Looking for something to do in Washington, D.C. on Christmas Day? Even though not everyone celebrates the holiday, most businesses and attractions will be closed on December 25. However, there are a few surprising places that are open every day of the year and offer special activities to appeal to the whole family should you find yourself looking for things to do on Christmas Day.
Christmas is a great day to walk along the National Mall and view the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C. Although the visitor centers will be closed, you can still get up close and enjoy the iconic views of the capital city. It’s also an exceptionally easy day to find parking nearby! Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and more and take in the majestic views of the nation's capital.
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 Martha Washingtons' famous "Great Cake" as the centerpiece of the feast. Visit the estate, walk the beautiful grounds, and enjoy the panoramic views of the Potomac River.
See "Seasons Greenings" at the U.S. Botanic Garden
This botanic garden 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, especially if you have a green thumb. Note that the exhibit is popular and can get busy, even on Christmas Day, so try to arrive early and beat the crowds.
The grounds to Arlington National Cemetery, 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 more.
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. You'll find cinemas in downtown D.C., as well as in the nearby suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.
Take a Hike in a Local Park
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 get some exercise in. 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. It's easy to find parks in the D.C. area, as well as in Maryland and Virginia.
Washington, D.C.'s premier performance venue offers a free All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam at 6 p.m. on 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.
The Christmas season is a great time to lend a hand to the needy and you can offer to lend a hand 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. There are a lot of ways to volunteer in D.C. on Christmas, so why not spend the day bringing happiness to a stranger?
Open on Christmas Day, Jewish Community Centers offers health and fitness facilities 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 on their website to see what's on for December 25.
A variety of nice restaurants offer Christmas dinner or brunch, buffets, and a la carte menus. Some places get busy and booked up early, so plan ahead and make a reservation way in advance. For a more affordable option, you can might also have some luck looking for a restaurant in Chinatown, as Chinese restaurants tend to be open on Christmas.