There is a lot to see and do on a visit to the nation’s capital. Washington, DC, draws traveling families to the national monuments and the ever-popular cherry blossoms in the spring. Though it is a little chilly outside, a visit to the Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia area during the holiday season will be a memorable trip for the entire family or even a fun-filled girls weekend getaway.
Holidays at National Harbor
The lights, the music, and the smell of salted caramel hot chocolate fill the streets of this bustling retail area on the Potomac River. National Harbor starts the Christmas holiday a little early with a tree lighting ceremony that gathers locals and tourists alike. You can take a ride inside the bright lights of the Capital Wheel or stroll down American Ave inside the Holiday market, where vendors offer holiday treats that have sugarplums dancing in you head. Carolers dressed in 18th century attire travel the streets singing our favorite songs. It the weather starts to wear down your holiday cheer or you just want a comfy seat to watch the nightly fireworks, there are plenty of bars and restaurants that promise to warm you up with food and spirits of the holiday season.
ICE! At the Gaylord National
This is a must see! Through January 4th join Frosty the snowman in exploring a wonderland built with 2 million pounds of ice. Two story ice slides, eye-popping ice carvings and even a package to pop the question, this wintery playground is fun for all. Admire life-size ice sculptures in this walk-through tour and become apart of the story of Frost the Snowman. Be sure to bring your hat and gloves because a land made of ice is not heated.
The National Tree Lighting
The National Tree is located in the NE quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House and boasts energy efficient lighting to make it a truly “green” tree. During the three weeks leading up to Christmas, local and national musicians perform for the many visitors to enjoy. A trip to Washington DC during the holidays would be incomplete without seeing the National Tree. This year the 2014 National Tree lighting will be Thursday, December 4th. However, it is too late for you to attend the lighting ceremony this year. If you want to actually attend the tree lighting ceremony, there is lottery for free tickets that begins in October each year.
The Nutcracker Ballet
No Christmas season is complete without me seeing “The Nutcracker” on stage. It brings up memories of my childhood in the days before I realized I would never be be a 5-foot, 9-inch ballerina. During the month of December the Washington Ballet will delight you with this holiday favorite at the Warner Theatre. Shows are at 7pm during the week with an additional 2pm show on weekends.
Ice Skating on the National Mall
Rockefeller Center is not the only bucket list worthy ice rink in the nation. The National Gallery of Art on the National Mall is open from November to March each year for public skating and lessons, if you need them. Lace up and take on the ice or simply sit in the café and sip hot drinks while you watch the skaters giggle and slide with holiday cheer. After one time around the rink I opt for the latter.