Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year … to go to the movies. You’re bored, you’re trying to bond with (or escape) family and there’s nothing good on TV. The movie theater is a gift most people can agree on. So we’ve picked out three in the area and planned your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day trip. Even if you need to grab a last-minute gift, a meal or a stiff drink, start with a movie and work outward from there. (For new film reviews, click here.)
Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 (701 Seventh St. NW)
The Gallery Place outpost of mega-chain Regal Cinemas may not be the fanciest movie theater in D.C., but it offers the most variety and is centrally located in Chinatown, which offers plenty of options for pre- or post-movie activities.
The Flicks: If it’s a major motion picture already in theaters, or it’s opening on Friday, odds are you can see it here. Christmas Eve brings early screenings of the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy “Daddy’s Home” and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”; on Christmas, “Joy” opens alongside a “Point Break” remake and Will Smith’s “Concussion.” If you’re using this weekend to catch up on recent releases, you can see “Sisters,” “Krampus,” “In the Heart of the Sea,” ”The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2” and, of course, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Last-minute shopping: Don’t wait until Christmas Day to buy a gift — your options will basically be limited to movie concessions. If you’re out on Thursday, you can stop into the clothing stores Anthropologie (950 F St. NW, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.), Zara (1025 F St. NW, call 202-393-2810 for hours) and Urban Outfitters (737 Seventh St. NW, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.). The last is a good place to find an eleventh-hour gift, as the store sells plenty of novelty books, kitchenware and even vinyl records. Bed Bath & Beyond (709 Seventh St. NW, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.) has a bit of everything, and you can finally put those 20 percent off coupons to good use.
Where to eat: Plenty of restaurants are open on Christmas Eve but closed on Christmas Day, including: Mike Isabella’s Graffiato (707 Sixth St. NW), Wolfgang Puck’s The Source (575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW), St. Louis pizzeria District of Pi (910 F St. NW), brewery and steakhouse District ChopHouse (509 Seventh St. NW) and, just outside the theater, Clyde’s of Gallery Place (707 Seventh St. NW).
If you’re looking to have a traditional Jewish Christmas dinner, the Chinese restaurants Chinatown Express (746 Sixth St. NW), New Big Wong (610 H St. NW), Wok and Roll (604 H St. NW) and Full Kee (509 H St. NW) are all open on Thursday and Friday. Don’t want Chinese? Legal Sea Foods (704 Seventh St. NW) is also open both days.
Where to drink: If you just want a drink before or after the movie, options are somewhat limited, with most bars closed on Friday. On Thursday, your boozing options include beers and games at Rocket Bar (714 Seventh St. NW) and Penn Social (801 E St. NW), cocktails at Bar Deco (717 Sixth St. NW) and craft beers at City Tap House
(901 Ninth St. NW).
Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema (7235 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda)
The eight-screen Landmark theater specializes in indie films, which you can enjoy while sipping espresso or microbrew beers in the seat you reserved in advance online. The theater is in downtown Bethesda, so there are lots of places to grab a drink, a meal or even some last-minute presents nearby.
The flicks: This is the theater to hit if you want to annoy your conservative in-laws. Snag seats for “The Big Short,” the true tale of people who foresaw — and profited from — the 2008 global banking meltdown. Or check out “Carol” (opening Friday), which tracks two women’s forbidden love in 1950s Manhattan. Other options include “The Danish Girl,” about a transgender artist, and “Trumbo,” about a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter.
Last-minute shopping: Pick up educational and earth-friendly games at Tugooh Toys (4823 Bethesda Ave., open Dec. 24, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.), which also carries mainstream favorites like Minecraft figurines.
Got a musician or music teacher on your list? Drop by Potter Violin Company (4706 Highland Ave., open Dec. 24, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ) for an assortment of music-themed gifts, including treble-clef imprinted chocolates and keychains, and bejeweled fine tuners and mutes.
At Maryland Stamps & Coins (7720 Wisconsin Ave., open Dec. 24, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.) you can pick up a unique gift for the budding philatelist or numismatist in your life. Nab a state-quarter album, or peruse the ever-changing collection of rare and historic mintages.
