Washington D.C. has been the capitol of the United States since July 16, 1790. This vibrant city has been a fascinating destination for visitors for decades and will continue to be indefinitely. With so much to see and do, tourists will never run out of things to do with kids during your trip to DC.
There’s an energy when visiting Washington D.C., that can only be found in our nation’s capital. There is much to see, much to learn and plenty to enjoy. Which is why DC with kids makes for a fabulous family vacation.
How to have a fuller experience:
To fully experience DC would take days, I suggest spending at least three days here. I also suggest going on a semi-private tour of the monuments. I learned a long time ago that my kids will listen to someone else and learn way more than they will listening to me. If you do not want to pay for a tour consider having the kids participate in the Junior Ranger program. You can look at the book and print it out before you go.
How to get around:
On a hot day there is no way you will want to walk around for hours on end. In order to get around D.C. easily here are some great options.
- DC Circulator: Use the DC Circulator bus. It’s just $1 and kids 5 and under ride free.
- Metro: The Metro system is also affordable and quick. There are several subway apps you can download to help you navigate the Metro.
- Uber and Lyft: Use my Uber invite code, meagans343ue, and get a free ride up to $15. Or use my Lyft invite for a $15 credit!
Family Things to do in Washington D.C.
Keep in mind that basically all D.C. museums are free, so have a ball and take in as much as you desire. It is rare to have this much history at your fingertips and for free, so plan to visit at least a few. The Smithsonian Museums and Zoo are a collection of a one zoo, 19 world famous museums, a garden and more. You won’t be able to visit them all, so figure out what your family will enjoy the most.
Things to do with kids in Washington D.C.
Some of these are more kid friendly than others. I recommend these kid friendly experiences:
American History Museum
The American History Museums has a lot going on including programs within the museum for kids, tweens, and teens. They are also home to the world famous Hope diamond and an ideal place to learn about the American dinosaurs.
- Spark!Lab: For kids ages 6 – 12 there is a special area within the American History Museum just for them, the Spark!Lab. The Spark!Lab is open from 10 – 4 and offers hands on engineering type things for kids to design and build.
- Q?rius, Discovery Theatre: Created for teens and tweens, Q?rius (pronounced “curious”) is an interactive and experimental learning space that brings the unique assets of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art has a cool art program for kids. Taking advantage of some of their programs takes little pre-planning. Sign up for some sort of class in advance for your visit. They offer classes for young kids, whole families, just for teens, and more. If you do not sign up in advance don’t panic, because they have an open area that you can enjoy.
The National Zoo is the zoo of the nation’s capital so it has a pretty impressive range of animals, including more than 1,500 animals and over 300 species spread out over 163 acres. The animal enrichment puts this zoo over the top.
The zoo is most known for the giant pandas! The panda house, an indoor viewing area, is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during winter hours and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during summer hours.
The National Zoo is located at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, the hours are 8am through 7pm.
If you can, I recommend trying to work in one of this one of a kind experience. These sleepovers are available at three of the museums: American History Museum, National History Museum, and the National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian sleepover is truly an amazing experience worth working into your trip.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is soul stirring for all ages. His quotes surrounding the statue are powerful. This monument finally opened 48 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Martin Luther King Memorial stands 30 feet high and his “I have a Dream” speech is etched into the stone. It is located at 1964 Independence Avenue S.W. and hours of operation are 24/7/365.
Take in the Lincoln Memorial dedicated to the 16th president. It is breathtaking, especially at night. I just love how the lights reflect on and off of it. It took four years to create this memorial and 28 blocks of marble to carve the 175 ton Lincoln statue. Lincoln stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet high. If possible, take the interactive tour to fully experience the Lincoln Memorial. Located at 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle hours of operation are 24/7/365.
From the Lincoln Memorial you will have a great view of the Washington Monument, the super tall 555-foot marble obelisk built to honor George Washington, the United States’ first president.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
This is where everything happens with the creation of money. Learn everything there is to know about money from A to Z. Located at 14th And C Streets SW hours of operation are 9am through 6pm.
All ages can really get into this one. This is about all things news whether print or digital. It allows you to explore the creation process as well as the presentation process. You must take the VIP tour to fully indulge on a different higher level, especially if you have teens. Located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. and hours of operation are 9am through 4pm.
International Spy Museum
This is an awesome adventure that allows you to look into the lives of famous fiction and real spies and explore the largest known espionage artifact collection. Spy School is a must, so make sure you get in on it. Located at 800 F Street NW hours of operation are 9am through 7pm.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
The Supreme Court offers free brief tours several times a day. It’s the ultimate court authority in the United States and definitely worth taking the time to see.
This list could go on and on. In fact, I am sure I will update it after our next visit! There are many more museums, more monuments, and lots of other things to do, but there’s no way to do it all in one trip. So, do what you can and enjoy your trip!
What do you like to see when you visit Washington D.C.?