Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, is a gorgeous area with a thousands of great restaurants, walking tours and things to do. However, I have only been there as an adult traveling with another adult. I can name off tons of great “un”friendly places to take children, like long leisurely dining places.
In fact, if you are going with older children or without children, I highly recommend to take walking tours in Washington DC. Also the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. My husband and I went here a couple years ago, and it was the most moving and educational museum I have ever encountered. Also take a look at those tours here.
However, since I do have very young children now and this is a site geared to families, I asked my new friend, Jon, over at The DC Traveler, to help. Jon sent me a list of suggestions and things to do, especially with families in mind.
15 Great Ideas in Washington DC Area
1) Remember to keep museum visits short based on the kid’s ages, attention spans and interests.
2) The always kid-favorite Natural History museum can keep the attention of just about any kid (and adult too). Dinosaurs, insects, the Hope Diamond and lots of special activities for kids in the Discovery Room, Insect Zoo and Naturalist Center are sure to delight the little ones.
3) Ride the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument to get a bird’s eye view of the Mall area and city.
4) The Air & Space museum is still considered among the “really cool? Smithsonian museums by most kids. Space ships, planes and rockets and even a moon rock to touch memorize most children.
5) The National Archives holds the Declaration of Independence the kids have hopefully studied about in school and it usually takes less than an hour to tour.
6) I’d recommend avoiding the art museums with young kids. That way they don’t get bored and crabby looking at the 153rd presidential portrait.
7) Take advantage of all the parks and open areas around the National Mall. Let the kids run around once in a while as you relax and enjoy lunch under a tree near a monument.
Rent bikes and tour the Mall. Even kids as young as 4 can be put on a tandem trailer or carriage behind your bike. Check out Bike the Sites for rentals.
9) If kids are at least 16 years old, take a tour of the Mall on a Segway 2-wheeled transporter. Your kids will think you are the coolest…not to mention being able to brag to their friends back home about their experience. Plus, it’s a really fun way to tour the Mall and get your introductory bearings.
Outside the Smithsonian “Castle” on the National Mall is the Carousel on the Mall. Take the kids for a ride and enjoy some cotton candy.
9) Near the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Basin you can rent a paddle boat. Kids seem to love these boats. Just remember to tell them to start by heading INTO the wind, otherwise you might have to carry them the rest of the day.
10) Take them to the Baltimore Aquarium, about an hour away in downtown Baltimore. It’s one of the best aquariums in the country and offers dolphin shows, along with a hands-on ray petting pool. And what kid doesn’t like visiting Nemo and Dory?
11) Pandas anyone? The National Zoo has a couple playful pandas – Mei Xiang and Tai Shan, not to mention an extensive collection of animals, reptiles and birds.
12) Watch as money is printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Kids seem to get a kick over seeing millions and millions of dollars just a few feet a way.
13) Feed the ducks and birds at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
14) Make a game out of quizzing the kids to see what they remember from each destination. Where do penguins live? Who first signed the Declaration of Independence? Who’s the toughest dinosaur on the block?
15) Finally, get each kid a disposable camera and let them capture their own memories of their trip to DC.