Where to eat: Lots of restaurants and bars in Bethesda are open Christmas Eve, including Tako Grill (4914 Hampden Lane), Cesco Osteria (7401 Woodmont Ave.), Raku (7240 Woodmont Ave.), Barrel and Crow (4867 Cordell Ave.), Persimmon (7003 Wisconsin Ave.), Jaleo (7271 Woodmont Ave.), Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (7900 Norfolk Ave.) and Mon Ami Gabi (7239 Woodmont Ave.).
As for Christmas Day, open restaurants include Positano Ristorante Italiano (4948-4940 Fairmont Ave.), Morton’s (7400 Wisconsin Ave.), Ruth’s Chris (7315 Wisconsin Ave.), Tandoori Nights (7236 Woodmont Ave.), House of Foong Lin (4613 Willow Lane), City Lights of China (4953 Bethesda Ave.), Golden City Chinese Food (7026 Wisconsin Ave.) and Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine (4933 Bethesda Ave.).
Where to drink: On Christmas Eve, grab a glass of wine at Vino Volo (7247 Woodmont Ave., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.) or drop by Mussel Bar and Grille for a variety of seasonal, craft and international beers (7262 Woodmont Ave., 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m.). S.D.
AMC Courthouse Plaza 8 (2150 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington)
Sure, parking can be scarce at this Arlington movie house and the building can be tough to spot in a sea of gray office buildings, but inside you’ll be rewarded with plush recliners and a high-tech soda fountain where you can flavor your Coke with the syrup of your choice. It’s the most relaxing movie experience (or the most entertaining nap) in the DMV.
The flicks: Dad wants to see something violent? Send him to “Creed,” the sort-of “Rocky” sequel. Little cousins to keep occupied? Take them to “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,” the franchise’s latest squeakquel. Mom’s looking for a sappy romantic drama? Meet “Joy,” the Oscar-buzzy dramedy starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Last-minute shopping: Nearby Clarendon is home to the usual retail suspects: Crate & Barrel, Sephora, Barnes & Noble and Ann Taylor, but there are plenty of spots to pick up something a little more special on Christmas Eve. Current Boutique (2601 Wilson Blvd., noon-8 p.m.) stocks the kind of consignment duds that would make any fashion plate proud, while the CD Cellar (2607 Wilson Blvd., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) a few doors down is heaven for music nerds who love vinyl. Travelers should enjoy a treat from Classic Cigars & British Goodies (2907 Wilson Blvd., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. ). And if you need something for the in-laws, stop by Grateful Red Wine and Gift Shop (2727 Wilson Blvd., 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Olive Oil Boom (2016 Wilson Blvd., 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.) for fancy bottles of wine and olive oil, respectively.
Where to eat: If you’re out on Christmas Eve, you have plenty of reasons not to fill up on popcorn: red meat galore at Ray’s the Steaks (2300 Wilson Blvd., 5-10 p.m.) and Ray’s Hell Burger (1650 Wilson Blvd., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.), stick-to-your-ribs pub fare at The Liberty Tavern (3195 Wilson Blvd., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m.) and mussels and other brasserie fare at Lyon Hall (3100 N. Washington Blvd., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m.).
You’re also not short on options for Christmas Day. Small Spanish bites are available at La Tasca (2900 Wilson Blvd., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.), and big American ones can be found at Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd., 6 p.m.-2 a.m.). You’ll find casual Indian fare at Delhi Dhaba (2424 Wilson Blvd., 4-10 p.m.) or casual bar favorites and sandwiches at Ragtime (1345 N. Courthouse Road, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.)
Where to drink: Twenty-eight taps of craft beer should appease brew lovers at Galaxy Hut (2711 Wilson Blvd., 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Christmas Day), while snobs of wine or coffee can get their fix at Northside Social (3211 Wilson Blvd., 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Christmas Eve).
More things to do on Christmas or Christmas Eve: