Visiting Washington, DC in December

Jun 25th, 2011, 01:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1
Visiting Washington, DC in December

My family is thinking of visiting Washington DC in December. Is this a good time to visit?
What is the weather like at that time of year? We have never been there and am not sure what area to stay in. Also, can we make reservations in advance to visit the major attractions? My children are college age. Any information is greatly appreciated.
ft8473 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2011, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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The weather, as always, is unpredictable. Generally, we have decent weather in December--not too cold with little to no snow. But, we've had some big snowfalls in December in recent years too.

The first couple of weeks of December aren't bad for crowds because the schools are still in session (few family visitors) and school groups aren't visiting either. Things will pick up a lot once schools are out for the holidays.

In December, you can make advance reservations to visit: U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument, the National Archives and Ford's Theatre. Passes, which are required in spring and summer for the Permanent Collection at the Holocaust Museum, are not required in winter. You can also request a tour of the White House, but you don't always get it. Tickets to tour the Bureau of Printing and Engraving are distributed only on a same-day basis.

Go the the websites of all these attractions/sites for information on how to acquire advance tickets.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2011, 06:24 AM
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You can get tour passes for the Capitol Bldg., White House and Supreme Court by contacting your representative or senator's office in advance of your trip. For the WH, it requires a 3 month waiting period due to security clearance. A good hotel close to all the major sites is JW Marriott on pennsylvania ave.
montereybob is offline  
Jun 25th, 2011, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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I went to DC every year in December for work for a long time. It is a good time to go. Temps were usually in the 50's, and we didn't have rain when I was there, though no promises.

Washington is never empty but the major attractions were a lot less busy than in the prime spring and fall seasons. Except for earlyish sunsets, it was just about perfect.
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 25th, 2011, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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December in DC can range anywhere from 50's to 20 degree weather. Snow usually starts in January but for the past few years we've had significant snowfall in December, so be prepared.

Also if like me you are from a Northern state, you will be amazed that 2 inches of snow can snarl traffic, close schools and send people into panic mode. There's a joke in DC that whenever snow is predicted, residents will mob the stores for bread, milk and toilet paper.

The attractions will be much less crowded and if you come during the Xmas season, you will see the Eclipse filled with all 50 states Christmas trees. For the WH, I"d advise to make reservations ASAP, we tried to get tickets months ahead and couldn't get them.
emily71 is offline  
Jun 26th, 2011, 05:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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It's a great time to be in town. A lot fewer tourists. Things should be emptier. We've had snow in December, but I also remember going to work without a coat.
MikeT is offline  
Jul 14th, 2011, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 159
I agree with all of the previous comments. You can also plan your trip around some of the holiday activities in DC - lighting of the National Christmas tree/menorah, etc. which can be very nice.

As to where to stay, that depends entirely on your budget and whether you favor public transportation. Not surprisingly, downtown DC, in the center of things, can be pretty pricey hotel-wise, but has the convenience of being easy reach to all the major tourist attractions. If you're interested in that, JW Marriott is very centrally located, as is the Marriott Metro Center - look for hotels near Metro Center or Union Station. The Mandarin Oriental and Sofitel on 15th St NW are also lovely and central, if you're high end types of folks.

I am a big fan of all of the Kimpton hotels - Hotel George, Madeira, Topaz, Rouge, Helix - because they're nicely located, boutiquey, and I think they're fairly good values.

If you're more budget conscious, you may want to consider staying on the Metro line just outside of DC - for example, in Silver Spring or Rockville, MD or Arlington or Crystal City, VA. As a general rule, the farther out you go on the metro lines, the cheaper the hotels will be. The metro is easy to use, convenient, and will get you pretty much anywhere you need to go. If you're driving in (which I personally don't recommend, since I find parking anywhere in DC to be kind of a pain and expensive) you obviously have many more options in the suburbs of DC.

Hope that helps!
DoctorCarrie is offline  
Jul 14th, 2011, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,307

Not to mention the Hotel Palomar in the Dupont Circle area and Hotel Monaco in the Penn Quater area, both very well located.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2011, 07:50 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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I bought a picture of the Washington Monument during a snowstorm when I was there 2 years ago. I think it would be amazing to see some of the monuments during a snowstorm - as long as you were dressed properly...

That being said, December is probably too early for a major snowstorm but it could happen...
tchoiniere is offline  
Jul 24th, 2011, 08:55 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 149
Christmas week is always busy in DC. Otherwise it is a slow tourism month. You do not absolutely need a reservation for the US Capitol. There are always tickets if you walk in. It is not a bad idea to book the tickets but don't bother your Congressman for this. You can easily book online and The Capitol guides are much more knowledgeable than some Congressman's intern. The tickets are free. Should the time not turn out to be convenient, just go to the walk up line.
yentakvetch is offline  

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