Washington DC is one of the most memorable places in the United States to visit. There is a lot of art and history to enjoy here as well as amazing free things to see and do. You will not be bored when you stay in Washington DC, and kids and parents alike can have an amazing time in this city.
When you arrive, you'll want to find secure luggage storage in Washington DC so that you have your hands free to have fun. Once your luggage is carefully stowed away, you will be ready to start your adventures!
Rock Creek Park
If you have headed into the city but are not quite ready for busy streets, traffic, and hustle and bustle, you need to take a break at Rock Creek Park. You can get guided tours of the park here, or go on a horseback ride that your kids will love. This is a beautiful place that is one of the first national parks that was ever created. There is a lot of history at Rock Creek Park and your kids will be able to be energetic without worries about them getting lost in the crowds.
Smithsonian National Museum
There are so many exhibits and things to see and do at the Smithsonian National Museum that you and your kids will have fun for hours. The Smithsonian curates many of the museums in Washington DC and offers exhibits on natural history, art history, and more. Kids always love the Air and Space Museum and they will have lots of fun at the National Zoo. There is no shortage of fun things to do with kids when you stop in at one of the Smithsonian locations.
All the museums in the Smithsonian collection are completely free, which means that you can enjoy a really great time at these national museums without breaking the bank. This is a really good stop if you have kids that are interested in all kinds of culture and history or if your child loves science and machines.
The National Mall
The National Mall is a great location in the nation's capital to see statues and commemorative works dedicated to important people and events in history. You will be able to see the Lincoln Memorial here as well as the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. There is so much history that is embodied by these memorials and it is important to share this experience with your children.
While very small children might not enjoy the National Mall as much as older children, this is a nice area for smaller children to run and play a little while you enjoy the sights.
National Children's Museum
This is a must-see museum when you are in the nation's capital with kids. Kids can participate in experiments to make rain, electrical storms, and other weather. They can also climb into the sky the Dream Machine exhibit or they can enjoy science education in Data Science Alley. There is even an exhibit for very small children called the Little Movers Exhibit.
This is a great way to spend at least part of a day with your children and make sure that they have experienced something during your trip that was just for them.
Kennedy Center offers access to museums, live shows, and more. This is a really nice place to head with your kids for an educational and fun time that you cannot enjoy in other locations in the city. Both social and historical exhibits are on display here and your kids will learn a lot about the capital as well as John F. Kennedy himself when you visit this location.
The Butterfly Garden
Located at the Smithsonian National Museum, this exhibit will delight everyone in your family. You can see many varieties of beautiful butterflies here in the tropical oasis of the exhibit. It is 80 degrees in this hall and you will be able to enjoy the fluttering beauty of the lovely insects that call this home. If you are really lucky, the butterflies will come perch on hats and shoulders so that you can take a closer look.
Enjoy the Pool
There are many public pools in the city that can be accessed for a small fee. If the weather is warm, you and your children can head to Banneker Pool in Shaw or head to Volta Park Pool instead. These are popular locations with the locals and your kids will have lots of fun playing and splashing here. There is no real water park access to be had in the city but there is a Six Flags that is just outside of DC. You will not even miss the water park because the pools in the city are large and offer access to fun activities and a place to cool off with ease.
This really delightful park was made just for kids and your children can enjoy lawn games, climb on play structures, and play on slides and carousels here. This is a really fun place for kids of all ages and you will love that your kids can have some fun in a location that was made just for them.
This spot can get pretty busy during times like Spring Break, so plan for this in advance. This is a great place for hands-on activities and fun that your kids might not get to enjoy in other places.
The National Zoo
This is another Smithsonian museum and your kids will be able to see more than 1,800 animals here. The zoo is about 160 acres and it is the site of the first program to research the health and well-being of zoo animals in the United States. There are both guided and self-guided tours offered here and you and your kids can enjoy all kinds of amazing chances to learn about animals during your visit.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Georgetown Waterfront Park is a great location for active kids to be able to play a little and see the sights at the same time. This was once the site of the hustle and bustle of the shipping trade that came into the city. You will be able to enjoy a labyrinth here at Georgetown Waterfront Park, as well as fountains and a beautiful pergola. This is one of the prettiest parks in the city and it is a great place to make a stop with your kids during your visit.
