12 Things To Do with Kids in Washington D.C.

Kids Activities
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12 Things To Do with Kids in Washington D.C. | If you're traveling with your family to Washington DC, make sure to bookmark this post! It includes tons of helpful travel tips - when to go, what to pack, the best kid-friendly hotels, and our favorite restaurants with kids menu options even your picky eater will love. We've also included a list of fun family-friendly activities you can enjoy in summer, fall, winter, and spring, with lots of free and budget-friendly options to choose from!

A trip to Washington D.C. is unlike any other. This U.S. Capital offers an endless amount of must-sees and must-dos for kids and grown-ups alike.

Known for its world-class museums, beautiful parks, and top-notch food, it’s a great place to foster a love of history and culture.

So, if you’re thinking of taking your family to visit, you’ll want to check out this list of 12 things to do with kids in Washington D.C.

Travel Considerations

    • The area around Washington D.C. has three major airports – Reagan National, Dulles, and BWI. Of all three, Reagan National is the most convenient.
  • If you need to travel from one part of the city to another, Metro and MetroRail are good choices because they are affordable and easy-to-use. They are also the best choice for transportation to and from the airport. Avoid renting a car if possible, since city parking is expensive, overnight parking rates at hotels are usually high, and if you’re not familiar with the city, navigating it can be challenging.
  • To make the most of your time, spend your mornings in the museums at and around the National Mall, and your evenings at the monuments and memorials. At that time, the monuments and memorials are far less crowded and they’re also beautifully lit.
  • What makes a trip to Washington D.C. amazing is that so many of the attractions are free! This includes the Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Museums, and the Library of Congress. So that means you can spend as much, or as little, time as you’d like without the worry of entrance fees.
  • Washington D.C. is extremely bike friendly and has plenty of paths. It’s a great way to travel around the National Mall. You can rent bikes or take advantage of multiple bike-share stations across the city.

What to Pack

    • You’ll most likely be walking several miles each day! So comfortable walking shoes are a must.
  • Younger kids can struggle with the amount of walking you’ll be doing, so little legs will appreciate having an umbrella stroller or baby carrier.
  • To keep from getting dehydrated, pack a refillable, collapsible water bottle.
  • Stay safe from the sun’s rays by packing plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, and sunhats.
  • daypack will come in handy to carry your gear as well as snacks and souvenirs.

4 Must-Stay Hotels in Washington D.C.

With so many things to do, the last thing you want are hotel hassles. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of 4 must-stay hotels in Washington D.C. that are perfect for the whole family.

  1. The Watergate Hotel – Overlooking the Potomac River, this hotel has plenty to offer families. Kids will love splashing in the indoor pool and parents will love visiting the spa for a relaxing treatment. On weekends, the hotel offers afternoon tea.
  2. Hotel Madera – Located 2 miles from the National Mall, this hotel offers family-sized rooms, including bunk bed options. It has a fun, modern vibe and has easy access to the MetroRail.
  3. Omni Shoreham Hotel – This historic hotel is in a residential neighborhood and is close to the Metro. It’s also within walking distance of the National Zoo. Kids and parents alike will love hanging out at the resort-style pool.
  4. The Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington D.C. Chevy Chase Pavilion – This hotel makes the perfect home base. Enjoy complimentary breakfast every morning and a swim in the indoor pool after a long day of exploring.

5 Kid-Pleasing Dining Options in Washington D.C.

The museum’s cafes offer an easy and affordable option for daytime meals, without trekking too far. But if you’re looking for other options, take a look at our list of 5 kid-pleasing dining options.

