Where to Play on Thanksgiving Day (2022)

A replica made from plant material from the US Botanic Garden in beautiful Season’s Greenings

How about a side of relaxation with your Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re in town for the holiday season and looking for pre- or post-banquet activities, here are some ways to complement the day’s main event. Happy Thanksgiving!

1) Hit the ice for active fun. You can Skate under the sky at one of several outdoor ice rinks in the area that are open on the holidays. Most of our favorites, all DC ice rinks, will welcome skaters so you can glide with stunning views of the Potomac in Washington Harbour, just above the river at The Wharf and amidst the urban buzz of Canal Park. Find information on these and more in Virginia and Maryland. And be sure to check the rink websites for Thanksgiving Day opening times!

2) Visit a Smithsonian Museum or the National Zoo. They are all open on Thanksgiving from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except for the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, which are open from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and the National Zoo from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m 4 p.m. That National Art Gallery (which isn’t affiliated with the Smithsonian, just a neighbor in the mall) is also open from 10am to 5pm.

3) experience Season’s Greenings at the US Botanic Garden. The always delightful model railway exhibit, built from plant materials, is back outside in the National Garden. And the Conservatory will be filled with its signature holiday decorations, including sculptures of iconic DC sites also made from plant materials. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.

4) Enjoy one holiday hike. Looks like it’s going to be a comfortable Turkey day this year, great for some time on the trail. In honor of the day, I suggest going to the Turkey Run. 🦃😉 Rock Creek, Great Falls, Roosevelt Island, Huntley Meadows and Riverbend are all great parks for family hikes. This post has details on all of them along with even more recommendations for local walks in the woods.

5) Hanging out in a playground. Beauvoir, Hains Point, Clemyjontri, Cabin John Regional Park, Wheaton Regional Park as well as tons of DC Parks and Rec locations and many more in the DC Metro are good places to let the little ones play while you wait for the festival.

6) Get in the holiday mood National Port. There is a nightly tree illumination and light show in the Waterfront District that runs every half hour from sunset until 9pm. Plus, there’s a lot more vacation magic to be had at Gaylord National.

7) Take an evening drive or stroll through one holiday light display– several in the area have begun to enchant visitors with sparkling wonderlands.

8) Catch a strip. Almost all of our local cinemas will be open and there are so many good films to see! (On my list: Glass Onion, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, TÁR, She Said, The Menu.) See what’s playing at a theater near you.

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