Top Holiday Getaways Near Washington, D.C.

Government building lit up at night, Capitol Building, Washington DC, USA
Glowimages/Getty Images

Christmas vacation is a great time to relax and enjoy a variety of festive activities around the Washington, D.C., region. Whether you want to plan a getaway close to home or are traveling from afar, here are some special places to celebrate the holidays in Washington, D.C.

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Colonial Williamsburg

Entryway wreaths and evergreen boughs like those at Colonial Williamsburg suit the traditional Christmas decorating style.
Albert Herring/Wikimedia Commons

Christmas vacation is a wonderful time to visit Colonial Williamsburg. You'll feel as if you've stepped back in time as you learn how Americans celebrated the holiday season in the 18th century. America’s largest interactive history museum, located in Virginia just a few hours south of Washington, D.C., comes to life with beating drums, trilling fifes, firework displays, theatrical programs, and interpretive characters. You can take walking tours, listen to holiday music, and tour historic homes not normally open to the public. Special children's programs are also scheduled. This is a popular tourist spot for a Washington getaway, so make hotel and dining reservations early.

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National Harbor

Ice dancing penguins
Rachel Cooper

This 300-acre development along the Potomac River in Maryland hosts a festive season of holiday events including a Christmas tree lighting, outdoor market, and photos with Santa by the carousel and Capital Wheel. As part of Christmas on the Potomac, the Gaylord National Resort’s ICE! is a special holiday attraction. This winter wonderland is created entirely of 5,000 blocks of ice that are hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans. The resort also offers free nightly entertainment, fireworks, live music, light shows, and a variety of special Christmas displays.

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Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

Dancers at Busch Gardens
Courtesy of Busch Gardens

Kids will love this great Christmas vacation destination. The Virginia amusement park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, combining an immersive holiday experience with one-of-a-kind shopping and dining opportunities, holiday shows, and a spectacular light-dancing Christmas tree. Highlights include dining with Santa and Mrs. Claus, seeing live penguins, and visiting Santa's workshop. Unwrapped toy donations are welcome.

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Gettysburg Christmas Tree
Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

The holiday season kicks off just after Thanksgiving with the Annual Gettysburg Christmas Parade and continues for four weeks with concerts, open houses, special holiday displays, and great decorations throughout town. Stay in one of Gettysburg's comfy bed and breakfasts, do some holiday shopping, or enjoy walking through the downtown district taking in the charm of the historic town. Special events include a tree lighting, parade, and home tours. If you live nearby, you can even cut your own Christmas tree to take back home.

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Downtown D.C.

National Christmas Tree in Washington DC
SKLA / Getty Images

Whether you live locally or are coming to the Washington, D.C., area for the holidays, book a room in a downtown hotel and enjoy the easy access to all of the city’s attractions. Among the many holiday things to do here, you can see the National Christmas Tree and the National Hanukkah Menorah on the White House grounds.

There is so much to do in Washington, D.C., that even if you have lived in the area for years, you probably haven’t seen it all.

Check out more ways to spend the holidays in Washington, D.C.

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