Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break: 6 Days, 25+ Spots

Visiting Washington, D.C. during Christmas Break-lincoln-memorial

Once again, the dentist’s waiting room gave me an idea for a vacation trip. This time I read a short info in a parenting magazine about visiting Washington, D.C. between Christmas and the first week after New Year. Added with a promo price from Southwest Airlines flying from Dallas to D.C., my family had a memorable winter in D.C. at the end of year.


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break – Day 1

After returning our rental car (we went to Pittsburgh first to celebrate Christmas with my husband’s family) and checked-in to the hotel, we took the metro to the National Mall & Memorial Parks area. It was already in the afternoon and we didn’t want to waste our time in the capital. There’s so much to see here.

Here are the spots we got to visit or see on our first day in the capital, in order, from afternoon to evening:

#1 Washington Monument 

#2 World War II Memorial

#3 Reflecting Pool

#4 Lincoln Memorial

#5 Vietnam Veterans Memorial

#6 White House

#7 Lafayette Park (across the White House)

#8 National Christmas Tree

#9 Boy Scout Memorial

#10 National Museum of American History

Note: We got out at Smithsonian Station and started our walk from there. Also, we stopped at each place to read the information, to talk about it with our son, and took pictures. The National Mall & Memorial Parks is a National Park, so our son got to do the Junior Ranger program.


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break – Day 2

It’s the last day of the year. We left early to visit one of the Smithsonian museums that easily became my son’s favorite.

#11 National Air and Space Museum

Believe it or not, we spent the whole day there, from they opened until they closed. My astronaut wanna-be son and my husband found their home here. But I couldn’t blame them. This museum is awesome!

#12 China Town for our New Years’ Eve Dinner

Note: If you’re not like us, you can add other Smithsonian Museums in your itinerary.

Washington, D.C. during Christmas Break-Chinatown


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break – Day 3

On the first day of the new year, we woke up early so we could get tickets to climb the Washington Monument. Sounds crazy, but we’re not even the first on the line. Apparently cold weather didn’t stop people to enjoy Washington, D.C. (like us).

#13 Climbed the Washington Monument

From here we made a loop to the south of the mall and continued to west before we went back to the hotel.

#14 Thomas Jefferson Memorial

#15 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

#16 Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

#17 DC War Memorial

#18 Korean War Veterans Memorial

Note: We could get tickets to Washington Monument online but we weren’t sure on what day we would visited. Now the Washington Monument closed until Spring 2019 because of the work on the elevator. And don’t forget to join the tour guide when visiting Korean War Veterans Memorial for a deeper information.


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break – Day 4

Today we ventured out from the Mall area. We went to Chantilly in Virginia (near Dulles Airport) to see another museum that was also under Smithsonian that made my son and husband mouth-watering.

#19 Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Note: From where we stayed near Reagan Airport, we took a combination of metro and bus to get here. It’s quite long but worth the ride. Then my aunt came to pick up us from the center and we spent the rest of the night with her and her daughter.


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break – Day 5

#20 Smithsonian Zoo

#21 Union Station

#22 National Museum of Natural History

Note: Too bad the pandas were in the cage that day. But I would say though the zoo is not that big, it’s a pretty good one. At the museum, our son had fun exploring and learning in the lower ground. This is also easily becoming one of his favorite Smithsonian museum.


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break – Day 6

Our last day in D.C. and we didn’t leave until evening. So, we still had time to enjoy the capital. Here are places we visited on our last day:

#23 US Capitol

Since the decision to visit D.C. came in early December, we didn’t have enough time to contact the local Representative to tour the Capitol. We will do it some other time.

#24 Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

#25 American Art Museum National & Portrait Gallery

#26 Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site

#27 House where Lincoln died

#28 FBI Building


It was hard to leave but we know that we will be back. Preferably after they’re done with the renovation of the US Capitol and the National Fossil Hall in the National Museum of Natural History.


Tips to Visit Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break

– Tour the Mall involves lots of walking; wear your most comfortable shoes.

– It’s winter, so dress properly because you’re going to stay outside for hours.

– Don’t forget to carry snacks and drinks.

– Make sure your cell phone and camera are fully charged and have plenty of room in the memory card.

– Smithsonian Museums are free of charge.

– It’s easier and faster to take a metro around the city. 


Why You Should Visit Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break:

– Congress are on recess. Everyone is home for a holiday so the city is probably a one-third empty.

–  Hotels are cheaper.

– Not too many tourist. Most of the visitors are locals.

– Smithsonian Museums stay open except on the 25th of December.

– The Metro is not crowded.


Visiting Washington, D.C. During Christmas Break-6 Days-25+Spots

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  1. Emily says:

    Awesome list!! I’ve never been with kids, so definitely have to keep this list in mind when I go there with them!

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      Great to help!

  2. D.C is so close to me, yet I’ve never visited for more than a couple of hours! You just inspired me to make a weekend trip 🙂

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      So funny! Because when we were there, we wondered whether people who live in D.C. and surrounding area been to the places we visited. I said probably only during school field trip.

  3. Rachelle says:

    Looks like a pretty jam-packed trip! How awesome that you were able to visit so many important sites. I’ve only been to Washington, D.C. once before for a school trip. It never ceases to amaze me how much history there is in such a condensed location!
    Rachelle recently posted…Why I Will Always Choose Disneyland Over California AdventureMy Profile

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      Yeah! We’re not the type of family who would spend sometime at the hotel unless it’s a resort. Left in the morning, came back in the evening. Still, there are so much historic places that we haven’t get a chance to visit. I guess that’s why D.C. is (or one of) the most visit in the U.S.

  4. Daniela says:

    I have a student in Washington DC who told me about many of the places you mentioned and she also said that entrance to the museums is free with some exceptions. Didn’t know that the zoo had pandas. However, they’re normally quite lazy, aren’t they?
    Daniela recently posted…Museu da Baronesa – Slavery in BrazilMy Profile

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      The pandas are the most attracting animal in the zoo, I think. If it snows in D.C., there must be TV station airing pandas playing in the snow. Every year.

  5. Mary says:

    Such a lovely list – I get all christmassy reading this!

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      Well, hope you will have a great time this Christmas holiday.

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