10 Things to Do on Christmas Day in Washington, D.C.

What to Do on December 25 in the Nation's Capital

Looking for something to do in Washington, D.C. on Christmas Day? Although not everyone celebrates the holiday, most businesses and attractions are closed on December 25th. There are a few surprising places that are open every day of the year and offer special activities to appeal to the whole family. Here are some fun ideas to fill your day.

  • 01 of 10
    Washington Monuments
    Getty Images

    Christmas is a great day to walk along the National Mall to view the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C. Although the visitor centers are not open, you can still get up close and enjoy the iconic views of our capital city. It’s also an easy day to find parking close by! Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and more and take in the majestic views of the nation's capital. 

  • 02 of 10
    Mt. Vernon
    Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

    The estate of George Washington is open every day of the year including Christmas and New Year's Day. During the holidays at Mount Vernon, visitors get a glimpse of an early-American Christmas. Exclusively during this time, the rarely-seen third floor is open to the public. An elaborately re-created dessert course is displayed in the large dining room with the Washingtons' famed "Great Cake" as the centerpiece of the feast. Visit the estate, walk the beautiful grounds and enjoy the panoramic views of the Potomac River. 

  • 03 of 10
    U.S. Botanic Garden
    Rachel Cooper

    The attraction on the National Mall is open on Christmas Day and features a unique seasonal exhibit with model trains and incredible replicas of Washington, D.C.'s most famous buildings and monuments. This is a great holiday treat to be sure not to miss. The exhibit is popular and can even get busy on Christmas Day, so try to arrive early.

  • 04 of 10
    Veterans Day Observed At Arlington National Cemetery
    Win McNamee / Getty Images

    The grounds to the national burial ground are open 365 days a year. Tours do not operate on Christmas Day, but visitors may explore on foot. Print out an interactive map and plan your own walking tour. Visit the famous gravesites of notable Americans such as Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft. See dozens of memorials on the property including the Coast Guard Memorial, the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, Spanish-American War Memorial, the USS Maine Memorial and many more. 

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  • 05 of 10

    Go to a Movie

    Movie theaters are open every day of the year and a selection of good movies usually come out in time for the holiday season. Be sure to arrive early as moviegoing can be pretty popular on this annual holiday. Here’s a guide to local cinemas:

  • 06 of 10

    Take a Hike in a Local Park

    West Potomac Park, Washington DC
    Jason Colston / Getty Images

    If the weather is clear, Christmas Day is an ideal time to take a quiet stroll or even an extensive hike in the woods to work off those extra seasonal pounds. Please note that all parks are not open on December 25, so it is a good idea to call ahead to find out about accessibility. See a guide to the local parks:

  • 07 of 10
    Kennedy Center
    Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images

    Washington, D.C.'s premier performance venue offers a free All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam at 6 p.m. at its Millennium Stage. Ticketed performances are also scheduled in the Opera House, the Eisenhower Theatre and the Theatre Lab on Christmas Day. The Kennedy Center is a great venue for the whole family. Check the official site for schedules.

  • 08 of 10

    The Christmas holiday is a great time to lend a hand to the needy. Offer to help at a local soup kitchen or a nursing home. If you have some free time, a variety of charities have volunteer signup forms on their websites. Spend the day bringing happiness to a stranger.

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  • 09 of 10

    The Jewish Community Centers offers health and fitness centers and a variety of recreational programs for all ages. There’s a location in downtown Washington, D.C. and one in Rockville, Maryland. Check the schedule online or call to see what is going on. 

  • 10 of 10

    Eat Out

    China Town, Washington, DC.
    Mark Williamson / Getty Images

    A variety of nice restaurants offer Christmas dinner or brunch, buffets and a la carte menus. See a guide to Christmas Dinner at Restaurants in the Washington, DC Area. Some places get busy and booked up so plan ahead and make a reservation. For a more affordable option, find a restaurant to dine in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown. Asian's typically do not celebrate Christmas and the restaurants are open on Christmas Day. Call ahead to check the hours.