Christmas on Wheels is coming! 25 Facts about DC’s National & Capitol Christmas Tree Celebration!

Are you hearing bike bells or jingle bells? No matter, the holiday season is just around the corner and with it comes our highly anticipated Christmas on Wheels tours! Our Christmas on Wheels by bike or Segway tours are a fabulous opprutunity to shift into holiday spirit and try something diffferent to celebrate with your loved ones. Under the watchful eye of a local guide, you’ll experience quintessential Christmas in Washington.  Tour highlights include the Botanical Gardens Holiday Showcase; a hot chocolate stop; the exquisite decorations at the Willard Hotel and of course the Capitol and National Christmas Trees! Snap the perfect family photo as tour guides share yuletide stories about what it’s like to spend Christmas at the White House.

Book a tour today with code SANTA2019 for 10% off! 

Got your eggnog ready? Great! Let’s get rolling with 25 National Christmas Tree facts!

  1. The National Christmas Tree celebration began in 1923, under First Lady Grace Coolidge.
    • The tree was donated by Middlebury College in Coolidge’s home state of Vermont.
  2. The National Christmas Tree was petitioned to the White House and organized by DC Public Schools!
  3. The tree was originally in the ellipse south of the White House.
  4. The location of the tree has varied over the decades.  During the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt had two Fraser fir trees planted in Lafayette Park next to the Andrew Jackson statue with the hope that they would be the national trees.
    • FDR later moved the National Christmas Tree lighting to the South Lawn of the White House for a “more homey” celebration.
  5. From 1954 to 1956, the Christmas tree lighting was re-branded to the “Christmas Pageant of Peace” under President Eisenhower.
  6. During the Christmas Pagent of Peace, a tree was presented from each state to represent all 50 states.
  7. In the early days of Christmas tree lighting, strings of lights were not avalible.
    • Each bulb had to be installed individually and routinely checked. This also posed a fire hazard and to ensure the President’s safefty, a fire truck was never too far from the White House.
  8. Throughout the 1950s, lighting designers would dress in Santa costumes to light and decorate the trees.
  9. After the assasination of President Kennedy, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree was postponed until the 30 day period of national mourning had passed. 
  10. In 1953, General Electric (or, GE) committed to designing the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
  11. Strings of lights were not used by GE until 2007. The switch was made to ensure the lighting is more energy efficient.
    • General Electric achieved an overall 81.9% reduction in energy consumption compared to the energy used for the 1972 tree. In order to conserve energy, the tree was decorated primarily with non-energy-using decorations such as garlands and balls. Floodlights at the base of the tree provided light and accented the ornaments.
  12. The Capitol Christmas Tree: Tradition is relatively recent.  Began in 1964 when Speaker of the House John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live tree on the Capitol lawn.  Stayed there for 3 years before succumbing to wind and root damage.
  13. The Capitol Christmas Tree is known as “The People’s Tree.”
    • Because of the ornaments.  The National Christmas Tree at the White House has ornaments representing each state made by selected artists.  The Capitol Christmas Tree decorations are handmade by children from the host state.
    • This tree is decorated by voulenteers.
  14. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree, so since then, a new tree has been chosen every year.
  15. The Tallest Tree is a tie between the 2013 Engelmann Spruce from Colville National Forest (Washington) and the 2014 White Spruce from Chippewa National Forest (Minnesota); both measured 88 feet.
  16. Farthest travelled: 2015 Lutz Spruce from Chugach National Forest in Alaska – travelled more than 4,000 miles. 
    • Notably, this is the only tree to travel by boat!
  17. Michigan has provided the most Christmas trees for the lighting celebrations. They have contributed 5 trees.
  18. A push for living trees: A grassroots campaign started by American Citizens in 1965 to encourage the White House to opt for a living tree. They argued this option was more envionmentally consious. 
  19. First living tree: A 42 foot Colorado Blue Spruce from Shickshinny, Pennsylvania was donated by the National Arborist Association and was planted in the Ellipse. 
    • There have been 3 living trees.
  20. During this holiday season, we also celebrate Chanukah with the lighting of the National Menorah.  In 1979, Rabbi Abraham Shemhov, leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, asked for a permit to place a giant menorah near the White House.
  21. Last year’s tree came from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. The tree traveled from Oregon to DC on a reverse path of the Oregon Trail, in celebration of its 175th anniversary
  22. Last year’s tree came from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. The tree traveled from Oregon to DC on a reverse path of the Oregon Trail, in celebration of its 175th anniversary.
  23. The 2019 Tree is from Carson National Forest in New Mexico.  Will be harvested on November 6th and will start its journey to DC on November 11th.
  24. This is the second tree from Carson National Forest. The first one was in 1991.
  25. Want more fun facts? USE CODE SANTA2019 FOR 10% OFF YOUR TOUR!

