Turkey Day brings with it string bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and family. Lots and lots of family. Did we mention family? Don’t fret, we’re here to help you work off some of that tryptophan, while entertaining the masses (including the under-8 set). Here are five fabulous ideas to keep the festivities going—even after the last scoop of mac and cheese has been eaten.

USBG Seasons Greetings Bob Stovall via Flickr

Season’s Greetings at the U.S. Botanic Gardens
Leave the mittens in the car, and venture out to the US Botanic Gardens. Warm and balmy inside (no jackets required) the gardens are dressed to impress for the holiday season. Little ones will be enchanted with the fantasy train display which chugga-chugga-choo-choos through buildings made out of real plants. Older kids can stare in wonder at DC landmarks designed with all natural materials, and one of the largest decorated trees in town (How large? The garden keeps the height a secret until the day its lit). Looking for some northern exposure? Visit the conifer grove and show your kids that not all pinecones are peanut butter birdfeeders.

When: Nov. 28– Jan.5; 10 am – 5 pm
Cost: Free
Ages: All

U.S. Botanic Gardens
100 Maryland Ave., SW
Online: usbg.gov


Elephant and Piggie’s We are in a Play!
Give the kids an early jump on holiday happenings (presents anyone?!) by whisking them to the world premiere of Elephant and Piggie’s We are in a Play! Based on Mo Willem’s award winning books, the dancing Pachyderm and his Swiney sidekick are sure to delight the little ones with their whimsical quests. Elephant and Piggie are backed by a live band, Dr. Cat and the Bear-a-Tones, and some nutty Squirrelles who’ll have your kids shouting “Bravo! Encore!” and dancing the Flippy Floppy Floory long after the show ends. The Kennedy Center

When: Nov. 27 and Nov. 29; 1:30 pm, 4 pm
Cost: $20-$25
Ages: 4 and up

Family Theatre
2700 F St., NW
Online: kennedy-center.org


Christmas Tree Lighting in Old Town
Visit Old Town’s historic market square and get the kids really ramped up for Christmas (like they won’t be already) with the lighting of Alexandria’s official Christmas tree. Little ones will love trying to sneak a peek at Santa’s sleigh. It’s also officially time for Christmas carols, so warm up your pipes and teach the kids “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” for the community carol sing-along.

When: Nov. 29; 6 pm
Cost: Free
Ages: All

Historic Market Square
301 King Street (Alexandria, Va)
Online: alexandriava.gov

Sydney and Ram at Mt. Vernon

Christmas at Mount Vernon
If Thanksgiving wasn’t wild enough for your family, head on down to Mount Vernon and visit with Aladdin the Camel. Yes, a camel. Word has it that President Washington paid 18 shillings for a camel to surprise his Christmas visitors in 1787. Older kids will like exploring the rarely-open third floor of the mansion which boasts Martha Washington’s bedchamber, access to the Cupola, and the Bull’s Eye Room (china closet) where shelving mentioned in a 1799 inventory still survives. Little ones will love the 18th century chocolate demonstrations and other animals (rams!) roaming the grounds. To ensure a restful night, have the kids play tag on the bowling green or race through the vegetable gardens before piling in the car for the ride home.

When: Nov. 29–Jan. 6; 9 am–4 pm
Cost: $17/adults; $8/kids; free/5 and under
Ages: All

George Washington’s Mount Vernon
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy (Mount Vernon, Va)
Online: mountvernon.org

The Nutcracker via Facebook Puppet Playhouse 1

The Nutcracker with Puppets!
Clara, Drosselmeyer, the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince have popped up at The Puppet Co. Playhouse in Glen Echo. There’s nothing quite like pint-sized marionettes; and little ones will love the dancing, fighting and imaginative take on the classic fairytale made just for kids and their grownups. Afterwards, continue the culture lesson by heading over to the Holiday Art Show and Sale  where pieces from local artists and crafters will be on display.

When: Nov. 29; 11:30 am
Cost: $10
Ages: 2 and up

The Puppet Co. Playhouse
7300 MacArthur Blvd. (Glen Echo, Md)
Online: thepuppetco.org

What are your favorite things to do with your family the day after Thanksgiving? Tell us in the Comments section below.

—Hilary Riedemann

Photos courtesy of Puppet Playhouse via Facebook, Hilary Riedemann, Bob Stovall via Flickr, cliff1066 via Flickr, Washington Centerville Public Library via Facebook