After living here for a few years, or even after just one semester, sightseeing around D.C. unfortunately can have a been-there-done-that feel.
However, the holidays are a great way to spice up the classic traditions of visiting the monuments at night or checking out the National Zoo.
Here are some activities to make D.C. feel like a winter wonderland!
Rest of the year: Waiting in line for the amazing cupcakes that D.C. has to offer ↓ During the holidays: Order ahead for holiday flavors
Everyone loves cupcakes, from the various D.C. “cupcakeries” whether it’s a red velvet-flavored Georgetown Cupcake or a Chococo from Hello Cupcake. They’re the perfectly portioned dessert in classic flavors, but with the holiday season comes a whole new selection of limited edition flavors.
Try the candy cane and gingerbread flavors at Hello Cupcake or the scrumptious chocolate eggnog and white chocolate peppermint flavors at Georgetown Cupcake.
Taking picture in front of your home state at the WWII Memorial ↓ Take a picture in front of your state’s Christmas Tree
Everyone has a Facebook profile picture from Welcome Week with themselves standing beneath their home state’s column at the WWII Memorial, pointing up with pride. Why not put a holiday spin on this picture? Along with the National Christmas tree, each state decorates a Christmas tree representing special traditions from that state (crabs with Santa hats adorn my home state of Maryland’s tree). No two Christmas trees are alike.
Strolling along the Monuments at night ↓ Check out holiday lights at ZooLights
Not many places in the District are as pretty to me as the monuments lit up at night, but for six weeks every year the National Zoo sets up light displays throughout the zoo. These spectacles of light pay tribute to D.C.’s more exotic animal residents as well as the city’s unofficial mascot, the panda. Check out these holiday light displays before heading home.
5-9 p.m., Nov. 25-Dec. 11 (Friday through Sunday nights) and Dec. 16-Jan. 1 (every night except December 24, 25 and 31)
Shopping at Metro Center and Chinatown ↓ Gift shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market
H&M and Urban Outfitters are immensely popular places to shop in the Metro Center/Chinatown area for AU students, but when looking for gifts for your loved ones, branch out beyond these retails chains. The Downtown Holiday Market hosts over 125 artisans and crafters selling their unique gifts and trinkets throughout December. Support a small local business without fears of double gifting your friends and significant others.
Dec. 2-23, noon to 8 p.m. Centered on 8th and F Streets NW
Picnic on the Mall ↓ Ice Skating in the Sculpture Garden and Hot Chocolate
As the weather turns colder, the National Sculpture Garden opens up its ice skating rink. It’s definitely a top wintertime treat and a great D.C. tradition to replace picnicking on the Mall. Enjoy a more cultured way to ice skate as you watch friends attempt spins and backwards skating while admiring fabulous sculptures.
$7 for Students with ID for a two-hour session
Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.