If you’ve never spent the holiday season in D.C. and find yourself here this weekend, you are actually in for a real treat! The city is a total ghost town around Christmas, since D.C. is still predominantly a city of transplants and many, if not most, people travel home or schedule a vacation this time of year.
Think of this as your time to truly take advantage of all our city has to offer, without the hassle of fighting crowds or not being able to get a reservation. Discover just a few of the best ways to make this holiday weekend a memorable one!
If you’re an art lover
Consider seeing a show, taking in a performance or visiting a new exhibit. There are so many classics, and contemporary favorites, in town right now, and they are a great place to decompress since you can’t even talk. Or if you've run out of ways to entertain those visiting out of towners, head to the theater!
- Les Miserables, National Theatre: Direct from it's two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway, Cameron Mackintosh brings his Tony Award-winning show to D.C. through January 7.
- A Christmas Carol, Ford’s Theater: What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a true classic, at an iconic theater. Performances run through December 31, but tickets are selling out fast.
- The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker, The Warner Theater: Is it really Christmas if you haven’t seen the Nutcracker?? There are three performances today (Ryan Zimmerman makes an appearance!), and two on Christmas Eve.
- Frosty the Snowman, Adventure Theatre: Children will dance along as a top hat brings a snowman to life in a delightful production for the entire family. Performances run through December 31.
- The Imaginary World of the Nutcracker, ARTECHOUSE: If you have yet to experience the interactive and immersive exhibits at ARTECHOUSE, now is the time to do it! The latest exhibit reimagines the most famous scenes in the Nutcracker story turning them into unique immersive sets for visitors to explore through January 7.
- Christmas with Choral Arts, Kennedy Center: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays to join the Choral Arts Society of Washington on Christmas Eve for an evening of enchanting holiday carols, seasonal classics and sing-alongs for the whole family to enjoy.
If it has been a while since you’ve played tourist in your own city
While most of the museums are closed on Christmas Day, it’s a great day to tour the National Mall and get up close and personal to all of your favorite monuments -- maybe you can get that Lincoln selfie you’re dying for, without being photo bombed! Or, if you are jonesing for a little history, make a visit to Mount Vernon; they are open every day of the year including Christmas and New Year's Day. Not only does the estate go all out with décor -- go at dusk for the candlelight tour -- but you'll get a very special opportunity: the rarely-seen third floor (where Martha lived after George died as she couldn’t bring herself to go back to their shared room) is open to the public. They also have chocolate-making demonstrations available and you can try your feet at an 18th-century dance known as the Virginia Reel!
If you’ve been dying to try out a Michelin restaurant but can’t get in
Most of our 14 Michelin-starred restaurants require reservations weeks (or even months) in advance, but try calling for a reservation early in the evening or late night this weekend and you may just get lucky! Or this may be a good time to shoot for a table at one of the “no reservation” restaurants where lines are insane -- think Himitsu, Bad Saint, Rose’s Luxury or Little Serow. Even if you can't get in this weekend last minute, try looking for a night next week. For example, The Dabney has reservations left on Friday Dec. 29; Masseria has tables today and Wednesday through Saturday; Tail Up Goat has tables today and Thursday-Saturday; and Komi has a handful of spots available on Wednesday, December 27.
If you are a little homesick and looking for some holiday cheer
Are you stuck in the city against your will and need something to perk your spirits up? Many of the local hotels go crazy at the holidays with the decor, so for just the cost of a drink at the bar, you can pop in and indulge in all the Christmas cheer your heart can handle! If you're willing to venture outside at night, the DMV is home to some of the prettiest and most unusual holiday lights, so bundle up and check out displays like Georgetown Glow, a neighborhood-wide art installation or ZooLights. Or head over to the wildly popular Miracle on 7th Street Christmas-themed pop-up bar, or Ivy and Coney's Hanukkah rendition. Trust me, you can’t help but feel festive when you are drinking a cookie dough flavored drink out of a Santa mug, or doing shots from a giant Menorah! If you're looking for a little outdoor activity, the city has many gorgeous ice skating rinks set up this time of year, including one on a hotel rooftop with insane 360-degree views of the Potomac River.
Happy holidays everyone!