The Game Plan

Christmas Countdown: Day Trips and Family Getaways

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011

Williamsburg Christmas

The Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, all dressed up for Christmas this year. Photo credit: Stacie Stauff Smith Photography /

It’s unavoidable.  They will be a part of your holidays.  Family.

For better or for worse, you have to hang with the fam’ during the Christmas season.  But don’t worry–that doesn’t mean you have to sit, hunched over and glassy-eyed, in a stuffy, smelly household room full of relatives.

Better to take the family out on an adventure to keep everyone occupied.  Downtown Leesburg is a fresh place to start.  There’s always plenty to keep each member satisfied.  The Christmas decorations at Oatlands are particularly worth seeing.

Mount Vernon has long been one of the area’s supreme Christmas getaways.  You can gaze at superb gingerbread house artistry and tour the rarely seen third floor.  They even have a real camel for you to meet.

Best of all, Mount Vernon is open every single day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  If you’re sick of hearing the same boring family stories on Christmas morning, round up the family and visit this rich historical resource.

The National Christmas Tree provides an excellent opportunity to get out of the ‘burbs and into the city.  If you have relatives visiting you from across the country, or even internationally, they’ll love a chance to see Washington, D.C.’s holiday splendor.

But if you’d rather give your family a more rural Christmas experience, head out to Middleburg.  Winter’s chill on the central street compliments warm sanctuaries lining the sidewalks.  First-class dining tempts the taste buds,  but casual eats can be found as well.  And don’t forget–there’s tons of shopping.  Northern Virginia’s best boutiques are in Middleburg.  Finish off that list while spending obligatory time with the folks.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call Williamsburg or Philadelphia suitable for a day trip–they’re each 3-4 hours away–but I highly recommend them just the same.

Williamsburg’s Christmas experience is legendary.  The most accurate colonial town in America goes all out in December.  Listen to authentic live music, hear holiday stories from Thomas Jefferson, even hear “A Christmas Carol” read by an actual descendent of Dickens himself.  Williamsburg takes the old expression “eat, drink and be merry” quite literally.

Philadelphia rivals D.C. for Christmas delight.  Of course the whole city is decked out, but highlights include Love Park, featuring a traditional German Christmas market, and Macy’s extraordinary light display that erupts every hour on the hour.  See for yourself:

Check back tomorrow for all the feel-good Christmas spirit this season has to offer.  But if it’s presents you’re after, we’ve got that too.

Matt Basheda

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