2015 Guide to a Winter Break Staycation in DC

4 years ago


by Lowell School Parents Take a Break! You and your family deserve to take a break! It’s been a terrific, but extremely full school term, and you’re nearing the finish line…rapidly speeding towards 10 days of winter vacation—a break from homework, lunches, and carpooling. It’s time for stress levels to drop and for you to refuel as you stroll into some of the best that Washington, DC offers. Many of these winter activities are just a metro ride away, and some are free! Enjoy your DC staycation as you re-discover different neighborhoods, reconnect with the fine arts, the theatre, and the immense beauty of our capital city. Take your time, savor, and have a ball! This year, we’ve added a NEW section on winter break camps, in case you are working while your children are out of school. (For more staycation ideas, browse our post from last year: A Parents’ Guide to a Winter Break Staycation in DC (2014), created with active kids in mind and including venues for indoor trampolines and mini-golf, winter swimming, bowling, theatre, holiday train exhibits, and more.)


Brighten up the winter nights with some local holiday light shows. Garden of Lights at Brookside Garden ZooLights at the National Zoo The National Christmas Tree
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: Visit the National Christmas Tree behind the White House—illuminated with hundreds of energy-saving LED lights to illuminate the night sky and framed by the President’s home in the background.
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: http://thenationaltree.org/plan-your-visit/ 


Nothing beats a classic family film or a live performance. Home Movies
  • Location: The comfort of your couch!
  • Activity: Family movie marathon—check out this list of top 100 films from The New York Times Essential Library: from “The Bad News Bears” to “Gandhi”, this list triggers your memory of some of the best kid-friendly films. You can also find recommendations organized by age on the Common Sense Media list.
  • Cost: Rental Cost
  • Ages: Check ratings before watching.
The Kennedy Center The Arena Stage
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: The play “Akeelah & the Bee” (through Nov 27th) and “Oliver” (through Jan 3).
  • Cost: Consult theatre website for adult prices. Kids pay their age.
  • Website: http://www.arenastage.org 


Get your ice-skating mojo back with these options that will give you terrific views of DC. National Gallery of Arts Ice-Skating Rink
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: Also known as the “Sculpture Garden Ice Rink,” this venue allows you to ice-skate feet away from some of the greatest modern and contemporary sculptures.
  • Cost: $8.50 adults, $7.50 children; $3.00 skate rental
  • Website: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/visit/ice-rink.html 
Washington Harbour Ice-Skating
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: See beautiful views of the Potomac while ice-skating in the heart of Georgetown.
  • Cost: $9.00 adults, $7.00 children; $5.00 skate rental
  • Website: http://www.thewashingtonharbour.com 
Downtown Silver Spring Ice-Skating
  • Location: Silver Spring, MD
  • Activity: After lunch and a little shopping, go for a skate in downtown Silver Spring’s outdoor
  • Cost: $9.00 adults, $8.00 children; $4.00 skate rental
  • Website: http://www.silverspringiceskating.com 
Canal Park Ice-Skating
  • Location: Washington, DC at 2nd & M Streets SE
  • Activity: This new park offers public skating and lessons.
  • Cost: $8.00 Adults, $7.00 Children; $3.00 skate rentals.
  • Website: http://www.canalparkdc.org/ice-rink 


Re-connect with American history and innovation from a kid’s-eye-view. Bird’s-Eye-View of the Washington Monument
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: You’ve seen it, but have you ever been to the top? Get a bird's-eye-view of the nation's capital from the top of the Washington Monument built in the shape of an Egyptian obelisk. It’s world-class-majestic!
  • Cost: Tickets are free, but required. Get them at the ticket window or pay a fee for advance reservations.
  • Website: http://www.nps.gov/wamo/planyourvisit/index.htm 
Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History The Newseum The National Archives
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: Called the United States’ national record keeper, the Archives is the place to see the original Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and more. Perfect for fans of National Treasure.
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: http://www.archives.gov 
National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: View the work of remarkable women artists of the past and some of the best women artists working today.
  • Cost: $10 adults, free under 18
  • Website: http://nmwa.org 
National Gallery of Art
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Activity: Viewing world-class art collection—from Van Gogh to Jacob Lawrence and Mary Cassatt, it’s never too early to expose the kids!
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html 


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