Although Christmas has come and gone, I thought I’d give a recap of two very Christmasy tours Ken and I took! First and foremost, the White House Tour!
White House Christmas Tour
I had requested White House Christmas tour tickets from our Congressman’s office back in July. Two weeks before the tour, we were notified that we had received tickets (sent via email), and there was a long list of instructions for the tour. (No bags of any kind, including purses. No cameras with lenses longer than 3 inches, no cameras with detachable lenses, etc.)
The tour was for a Friday at 8:30AM (we didn’t get to pick the time!), so we decided to take the day off from work and do some other Christmas activities in the city for the day.
Even though our tour “start” time was at 8:30, that was really just the time that the entrance process started. There were multiple lines and security checkpoints after the 8:30 entrance.
Standing in the first line for the White House Tour. These were all the 8:30AM entrance ticket holders.
Standing in the second line for the White House Tour.
I glanced at my watch, and we didn’t actually enter the White House and start the tour until 9:17. Just something to keep in mind if you’re also doing a White House tour and trying to keep a schedule for your day.
Ken at the entrance to the White House
Upon entrance, we were given some brochures – one was a generic White House brochure for the White House, the other was a Christmas 2015-specific booklet.
Booklet about Christmas at the White House
White House Brochure from the National Park Service
Tours are self-guided, but there are secret service all around that are available to answer questions.
It was a little crowded at the beginning of the tour, but it definitely thinned out as people started viewing exhibits at their own pace.
One of the first rooms contained a large Christmas Tree and some iPads and a podium for writing, so if you wanted to send messages to troops serving in the U.S. military.
Through the windows, you could see dozens of cute snowmen set up on the White House lawn.
Snowmen on White House Lawn. Note the Washington Monument in the distance!
There were a lot of Christmas-themed photos and other framed displays hanging on the walls, such as these photos of presidents and their wives in front of the Christmas trees, as well as the White House Christmas Cards from the past several administrations.
Walking down a long hallway, snowflakes hung from the ceiling.
On closer inspection, the snowflakes contained state names and state seals!
And of course, there was a display dedicated to the White House Dogs! Complete with Christmas Trees made of tennis balls!
There were rooms to peek in (they were roped off to foot traffic), each with their own unique Christmas displays:
Then, you walked up a flight of steps to view the even grander rooms!
All the rooms had their own names, and placards explained to the visitors what the room is used for or how it came about.
The Christmas trees in each room were just SO grand and amazing. It’s hard to believe that all this work goes into making the East Wing of the White House so Christmasy EVERY YEAR!
There was even a choir performing Christmas carols while we were there! I’m not sure if this is a regular occurrence, but it added even more to the Christmas charm of the tour!
We took a few obligatory photos of the White House from the outside after our tour was over, and we were done! We were probably inside for about 1.5 hours enjoying all the sites.
U.S. Botanic Garden Christmas Train Display
Since we had already taken the entire day off from work, Ken suggested that we find other Christmasy things to do in DC for the day. We quickly decided on the Christmas Train Display at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Ken and I had been to the Botanic Garden before, which is stunning, but we had never seen the train display before!
The theme of the train display was “Pollination Station,” which was very focused on bees!
The train displays were so cute!
The conservatory part of the Botanic Garden was home to miniature DC buildings and monuments! I’m not sure if this was a special exhibit, but it definitely was not there the last time Ken and I went to the Botanic Gardens several years ago.
It was great!
We also took a quick walk through their poinsettia exhibit.
Poinsettias were everywhere in the gardens, and a different room had a separate train display, and the trains went around a large Christmas tree that was surrounded by tons of Poinsettias!
This day was a huge win for us. The White House tour and the exhibits at the U.S. Botanic Gardens were so fantastic! Definitely add them to your Holidays in DC bucket list if you haven’t experienced them yet!