Have a wild time at the National Zoo! Check the Daily Programs schedule before you go to help plan your outing — you can view an elephant training demo, see the residents of the Kids’ Farm, watch feedings, and more — or pick your animal visits as you go. (FYI: We especially dig Amazonia, where birds and monkeys might be hanging out in the open with you!) This time of year, grounds are open 8am – 5pm, exhibit building hours are 9am – 4pm, and the Visitor Center runs 8am – 4pm. Admission is free, though parking in the Zoo lot for non-members is $22 (free for members). You can also try parking on Connecticut Avenue or a side street, or take Metro to Woodley Park or Cleveland Park stations then walk a few blocks.
You could also go in the evening for some holiday fun at the free ZooLights. Or check out another light display around the area. Either way, you’re practically guaranteed to be dazzled.
Head to the National Building Museum for a few kiddie activities. The weekly Story Time with DC Public Library takes place 10:30-11:30am in the Great Hall. Children ages 2-6 can engage in all kinds of interactive play in the Building Zone. And the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs is always fun for kids, too. Museum hours are 10am – 5pm. Exhibit admission is $10/adult, $7/child, free for members. (KFDC tip: Check out membership options — if you frequent the museum a few times or more per year, it’s so worth it.)
Explore the local environment from the comfort of the indoors at Buddie Ford Nature Center. The facility in Alexandria houses fascinating exhibits (including live creatures!), hands-on activities, and a staff of friendly and knowledgeable naturalists that all ages will appreciate. Continue the fun outdoors with a short hike at the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Park. Buddie Ford hours are 10am – 5pm (Wednesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday). Admission is free.
In the evening, join a Holiday Open House hosted by Inova Emergency Room – Ashburn. From 6-8pm, guests can enjoy a loads of FREE activities, including photos with Santa, holiday cookie decorating and hot cocoa, balloon artists, glitter tattoos, live entertainment, a treasure hunt, and giveaways. Children are invited to bring their favorite stuffed toy to the teddy bear clinic in the Inova Loudoun Mobile Health Services bus. And visitors that participate in the treasure hunt can enter a drawing to win a family 4-pack of Washington Redskins tickets.
The Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting also takes place at 5pm.
See a holiday stage favorite on strings as The Nutcracker entertains at The Puppet Co. Showtime is 11am. Tickets are $12. If weather permits, plan to stay at Glen Echo Park after the show for a picnic and playtime, too!
Take little ones to a special holiday story time with Paddington Bear at the Library of Congress! Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, who started her career as a children’s librarian, will read a selection from the beloved Paddington Bear series to children. Even better, Paddington himself will be there to greet kids and take photos with them! The reading will take place 10:30-11:30am in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, and Paddington Bear activity stations will be available in the Young Readers Center from 9am – 4pm. Admission is free. Read more about the Library of Congress in this KFDC post.