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Christmas in the City – National Mall, Washington DC

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! Highlights will include the National Christmas Tree, the US Capitol Christmas Tree, and a visit to the US Botanic Garden to enjoy its annual "Season’s Greenings" display.

The route: From the Enid Haupt Garden, at the south entrance of the Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center, we’ll walk west along Jefferson Drive 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 Greenings" display. The display features a model train and "seasonal plant displays throughout the Conservatory, replicas of the capital's landmark buildings in the Garden Court,  and one of the largest indoor decorated trees in Washington, D.C." 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 only about 4 miles and should take about 2 hours at a moderate pace, including stops. The path is level and mostly paved, with steps in places.

Google map:

How to get there:  

• Metro - The Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center (The Castle) is just east of the Smithsonian Metro Station, on the Blue and Orange lines. From the exit at Independence Ave and 12th Street SW, walk east 0.1 miles and turn left to enter the Haupt Garden. See

• Driving - If you are driving, the street address to the Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center is 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560. The Haupt Garden is just south of the building. There is paid parallel parking in the vicinity, but be sure to allow some extra time to hunt it down.

Weather: It's too early to see the forecast, but updates are here:

What to bring: Water, comfy shoes and your furry friend if desired. (Leashes required. Sorry, only service animals are allowed into Botanic Garden Conservatory.) Sunscreen and the layered look is a good idea, and a camera is always a handy accessory.

Advisory: As a reminder, this is an adult group, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being during events. No one under 18 years of age is allowed at this event, either as members or as guests, to include babies in carriers and/or strollers.

Cost: None.

Administrative stuff: There are public restrooms and drinking fountains at the Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center, just south of the Washington Monument, at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion, and at the US Botanic Garden.


• Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center (The Castle), 1000 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC. Open 8:30am - 5:30pm daily.

• National Christmas Tree,

• US Capitol Christmas Tree,

• US Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC, (202)[masked], 

• Season's Greenings, 

Join or login to comment.

  • John M

    Thanks for a great morning walk! Have a safe and happy holiday season!!

    1 · 6h ago

  • Yolanda C.

    It was great as always!

    6h ago

  • Julie

    Lots of fun, thanks John !

    8h ago

  • Ellen G.

    Hope you are having a wonderful time!

    10h ago

  • Susanna

    Metro was very late with track work. Where are you now?

    11h ago

  • Vic

    Any body want to carpool from spring field


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