Bike & Read: Our Most Bikeable Reading Spots in DC ft. She’s Full of Lit

Greetings, Rollers!


As our peak season comes to a close and the leaves begin to change, we wanted to share a list of bikeable places to read a book! The temperatures are finally dropping, and the time to indulge in a day-rental with Bike and Roll is now! We offer several bikes and attachments to get you on your way. All rentals come with a free helmet and bike lock for safe riding, as well as a recovery service if you hit a bump in the road. For a more leisurely ride, rent an electric bike; all the fun with less pedaling!

Pack a thermos of apple cider, a blanket, your favorite book and ride through the fall foliage to a spot listed below. Are none of the books on your shelves yearning to be read? No worries! I’ve enlisted my longtime friend and voracious reader, Elizabeth, to give you some suggestions.

Elizabeth, take it away!

  • Meet Elizabeth from She's Full of Lit!

Hi, I’m Elizabeth, and I’m one of the three bloggers over at She’s Full of Lit; in addition to being a big reader, I’m also a consultant based in DC who enjoys a book outdoors, so I’m happy to provide some recommendations for all of you here. She’s Full of Lit is a joint effort with my friends Shannon and Moira (both based in New York), and we chat about our favorite and our least favorite books, share thoughts about everything from what wine goes best with that work of fiction to facemasks to make your nonfiction reads better, and just live our best basic bookworm lives. With three of us blogging and reviewing, we bring a variety of perspectives, and our individual tastes and preferences are pretty wide-ranging. We’d love for you to check out our daily book reviews (and other recommendations) either on the blog or on Instagram. Let me know if you read any of the below, too!

Malcolm X ParkMalcolm X Park is my go-to spot to read outside (I live just up the street), and I have spent a lot of time on a blanket on the grass underneath the statue of Joan of Arc. I think the best choice for a read here would be either “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood or “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead, as they seem in line with what Malcolm X stood for: fighting for equality (both subtly and not-so-subtly). “The Nickel Boys” is a hard-but-great portrayal of life in a reform school in Florida in the 1960s, written by the amazing Colson Whitehead, and “The Testaments” is the long-awaited follow-up to “The Handmaid’s Tale” that gives us an inside look at Gilead. Both will make you think, both will make you want to speak up and act out. Plus, if you visit on a Sunday, you’ll get the drum circles as a soundtrack! Always a plus.

Dumbarton Oaks Park – Dumbarton Oaks Park is one of my favorite places to go in DC to feel like I’m not in the middle of DC; it’s peaceful, it’s uncrowded, it’s full of trees and creeks. Bad segue (or should I say Segway?) here: “Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim is the book that I would recommend wholeheartedly for this woodsy location. This courtroom thriller, set in the suburbs of DC, is one of my favorite reads this year. It kept me guessing until the final chapter who actually committed the crime at the center of the novel: the explosion of a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of medical conditions, from autism to infertility. Plus, Angie Kim is from DC!

Constitution Gardens – I didn’t grow up in DC, and so most of my early impressions of the National Mall generally come from pop culture; mainly, Forrest Gump or pictures on the news. One that especially sticks out in my mind is the installation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and so I feel compelled to recommend “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai, an incredibly insightful read about the impact of the AIDS epidemic, from the earliest days of the crisis to more current times. It begins at the outbreak of the virus in the 1980s, and it tells the story of a small Chicago community over the intervening three decades, as they are impacted by the disease in big and small ways. I used to work in HIV/AIDS, so I feel confident in saying this book is impeccably researched, but it’s not at all clinical – it’s an amazing story of human resilience.

National Portrait Gallery Bench – The atrium at the National Portrait Gallery is an amazing spot to sit and read, but also to people watch; it’s always been busy, but I feel like it’s been even more so since the portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama were installed. The Presidential Portrait Gallery has long been a favorite of mine, and so I would like to propose you read “Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win” by Jo Piazza after a stroll through there. It’s the story of an ambitious woman, Charlotte, running for Senate in Pennsylvania in the post-2016 era. Yes, there are parallels to that female candidate in 2016, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an insightful novel about gender politics, happiness, and the eternal question, “can you really have it all?”

Potomac Riverbank – I love that the flight path into DC from some directions comes down over the Potomac – it allows for such an amazing view of iconic Washington spots: the memorials, the Capitol, and the Pentagon. I didn’t live here during 9/11, but reading “The Only Plane in the Sky” by Garrett M. Graff certainly made me feel like I was here that day (it also made me feel like I was on Flight 93, and in the rubble of the World Trade Center, and in an eerily quiet New York City). Garrett Graff, another DC resident, constructed an incredible oral history of September 11, talking to over 200 individuals to create the story of the day as it was actually lived by those intimately involved. I think everyone needs to read this book – it’s an essential piece in understanding how we got where we are today, as a nation, but it’s also an amazing portrait of strength, resilience, and hope.

