Washington, DC the Capital of the United States of America. It was named after the first President General George Washington and is located on the boarder of Maryland and Virginia. Which makes it an excellent location for road trips for anyone east of the Mississippi (Less than a day drive).
If you live in the Northeast you can easily get here by car. It’s only around 4 hours from New York City. Taking the train is also an idea to look into.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more info click here.
If you are west of the Mississippi river you may want to look into flying. If you fly you have three different airports to choose from (Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Baltimore/Washington International Airport). All three airports offer rail service to DC.
No matter if you drive, fly, or grab the train, getting around DC is surprisingly easy. The city has a fantastic public transit system called the Metro. Combine that with your feet or one of the BigBus Tours and you can go anywhere.
With so much history and historical sites what is there for kids to do. Short answer….. A LOT. You may not know this but most of the museums and monuments are FREE. That’s right I said FREE.
Lincoln Memorial – FREE. Capitol Building – FREE. Natural History Museum – You guessed it FREE. ALL the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall are FREE. The Smithsonian museums are free but there is a donation box in the lobbies. No donation is required but it is suggested since your donation helps out the Smithsonian.
For the Kids
If you are down here with your kids where should you go? If you are spending a few days in Washington DC you should first go to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (Zoo). There are many different animals to see. The one your kids are bounded to love… The Giant Pandas.
Who doesn’t love them?
Another place to start out at or end your DC trip is the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It is located next to Dulles International airport which is about 30 miles outside of DC.
If you or your kids are into aviation this is the place to check out. Located inside two enormous hangers are thousands of space and aviation artifacts. It is also here that you will find the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Note: Discovery flew 39 missions in Space and spent a total of 365 days in space. It entered service in 1984 and was retired in 2011.
One last place worth a stop that is outside of the “main hub” of DC is the U.S. National Arboretum. If your not sure what that is. It’s pretty much a large garden. But the main draw here, is the DC Eagle Nest. Just picture your child’s face when they get to see an Eagle in the wild and not at a zoo. It really is a priceless memory for both of you.
Once you find yourself around the National Mall, the walking begins. From the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial is about 2.3 miles. That’s quite a hike for kids and even for some adults. One thing to look into is the BigBus Tours. There are 3 different routes with over 30 stops at many different sites around DC including Arlington Cemetery, the White House, Lincoln Memorial and many others. It will save you a ton of walking.
With 12 museums located around the National Mall picking the right ones to visit with kids can be challenging. After all you know your family best. The best for children are as follows:
Air and Space Museum
Currently this museum is under major renovations (2019). However, the museum is still open and still has lots to see and explore. It is here were you can touch a piece of the moon. It was a big hit with my daughter.
They also have on display the 1903 Wright Flyer. This was the first airplane to ever fly. Not only is it a piece of American History. It is also a piece of World History.
Also located with in the museum are exhibits on space. Explore the universe and the history of the space race. It is sure to pique the interest in your kids to look up and wonder at the night sky.
Natural History Museum
Has your child ever dreamed of having a butterfly land on them. Maybe you have. This is the place that can possible have that happen.
Other than the butterfly pavilion there is so much more to explore. Ever wonder what use to live in the deep sea? Check out the Sea Monsters Unearthed exhibit.
Be sure to check out the the dinosaur bones. Or the ancient Egypt artifacts on display. You and your kids could explore all day just in here alone.
American History Museum
Ever wanted to get a close up of the 1989 Bat Mobile? How about seeing the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz? Well you can find them at the American History Museum.
While you are there check out the Taking America to Lunch Exhibit. Or have a look at what Julia Child’s kitchen looked like. See if they can point out the differences between your kitchen and hers.
This is another museum you could spend a day in. Maybe you should. You didn’t come all this way to rush through it.
Also know as the Smithsonian Institution Building. This building looks like a castle. After all it is a castle. While I don’t feel that there is much in here for kids to like. The fact that they were able to enter a castle should give them enough bragging rights when they go back to school.
When most people think of Washington Dc they probably think of the Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington Memorials. But there are countless others to see.
If you child just learned in class about the Civil War they might love to see the Lincoln Memorial. This is one that you need to see in person. Pictures or the TV don’t do this memorial justice.
If you get here early (like sunrise early), you may be treated with watching the sun rise over the Capitol Building. Same goes in the evening to watch the moon rise.
On calm days you will also be greeted with a spectacular reflect of either the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Memorial depending on which one you are looking at.
If you take a stroll along the tidal basin be sure to walk pass the Korean War Memorial on your way there from the Lincoln Memorial. It truly is a different type of memorial.Washington DC – What You Need to Know Before You Go
There is a huge park located along the path of the tidal basin. It is just a field with a couple baseball fields on it. It does make for a great spot for the kids to run around. I have even seen people flying kites.
While you are over there be sure to check out the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. The memorial is simply beautiful. It is also a great location to rest and relax for a bit after all the walking you have been doing.
The last place kids should enjoy is the Arlington National Cemetery. It is good for kids to understand the sacrifice people have made to keep this country the way it is.
Be sure to also check out the changing of the guard ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier. It takes a lot to be a guard at this tomb. Once you watch them change shifts you will understand why.
No matter the time of year. Your sure to have a great time seeing everything. The smile on you kids face will be priceless.
Remember that DC is also a very photo friendly city. This would be a great chance for the kids to practice their photography skills.
There you have it. Somethings in DC for the kids to enjoy while also learning in the process. It is also something you will enjoy. Washington, DC is sure a great place with so much beauty and history all around.