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ICE is back at National Harbor this year and after putting it off for the last several years (too cold, too crowded, I worried) we went on Monday and the kids loved it. What is ICE you ask? ICE is an exhibit sponsored by the Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor and is a walk through exhibit made completely of ice. This year’s theme is Shrek the Halls and all your favorite characters from the Shrek movies make an appearance.

The exhibit is housed in a temporary “tent” across the street from the Gaylord National Hotel and it is cold in there, 9 degrees to be exact. Make sure to bring a hat and gloves. You will be provided with a calf-length jacket to put on over your jacket, but your hands and ears get the coldest. Our daughter is 6 and was not bothered by the cold at all. I had waited to go thinking it might not be worth it when she was younger, but honestly the kids are so excited and the exhibit isn’t that big so you can go through it relatively quickly. Younger kids would definitely enjoy it too.

You will walk through several rooms depicting scenes from the Skrek movies, but the best room is the ice slide, which is fun for all ages. I don’t know if the kids had more fun going down themselves or watching the moms go down!

As you leave there is a beautiful and simple nativity scene made of ice. This may have been my favorite part of the exhibit. We didn’t linger for long though as our noses were frozen and the warmth of the gift shop was beckoning!

It was obvious this is a popular place that is prepared for big crowds. There were lots of rope lines to weave people through to the exhibit and an enormous theater where you watch a short movie about the making of the exhibit. Luckily we went on a Monday and there was NO ONE there. It was awesome. We didn’t have to wait in line at all and the kids were able to go down the ice slides a dozen times with no wait. My advice is to skip the weekend if you can and instead go during the week. The friends we were with had gone on a Friday last year and said the $15 per ticket upgrade to VIP was worth every penny. With this ticket you skip the long line to get in, are ushered straight into the exhibit and you get a hot chocolate at the end.

After we went through the exhibit we took the kids down to the harbor to look at the Christmas tree and then had a quick dinner at Rosa Mexicano. There are lots of kid friendly restaurants to choose from in the area. Click here for a complete list.

Our final stop was back at the Gaylord National Hotel where we watched the nightly lighting of the Christmas Tree at 6:30 pm in their atrium. It is quite a spectacle with a light show, dancing fountains and indoor “snow.” p.s. Santa was also there with no line for pictures. May be a better option than the mall!

We were back in the city by 7:30 pm and the kids were tucked in bed at their normal 8:00 pm bedtime. No crowds and a margarita at dinner means it was a Monday treat for everyone!

Click here for more information about ICE. The website has great background information on how the exhibit is made and you can also buy tickets online. Adults are $30 and children are $23.

National Harbor is not metro accessible. The hotel does provide a shuttle that runs throughout the day from Union Station and the Old Post Office Pavilion to the Gaylord National. Tickets are $20 for a roundtrip for adults and $10 for a roundtrip for kids. Click here for a schedule of shuttle times. This is certainly an option if you don’t have a car while you’re in DC. If you do have a car it’s an easy 30 minute drive from the city. Click here for directions.

ICE and Shrek the Halls runs through January 6, 2013.

 What do you want to see in DC over the holidays?


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