A walk on the National Mall to visit the National Christmas Tree in the Ellipse has been an annual event for this group, so let’s get it on the calendar and cross our fingers in hopes the weather will cooperate! This year let’s expand our horizon a bit and see the US Capitol Christmas Tree, on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building, and cap off the morning with a visit to the US Botanic Garden, to enjoy its annual Season’s Greetings display.
The route: From the north (Mall) entrance of the Smithsonian Metro Station, we’ll walk west to the World War II Memorial, then north along 17th Street to the Ellipse to check out the National Christmas Tree. From there we’ll walk east along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol West Lawn to admire the US Capitol Christmas Tree. Afterwards we’ll walk south and west to the US Botanic Garden where we’ll go inside and enjoy the Botanic Garden’s annual Season’s Greetings display. The display boasts one of the largest indoor decorated trees in Washington DC, a poinsettia showcase and a grove of conifer trees. There is a fantasy train display in the East Gallery, a "World's Fair," and miniature versions of many of the capital's landmark buildings will be on display in the Garden Court. After about a 20-minute stop (those who wish can linger longer), we’ll walk west along Jefferson Drive back to our starting point.
The walk is 4.3 miles of smiles and should take about 2 hours at a moderate pace, including stops. The path is level and mostly paved, with steps in places.
A Google map of our route is here: http://tinyurl.com/o5tcfeh
How to get there: The Smithsonian Metro Station is on the Blue and Orange lines. If you are driving, there is parallel parking in the vicinity, but be sure to allow some extra time to hunt it down.
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes and your furry friend if desired. (Leashes required. Sorry, only service animals are allowed into Botanic Garden Conservatory.) The layered look is a good idea, and a camera is always a handy accessory.
Administrative stuff: There are public restrooms and drinking fountains at the Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center, 1000 Jefferson Drive (just north of the Haupt Garden), and at the US Botanic Garden. As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted.
National Christmas Tree: http://thenationaltree.org/
US Capitol Christmas Tree: http://capitolchristmastree.com/
US Botanic Garden Season’s Greetings: http://tinyurl.com/qxk94ur