GW University Yard “The Other’s Gold” by Elizabeth Ames is one of my favorite recent reads set in and around a college. It’s the story of four women that begins the day that their friendship did: the first day of college. They have an immediate connection (always good with randomly assigned suitemates!), and the book follows them even as they scatter post-college. The book is divided into four parts, one for each of the women, centering on the “big mistake” that defines their lives. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is a great novel about the power of forgiveness, friendship, and college fun.

Honestly, this was the hardest category for me to narrow down, so I’m providing a few more “school-ish” books for consideration. If you like spooky secret societies, “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo is a great treat. If you like snarky social commentary, go with “The Gifted School” by Bruce Holsinger. For a modern classic, you can’t do any better than “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt.

Eastern Market I used to live in Southeast, and one of my favorite Saturday morning activities was to wander around Eastern Market with a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich; it’s actually something I would consider hopping on a bike for, tbh! There are so many inspiring food and grocery vendors at the market that make me want to go home and whip up a fancy meal, and so “Save Me the Plums” by Ruth Reichl seems like the obvious choice for a book recommendation here. Ruth Reichl is a food writer and critic (and prolific author), and this memoir tells the story of her days at the helm of Gourmet magazine. It’s a fascinating inside look at not only food culture, but also magazine publishing at its heyday. This is a quick and fun read that is only made better by a great snack

Thanks, Elizabeth! Be sure to give She’s Full of Lit a follow on their Instagram page (@shesfulloflit) for recommendations to stockpile your cozy reading nook with. Our staff at Bike and Roll has been reading this summer and have recommendations for you as well!

Georgia, Assistant Tour Manager: “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner

Oshaine, Operations Manager: “Destiny” by T.D. Jakes

Rachel, Rentals Manager: “The Goose Girl” by Shannon Hale

Robert, Assistant Tour Manager: “Red Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson

I have been reading “The Summons” by John Grisham. I found this book in a “Little Book Library” in my old neighborhood, Eckington. I was drawn to take this book home with me because it takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia and Washington D.C. As a recent D.C. transplant from The University of Virginia, I was thrilled to stumble upon a book that is split between my two homes. The book focuses on the sons of a powerful judge who dies suddenly after issuing a summons to visit and review the plans for his estate. What the two brothers discover in the wake of his passing forces them to question their father’s character, and later, their own.  “The Summons” proves once again, you can’t go wrong with Grisham.

  • “Red Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson

Now that you have some books and quintessentially DC spots to explore, what’s holding you back? Visit our rentals page or call to inquire about renting a bike from us today!


Meet Kendall: Marketing & Social Media Manager

Hello, I’m Kendall! I’m new here.

What’s important for you to know is that I have assumed the duties of the Marketing and Social Media Manager as of a month ago. What is not quite as important for you to know is that I was born and raised in Northern Virginia, graduated from The University of Virginia, and have worked everywhere from dog walking to political campaigns. All that aside, the most important thing for you to know is this: I am a klutz. My earliest gravity-induced incident that I can remember was at age three where I fell and whapped my head against a glass table. The fall resulted in a small scar above my left eye and has been my excuse for being inept at math. On any day, my legs are covered with medallions of bruises due to coffee table related impacts. I trip on level sidewalks, crash into open cabinet doors, and should write an apology letter to my pinky toes. As a result, I am the Clara Barton of scrape soothing and your most reliable Band-Aid dealer.

Long story short: bull in a china shop? Think elephant.

Read More »

Cherry Blossoms 2019!

In honor of Women’s History Month and the release of the Peak Bloom dates for the Cherry Blossom Festival, here is a #tbt to the ladies who started it all.

After arriving back to Washington, DC from her first visit to Japan, Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore (first female board member of the National Geographic Society) was so enamored by the Cherry Blossom trees there that she suggested that some be planted along the reclaimed land by the Potomac River.  It took her 24 years before the idea finally took root. In 1909, Scidmore decided to raise money to buy some cherry trees and donate them to the District. Mainly out of formality, Scidmore wrote a letter to First Lady Helen Herron Taft and she enthusiastically responded back taking up the task of acquiring the trees.  On August 30, 1909, the Embassy of Japan informed the U.S. State Department that on behalf of Mayor Yukio Ozaki, the city of Tokyo intended to donate 2000 cherry trees to the U.S. to be planted along the Potomac as a symbol of the growing and continued friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Unfortunately, when they arrived the trees were infested with insects and nematodes, so they sadly had to be burned.  Another donation of 3,020 trees were shipped over on February 14, 1912. On March 27th, First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of these trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. These two trees still stand today at the end of 17th Street SW! 

