Things to do with Kids in
Kids sitting on steps at the Lincoln Memorial
The District of Columbia is a wonderful place for vacationing
families. DC offers a perfect mix of history, culture,
striking scenery, and allure of the outdoors. Most activities
and attractions are free or relatively cheap. Children of all
ages will enjoy their time learning about our nation's storied
history while visiting DC. If you are visiting DC at
Christmastime, check out our Washington DC
is a popular time to visit DC. Most notable are all of the
school field-trips. You will likely come across a sea of kids
adorned in bright-colored school t-shirts moving briskly from
monument to monument in a swarm of activity. What better way
to learn about our capital, history, American government, and have
fun along the way.
love DC! They will really enjoy all of the buildings, statues,
monuments, museums, and people-watching. The large, sprawling
lawn known as the National Mall is a great place to let the kids run
free. Bring a ball, your bikes, or just a blanket to lay down
on the grass and relax. In the summertime you can see kids and
grown-ups playing kick ball, softball, soccer, and volleyball right
on the lawn here.
Kids love public transportation! DC has an excellent
public transportation system.
In addition to providing an clean and convenient way to travel the
city, your kids will love riding on the metrorail trains. Take
the time to visit Union Station and see the enormous train station,
and shops and restaurants.
When visiting Washington, DC, know that the attractions are
spread out - most line either side of the National Mall from the
Capitol building all the way to the Lincoln Memorial (2.2 miles).
Be ready to do a lot of walking with your family. Dress
comfortably and wear supportive, comfortable walking shoes.
Small children may get tired, so be prepared to rest in the shade or
on one of the many benches. With very young children, remember
to bring your stroller or baby-backpack. Check out our
Washington DC Transportation page
for information on getting around.
your family to a museum. You could spend all day shuttling
between museums and not see them all - or simply visit a few and
take your time to really enjoy them. An immensely popular
destination is the National Museum of Natural History. This
museum is part of the Smithsonian and offers a look at animals,
dinosaurs, early human life, and the future exhibit of the oceans
and seas. Your kids will be fascinated by this museum.
Another widely-popular museum is the International Spy Museum.
Located at the edge of Chinatown near the corner of 9th & F Streets,
this museum is dedicated to the history of spies and espionage.
With interactive displays and vivid details, this museum offers 2-3
hours of attractions.
loves airplanes. Take your kids to the
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Probably the most famous of the Smithsonian museums, the Air and
Space Museum is constantly undergoing updates and its exhibits
refreshed. See historic planes, military aircraft, and space
craft up close. Learn about aviation history and the
development of flying machines. And don't forget about the
IMAX Theater located right inside the museum. For more details
and photos, check out our
Washington DC Museums Guide. Looking
for culture and the arts? Visit the
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park (a.k.a. National Zoo) in
Washington, DC is a popular destination, open year-round (official
website). The National Zoo is a 163-acre zoological park
set amid Rock Creek Park in the heart of Washington, D.C. The
Zoo is home to 2,000 individual animals of nearly 400 different
species. The National Zoo is located at 3001 Connecticut
Avenue NW, Washington, DC - admission is free, but there is a charge
for parking (view
map). If you are traveling by Metro Rail, take the
Red Line to the
Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan station or the
Cleveland Park station. The Zoo entrance lies halfway
between these stops, and both are a short walk from the Zoo.
Visitors may bring their own food and beverages. Coolers are
permitted but not grills or other cooking devices. There are picnic
areas throughout the Zoo, available on a first-come, first-served
basis. Admission is free, but there is a charge for parking.
Carousel on the National Mall, near the Smithsonian
Entertain your Kids
perennial kid-favorite is the old-fashioned carousel located right
in front of the Smithsonian Castle. This merry-go-round has
been located here as long as I can remember - open year-round,
weather permitting. Hours: 10 am-5:30 pm Daily; Labor Day-Feb
28: 11 am-5 pm Daily, $2 admission fee.
your kids interact with you. Challenge them by talking about
the history or architecture of each building. Have them notice
the symbolism in the sculptures high above each historic building
and the intricate art work and symbolism that makes up a part
of the monuments and memorials.
lesser known attractions sure to entertain your kids are the outdoor
sculpture gardens. One is located right in front of the
Hishorn Museum, where a beautiful garden is located below
street-level and decorated with sculptures and statues. The
other is the National
Garden across the Mall in between the Museum of Natural History and
the National Gallery of Art where large sculptures surround a large
Christmastime, an ice skating rink is placed here at the
National Building Museum (official
visitors from around the world to its exhibitions which offer
insight into the history and future of the world we create for
ourselves. This museum is a great place to take your kids - it
offers a huge, open interior with plenty of room for kids to run
around (and are encouraged to do so). Additionally, there are
several kid-friendly interactive displays including the Building
Zone - a separate room for kids to enjoy building and playing with
games and educational toys; they even offer interactive "kids
building kits" to play with.
Awakening" is a 100-foot statue of a giant embedded in the earth,
struggling to free himself. It was created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr.
and installed at Hains Point (view
map) - the southernmost point of East Potomac Park, Washington,
DC. Kids love The Awakening
sculpture, they can climb on it, run around it, and sit on it -
and they love its gigantic size!
The Kennedy Center for the Performing
Arts offers a variety of kid-friendly events including
children's book shows, kid-themed plays, and children's concerts.
This is a great cultural opportunity for you and your kids.
Washington, DC with Kids
My family and I recently took a trip to DC, and brought along this
book. It had lots of great tips on what to see and where to eat.
We've used the "Boston" version of the book for years, and I was
glad to see that the "DC" version was just as helpful.
DC Guidebook for Kids
I don't think there's any better place for kids to visit than DC.
But, because it's not Disney World, not all the information is
geared towards them. That's why this book is so great. It's perfect
for my nephews (8 and 10) who, although quite intelligent, are not
ready for Fodors quite yet. Plus, it has a lot of interesting stuff
in it that I didn't know myself and I live in the area.
A Kid's Guide to Washington, DC
This book is exactly the kind of book that will help your child
realize the educational value of their vacation. We used it for
three kids-- ages 12, 10 and 7. They liked it because it helped them
remember special moments of the trip, and in the case of the 12 year
old, "It was fill in the blanks!"
Washington DC at Night Tour
Explore Washington DC as it is spectacularly lit up at night. This
guided tour takes you to Washington DC's major attractions including
the Washington Monument and Arlington Cemetery. See why Washington
DC is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world at
Find out more about this tour.
DC Monuments by Trolley at Night Tour
Onboard your trolley, you'll see 100 of Washington DC's most
popular monuments and points of interest, including the Capitol
Building, the White House, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington
Monument. The trolley also makes night-time stops at the FDR
Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the
Korean War Veteran's Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial, allowing
you to see these impressive monuments floodlit by night.
Find out more about this tour.
Washington DC Monuments Bike Tours
If Monuments are your interest, then this tour is for you! Take an
easy 3 hour ride around Washington specifically targeting it's
famous monuments. Your guide will share history and interesting
anecdotes about each memorial, and you'll have time to explore them
on your own.
Find out more about this tour.
Washington DC Capital Sites Bike Tour
The Washington DC Capital Sites Bike Tour is a safe and enjoyable
cycling trip of the most popular sights of Washington. Sites you
will see include the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Supreme Court
and the Capitol. This three-hour Washington DC Capital Sites Bike
Tour combines history, interesting facts, and a love for the city
with an easy bike ride.
Find out more about this tour.
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