Favorite Family Activities in Washington DC



Description:

Guide written by Nancy Solomon.

Here’s our list of favorite family-friendly activities in and around DC. Remember, keep it fun and take what you think you can do in a day and cut that in half.

Note: Be sure to read the Day Notes for the kid-friendly details on recommended attractions.

Ciao Bambino provides tips and advice around all things related to traveling with kids and is a guide to the best kid friendly hotels.

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Author: Ciao Bambino!


Day 1 - Washington


Hop-on Hop-off tours help get you around the city without wearing out the little feet. You can see a large number of monuments and cover a large distance in a short amount of time.

National Air and Space Museum:

Always terrific, this museum highlights the history of aviation and the exhibits are designed to teach kids the basics behind flight. The IMAX theater is a hit and the chance to see real spacecrafts is exciting.

White House:

As a child, I remember our extensive tours of the White House. Today’s tours are not the same. Though interesting, the visits are limited in scope and difficult to book. Between not being able to bring any type of bag (very hard when you’re traveling with a baby), and the booking hassle, I have to say we were disappointed. I couldn’t believe it when my kids ranked the Wax Museum over the White House (I know, but it was dry). If you go, stop by the Visitor Center. It has a terrific gift shop with an overview of the White House.


1

Washington DC Hop-on Hop-off Trolley Tour

Location:

Washington, DC


2

National Mall

Location:

900 Ohio Drive, Southwest
Washington, DC 20024

Contact:

tel: +1 202 426 6841
fax: +1 202 737 3400


3

National Air and Space Museum

Location:

6th Street and Independence Avenue Southwest
On Independence Ave. SW, between 4th and 7th sts., on the south side of the Mall, with entrances on Jefferson Dr. or Independence Ave
Washington, DC 20576

Contact:

tel: +1 202 633 1000


4

Lincoln Memorial

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Location:

900 Ohio Drive Southwest
National Mall & Memorial Park
Washington, DC 20024

Contact:

tel: +1 202 426 6841


5

The White House

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Location:

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Visitor entrance gate at E St. and E. Executive Ave
Washington, DC 20502

Contact:

tel: +1 202 456 2121 / +1 202 456 1111
fax: +1 202 456 2461


Day 2 - Washington


International Spy Museum:

An interactive museum that engages the group from the start. To enter, you create an alias and then climb through secret tunnels and see real tools of the spy trade. You can even play James Bond for the afternoon with the new Spy in the City tour that sends families on a 1.2 mile loop with a GPS in hand looking for clues to complete a mission. Make reservations ahead of time. (Ages 5+)

Madam Tussauds Wax Museum:

The wax museum in Washington DC brings history to life. For me, this is the key to keeping kids engaged. Featuring historical figures and pop icons, this is a quick and entertaining stop.

Bike the Sites:

Our absolute favorite tour is Bike the Sites. You bike to each monument, get an overview, and then move along. This is the perfect way to get close to the monuments, learn all about them, and ensure everyone has fun. I’m not sure my kids get the deep meaning of the monuments at this age, but they enjoy the open space to run and play. When the weather is nice, rent paddle boats on Tidal Basin.

Old Post Office Building:

Looking for a great view without the line of the Washington Monument? Head to the top of the Clock Tower. The view is excellent, it’s easy to access, and is stroller-friendly


1

International Spy Museum

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Location:

800 F St, NW
At 8th St. NW
Washington, DC 20073

Contact:

tel: +1 202 393 7798 (+1 202 EYE SPY U)


2

Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.

Location:

1025 F St. NW
Btw. 10th and 11th sts
Washington, DC 30505

Contact:

tel: 888/929-4632


3

Bike the Sites

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Location:

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Old Post Office Pavilion, Rear Plaza
Washington, DC 20004

Contact:

tel: +1 202 842 2453
fax: +1 202 842 2441


4

National Portrait Gallery

expert pick

Location:

8th & F Sts NW
Washington, DC 20560

Contact:

tel: +1 202 275 1738
fax: +1 202 275 1887


5

Pavilion at the Old Post Office

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Location:

1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20004

Contact:

tel: +1 202 289 4222 (extn 15)


Day 3 - Washington


National Museum of Natural History:

A Solomon family favorite! There’s something for everyone here including a Mammal Hall, Butterfly Garden, insects, and tons of gemstones, to name a few. Look for the family guides at each exhibit and the information desk. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop packed with interesting kid stuff.

National Museums of American History:

My kids enjoy the Spark Lab, Invention at Play, America on the Move (covering transportation), and the First Ladies’ Gowns. This museum is great, but with limited time, I’d choose the Natural History Museum.

Bureau of Engraving:

Show kids how money is made. Watching millions of dollars pass by certainly captured my children’s attention. It’s great to learn about something we use every day and the exhibit provides a mini-economics lesson. Given that this is a popular site and often sold out, stop by the ticket booth first thing in the morning to book a tour time.


2

National Museum of Natural History

Location:

10th Street and Constutution Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20560

Contact:

tel: +1 202 633 1000 / +1 202 357 1729
fax: +1 202 768 2778


3

National Museum of American History

Location:

14th Street and Constitution Avenue North West
Washington, DC 20560

Contact:

tel: +1 202 633 1000


4

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

expert pick

Location:

14th and C Street SW
Washington, DC 20228

Contact:

tel: +1 202 874 3019 / +1 877 874 4114 (toll free)


Day 4 - Mount Vernon


Mount Vernon/Old Town Alexandria:

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved visiting Mount Vernon. The graceful setting makes exploring the grounds a peaceful experience. The museum offers interesting perspective about the history of farming and George Washington’s life. There is a movie available, but some scenes are violent. We prefer walking around at our leisure (we skipped the guided house tour on our last visit). Pick up the Adventure Map for kids at the information desk. You can bike here or take a water taxi from Alexandria, offering a charming look at life just outside the city.


1

Mount Vernon

user rating

expert pick

Location:

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, VA 22121

Contact:

tel: +1 703 780 2000


Day 5 - Chantilly, Washington


National Air and Space Museum at Dulles:

With over 80 aircraft, this addition to the Smithsonian is awe-inspiring. First, you’ll be amazed by the size of the building itself; when you see the collection of huge aircraft, rockets and spaceships, you’ll understand why it’s worth a trip out here (located by Dulles Airport).


1

National Air and Space Museum at Dulles (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center)

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Location:

14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151

Contact:

tel: 202.633.1000


2

National Zoological Park

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Location:

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW
Adjacent to Rock Creek Park
Washington, DC 20008

Contact:

tel: 202.633.4800
fax: +1 202 225 3393


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