How to Visit the National Christmas Tree Like a Local

The National Christmas Tree is one of my favorite classic holiday traditions.  I usually end up visiting a couple of times each year because so many of my friends want to see the tree.  So, how do you beat the crowds and get the most out of your visit? We’ve got you covered: 

Plan your visit: 

Head to the National Christmas Tree Monday to Thursday evening to avoid the crowds. Plan about an hour for your visit to give you enough time to see everything.  You’ll want to snap pictures, visit the state and territory trees, watch the miniature trains, and enjoy the nightly entertainment. Plus, I always like to linger at each state and territory tree to enjoy the ornaments made by the local children from that location. 

The National Christmas tree will be lit on December 1 and open to public December 2 through January 1.  You can visit the tree during daytime hours but it will be lit from 4:30 to 10 PM. 

Dress for the weather: 

December in the District is all kinds of unpredictable in terms of weather.  However, one thing is for sure: The National Christmas Tree is out in the elements and is a few blocks from an inside escape. Bundle up if it is particularly cold or those few blocks will feel like miles. 

If you have little ones, you might consider leaving strollers at home. It can get very crowded at the National Christmas Tree especially if you visit on Friday or Saturday night. I have not visited the tree accompanied by a child but strollers and large bags seem difficult to maneuver through the crowds. Plus, you (and the kids!) will want the freedom to get close to the fence to see the train displays.

Take public transportation: 

The National Christmas Tree is located in front of the White House, making parking hard to come by.  You can find the tree a few short blocks away from the Metro Center stop (blue, orange, silver, red lines). Take the 13th and G St exit.

Selfie Checklist: 

Rack up those Instagram likes with all the classic photos: the National Christmas Tree, the Menorah, the tree representing your favorite state, and the White House.  My nighttime pictures of the White House always turn out dark so if you figure out a good angle, let me know! Face away from the White House to snap a cool shot of the tree with the Washington Monument. 

Grab Dinner Nearby: 

Everyone knows food around the National Mall is limited. However, the White House location puts you a little closer to classic spots like Old Ebbitt Grill and The Hamilton (make a reservation!). If you head to either of these restaurants, you’ll be much closer to Metro Center for the trip home. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, head toward the Farragut North stop (red line) and the Farragut West stop (orange, blue, and silver lines) for Shake Shack, Black Rooster Pub, or St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar. 

National Christmas Tree Infograph

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About Kelley Smith 64 Articles
I'm Kelley Smith and I love sharing tips on how to best explore Washington, DC. I love pretty much anything I can eat plus really good beer and whiskey served by story telling bartenders. I also like sassy museum guides, photogenic architecture, and colorful urban gardens.

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