The 17 best things to do in Washington DC with kids

Our nation’s capital is about more than just politics. It offers a wide variety of must-sees and must-dos, ranging from world-class museums and renowned restaurants to top notch jazz clubs and beautiful outdoor parks. There are plenty of grownup things to do here, but the best things to in Washington DC with kids are equally plentiful, and fun for parents too.

Among the best things to do in DC, the city’s top attractions do their best to cater to kids too. Visiting the White House, for example, can be fun for kids and might foster a love of history or changing the world. The sheer number of museums in DC means there’s surely one or two that the kids will love, and all offer kid-specific activities.

DC also has plenty of outdoor activities, from waterfront parks to hiking opportunities. Paired with the National Zoo and the Botanical Gardens, you and your little ones can get plenty of fresh air while touring around the city. Whatever you do, you’ll surely deserve a meal at the best restaurants in DC, with or without the kiddos.

RECOMMENDED: Feeling Manhattan-bound instead? Check out our go-to things to do with kids in NYC.

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Things to do in Washington DC with kids

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

1. Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

  • Attractions
  • Zoo and aquariums
  • Woodley Park

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more popular zoo than the famed Washington DC attraction. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is a must-visit whether you’re vacationing in DC for the first time, or making a seasonal pitstop. Not only will your kids gawk at the creatures in the Amazonia, Cheetah Conservation Station and other exhibits, but they’ll love getting involved with daily programs such as kids’ farmkeepers talk and meet and greets with the animals. Perhaps the most esteemed aspect of the zoo is its tireless conservation work.

United States Botanic Garden

2. United States Botanic Garden

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • National Mall

For city dwellers who are searching for an escape from urban life, the United States Botanic Garden is a green oasis that exposes visitors to all sorts of natural wonders. Kiddies will be in their glory with a trip to the Butterfly Garden and enjoy getting their hands dirty with interactive activities in the Children’s Garden. To entice a new generation of botanists, the attraction offers a plethora of resources for youngsters, including a regional garden field journal and a plants and food passport that provides a (figurative) taste of how we consume plants.

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Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

3. Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

  • Museums
  • Art and design

Although contemporary art might seem a bit too advanced for children to appreciate, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden makes the work accessible to its young visitors. From guides for parents that include suggested activities and talking points to interactive Art Carts and storytime, the Hirshhorn is for kids too.
Note: Storytime is temporarily on hold.

Beauvoir Outdoors Playground

4. Beauvoir Outdoors Playground

  • Things to do
  • Playgrounds

What list of things to do with kids is complete without swings and jungle gyms? The Beauvoir Outdoors Playground is certainly one of the most alluring spots little ones will come across in DC. Located on the grounds of National Cathedral Elementary School, the outdoor hotspot is accessible to the public from 6pm–dusk when school or camp is in session. You’ll want to keep your kids’ comfiest sneakers close by, as the playground will keep them busy with rope bridges, wooden jungle gyms, slides and even a zip-line. Who can possibly say no to that?

15 Best Places to Go with Kids in the Washington, D.C. Area

Rachel Cooper is a travel writer who has lived in the Washington, D.C., area for more than 25 years. She is also the author of several books covering the capital and mid-Atlantic regions.

Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist and fact-checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guides, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Forbes.

Milestones of Flight

Whether you live in the ​Washington, D.C. area or are visiting from out of town, the nation’s capital has dozens of family-friendly attractions (and restaurants) to spark everyone’s interests.

Plan ahead and select from a wide range of museums, monuments, historic sites, live entertainment and outdoor recreation including those in nearby towns in the adjacent states of Maryland and Virginia.

National Zoo

Panda at Zoo

One of the most kid-friendly places to visit in Washington, D.C. is the National Zoo where you can see more than 390 different species of animals. The National Zoo is set within the beautiful Rock Creek Park and is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is free.

Favorite animals include giant pandas, elephants, Komodo dragons, lions, giraffes, bears, and orangutans. Daily programs include animal training, feeding demonstrations, and keeper talks. The zoo tends to be most crowded on weekends during the warmer seasons of the year.

Natural History Museum

Main hall in the Natural History Museum

Victoria Chamberlain / TripSavvy

At this favorite Smithsonian museum, kids enjoy examining a wide variety of artifacts including an 80-foot dinosaur skeleton, an enormous prehistoric white shark, and a 45-and-a-half carat jewel a known as the Hope Diamond.

The Discovery Room is a great hands-on display for young children. Feel the skin of a crocodile, examine the jaws and teeth of different animals, or try on clothes from around the globe.

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Spend some time at the insect zoo, see live insects on display and check out the daily tarantula feedings. In 2019, the Hall of Fossils was added as an educational element; a 31,000-square-foot exhibition.

