Washington, D. C. With The Kids

Washington D.C.

Kids of all ages (and adults, too) love Washington, D. C.: lots to see and do, free museums, the National Zoo, great ethnic food, history at every turn and a chance to be as proudly patriotic as you can be. Here are some tips to ensure a great experience.


The National Zoo – the most kid-friendly site with more than 400 species of animals set in a national park

The National Air and Space Museum

The National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of American History

The Bureau of Printing and Engraving – see how money is made


Kid-Friendly Badge (Red & Blue)


Walk the National Mall and ride the carousel (near the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building and open year round). Check out the many parks and playgrounds. There are also many indoor play spaces if the weather turns bad. Ride the double-decker bus (top deck is open) while taking in all the monuments. A trolley tour is also available. The National Aquarium is fun and you can paddle around the Tidal Basin.



Most museums are free, free summer concerts abound, or try the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage where a free performance takes place daily at 6 p.m. Guided tours of the Capitol building are free but require tickets (distributed on a first come, first served basis). Check out Rock Creek Park Nature Center for varied programs or a fun hike. Enjoy a free walking tour with D.C. by Foot and learn about our Presidents. The National Theatre has a Saturday Morning Children’s Series with free puppet shows, magic, ballet and music, all themed for children.



The Library of Congress is one of the most beautiful buildings and has the recreation of Jefferson’s library, lectures, concerts, poetry readings and exhibits – all free.The Pentagon gives free guided tours (reservations required) and explains the mission of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines. The original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are all on view at the National Archives. And for older children, the Supreme Court allows visitors (passes required). The changing of the guard in Arlington National Cemetery is a moving experience for all.



America’s capital has a wide variety of food from all over the world, proving we are really a melting pot. Although high end restaurants abound, you can find so many small places with bargain prices whether you’re in the mood for falafel or chili. Check out the many websites that offer advice, like Zagat’s.


Everyone at some point in life should visit this amazingly quiet city that is filled with history, culture and diversity. It will cost half of what a tourist needs to spend in London or Paris and will make you proud to be an American.


  • Take a break from the city and visit Mt. Vernon, Virginia, George Washington’s estate. Go by boat for a fun experience with the kids. Typical cruise includes admission and leaves from Washington at 8:30 am, arriving Mt. Vernon at 10 am. Book one way or round trip. Plan to spend an entire day – so much to see: the mansion, farm, gardens, gristmill, several buildings from the 1800’s and a museum. The whole family will love it.

  • The pandas at the National Zoo are a must-see. Go early in the morning when they are most likely outside and playful. After 2 pm, they are usually indoors. Have your kids do some research about them and other endangered species before your visit. Pics are on Instagram and there is a website with a photo cam of the pandas. They were the highlight for our visit.

  • The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is open daily from 10 to 5:20 (later in Spring) except Yom Kippur and Christmas. Located at 100 Raoul Wallenberg SW between 14th and 15th St. SW. From Mar. to Aug. timed passes are required (reserve on line) but admission is always free. Pick up a Family Guide at the info desk and start the day with bagels and coffee in the cafe.

  • Johnny and Samantha

    Our kids loved the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, seeing how money is made. The National Air and Space Museum is fantastic and has a wonderful gift shop filled with the most interesting science stuff and books for all ages. Be prepared to spend the day here – it’s worth it. Cafeteria available for lunch and snacks. Both the Bureau and the Museum are free.

  • Joey and Jessica

    The Kennedy Center has performances for young audiences including some for sensory-sensitive and autistic children. Lighting is lowered, quiet areas are available, etc. Check out their schedule on the web before you go. Staff is very well trained to accommodate special needs children.

  • The Smithsonian is the best bargain around: several buildings filled with great stuff and all free.
    Especially good if the weather is bad!

  • Followed your suggestions this summer with our 3 kids. Awesome vacation. I would also add the Spy Museum (not free) filled with interactive things for older kids. The Vietnam Memorial is a beautiful and moving thing to see. Love your blog!

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