Kids love Washington, D.C.! Exciting attractions, entertaining activities and educational experiences around every corner make it a top family and kid-friendly vacation destination. Our neighborhood guides are a great place to start to get to know your way around Washington, D.C. – but if you have the kids in tow, join us as we journey the streets of Washington, D.C. hunting down the top things to do and best kid-friendly attractions in our city.
Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus
Get your bearings aboard the Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus! Kids love riding a bus and you can’t get better than double-decker and open-roof for a delightful journey through Washington, D.C. You can hop on and off at over 40 stops to explore the sights.
It’s brain overload, so shift gears and head to the Tidal Basin at the southern end of the National Mall where you will find the grand Jefferson Memorial on the south bank. Head to the eastern shore to rent a paddle boat or follow the foot trails to Hains Point, where the Potomac and Washington Channel meet. If you’re there at the right time of year, (March to April) you can soak up the beautiful views of the Tidal Basin with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. (Local Tip: Cross the river to Gravelly Point to watch the planes land. The kids will be in awe!!)
Back to Brain Overload!
You’ve had your break time! Washington, D.C.’s amazing museums do not end at the National Mall and only a short walk away the excitement for the kids continues. Learn lessons from the wild as you explore the world at the National Geographic Museum, go undercover into a world of espionage at the International Spy Museum, report the live news at the Newseum and learn how real money is printed at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. By now the kids are W-O-W-E-D!
The National Zoo & Rock Creek Park
Kids love zoos and the National Zoo has it all! Over 2,000 different animals from 400 species call this home. Meet the famous Giant Pandas, play with the seals at the splash park and enjoy a thrilling big cat experience as you get up close with the African lions and Sumatran tigers. The Kids Farm is a favorite with the little ones. Bordering the zoo is Rock Creek Park, a scenic and tranquil gem with 32 miles of shaded trails through the woodlands, a historic stone mill, playgrounds and access to the C&O Canal. A chance to reconnect with nature in the heart of the bustling city.
Glen Echo Park (Maryland)
Once an amusement park, Glen Echo Park is an arts and cultural center with bumper cars, puppet shows, theatre performances and the delightful, historic carousel. There are many cultural events throughout the year for the whole family.
Six Flags America
What’s a vacation without a trip to a theme park! Only 30 minutes from downtown Washington, D.C. is Six Flags America where there are thrills everyone! From exhilarating roller coasters for dad to train rides and tea parties for the tots. Pack the swimsuits, there’s plenty fun to be had at the waterpark.
Wolf Trap National Park
Introduce your kids to the world of performing arts at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Their ‘Young at Arts’ initiative offers family-friendly performances year-round including music, dance, puppet shows, dance and theatre.
In downtown Bethesda is another state-of-the-art performing arts facility with year-round productions of modern and classic plays for all ages to explore their imaginations and creativity.
In the era of selfie sticks, who wouldn’t want a selfie with the President! Madame Tussauds in Washington, D.C. is a fully interactive experience where you can rub shoulders with the stars, meet all the American Presidents and take a trip back in time through American history.
Meridian Hill Park Drum Circle
A 40-year old Washington, D.C. tradition, Rhythm in the Park Drum Circle at Meridian Hill is a time of drums, dancing and celebration! Every Sunday at 3pm, this is a fun-filled family gathering.
Make your way to Georgetown Harbor for a river cruise, a scenic and fun way to see all the city sights. Or head to Union Station for a DC family favorite, a DC Duck Tour where an amphibious machine explores the city by both land and sea.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Catch a Baseball game at Nationals Park. The Family Fun pack gives you admission for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and includes a game ticket, hot dog and a beverage! Kids ages 4 to 12 can run the bases on the field will the toddlers play on the jungle gym.
The National Harbor is Washington, D.C.’s iconic waterfront destination. Take a ride on The Capital Wheel for the best aerial views of the city before heading to an all-time favorite for kids, the 36-foot Americana themed carousel! $7 gets you unlimited rides while adults ride free. There are picnic tables, a playground and a great toddler play area making this a must do kid-friendly stop in Washington, D.C.
The National Mall
The best place to begin your adventures is at the National Mall, a grassy park between the Capitol Building and Lincoln Memorial where paths weave through some of the finest monuments and museums in our nation. Pop the little ones in a stroller for a walking tour or if they’ve moved on from the three-wheeler, a cycling tour is great fun.
Take your time, picnic on the lawns and let the kids stretch their legs – all the National Mall attractions are only a hop, skip and a jump away.
Even More Great Things To Do With Kids In Washington D.C
Stop off at the Smithsonian Castle, an iconic landmark in Washington, D.C. that houses the National Mall Visitors Center. Plan your day on the interactive 3D maps and pick up your guides to begin the adventures.
A ride on the old National Mall Carousel is a must!
Kids can discover their roots at the National Museum of American History with endless exciting interactive exhibits from using a printing press and creating their own invention in the Spark Lab to exploring the impressive 23 room doll’s house.
Make learning fun with real life science experiments and discovering everything from bugs to dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History.
Experience the thrill of flight in a simulator while the little ones enjoy story time at the National Air and Space Museum. (Local Tip: Check out the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport for more than 300 additional aircrafts including a space shuttle!)
Discover your roots at the National Museum of American History.
The little ones will delight in a puppet or mime show at The Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater.
Creative older kids can attend workshops at the National Gallery of Art.
Learn about the architectural wonders of the world at the National Building Museum, always lots for kids to see and do, a favorite for local school field trips!
Ride to the top of the Washington Monument, the world’s tallest freestanding stone structure for the best views of the city.
Walk past the reflecting pool to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, home to many defining moments in American history and a great learning opportunity for the kids.
The older kids will appreciate the many memorials scattered around the National Mall, including the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Thomason Jefferson Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Enjoy a summer tradition at Screen on the Green, outdoor movies at the National Mall with great views of the iconic landmarks of Washington, D.C.
Little botanists will be thrilled at the Botanical Gardens! Whether they’re on a plant scavenger hunt, taking an art class or gardening in the Children’s Garden, it’s a worthwhile stop.
You’re in Washington, D.C., so why not plan a tour of the White House and Capitol Building. The younger kids may be happier roaming the grounds and throwing pennies in the fountains, but for the older kids in your crew, it’s not to be missed.