Probably going to avoid touring Melania's Creepy Christmas Castle.
December 8, 2017 8:48 AM   Subscribe

My wife and daughter and I are taking a fairly spontaneous trip to Washington DC over Christmas, after some plans to travel further to be with family fell through. We have a cool, luxe hotel booked, and are excited to take in the museums and holiday cheer, but I was hoping all you Capitol-centric MeFites could give us both some general recommendations (unique things to do, fun shopping, special holiday displays, how to do parking, etc) as well as some specific food/drink suggestions.

Here we go:
  1. We are staying here. The hotel charges ~$50/day for parking, and I'd love to find something in the vicinity that is significantly less than that. Is that possible? If so, where?
  2. We love a good restaurant, but our budget is pretty firmly at the $$ end of the spectrum. We also have a teenager who is not an adventurous eater and my wife is allergic to seafood (she's OK to eat at a place that serves seafood, but it's not fun to go places that have very limited non-fishy choices). We'd particularly love to find somewhere open on Christmas Day where we can get a Christmas Dinner-y meal.
  3. We also love a nice hipster-y cocktail bar, but 21+ places are a problem because of said teen. The two grown-ups are already planning to slip away to Miracle on 7th Street after setting the kiddo up with a room service hot fudge sundae and cocoa, and we don't want to do that more than once. What other places can we go to that serves an artisanal mojito (or whatever) but is also family friendly? Bonus points for a warm, cozy, lodge-y feel.
  4. Other things? Impromptu meetup?
posted by Rock Steady to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Good food and drinks @ Convivial - but no lodge vibe
posted by askmehow at 9:16 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Parking in the heart of downtown is going to be fairly pricey, I have used Parki ng Panda to find affordable (though sometimes sketchy) parking. Lyft is convenient and inexpensive, definitely make sure the car is worth it. DC is fun during the holidays, have a look at the National Christmas Tree, have lunch at the Union Station food court which will be decorated. It will take research, but some embassies offer receptions that are open to the public and feature authentic national food. There's always a bunch of performances at the Kennedy Center though they are starting to sell out.
posted by wnissen at 9:17 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lyft is convenient and inexpensive, definitely make sure the car is worth it.

That's a fair point, but we are driving from NC, so we will definitely have a car with us. I guess an alternative would be a more remote cheap/free parking area that we could rideshare to the hotel from...
posted by Rock Steady at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2017

You are probably aware of this, but be prepared for a line to get into the pop-up bar. I have seen the wait span the block for hours so it's a good idea to have a back-up plan.
posted by juliplease at 9:27 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check out Teddy and the Bully Bar for Xmas day. We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner there a few years back. Cool decor and they do a nice holiday spread.
posted by dayintoday at 9:47 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

A decent backup plan for the Miracle on 7th Street is the Passenger down the street. The have one of the best cocktail programs in the entire metro area. (Like juliaplease said, the line can take hours to get through)

If you're just planning on having the car parked for the duration of your trip, there's a parking lot under the DCUSA building in Columbia Heights, which I believe is about the best price you can get in the city.
posted by General Malaise at 9:53 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

During the holidays, they decorate the Smithsonian zoo with lights. Fittingly, it's called Zoo Lights. I recommend it because you'll probably want to see a lot of the monuments/parks/etc in the daytime but this is something you can do when it's getting dark out. The zoo, like all of the Smithsonians, has free admission!
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:21 AM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

I can always get parking at the major hotels hear Reagan National for less than $10 a day for secure underground parking via Parking Panda or one of its imitators. Then it's a short Metro train into downtown.
posted by COD at 11:22 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK, I checked out the Panda Parking thing and that is fantastic. Consider parking solved.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:58 AM on December 8, 2017

The Riggsby is a great 70's themed hotel bar with a fantastic bar staff. I had literally the best Gibson of my life there last month.

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian has a fantastic collection right now. In particular Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is some of the finest modeling ever made.

The National Portrait Gallery had a great set of exhibitions right now:
posted by nickggully at 12:07 PM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Artechouse (a gallery that focuses on interactive, AR art) has a Christmas themed display that might be neat. Here is a very silly overly dramatic video from someone’s experience on Instagram.

Georgetown is also currently hosting their annual GLOW light show so if you do bother to go down that way (it can be annoying to get to) it might be worth it to go after dark.

A ton of bars around here serve food and won’t care about a child accompanied by parents if that’s your actual concern. Just walk north up 14th and you’ll pass by a million decent hipster bars/gastriopubs. Black Cat is an all ages bar/club there that has pinball machines and frequent silly tv themed bar nights (and smells of stale beer). Might interest a teen while you have a quick drink. DC distilling is fun and on U St not far from you.

If you get out to the H street area (east of your hotel) it would be very easy to go bar hopping with your kid. H Street Country Club has a ton of games (and an indoor putt putt course) and allows under 21s to play at brunch and early evenings. H street is surrounded by decent well priced food. I like the pie shop (savory pies too), Toki underground ramen, and a couple other places that aren’t springing to mind. Yelp will help there. From there it’s an easy drive up to the arboretum and botanical gardens.

I’ll also second Renwick gallery. It is free and always amazing and it’s across the street from the White House so you can get your Trump Flick Off photo if you are so inclined. Also the national portrait gallery is pretty cool and worth wandering through (at least checking out the atrium and getting coffee and warming up).
posted by cyphill at 4:55 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Family-friendly cozy bars with hipster cocktails: definitely check out Petworth Citizen. It has an entire room of books to browse, which is fun to explore. Also it's next to an excellent indie bookshop (Upshur Street Books) that's good for interesting souvenirs.
posted by Emily's Fist at 11:05 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Go ice skating in Georgetown or at the Navy Yard.
posted by nkknkk at 12:19 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check out the echo chamber at the Canadian Embassy. It's on the outside, so no security or anything to get in. Just a cool little trick of the architecture.
posted by csmithrim at 7:44 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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