Washington, D. C. With The Kids
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.
TOP (FREE!) DO-NOT-MISS SITES
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
TODDLERS IN TOW
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.
SAVE SOME MONEY
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.
TRY SOME ETHNIC FOOD
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.