  1. Ben’s Chili Bowl – Everyone is family at this popular dining spot that’s been around for more than 60 years. Dig into fresh homemade chili and delicious half smokes, or enjoy some banana pudding.
  2. Pavilion Cafe – Located at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, this cafe offers jazz music during the summer and a winter wonderland of ice skating in the winter months. Make sure to come hungry to enjoy toasted sandwiches and yummy flatbreads.
  3. Founding Farmers – This dining spot is popular with locals and tourists alike. They offer everything from breakfast to dinner as well as brunch on the weekends. Eat at their farm-style dining tables or the popular silo-shaped booths. The restaurant is owned by American family farmers and everything is made from scratch.
  4. Old Ebbitt Grill – Don’t let the fanciness fool you, this restaurant is family friendly. It’s a true piece of American history and was host to many US Presidents. They also have an amazing children’s menu.
  5. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken – This magical little doughnut shop always seems to have a huge line. But it’s truly worth the wait because the doughnuts are crazy creative and super tasty! And if you’re craving something savory, their fried chicken options are a must-eat.

12 Things To Do with Kids in Washington D.C.

    1. The National Mall – This large public park offers tons of options, including museums and monuments – with the Lincoln Memorial at one end and the U.S. Capitol building at the other. You’ll find open grassy areas to rest and play, and plenty of food trucks that are perfect for a quick meal or snack.
    2. The Smithsonian Museums – These museums are completely free to enjoy and explore, and most are located along The National Mall. Two of our favorite museums are the Natural History Museum and the Air & Space Museum. The Natural History Museum is home to endless rooms full of exciting exhibits including fossils, butterflies, Ancient Egypt, and the Hall of Mammals. At the Air & Space Museum, kids will be blown away by the aircraft hanging from the ceiling. You can also visit the IMAX theater, the planetarium, and endless exhibits. Check out the link above to find out more about all the amazing Smithsonian Museums.
    1. U.S. Capitol Building – Be sure to schedule a tour of this iconic landmark. You’ll want to reserve timed tickets online before visiting. If your family would like a free, private tour, reach out to your state’s Senator or Congressional Representative – they should have instructions on their website. Explore the visitor center and gift shops and visit the food court for an easy lunch.
    2. National Building Museum – This museum has plenty of kid-friendly exhibits. Must-sees are the Work Play Build room where you can play with life-size foam tinker toys and the Building Zone, an interactive playroom for kids ages two to six. Take advantage of a free story time or enjoy a coffee in the beautiful atrium.
    3. Library of Congress – This ornate library is the perfect stop for all the book lovers. Interesting fact: you can access the library through a tunnel from the Capitol Building! Take a free docent-led tour and be sure to check out the gift shop.
    4. US Botanic Gardens – This spot is a true treasure and offers a fun change from a day at the museums. Stretch your legs and enjoy a green oasis. Explore outdoor fountains and gardens and the Tarzan-like rainforest area.
    5. International Spy Museum – It’s a bit of a splurge, but the whole family will love the experience at this world-class museum. Kids will love being able to choose their own character and become a spy. Explore exhibits, spy gear and gadgets, interactive displays, and James Bond memorabilia.
    6. Washington Monument – This monument is the highest freestanding stone sculpture in the world. Grab a ticket for the elevator that will take you to the top of the monument, where you can take in views of the city. The base of the monument offers the best view of the White House. Make sure to reserve tickets online before you go.
    7. Mount Vernon – Located 30 minutes from the city, you’ll need to utilize Uber, Lyft, or taxis. The tours of the home and museum are amazing, and the kids will love exploring the grounds, visiting the working farm, and meeting the animals. A food court makes lunchtime handy. You can spend an entire day here, so plan ahead.
    8. National Zoo – The zoo is home to over 2700 animals with the Giant Pandas being the biggest attraction by far. Be sure to visit the Kids Farm, the Small Mammals exhibit, and the Great Ape House. Kids will love splashing their feet in Tide Pool on the American Trail.
  1. Georgetown Waterfront Park – Take in views of the Potomac River and the Key Bridge at this lush, 10-acre park. Rent a canoe or kayak, wave to the swimming ducks, or splash in the fountain. And be sure not to miss the twists and turns in the Labyrinth.
  2. National Children’s Museum – Located near The National Mall, this museum hosts many exhibits and plenty of hands-on learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Allow at least half a day to explore the whole museum.

This city offers plenty of fun and educational options for the whole family. To help you plan the perfect trip, be sure to save these tips and our list of 12 things to do with kids in Washington D.C.!

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