events that are still on this year, though indoors, are Midnight Noon at Maryland Science Center and Noontime New Year at Port Discovery, both in Baltimore.  (The popular First Night Alexandria event has been canceled.)


3. Washingtonian has a round-up of local restaurants offering fun and festive takeout for New Year’s Eve.


4. DC Public Library’s most checked out, streamed, and downloaded books (and more) in 2021.


5.  21 Things That Made the World a Better Place in 2021 ❤️


Bonus: Who else is going to play Powerball this week?


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Filed under 2021, DC, Five Things for Today, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

Five Things for Today: December 21, 2021

Mask up , DC!


1. In case you missed it over the weekend…  In light of Omicron and the rising rates in Covid cases everywhere, I (re)shared on social media the post about Activities Around DC During the Covid Winter. It was originally published last December, but unfortunately (and frustratingly) seems necessary to highlight once again, with all activities mentioned being outdoors.  And if you have seen the post, it’s worth checking out again, as a few new ideas have been added.


2. Did you know that walk-up vaccinations are available just about everyday in DC?  Several libraries and rec centers around the city are among the sites in Mayor Bower’s Take the Shot, DC program.  The sites change daily, so be sure to check which are open and hours before you go.  No appointment is necessary, and they offer vaccinations for ages 5+ and boosters for ages 16+.

And starting tomorrow, December 22, DC Health will launch the Test Yourself Express program.  Residents will be able to pick up free at-home Covid testing kits, two per day, at eight locations around the city.  (More details available tomorrow through the link.)


3. DC’s indoor mask mandate was reinstated yesterday, and masks are now required at indoor public places in the District. There currently are no statewide mandates in Virginia or Maryland (though masks are encouraged indoors),  but there is one in Montgomery County. (Update: Prince George’s County has a mask mandate, too.)


4. A few “Best of” lists from someone with great taste: Books, Movies, Music. (I’ve found some of my favorites on these lists over the years!)


5. It’s beginning to look at lot like…



Filed under 2021, COVID-19, COVID-19 DC Area, DC, Five Things for Today, Maryland, Virginia, Winter