We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Xmas week advice

10 posts
Save Topic
Xmas week advice

I've just booked Dec 28-Jan 2 to fly into to DC with my husband. His bucket list is to immerse in anything Smithsonian for days :). I'd appreciate advice for anything special we should plan to do at that time, or avoid! Should we rent a car? We want to stay downtown but as I understand the museums generally close around 5:30, what is there to do in the evenings and is there anything outside of DC that we may want to drive to see? Also any good suggestions for us 50/60-somethings to do on New Year's Eve? Last question, we are coming from Toronto, what should we expect for weather - I am assuming that it would be somewhat wintery but in the realm of what I would know as a mild winter.

Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off...
1,381 Reviews
from $13.50*
Gettysburg Day Trip from Washington DC
336 Reviews
from $150.00*
Special Offer
International Spy Museum
219 Reviews
from $18.20*
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
10,476 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Xmas week advice

The Portrait Gallery and the Museum of American Art (same beautiful building away from the Mall) is open till 7pm each night. We found that quite handy to spread our sightseeing and visited there later in the day two times on our trip in April.

We spent 8 days in DC that visit and are coming back for 5 days - the last week of December - to see more again!

I cannot rave enough about the Museum of American Indians. A few museums we saw were not Smithsonian venues (the Newseum, the Phillips, the National Building Museum and the National Gallery of Art), but everything was great.

When we return we will visit the recently opened Museum of African American History and Culture. You need timed tickets for that and they have all been allocated till the end of March 2017. If it's on your radar, and you don't already have tickets, you will need to stand 'on line' for same day tickets. These are handed out at 9.15 each morning BUT from what I have heard, the line for those is starting hours before hand. I don't know whether people will stand 'on line' for those so long once it's Winter!

We will also see the East Wing of the National Gallery which was closed for renovations last visit. And the entirety of Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series will be on display at the Phillips Collection that week too, so we've bought memberships to the Collection to see that instead of buying timed tickets to see it.

We are going to see Sondheim's "Into the Woods" at the John F Kennedy Center on NYE. I think there are other threads about what you can do on NYE ..yes I just searched NYE and sorted by dates and there are a few there for you to look through.

Other things to do in the evening - rug up and see the Memorials at night. Very beautiful. It's easy enough to walk around the area - you need about 3-4 hours to see them all; including an hour at the fantastic FDR Memorial. But some may be closed at night; not sure - a local will let you know.

You don't need a car.

Here's my on the go Trip Report for our visit in April - we spent a LOT of time at the Museums so I hope it gives you some ideas of timings....


Have a great time.

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
Level Contributor
14,884 posts
120 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Xmas week advice

Good on ya, Jenny--great advice on things to see and do in DC.

Definitely do not rent a car for your visit. It is neither necessary or advised. Parking is expensive and you can easily get to the attractions via Metro, your feet, taxi and/or Uber.

The monuments and memorials are open 24/7, and I agree that it's special to see them after dark when they are all lit up. There are guided tours available, but you can easily (and safely) do it on your own.

Just a few other places I would recommend visiting besides the museums:

Arlington National Cemetery: Each grave is marked with a wreath, making a visit even more poignant.

Botanical Gardens: Holiday display of poinsettias and other treats

Mount Vernon: Special holiday decorations and displays (a camel!)

Finally--DC does not do a big thing on NYE. Alexandria has "First Night" with fireworks, etc. If you have tickets to a show at the Kennedy Center that night, you can attend their NYE party.

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Washington DC
Level Contributor
3,227 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Xmas week advice

You already have excellent advice given, so I'll add about the weather. There doesn't seem to be any typical weather in DC anymore. That said, you can probably bet on 40s, with a chance of 30s or 50s thrown in there. Just be sure to check the forecast before you come. It will be cold outside but probably very warm in the museums (we tend to over air condition in the summer and over heat in the winter) so dressing in layers is usually a best bet.

Also, just two points to add, I'm sure you had a walk by the White House on your list, but wanted to be sure to add that the Christmas tree should be lit in the evenings, always nice to see. Also, the Botanical Gardens usually has a train display that's fun to watch. Enjoy your stay!

Falls Church...
Level Contributor
3,482 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Xmas week advice

DC has a number of bustling neighborhoods in and around downtown that should give you plenty to do after the museums close.

It will probably be chilly to cold that week, you should be fine for walking outdoors as long as you're dressed properly. I would not expect a big reprieve from Toronto weather.

5. Re: Xmas week advice

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:15 am, November 02, 2017