With our first Virginia Christmas wrapping up around here, we needed to see some free Christmas lights in DC. Our first stop was to see the ZooLights At The National Zoo. It was a fantastic experience and I’m going to highly recommend it! Here are 3 reasons to see the free Christmas lights in DC by visiting ZooLights At The National Zoo.
My family loves to see Christmas lights in December. We’re the folks that jump in the car with a thermos of hot cocoa and drive up and down local neighborhoods oohing and ahhhing over the work of our neighbors.
Since we’re NOT the Griswolds when it comes to decorating (way too lazy over here, tbh!), we certainly appreciate those of you who are!
And if you do the whole sync your lights to the music thing: we give you huge props for the dedication to the craft.
After we checked out the local lights, we decided to head into Washington, DC.
Free Christmas Lights in DC ZooLights At The National Zoo
Our first trip to see free Christmas lights in DC was unanimously voted on: DC ZooLights at the National Zoo for the win!
Here are 3 reasons you’ll want to plan a trip with your family.
1. It’s (Almost) Free Christmas Lights in DC
Ya’ll, free is pretty much my favorite word. With a family of 6, I need all the help I can get for with free ways to entertain them.
And if it’s yours too, be sure to check out these five free ways to spend 4th of July in Washington, DC. Seriously- amazing experiences in DC for the 4th of July!
The (almost) comes in when you consider parking or transportation and the extras at the zoo.
Parking was pricey, but not awful considering this is DC. $22 per car or $11 if you are a FONZ (friend of the National Zoo member).
And inside the zoo there are a few optional fun things to do that cost a little bit of money.
My kids passed up on the downhill sliding, but couldn’t pass up the carousel ride! It did cost $3.50 a ride, which feels a bit steep, but the smiles were worth it!
I mean, how many times do you get to ride on the back of a grasshopper, amirite?
2. Family-Friendly Environment After Dark at ZooLights at the National Zoo
I was so pleased to see that the zoo was not only transformed into a winter wonderland with gorgeous lights, but it certainly maintained it’s family-friendly feel throughout the night.
First of all, it’s a decent size zoo. Not too big, not too small. There’s a lot to see but you can cover the Zoolights at the National Zoo in about 2 hours of exploring. This means if you have littles, you’ll tire them out “just” enough to sleep well, but you probably won’t have to carry anyone to the car!
We were also able to go inside to warm up in a few of the exhibits which was great for the little ones.
Okay, busted. It was great for ME because I was freezing. I’m still new here, remember? I’ll learn to adjust.
There are also plenty of opportunities to purchase cocoa, coffee, snacks and even ‘smores. If the kiddos need a little pick me up, you’ve got some options!
It did get noticeably more crowded as the night went on, so I suggest strongly that you show up as close to opening as possible.
We arrived around 5:15 pm and left around 7:15 just as the crowds were becoming less manageable.
3. So. Many. Lights.
I only had my iPhone which makes nighttime photography a bit of a challenge, but it was just beautiful!
We were all happy Hollidays as we walked and talked through the zoo.
Here are a few of the favorite exhibits that we saw on our walk.
This season is almost over, but you can still see the free Christmas lights in DC ZooLights at the National Zoo for a few more days.
The lights are on from 5pm to 9pm Until January 1, 2019 (minus December 31).
Here’s a bit more shared from the ZooLights website:
Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!
NEW FOR 2018:
Glow Zone | Every night: A free, glow-in-the-dark play zone for children features light-up LED games and activities located in the Zoo’s Great Meadow.
GRUMP Holiday Market| Dec. 15 to 17, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.: A European-style outdoor market featuring local artisans, will be located at the Zoo’s Connecticut Avenue entrance Dec. 15, 16 and 17. This alternative art and crafts holiday show features gifts for all ages, from handmade clothing, jewelry and books to home accessories, including prints, upcycled decorative pillows, glass art and more.
CulturalDC’s SPACE4: Mobile Art Gallery | Every night: Visit Washington, D.C.’s first mobile art gallery! CulturalDC’s SPACE4: Arts initiative presents cutting-edge artwork by emerging local artists in a portable shipping container that is traveling across the city to activate unconventional venues and connect local communities to groundbreaking works. At the Zoo, artist Maggie Gourlay has created an immersive art experience, called Adaptation/Migration in the Anthropocene, located across from the Zoo’s Cheetah Conservation Station on Olmsted Walk.
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)