Plan for a Day and Night of Christmas Eve Fun

Ho ho ho! Christmas Eve is right around the corner! How will you keep merry this festive day? Well, here are some options to consider.

A Morning and Early Afternoon in Our Nation’s Capital

  1. Venture into DC. Take Metro to the Federal Center SW stop in the morning and visit the outdoor train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden (next to the Capitol) in DC (open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but it is closed on Christmas Day).
  2. Walk over to the adjacent Capitol and check out the Capitol Christmas Tree.
  3. Walk down the mall in the Walk down the mall in the direction of the Washington Monument. If you need a break, lunch, coffee or gelato, enter the National Gallery of Art to the Cascades Cafe downstairs. 
  4. The National Gallery of Art Rotonda upstairs is typically decorated for the holidays and is a worthy photo stop, if it is.
  5. Resume your walk, pausing to take in the outdoor skating rink at the National Gallery of Art will be open.
  6. Across from the Washington Monument on your right will be the Ellipse. You’ll see the National Christmas Tree, surrounded by 50+ state trees.
  7. A few steps away, you’ll also see the exterior Christmas decorations of The White House.
  8. Hop back on the metro before rush hour starts. Farragust West is the closest stop.
  9. If you want to do this in reverse and start with the Tree, never a bad idea on Christmas Eve, the grounds open at 10 a.m.

A Morning and Early Afternoon in Old Town Alexandria 

  • Walk along King Street, window shopping.
  • Take a cocoa break. There is a Dunkin Donuts close to the King Street Metro (donuts and bagels) and a Starbucks (gingerbread) closer to the Waterfront.
  • There are bathrooms at the Alexandria Visitor Center and the Torpedo Factory, if you need them.
  • Santa and his friends will be waterskiing at the Alexandria Waterfront at 1 p.m.
  • Time for lunch! After exploring the waterfront, lunch options include The Charthouse (on the Waterfront), Lena’s (wood-fired pizza on KIng Street) and La Madeleine (French food franchise), also on KIng Street.

Late afternoon and evening at Reston Town Center 

  • Starting at Fountain Square, take in the sights of the splendid Christmas tree, lights and decorations outdoors.
  • Pop into the Hyatt Regency Reston hotel lobby to check out the Christmas decorations.
  • Watch the skaters at the outdoor ice skating rink at Reston Town Center  open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Even if you don’t skate, it’s fun to watch.
  • Last-minute shopping for stocking stuffers and gifts includes Francesca’s, Paper Source, Scrawl Books and Sephora. The Fed Ex store has a nice variety of 2022 planners.Walk along Market Street to Reston Town Square and window shop.
  • For a late lunch or afternoon snack, there’s a Starbuck’s coffee, Peet’s coffee, Chipotle and Potbelly for quick snacks or a lunch or splurge at Clyde’s or one of the many other upscale casual restaurants.

Holiday Light Displays

  • Meadowlark Garden’s Winter Walk of Lights in Vienna is open 5 pm – 10 pm.
  • The drive through Bull Run Festival of Lights in Manassas is open 5:30 pm – 10 pm.
  • Ice and Lights at Cameron Run in Alexandria is open 5 pm – 10 pm.
  • Tinsel! at the Holiday Inn Dulles in Sterling is open for visits in 2-hour increments starting at 5 pm, 5:30 pm, 6 pm and 6:30 pm.

…and out of town

  • Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Wiilliamsburg is open from 2 pm – 10 pm; also on Christmas Day. Colonial Williamsburg is also open. The train to Williamsburg takes you there if you want to avoid traffic.
  • The train will also take you to my hometown of Richmond, VA with its decorated houses, Carytown, the Byrd Theater, the Jeffferson Hotel and casual dining spots. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (admission is pay what you can).

Have seafood for dinner

Celebrate the Italian American customs of a Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. Or make cioppino with seven kinds of seafood. I would use cod (not halibut or salmon) in this recipe and add calamari and bay scallops to make seven seafoods.

Have deep pockets this holiday? Visit Clyde’s Chevy Chase or Clyde’s Mark Center (Alexandria) for cocktails and oysters on the half shell, oysters rockefeller, crab and artichoke dip, whitefish pate, steamed musssels and calamari, fried oysters, baked rockfish and more. Just skip the bland jumbo shrimp cocktail.


order Chinese takeout! That’s what I’m going to do! My favorites: Chopsticks in Herndon for Mu Shu and Hong Kong Palace in Seven Corners (Falls Church) for Kung Pao chicken and sesame balls.

Make some home-made egg nog

Christmas Eve is also National Egg Nog Day. White the pre-made stuff is very good, here is a recipe in case you want to make your own.

Read a Christmas classic

Curl up tonight in front of ye olde TV set

Television programming on Christmas Eve includes…

  • 8 pm: Olaf’s Frozen Adventure – ABC
  • 8 pm: A Holly Dolly Christmas (with Dolly Parton) CBS
  • 8 pm: It’s A Wonderful Life (movie with Jimmy Stewart) – NBC
  • 8:30 pm: Shrek the Halls – ABC
  • 9 pm: Disney Prep & Landing – ABC
  • 9:30 pm: Disney Prep & Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice – ABC
  • 11:30 pm: Christmas Eve Mass (with the Pope) – NBC


One thought on “Plan for a Day and Night of Christmas Eve Fun

  1. 🎄 Merry Christmas Eve! 🎄 | Cool Yule December 24, 2021 at 9:01 am Reply

    […] to know what fun events are happening today? Here are some suggesions on how to spend today. I am emphasizing outdoor itineraries today, for Covid […]

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