Guest Post: Washington, DC
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DC Gets Childish: Attractions Your Kids Will Actually Love
Washington, D.C. might only seem like a destination for politicians, history buffs and kids going on a school trip. Yes, the nation’s capital offers plenty of history lessons, but it also provides several kid-friendly attractions and hands-on activities that are sure to impress you and entertain your kids. And the best part — many attractions are free!
Before we dive into the best attractions for the kiddos, we want to give you a quick guide to kid-friendly eateries, shops, and places to stay in the Washington, D.C. area. After all, a good night’s sleep and a hearty meal set the stage for the best day possible!
There are few things worse than perusing the menu of the restaurant you just sat down at, only to find that there is nothing on the menu that your kid would even try to eat. Avoid a dinnertime disaster by heading to an eatery that has a family-friendly reputation.
Two D.C. restaurants take the cake when it comes to kid-pleasing cuisine. The first place you should stop at is Clyde’s. Classic American fare and a kids menu filled with all of the favorites, your kids will not leave Clyde’s hungry. If you’re looking for a spot with fresh-made sandwiches, look no further than FoBoGro. Previously known as the “Foggy Bottom Grocery” has been reinvented as a unique grocery store that also serves up delicious take-out. It’s a great place to stop at, pick up one of their famous Boxed Lunches, and have an impromptu picnic on the lawn.
Accommodations Children Love
One tricky aspect of visiting Washington, D.C. is ensuring that you choose a hotel that focuses on being kid-friendly, rather than business traveler-friendly. Our nation’s capital is a major business hub and many hotels cater to those travelers in particular. For example, some hotels offer business centers, quiet working spaces and lightening fast Wi-Fi while other DC-area hotels are home to video game arcades and family-friendly pools. Which do you think your kids would prefer? A bit of research and review-pursuing will ensure that you end up at the right hotel for you and your kids.
The Top Attractions for Kids
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Let your kids have an adventure, learn something new and most importantly, make memories that will last a lifetime.
Not too many things are more kid-approved than a place full of friendly, furry animals. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is home to nearly 2,000 animals, including massive elephants, colorful birds, big and beautiful cats and the giant pandas, the best-known zoo residents. Daily programs happen throughout the day, such as feeding demonstrations and animal trainings. Don’t pass up taking your kids to the Kids’ Farm to have an interactive learning experience about farm animals and to see how pizza ingredients are grown as you explore through the Pizza Garden. The best part about the National Zoo is it’s free admission and open 364 days of the year!
National Museum of Natural History
Also a part of the Smithsonian Institution — and a kid favorite — is the National Museum of Natural History. Lined with millions of artifacts, your kids will be in awe from the moment they step foot inside this museum. You’ll see a 14-foot-tall diorama of an African elephant, ancient Egyptian mummies, dinosaur skeletons, the sparkling 45.52 carat Hope Diamond and so much more. Be sure to check out the hands-on activities in the Discovery Room. This is one of the most popular family-friendly Washington, D.C. museums so you want to go earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid major crowds.
National Air and Space Museum
If your kids are into flying or space, this is a must stop for your family. The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum holds the largest aviation and space artifacts collection in the world. There’s so much to see that the artifacts are spread out in various exhibitions inside two buildings, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Chantilly, Virginia. Go for free and discover the science, technology and history behind aviation and space flight. You can also pay to see an IMAX film or take an exhilarating simulated flight ride. Before planning your trip, look into the museum’s Family Days. They’re the best days for families to attend with all the kid-focused activities and presentations offered.
International Spy Museum
Do you have a child who dreams of being a secret agent, just like James Bond? Well, visiting the International Spy Museum is where those dreams will finally come true! Take part in a heart-pumping spy mission with Operation Spy or explore the capital through a spy’s eyes with a GPS guided tour with Spy in the City. These interactive spy experiences are top crowd pleasers, but they’re not all you can do. You’ll also have the chance to learn the history and modern-day usage of espionage. Who knows, your kids may enter this exciting world of gadgets and leave the museum as the next Jason Bourne.
Glen Echo Park
Not far from the city, and totally worth the drive, is historic Glen Echo Park. Make your first stop the Dentzel Carousel (if you visit between May and September) and take your pick of riding an ostrich, saber-toothed tiger, or a colorful horse. Year-round activities are offered at this park, including puppet shows, concerts, festivals and theatrical performances. This park provides something enjoyable to see and do for those of all ages.
Another nearby spot that entertains families during every season is National Harbor. See the sights from a high-flying ride on the Capital Wheel, check out the Awakening statue of a bearded giant, get out on the harbor on a duck pedal boat or watch a family film under the stars on the Plaza’s big screen. There are also places to shop and restaurants for eating, including waterfront dining spots with spectacular views. National Harbor is a fun-filled adventure that kids and parents will thoroughly enjoy.
Family vacationers of all sizes and ages love the capital’s attractions that combine learning with fun. They give Washington, D.C. two thumbs up as a kid-friendly destination and so do we!
Happy Travels to our nation’s capital!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist