10 Things to Do in Washington DC with Young Children
Are you planning on a trip to Washington DC in the near future? It is an amazing place to visit and has so much to see and do – it can be a little overwhelming right? We just took the kids for their first visit over our February break here in Maine and had an amazing time. The DC area is a special place for hubby and I as we met and got married there 🙂 Read on for our list of 10 things to do in Washington DC with Young Children.
My list is in no particular order – just 10 things that we either did or have bookmarked to do on a future trip.
1) Ride the Metro
This is a MUST! Especially if you have a child that is obsessed with transportation! Both kids loved riding on the Metro. I would recommend if you are using the Metro for your main source of transportation that you do some research as they are doing serious construction that closes lines and creates lengthy delays (as of Feb. 2017).
2) Ride the Capitol Wheel and visit the National Harbor
The kids love Ferris Wheels so I thought they would really enjoy a visit to the Capitol Wheel. We visited on a fairly blustery afternoon and had the wheel almost to ourselves. We enjoyed the ride and the climate controlled pods we rode in. It was fun to see Alexandria across the river which is where my husband and I lived and worked. The ride was the perfect length as it stopped just as the kids were starting to get antsy. It was a fun start to our trip.
***My family and I received complimentary tickets for review purposes***
3) Visit the International Spy Museum
One of my daughter’s classmates (who is also her bestie) had visiting the International Spy Museum with her family in November and talked it up! Boo Boo and Buddy decided that they ABSOLUTELY had to go when we were in DC so we made it a priority. We headed to the Spy Museum on our first day (so we wouldn’t be asked the whole visit when we were going to go – as a parent – you know how that goes). Bonus for parents with kids 6 and under – they are free!
We had a great visit but had to be very flexible – this museum had a lot of cool stuff to look at but the kids attention spans weren’t long enough to stand around for us to read much of the information about said cool stuff. Our kids loved the first exhibit you walk into after the video where you get to take spy challenges. I think as they get older they would spend more time in the exhibits but they still had an awesome time and would recommend it to their friends!
***I received a complimentary media ticket in exchange for review purposes***
4) Visit the Natural History Museum
In my opinion this was the highlight of our trip – from the mummies to the butterfly pavilion (additional cost) there was something for all of us. The kids loved this museum we actually spent a few hours two different days just to see everything. Some exhibits they didn’t love as much but for the most part they really enjoyed it. Boo Boo loved the mammal exhibit and seeing the butterflies up close. Buddy loved seeing the mummy cat and the dinosaurs.
I had the most fun exploring the geology section with Buddy as he was really interested in having me tell him what the signs all said. What I love the most about the Smithsonian Museums is that they are free so you don’t have to feel obligated to stay more than a couple hours a visit. You can follow your child’s lead and enjoy your time.
5) Walk on the National Mall
We walked around the National Mall on our visit (no it’s not for shopping Boo Boo! lol). We looked at the different museums and walked all the way down to the front of the Capitol. You could also take your children on the carousel. It would be difficult for most small children to walk from one end (by the capitol) to the other (Lincoln Memorial) in one visit. We did each half but on separate days.
6) Visit the Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia
I love the Udvar-Hazy Center – I went the first time with Hubby years ago. I knew it would be on our list of places to take the kids when we finally visited the DC area with them. The building is HUGE and full of airplanes! You can even visit an observation tower and watch planes come in for landing at the Dulles Airport. This was my first visit since the Space Shuttle Discovery took up residence. Take a peek at the delivery video below. (If you don’t have transportation you can also stay in DC and go to the National Air and Space Museum located on the Mall).
7) Visit the National Zoo
We love visiting zoo’s – I think hubby and I love them just as much as the kids. We visited over President’s Day weekend which meant higher crowds but also we visited on a very historic day for the zoo. We stumbled upon Bao Bao the giant panda’s farewell celebration! The zoo is a little bit of a walk from the Metro so this day we used Uber from where we were staying – it was easy and dropped us off right at the main entrance. We arrived early and went straight to see the pandas and it was already a bit crazy (I’m very glad we didn’t try to come in the afternoon). We saw the pandas as you can see in my video below and then headed out to see the other animals. By early afternoon we had seen almost everything and decided to head out as the crowds had gotten quite large.
I would highly recommend a visit to the zoo – if you can I would suggest visiting on a weekday and not during a school vacation to help minimize crowds and maximize enjoyment!
8) Visit the Memorials
This trip we visited Vietnam Veterans Memorial, U.S. Navy Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, National World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Washington Monument. We essentially hit the memorials that were all close to the National Mall. If you have time I would highly recommend walking around the tidal basin and visiting all of the memorials located there. If you plan to come during the Cherry Blossom Festival be aware of the large crowds.
9) Drive or walk by the White House
We looked at the White House from afar this trip – we saw it as we drove by one day and then from the Mall by the Washington Monument another day. You can also submit a request to visit the White House in person following the directions found here. I was lucky enough to visit the White House on a trip when I was in middle school and hope someday my kids will see the inside as well (Buddy will be living there someday if his promise of growing up to be the President come true!)
10) Visit Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is breathtaking. You can witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, visit the eternal flame at JFK’s gravesite, visit the Memorial Amphitheater or see the Arlington House (Robert E. Lee Memorial). We did not make it to the cemetery on this visit but have been many times in the past.