Headed to Washington D.C. with your family? There are of course a ton of monuments and museums that you can check out, but will your kids be bored doing all of these touristy things? Below are some tourist locations that your kids will also be thrilled to visit. Make sure to plan well ahead of time so you can maximize your time while on vacation.
1- National Zoo
The National Zoo is a kid favorite. You can see over 400 distinct species of creatures here. The National Zoo is located within the Rock Creek National Park and is Part of the Smithsonian Institution. Zoo admission is free of charge. Some favorite animals at the zoo are the giant pandas, elephants, Kokomo dragons, lions, giraffes, bears and orangutans. Daily programs include animal training, feeding demonstrations, and keeper discussions. The Zoo has been more packed on weekends throughout the warmer seasons of the year.
2- Natural History Museum
At this popular Smithsonian museum, children enjoy analyzing a vast array of artifacts such as an 80-foot dinosaur skeleton, a huge ancient white shark, along with a 45-and-a-half carat stone called the Hope Diamond. The Discovery Room is an excellent hands-on screen for young kids. Feel the skin of a crocodile, analyze the gums and jaws of unique creatures or try on clothing from all over the world. Spend some time in the Insect Zoo, visit live insects and watch the daily tarantula feedings. The museum is constructing a brand new National Fossil Hall (open in 2019). Meanwhile, the exhibition The Last American Dinosaurs: Finding a Lost World is a “must see”.
3- Air & Space Museum
The Washington, D.C. museum exhibits the largest collection of air and spacecraft in the world. Visit with the entire family and find out about the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight. For an extra cost, you will find IMAX films, planetarium shows and simulators you can climb inside and experience the thrill of flight. Kids will marvel at the life size displays like the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia. The museum has regular Family Days offering a vast array of hands-on tasks, presentations, and chances to meet pilots, astronauts, and scientists. Story times are offered for children ages 2 to 8. Museum volunteers and staff read stories about famous aviators, hot-air balloon flights, excursions to Mars, figures visible in the nighttime skies, or animals who have their own wings.
4- Discovery Theater
The Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater in the Ripley Center on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is a live theatre appropriate for school-age kids. Vintage stories and folktales are told via puppet shows, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes.
5- American History Museum
The American History Museum is an excellent spot for children of all ages to use their imaginations and to learn about the country’s history. Spark Laboratory, a hands on science and innovation center is a fun experience. America on the Move, where you are going to see how transportation shaped America is a must see as well. The museum hosts a vast selection of family friendly programs which range from presentations and lectures to festivals and storytelling.
6- Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Everyone likes to watch real cash being made! See how U.S. paper money is made, piled, cut and analyzed for flaws. Tours are every 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from September through February, and from 9:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. from late March through August. The excursion lasts only 40 minutes so it’s suitable for children of all ages. No tickets are needed. Space is given on a first-come, first-served basis so arrive early or be ready to wait in line. Read more about the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
7- Washington Monument
Take the elevator to the peak of the memorial of George Washington, our country’s first president, also watch a superb perspective of Washington, D.C. Kids like to see the city from a bird’s-eye point of view. Junior Ranger booklets are available in the research Lodge Ranger Station situated along Independence Ave. The Washington Monument is among the area’s most well-known attractions. Tickets are needed and can be bought in advance.
8- Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin is a gorgeous spot to spend a couple of hours in the core of Washington, D.C.. Throughout the summer months of this year, children enjoy paddle boating as a rest from the conventional holiday season. You might even go to the Jefferson Memorial or the FDR Museum and find out about a couple of the most prominent historical leaders. The Tidal Basin is a man-made inlet next to the Potomac River. Visitors flock to this region because of its attractiveness, particularly during cherry blossom season in late March and early April.
9- Glen Echo Park
This superb park nearby Bethesda, Maryland delivers yearlong activities in dance, theater, and the arts to the adults and children. There are concerts, presentations, workshops, and festivals. Kids love the classic Dentzel carousel which is open May through September. Enjoy a puppet show in the Puppet Co. or some children’s theatrical performance at Adventure Theatre. At Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, research history and the arts through innovative instructional programs and shows. Read more about Glen Echo Park.
10- Six Flags America
Six Flags America supplies a complete day of fun only half an hour from downtown Washington, D.C.. This theme park features over 100 rides, shows and the area’s biggest water park. The park is open April through October. The entertainment park includes live entertainment and hosts special events such as spring break, Mothers Day, July 4th, Fathers Day, Halloween and more.
11- Guru Sporting Events
Children really like to attend live sporting events. Washington sports clubs compete in many domestic leagues including baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, and tennis. Attending a game for a family is an excellent way to get children excited about becoming involved in their favorite sports and activities. Watch the Redskins, the Nationals, the Capitals, the Wizards and more. Read more about Washington, D.C.’s Professional Sports Teams.
12- Imagination Stage
Imagination Stage, located in Bethesda, Maryland, provides yearlong productions of contemporary and classic plays and classes in acting, drama, dancing music theatre and filmmaking for kids of all ages. The organization also provides summer theater camps which give campers the chance to participate in a complete production of a play or musical.
13- Wolf Trap National Park
Wolf Trap Foundation and the National Park Service put on 70 performances from late June through early August in the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods at Vienna, Virginia. Family friendly performances, such as music, dancing, storytelling, puppetry, and theatre are held at 10 am and 11:15 am, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Wolf Trap provides year-round concerts for all ages as well as a wide variety of instructional programs, artist master classes, special occasions, along with also a Holiday Sing-A-Long. Read about Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
14- Nature Centers
Nature Centers give children a great deal of hands-on chances to explore our surroundings. By Rock Creek Park into Montgomery County, MD into Arlington, VA, yearlong naturalist guided apps will provide you insight to the natural habitat of this Washington, D.C. area. Story time programs introduce young kids to areas like bird nests, bumble bees, turtles, turtles, butterflies or rodents. On a guided hike, you might learn how to identify common plants and trees or find tracks and other signs of animals that reside in the woods. Read about Nature Centers in the Washington, D.C. Region.
15- Roer’s Zoofari
This is a 30- acre zoo located in Reston Virgina and is wonderful for smaller children . If you are too busy to head into the city and see the National Zoo, this is a great alternative. Get “up close and personal” with all the animals and be able to feed them also! See alligators, camels, reptiles, zebras, antelope, bison, ostrich, and more.