Thanksgiving Weekend in and out of Washington, DC

Thanksgiving Weekend in and out of Washington, DC

Washington, DC is a fine place to spend Thanksgiving weekend. From parades to fine dining, the nation’s capital and the surrounding area provide something for the whole family. Here are some ideas of what to see there and how to make the most of the weekend in and around DC.

Thanksgiving Dinner

There are many options for Thanksgiving dinner. You can choose the time of day (brunch, lunch, dinner), the kind of service (buffet, a la carte), and even the number of courses. Some restaurants will even send you home with leftovers.


There are many celebratory parades before and during the Thanksgiving weekend. In nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, there is a parade that includes enormous balloons, marching, music, and Santa Claus. At the Reston Town Center in Reston, Virginia, there is an annual holiday parade that also features Santa Claus and is held on Thanksgiving weekend.

Christmas Lights

In nearby Maryland, at the Waterfront Plaza, National Harbor, there will be a National Harbor Christmas Tree lighting on November 26. Music, hot chocolate, and story-telling accompany this festive event. There are Christmas light displays at local parks, some of which are quite spectacular. You will probably have to wait until the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving to see Christmas light displays, however, and some displays won’t go up until the following weekend.

Presidential Turkey Pardon

This amusing tradition became official in 1989, during the administration of George H. W. Bush. A Thanksgiving turkey is presented to the president, who grants the turkey an official pardon and spares it from ending up as someone’s dinner. This event usually occurs on the morning of Thanksgiving Day and would be a fun event for the family to attend.

Turkey Trots

Perhaps born of a tradition when turkeys were actually chased, modern turkey trots are usually fund-raisers held by various charity organizations. Participating in a run or walk for charity would certainly help work off some of the calorie-rich indulgences of the weekend, and would be a good activity for all ages.

Botanical Gardens

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, the Botanical Gardens of Washington, DC hold a beautiful exhibit that lasts through to the beginning of January. It features miniature replicas of some of DC’s famous buildings, toy trains, and beautiful Christmas decorations.


Washington, DC is rich in history. Schedule a guided tour of all the historical sights and buildings. There is even a “Monuments by Moonlight” tour that takes place at night.