Visit the fascinating Bone Hall which displays many of the prized specimens such as the great apes and swordfish that were housed there when the Smithsonian opened in 1881but with a modern twist—you can use the augmented reality of the Skin & Bones App while viewing the exhibits.

Air and Space Museum

Planes hanging in the main room of the National Air and Space Museum

Victoria Chamberlain / TripSavvy

This Washington, D.C. museum displays the largest collection of air and spacecraft in the world. Visit with the whole family and learn about the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight.

For an additional fee, there are IMAX films, planetarium shows, and simulators you can climb inside to experience the thrill of flight. Children will marvel at the life-size exhibits such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia.

The museum hosts regular Family Days that offer a wide variety of hands-on activities, presentations, and opportunities to meet pilots, astronauts, and scientists. Story times are available for kids ages two- to eight-years-old. Museum staff and volunteers read stories about famous aviators, hot-air balloon flights, trips to Mars, characters visible in the night sky, or creatures that have their own wings.

For an excursion outside of the city, visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Air and Space Museum’s location in Northern Virginia.

Discovery Theater

Discovery Theater

The Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater, located in the Ripley Center on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is a live theater geared towards school-age children. Classic stories and folktales are told through puppet shows, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes.

Special events have included hands-on lego robotics, a rousing hip-hop dance troupe and field trips during the annual summer camp.

Most shows are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The theater accommodates groups as well as families.

15 Best Places to Go with Kids in the Washington, D.C. Area

Rachel Cooper is a travel writer who has lived in the Washington, D.C., area for more than 25 years. She is also the author of several books covering the capital and mid-Atlantic regions.

Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist and fact-checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guides, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Forbes.

Milestones of Flight

Whether you live in the ​Washington, D.C. area or are visiting from out of town, the nation’s capital has dozens of family-friendly attractions (and restaurants) to spark everyone’s interests.

Plan ahead and select from a wide range of museums, monuments, historic sites, live entertainment and outdoor recreation including those in nearby towns in the adjacent states of Maryland and Virginia.

National Zoo

Panda at Zoo

One of the most kid-friendly places to visit in Washington, D.C. is the National Zoo where you can see more than 390 different species of animals. The National Zoo is set within the beautiful Rock Creek Park and is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is free.

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Favorite animals include giant pandas, elephants, Komodo dragons, lions, giraffes, bears, and orangutans. Daily programs include animal training, feeding demonstrations, and keeper talks. The zoo tends to be most crowded on weekends during the warmer seasons of the year.

Natural History Museum

Main hall in the Natural History Museum

Victoria Chamberlain / TripSavvy

At this favorite Smithsonian museum, kids enjoy examining a wide variety of artifacts including an 80-foot dinosaur skeleton, an enormous prehistoric white shark, and a 45-and-a-half carat jewel a known as the Hope Diamond.

The Discovery Room is a great hands-on display for young children. Feel the skin of a crocodile, examine the jaws and teeth of different animals, or try on clothes from around the globe.

Spend some time at the insect zoo, see live insects on display and check out the daily tarantula feedings. In 2019, the Hall of Fossils was added as an educational element; a 31,000-square-foot exhibition.

Visit the fascinating Bone Hall which displays many of the prized specimens such as the great apes and swordfish that were housed there when the Smithsonian opened in 1881but with a modern twist—you can use the augmented reality of the Skin & Bones App while viewing the exhibits.

Air and Space Museum

Planes hanging in the main room of the National Air and Space Museum

Victoria Chamberlain / TripSavvy

This Washington, D.C. museum displays the largest collection of air and spacecraft in the world. Visit with the whole family and learn about the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight.

For an additional fee, there are IMAX films, planetarium shows, and simulators you can climb inside to experience the thrill of flight. Children will marvel at the life-size exhibits such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia.

The museum hosts regular Family Days that offer a wide variety of hands-on activities, presentations, and opportunities to meet pilots, astronauts, and scientists. Story times are available for kids ages two- to eight-years-old. Museum staff and volunteers read stories about famous aviators, hot-air balloon flights, trips to Mars, characters visible in the night sky, or creatures that have their own wings.

For an excursion outside of the city, visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Air and Space Museum’s location in Northern Virginia.

Discovery Theater

Discovery Theater

The Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater, located in the Ripley Center on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is a live theater geared towards school-age children. Classic stories and folktales are told through puppet shows, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes.

Special events have included hands-on lego robotics, a rousing hip-hop dance troupe and field trips during the annual summer camp.

Most shows are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The theater accommodates groups as well as families.

Source https://www.timeout.com/washington-dc/things-to-do/best-things-to-do-in-dc-with-kids

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/with-kids-in-dc-area-1040404#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20kid-friendly%20places%20to%20visit,and%20is%20a%20part%20of%20the%20Smithsonian%20Institution.

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/with-kids-in-dc-area-1040404

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