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Posted at 10:08 AM ET, 11/25/2008

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

By Stephanie Merry

For those tasked with coming up with a schedule of activities for friends and relatives visiting over Thanksgiving, we're here to help. After the jump, we've compiled some ideas for how to entertain houseguests with local exhibits and activities that don't include searching for a parking spot at Tysons Corner.

Entertain visiting relatives at Ocean Hall during the Natural History Museum's extended holiday hours. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

While a number of museums -- the Newseum, Spy Museum, the Corcoran -- are closed on Thanksgiving Day, all of the Smithsonian museums will be open, including the newly renovated American History Museum. Known somewhat affectionately as America's Attic, this treasure trove offers up a cool new display of the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired our national anthem, along with the old standbys like dresses from past first ladies and the ruby slippers that helped Dorothy get home.

In addition, the Museum of Natural History will extend its hours around the holiday; on Friday and Saturday, the museum will remain open until 7:30, providing the perfect opportunity to go see the brand new exhibit, Ocean Hall.

For a more art-focused day, head to the Hirshhorn for some crazy conceptual art or the Sackler for a view of some colorful paintings from 17th-century India.

The National Gallery will also keep normal hours on Thanksgiving Day, which gives history buffs the opportunity to see the stunning collection of artifacts from Pompeii and art-lovers the chance to see the work of Rembrandt's worthy rival, Jan Lievens. For the more active set, head outside to the Sculpture Garden for an afternoon of ice skating.

Although they're closed on the actual holiday, the Newseum and the Spy Museum will keep normal hours for the days that follow. New junkies will love the Newseum, including the display of significant portions of the Berlin Wall, the gangster-themed "G-Men and Journalists" and the "9/11 Gallery" with its moving array of newspaper front pages from Sept. 12, 2001. Meanwhile, the Spy Museum will appeal to the whole clan, including children and James Bond fanatics, who will love the array of spy gadgets and weapons.

If all that turkey and family fun time puts you in the holiday mood, head to one of the tree lightings that take place this weekend, or get your fill at the Reston Holiday Parade.

Looking for other survival tips? Check out the 2008 Holiday Guide filled with everything from recipes to traffic tips to gift ideas.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | November 25, 2008; 10:08 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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Hey, not too far up the road the Brookside Gardens is holding its 12th annual Garden of Lights festival, staring the Friday after Thanksgiving. It's a walk-through festival, perfect for spending time with friends and family cause you can enjoy at your own pace. ...

I had a chance to take a sneak peak. Read more (and see pictures) here:


Posted by: Nikki_Smith | November 25, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

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