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

Helen Herron Taft, 1909.

Helen Herron Taft, 1909.


You can see these breathtaking trees in full bloom on our Blossoms by Bike tour! The National Park Service projects Cherry Blossom 2019 peak bloom dates to be April 3rd to April 6th. Book now to take in the beauty of the blossoms and more on our two-hour tour, the official bike tour of the National Cherry Blossom Festival!
This special ride showcases the famous Japanese cherry trees, their history and the amazing sea of pink and white blossoms. Book now for the best dates!

Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom

Tour Guide Connor’s Christmas on Wheels Favorites

We asked our awesome tour guides what their favorite Christmas on Wheels tour stops were.  They were super enthusiastic with their responses because, well, they just love Christmas in D.C.!

Next up is Tour Guide Connor!


Q: How long have you been a guide at Bike and Roll?

A: I’ve been a tour guide with Bike and Roll since August 2018. 

Q: What is your favorite stop on the Christmas tour and why?

A: The Willard! The tree in the lobby and the gingerbread sculpture always put me in the Christmas spirit, and the hot chocolate is the best I’ve ever had. 

Q: Why do love being a tour guide here?

A: I meet people from all over the world and show them the amazing city I get to call home. Plus, riding Segways is really fun. 

Pictures courtesy of Willard InterContinental DC Instagram 

Tour Guide Rebecca’s Christmas on Wheels Favorites

We asked our awesome tour guides what their favorite Christmas on Wheels tour stops were.  They were super enthusiastic with their responses because, well, they just love Christmas in D.C.!

Next up is Tour Guide Rebecca!

Q: How long have you been a guide at Bike and Roll?

A: I have been a tour guide with Bike and Roll since March and I love it! 

Q: What is your favorite stop on the Christmas tour and why?

A: My absolute favorite stop on the Christmas tour is the Willard Hotel for hot chocolate! It is the perfect Christmas snack to help stay warm on the tour!  

Q: Why do love being a tour guide here?

A: I love being a Bike and Roll guide because I get to meet so many fun people from around the country and world on my tours! I love asking my riders what else they are doing on their trip to DC and offering suggestions for places to eat or things to visit. 

Tour Guide Bill’s Christmas on Wheels Favorites

We asked our awesome tour guides what their favorite Christmas on Wheels tour stops were.  They were super enthusiastic with their responses because, well, they just love Christmas in D.C.!

We start with Tour Guide Bill!

Q: How long have you been a guide at Bike and Roll?

A: I’ve been a tour guide with Bike and Roll for 5 years. 

Q: What is your favorite stop on the Christmas tour and why?

A: I love seeing the Capitol Tree brought in each year, it’s just a majestic setting for a tree.  You also can’t beat the holiday decorations at the Willard. 

Q: Why do love being a tour guide here?

A: After 5 years of Segway tours, it’s still fun meeting great people and sharing tidbits about things here in the Nation’s Capital. 

Willard Christmas Decorations

Capitol Christmas Tree “DUSK” By: S N LONG

Check back for our next Tour Guide installment!

The Best Last Minute Holiday Gift!

Every kid asks for a bike for Christmas, and so should every adult! Looking for a last minute Christmas gift to give to that energetic outdoor loving person in your life? Well look no further because we have that gift for you!

Give the gift of a Trek Verve 3 Hybrid bike. We’re selling our Trek Verve 3 bikes ranging in sizes from 13” to 25”.  These bicycles are perfect for commuting and city riding and would look great under your Christmas tree!


Our expertly maintained fleet has been sustained by professional mechanics and tuned up for the sale.  Our mechanics take pride in their work, ensuring all bikes are up to standard.

Email us at [email protected] to set up your bike sale appointment or if you have any questions.


Christmas on Pennsylvania Avenue

Pennsylvania Avenue gets all dressed up for Christmas and it’s truly a sight to be seen.  That’s why it’s another one of our favorite Christmas on Wheels tour highlights.

Pennsylvania Avenue is a street that connects the White House and the Capitol Building and is referred to as “America’s Main Street”.  You will find the Canadian Embassy, National Archives Building, Old Post Office Pavilion, and more.

During the Christmas season, Pennsylvania Avenue is festive and cheerful with outdoor markets and Christmas lights.

Don’t miss out on experiencing Washington, DC at its most magical.  Book a Christmas on Wheels tour with us now!