ZooLights at the Smithsonian's National Zoo is wilder than ever and a perfect holiday event for everyone in the family. (Courtesy of Smithsonian)
ZooLights at the Smithsonian's National Zoo is wilder than ever and a perfect holiday event for everyone in the family. (Courtesy of Smithsonian)

So New York City has its famed Lincoln Center Christmas tree and its winter wonderland ice skating. But folks in D.C. know they don’t have to take the dreaded drive up Interstate 95 and into the Big Apple for holiday fun.

“We’ve got some of the best holiday places to visit here,” said Naomi Weaver, a hair stylist who answered an online request for some of the District’s Christmastime attractions.

In fact, several websites have published their say about the best places to visit in D.C. during the holidays.

Washington.org notes that the National Christmas Tree is “DC’s claim to fame” during the holidays, and for good reason.

“The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it’s surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season,” the city-themed webpage notes.

The display is free to visit and open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. while the National Christmas Tree is lit each day from 4:30-10 p.m.

Residents and visitors are invited to “indulge your wild side” with an after-hours visit to the National Zoo during ZooLights, which illuminates the zoo with more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light installations, live music and more.

ZooLights runs until Jan. 1. It’s closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Dec. 31.

WTOP notes that “Miracle on Seventh Street,” DC’s annual pop-up bar has returned and this year’s theme is all about the Panda.

“Keeping in the pop-up tradition, visitors can expect creative names alongside craft cocktails, plus decorative backdrops, all perfect for photos,” WTOP reported.

Tripsavvy.com notes that all can “step inside a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 blocks of ice weighing 1.5 million pounds” at the Gaylord National Resort.

Hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit, the Gaylord Resort’s “ICE” counts as an interactive holiday attraction that has a new theme each year.

Website The 10Best.com asks visitors and residents, “What’s the holiday season without a viewing of the Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol’?”

Instead of watching a movie, be sure to catch the Ford’s Theatre production and take in some history at the memorable venue.

Also, the 10Best suggests that “Once you see poinsettias, you know the holiday season is upon us so why not head to a place that knows how to make beautiful plant displays?” The U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual “Season’s Greenings” features a showcase of the holiday flowers, one of the largest indoor decorated trees in the district and trains meandering through unique displays.

If you have a Thomas the Train fan in your house, you can usually find him or one of his friends huffing and chuffing down the tracks. Patrons will also see smaller versions of familiar landmarks such as the White House, Capitol and Lincoln Memorial, but be sure to look close because they are made out of plants.

Located at 8th and F Streets NW, the market holds down the area in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. At night, its bright lights bring Penn Quarter to life, providing a holiday spark to the neighborhood.

But don’t worry, you can shop during the day, too. The holiday market is open daily 12-8 p.m. through Dec. 23.

“People will find something fun to do in D.C.,” Weaver said. “We always do.”

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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