10 Festive and Unique Holiday Experiences to Have in DC This Winter 2019

Washington DC Christmas

Cold weather? Snow problem! Things are starting to cool down in the district, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting warmer anytime soon. Regardless, the chilly climate doesn’t have to mean an end to your adventures! In fact, there are several seasonal activities to enjoy that you can’t do any other time of the year. Treat yourself to less tourists, shorter lines, and hot cocktails at the best places to visit this season! Here are 10 exciting holiday activities in Washington DC.

1. Roast Marshmallows at Camp Wharf

The Wharf itself is always a great time, but have even (s’)more fun at Camp Wharf on the waterfront! A charming, silver Airstream trailer is perched along the boardwalk with a roaring fire-pit alongside it. Try the warm apple cider, or roast one of their cookies-and-cream s’mores over the fire! It’s the perfect classic activity for a cold winter night. There are several dining options on the Wharf to grab dinner before heading to Camp Wharf for dessert.

2. Frolic Through the Lights at the Georgetown Waterfront

This year, Georgetown GLOW comes to D.C. with 16 artists and 10 curated light installations. Experience the holiday sparkle in one of the most historic regions of the District, as the artists invite you to “re-imagine the season of light.” Don’t forget to dress warmly!

3. Have an Icy Adventure at the Gaylord Hotel

Explore a winter wonderland at the Gaylord Hotel on National Harbor. This year, the annual ice exhibit is themed around Dr. Seuss’ classic story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Wander through two million pounds of ice sculptures depicting Who-ville’s dilemma as the Grinch seeks to end Christmas cheer. The Gaylord also offers tubing down a two-story tall hill made of ice, as well as ice skating on their outdoor rink in Winter Square!

4. Sip Hot Winter Cocktails at Tryst

Tryst is Adams Morgan’s charming coffeehouse, bar, and lounge with unique foods and an impressive array of cocktails, teas, and coffees. Their “Winter Warmers” section of the menu includes five different adult hot beverages to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Keep it classic with their Mint Hot Chocolate or Tryst Toddy, or try something new like their Spiked Chai, Navy Cider, or Mulled Wine. Either way, their drinks are bound to keep you warm and put some festive pep in your step!

5. Browse the Downtown Holiday Market

Looking for the ultimate holiday shopping experience? Get the perfect item for your loved ones at the 15th Annual Downtown Holiday Market, nestled between 7th and 9th street near Gallery Place. From November 22 to December 23, over 150 small and local businesses bring a diverse selection of handmade gifts to downtown D.C. Enjoy live music and festive goodies as you browse the booths for the perfect gifts. The best part? It’s open every day – rain, snow, or shine!

6. Eat in an Igloo at the Watergate

Photo Credit: The Watergate Hotel

Nothing says classy like a meal in a plastic igloo. Sounds odd? Indeed, but it’s definitely an experience to have at least once. Right on the rooftop patio of the Next Whisky Bar are fully furnished, luxury igloos fit for royalty. The Winter Igloos can get quite expensive between the reservation fees and food and beverage minimums, so this is definitely an outing to plan ahead for! Pro tip: Rental fees are waived on Mondays.

7. See the National Christmas Tree

The 96th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting at The Ellipse in President’s Park on November 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi)

An oldie but a goodie, the National Christmas Tree has been a DC tradition since Coolidge’s presidency in 1923. The display is free and open to all after the official lighting ceremony on December 5th. See ornaments designed for all 50 states and gaze at the twinkling lights on America’s Christmas tree.

8. Be Enchanted at National’s Park

For the first time ever, the world’s largest Christmas light maze is coming to our Nation’s Capital. Enchant is on it’s way to National’s Park, and will be here from November 22nd to December 29th! Stroll through the maze of lights, or browse around the Christmas market with over 40 local and international artisans selling their goods. If that’s not your speed, glide through their Ice Skating Trail and twirl through a variety of light installations.

9. Go on a Holiday Bar Crawl

Deck the bars and let’s get boozy, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la… Or however the song goes. There are plenty of bar crawls going on this winter, which gives you the perfect excuse to dress up in your favorite costume! Here are a few options coming up:

December 7: Dashin’ Through the Bars
December 7: DC Ugly Sweater Crawl
December 14: Santa Bar Crawl
January 18: Boozin’ In Your Onesie

10. Go to the National Zoo

Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo

Light festivals and mazes are always fun, but typically come at a cost. The National Zoo always has free admission for their “Zoo Lights” festival every holiday season. See live music performances and view over 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights as you meander through a sparkling wonderland. New this year are animal lanterns from China, and an Instagrammable field of lights called Entre Les Rangs!

Which ones did you add to your list? Don’t forget to subscribe below for the latest in lifestyle and adventures!

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  • Marissa Strang

    Marissa Strang is a full-time lifestyle and travel blogger based out of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. Travel is her number one passion, and she is on a mission to empower others to make travel a reality for their own lives as well. She’s a strong believer that everyone can experience the joy of exploring the world, no matter the way they look or their socioeconomic status. Marissa creates one-of-a-kind city guides, destination inspiration, and budget-friendly travel hacks for aspiring travelers, especially young travelers and minorities. By creating travel content through her blog, The Marissa Daily, she strives to help others make lifelong memories - one destination at a time. Her journey as a blogger for the past 3 years has led her to visit amazing places and build an engaged travel community that she cares for deeply. One of the principles Marissa lives by, and encourages others to abide by, is that when you look like your passport photo, it’s time to book a trip. Let's go places.

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