Around Town for the Holidays: Part 1

It’s the holiday season and one of my favorite times of the year! With no Disney trips or races (that I am participating in), I decided to explore the holiday sights around town in between the usual dinners and gifts with friends.

One event I didn’t go to was the Mt. Vernon Monument Lighting ceremony on December 1st. I have gone in years past and have really enjoyed this Baltimore tradition. It’s a free event and very family friendly. The Walters Art Gallery even opens its doors and you can visit for free that evening (while sipping on some hot chocolate and snacking on cookies).

I did attend Baltimore Dollar Days. This annual event is the weekend after the Monument Lighting. Local attractions have free or $1 admission; attractions include: the Science Center, National Aquarium, Flag House, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum and more! I have never been to the Flag House so off I went!

We all know Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag but did you know the house where THE Star Spangled Banner was sewn in Baltimore? Not only was the poem that became our anthem penned in the city but the flag was also commissioned and made in a small house in what is now called Little Italy.

I did the self guided tour around the house and took my time with the exhibits in the museum. It was really cool exploring what life was like in Baltimore during the early 1800s (and let’s be honest: it was awesome being in THE house where THE flag was sewn!).

Perks: the Flag House offers free parking – just go in and ask for a pass, regular admission is inexpensive at $8, and you can see the whole thing in about 90 minutes. I would recommend visiting Fort McHenry before or after the Flag House so you get the complete story about the Star Spangled Banner.

My next fun holiday event was in DC. The National Zoo combined two of my favorite things: animals and Christmas lights! I talked a friend of mine into going with me to Date Night at ZooLights and off we went.

This is a special ticket event and included champagne cocktails, hot toddies, carousal ride, snow-less snow tubing and a sweet treat. Animal houses were open and there were carolers for entertainment.

The event starts at the top of the hill (I believe it’s Connecticut Avenue). We checked in and received our coupons and map for the evening. The first stop was for champagne cocktails. These were very fun – they poured champagne over cotton candy making the cocktail the color of the candy (you could choose pink or blue). How fun! While sipping our cocktails we listened to the carolers that were there and enjoyed a fire pit since it was a tad cold.

We left there and headed down the hill enjoying the lights and displays that were set up. Next stop was the sweet treat. This ended up being candy in a fun (and themed) bag – we were told to pick either the zebra print or cow print bag (we went for the cow print). I loved that it was candy. It wasn’t messy and was easy to carry around. There was also 2 of everything so we each got one of everything. Dunkin Donuts was on hand at this stop giving out munchkins and coffee – yum!

Further down the hill and through more lights, we were able to pick up our hot toddies. You could pick with or without alcohol. I opted for no alcohol since it was rum and I just can’t drink rum (I would make a bad pirate I know). I thoroughly enjoyed my hot apple cider. We also got to meet Panda Claus at this stop πŸ™‚ It was a really nice touch on the zoo’s part that these drinks were served in a coffee mug (which we could keep).

Our last stops of the evening were the carousal and snow-less tubing. Super fun! These were at the bottom of the hill and there were some fun photo ops in the area as well.

Heading back up the hill, we stopped into all the animal houses that were opened. I love the National Zoo because they have so many animals you don’t normally see at the Baltimore Zoo. I was sad that the panda house wasn’t open.

A few days later, I headed solo to Arlington to volunteer at the Great Chocolate Race. It was a very cold morning but when I say I am going to volunteer, I show up. It sounds like it was a very pretty course along the Potomac and to the Airforce Memorial. Once runners completed the race, they received their medal and then headed to the holiday bazaar to pick up their hot chocolate and Godiva chocolate. You did read that right – this race gives runners a small box of Godiva chocolate! Not too shabby for coming out to do 5 miles in the cold (or in my case volunteer in the cold!).

To wrap up Part 1, my last stop included more chocolate! I headed up to Hersheypark for their Christmas Candylane event. I also love Christmas lights and chocolate! It was a very chilly evening but I opted for a milkshake instead of coffee or hot chocolate as I walked around the park.

Some rides were open but I just walked around and admired the light displays. I got to watch Santa’s reindeer as they waited for their big night. So cute!

I also enjoyed watching the coordinated light displays. I wonder how long it takes to get this right?

On my way out, I stopped by for a visit with Mr. Chocolate Bar and then ran into Santa!

Check out the house behind Santa, it’s Hershey’s version of a gingerbread house but it is made out of chocolate!

Stay tuned for Part 2!




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