There’s no better place to be than D.C. for the holidays. With so many places to go and things to do, it may feel a little overwhelming once you land in the nation’s capital. Don’t fret. Check out this guide for visiting D.C. for the holidays and be prepared to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ronald Reagan National Airport
2401 S. Smith Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22202
(703) 417-8000

Located just across the Potomac River, Ronald Reagan National Airport is your best bet to get into D.C. for the holidays. Situated on 860 acres, Reagan National has 79 gates throughout its three terminals. Upon landing, browse around more than 100 shops and restaurants, including a duty free shop, or head towards the Gallery Walk located in historic Terminal A and view paintings, sculptures and other works of art from local artists. Reagan National Airport also frequently hosts rotating art exhibits in the baggage claim area as well as singers, dancers and other performing artists.

Mandarin Oriental
1330 Maryland Ave. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024
(202) 554-8588

Start off your trip with a stay at one of DC’s most elegant hotels. The Mandarin Oriental hotel features beautifully appointed rooms, excellent restaurants, a peaceful spa and courteous hospitality. Each room features a tranquil color palette, comfortable bedding, a large marble bathroom with walk-in showers and a soaking tub and beautiful views. Enjoy three on-site dining options as well as a spa and fitness center. The Mandarin Oriental hotel is located within walking distance of many popular DC destinations including the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and the Smithsonian Institute.

Related: Best Museum Tours in Washington, D.C.

Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 543-8222

Fuel up for your holiday getaway at Good Stuff Eatery, a place where everyone can enjoy handcrafted foods and farm fresh ingredients. Try the Prez Obama burger, which features applewood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese and horseradish mayo. Or, dive into a delicious Greek wedge salad. Good Stuff Eatery also features hand-spun milkshakes and floats. The environmentally conscious restaurant makes every effort to recycle all waste from the restaurant as well as purchase ingredients from local farmers, thus promoting local sustainability. The restaurant also participates in many philanthropic events including planting school gardens and cooking demonstrations for children.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse
E St. N.W. and 15th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
(202) 619-7400

Celebrate the 92nd annual lighting of the national Christmas tree at the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse. This popular holiday event features plenty of family-friendly events including nightly musical performances, Santa’s workshop, model trains and the Christmas Pathway of Peace, which highlights handmade ornaments from all 50 states, US territories and the District of Columbia. The 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting performers included Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and the US Army Blues. Tickets are required to attend the lighting ceremony. After the lighting ceremony, the attraction is free to the public.

Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
201 Waterfront St.
National Harbor, MD 20745
(301) 965-4000

For the ultimate holiday experience, head to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and visit ICE! featuring Frosty the Snowman. This insanely popular holiday attraction features more than two million pounds of colorful ice chiseled into a variety of beautiful sculptures. Walk through classic Christmas stories, slide down an ice slide over two stories high or watch artisans carve creations in the Frostbite Factory. The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center also transforms itself into a winter wonderland with indoor snow, spectacular holiday decor, a fountain show and the sounds and songs of the holidays.

Related: Best Sightseeing Tours In Washington DC

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at