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Holiday Lights in Washington D.C.

Posted on Dec. 14, 2018

Hey Happy Active Families of DC!

If you’re looking for ways to spend quality time together as a family this holiday season, Washington DC is loaded with events, many of them free! We’ll start with our picks to let you get outdoors to enjoy some sparkling holiday lights. Happy Active Family wants to make it easier for you to plan your holiday fun!


Wander among the paths of the Smithsonian National Zoo and enjoy animal-themed light displays and laser light shows set to music. Some activities have a charge, but you can walk through the zoo and enjoy the lights for free! Zoolights runs until January 1 from 5 to 9pm nightly. Take public transportation (Woodley Park/Zoo metro stop on the red line) because there is a steep charge for parking. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008

Light Yards

The Yards DC has an outdoor public light art installation running until January 4 from 6 to 10pm every night. There are two interactive works, The Pool by Jen Lewin Studio and Angels of Freedom by Israel-based OGE group. There is limited on-street metered parking and paid parking lots, so consider taking the metro to Navy Yard – Ballpark Station. There are many family-friendly dining options in the area also, including Due South, Takorean, and Nando’s Peri Peri. The Yards Park, 1300 First St SE, Washington DC 20003.

The Glow

Until January 6, from 5 to 10pm nightly Georgetown is lit up with 10 art installations from 16 artists spaced throughout the neighborhood. You can print the map from the website ( and go on a scavenger hunt to find all of the pieces. If you go on a Wednesday, have dinner at José Andrés America Eats Tavern (3139 M St NW) and listen to some live bluegrass music in a family-friendly environment. You can also grab quesadillas or tacos at Los Cuates (1564 Wisconsin Ave) or enjoy pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso (3282 M St NW).

The National Christmas Tree

Located in the President’s Park behind the White House, the tree is lit from dusk until 11pm every night. There is nightly musical entertainment (schedule of acts can be found here: Have a family dinner before or afterwards at Old Ebbits Grill (675 15th Street NW) or, if you’re looking for something more casual, consider The Exchange Limited (1719 G St NW), a bar with an extensive menu.

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights

This one is located in Virginia (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna VA 9750), about 30 minutes by car outside of DC, and is open nightly from 5:30 – 10:00pm until January 6. Dress warmly and enjoy a half-mile walk through sparkling light displays, some of them animated and set to music. At the end, you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and S’mores from the snack shop. It’s best to buy tickets in advance, as popular times can sell out. Tickets are $8-14 and can be transferred to a different date/time prior to the entry time of the ticket, depending on availability. Enjoy a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs before at Maggio’s, a friendly, casual eatery at 421 Maple Avenue East, Vienna VA 22180.

Brookside Gardens Garden of Lights

Located in Maryland, Brookside Gardens turns into a winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. When you finish your walk through the gardens, visit the Conservatory to watch G-Scale model trains wind through a seasonal landscape. Before you head home, you can warm up inside the Visitors Center with hot cocoa and nightly musical performances. Tickets are $25 per Car/Van (Sunday-Thursday) and $30 per Car/Van (Friday-Saturday). Advance Sale Tickets for $25 are available at the gift shop 10 am to 4 pm daily beginning November 1, 2018. Advance sale passes may be redeemed weekdays or weekends, but do not provide for priority admission. There is a discount available for military, teachers, and first responders. The lights are on from 5:30 to 9 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, until January 1. Brookside Gardens are located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902. Dining options nearby include El Pollo Rico for charcoal grilled chicken (2517 University Blvd, Silver Spring, MD 20902) or Full Key Restaurant for Chinese food (2227 University Blvd W., Wheaton MD 20902).

Thanks for checking us out and stay tuned for more blog posts highlighting our favorite family activities of the season.