Spending your Thanksgiving in Washington, D.C. and the DMV area?
We’ve got some fun ideas for things to do in November to help make the most of your holiday weekend, whether it’s taking visiting family members out to see the sites or maximizing your own explorations with new attractions.
Save on Attraction Admission
Regular admission to a number of these Washington DC attractions are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.
Choose as you go from top attractions and save up to 47% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special November events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Explorer Pass.
George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
We tend to think of Thanksgiving as being rooted in Pilgrim traditions from colonial New England. But did you know that the official Thanksgiving holiday was actually created by our first President, George Washington?
Visit Washington’s home and library to see where this original proclamation is stored (you can actually download a copy in advance from the website if you’d like), and see what life was like when Washington first asked the country to give thanks.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon is also just a fantastic place to visit for history buffs. The house, grounds, and winter gardens are worth a few hours of your time.
Getting In: Admission to George Washington’s Mount Vernon is available with the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.
Go for a Family Bike Ride
Fall is a wonderful time of year in DC to be out on a bike. The weather has finally cooled down (for the most part), and the majority of tourist crowds are thinning out.
Ride around the Tidal Basin and the National Mall for some nice gravel paths that attract local bikers and runners as well, or brave city streets and pedal around to your next destination. (Don’t worry – many streets have bike lanes!)
Getting In: DC Bike Rentals by Bike and Roll DC are available with the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.
Washington Walks Tours
Another great way to enjoy D.C.’s beautiful fall weather is with a guided walking tour.
These expert local guides will escort you throughout the city on themed excursions, targeting specific areas of the city, or concepts like “Get Local,” which focuses on a variety of different local neighborhoods.
Tours that will be running around Thanksgiving are “Embassy Row,” “U Street,” “and “National Mall Memorials.” On the Sunday after, you’ll also get to choose from “Georgetown” and “Women Who Changed America” (a favorite of mine).
Remember to dress in layers, because you’ll likely be a bit chilly: D.C. weather can be quite brisk this time of year.
Getting In: Washington Walks Tour tickets are available with the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.
Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens
If you’re hoping to enjoy a bit of natural beauty during your time in the DMV, then a visit to the lovely Hillwood Estate should be on the top of your to-do list.
Located in Northwest D.C., adjacent to Rock Creek Park, this lovely estate comes complete with year-round gardens and a well-curated museum.
This year, you can enjoy their special Gardner’s Focus on “Holiday Décor.” You’ll get to see things like displays of traditional and modern holiday wreathes and other botanical holiday décor in the garden. Among the highlights for 2018 are the Fabergé-inspired Christmas trees!
Getting In: Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens tickets are available with the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.
Reston Town Center
November 23, 2018
The holiday parade in Reston Town Center is a great way to kick off the holiday season after you’re done digesting and shopping. Enjoy a full day celebration (complete with requisite Santa Claus appearance) that the kids will love.
The Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is an especially popular part of the day’s events. While you’re there, join in the festive Claus family sing-along. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can run the Gingerbread Man Mile that morning, too!
Getting In: Admission to the Reston Town Center Holiday Parade is free.
United States Botanic Garden
November 22, 2018 – January 1, 2019
Immerse yourself in a beautiful, unique exhibit at the United States Botanic Garden on the Capitol grounds. Marvel at the detailed recreations of famous buildings and structures, as well as an extensive model train exhibit located in the East Gallery.
This year, the theme is “All Aboard!” Fans of trains will adore this exhibition featuring famous train stations made from plants, including NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, St. Louis’ Union Station, and D.C.’s own Union Station.
You can also enjoy live seasonal music on selected Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout December.
Getting In: Admission to the United States Botanical Garden holiday exhibits is free.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
November 22 – December 24, 2018
Launching on Thanksgiving Day, the Christmas Village in Baltimore is a tremendously popular local attraction.
This German-style event combines the best of bespoke holiday shopping with the fun of high quality Christmas entertainment, alongside delicious food and drink.
It’s a great way to ring in the holiday season, and is a fun alternative to more commercial shopping endeavors with its strong showing of authentic German traditions and craftwork.
Getting In: Admission to the Christmas Village in Baltimore is free. Some minor admission fees apply to indoor areas on select weekends; admission can be purchased in person.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
We listed just a few fun suggestions for things to do in November and Thanksgiving in Washington DC 2018. Of course, there are plenty of other activities to help fill your plans.
Remember, many of these great options are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass®, where you can save up to 47% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
Please note, the November and Thanksgiving events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Explorer Pass.
Consider adding a few of these fun options to your November weekend itineraries.