The botanic garden in Washington DC is probably best known for its beautiful and iconic cherry blossom season. There is a lot more to see and do here at the botanic garden location, like learn about the other flowers and plants that are in the garden. You can enjoy a tour with a garden expert or you can learn about the history of the garden itself.
The gardens are like a breath of fresh air in the city and you and your kids will have a great time viewing them and seeing what they are all about. Even if you just stop in to sit at the picnic tables and take it all in, a stop here is worth the trouble for sure.
International Spy Museum
This is a very fun and exciting place to take your kids and there are free workshops that your child can take to learn all about being a spy. This location offers exhibits that test your spy skills as you go undercover and learn about how spies actually do their jobs. Kids will have so much fun imagining their way through these scenarios and pretending that they are spies involved in nefarious plots.
You will also be able to learn about the secrets that shaped the nation in one of the exhibit halls. This is a fun place for kids to spend at least part of a day and they will be raving about this experience for months after you are back home.
The National Gallery of Art
Arguably one of the best museums in Washington DC, this is a great place to visit with your kids. From paintings and photography to art history, the National Gallery has something for everyone to see and enjoy. This is also one of the top free things to do in Washington DC with kids.
In the same vein, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a fascinating experience. You will be able to spend hours here looking at the exhibits and learning about African American history with your family. This is a memorable place to add to your list of things to do as a family while you are visiting the capital.
Visit Space Shuttle Discovery
Part of the Smithsonian collection, a visit to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center a little outside the DC core is well worth it. Gaze upon the amazing piece of space exploration history known as the Space Shuttle Discovery. The Space Shuttle Discovery Theater tells the story of space travel in the United States and your kids will be mesmerized by the shuttle itself. This is a great place for some family photos and for your kids to learn all about this iconic shuttle and all of its many trips into space.
For kids that are really interested in technology and space travel, this is a location that offers them a connection to real space travel that they cannot experience anywhere else.
If you are visiting the capital during the cold part of the year, you can enjoy some ice skating with your kids. There are various locations that offer great skating and you can head to The Wharf Ice Rink on Wharf's Transit Pier or head to Washington Harbor. Washington Harbor is usually the site of the dancing fountains that kids also love, but during the winter it turns into a big skating rink.
You and your kids will have lots of fun skating and taking in the scenery in these amazing locations. As an added bonus, you are not far from excellent food options here as well.
What Are the Best Family Activities in Washington DC?
There is no shortage of fun things for kids to do with or without their parents in Washington DC. Your kids will love the International Spy Museum and the Air and Space Museum is always another big hit. There are many museums and things to see in the city and you might visit the National Mall to show your kids all the amazing memorials to leaders and people who have made major changes to the course of history.
From hiking trails to natural wonders, to US history, there is something in the city for everyone. You can learn about national history, culture, art, and more when you drop into any of the tours that are offered at the educational exhibits. Best of all, many of these exhibits and activities are entirely free, which can save you a lot of money if you are traveling with kids. From the National Air and Space Museum to the Museum of Natural History, there is so much to do and see that you might not get to all of your planned activities during your visit!
Washington DC is a Great Place to Visit With Kids
If you have been wanting to take a memorable vacation with your family that will appeal to your kids, Washington DC is a great place to pick. There is no shortage of amazing things to do and see here and your children will love being able to choose between memorable museum visits and kid-centric activities like the International Spy Museum. You will have just as much fun as your kids at these locations and your visit to Washington DC will stand out in your family memories forever.
Make sure that you always have a plan to keep your bags safe while you see the sights and you will not have to worry about anything as you tour and experience the capital. There is nothing like being able to drop off your bags and head out to the National Air and Space Museum, the botanical garden, or the National Mall without concerns. This is an amazing city to enjoy access to American history and you and your kids will have lots of fun right from the start.