Wegmans Wonderplace At The Smithsonian National Museum Of American History
- Address: 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20560
Wonderplace was specifically designed for kids under 6 years old, giving them a 1700-square-feet interactive space to roam and learn about history in their own way.
Its like a childrens museum within of a larger museum, making it easy for you and your baby to get a glimpse at one of the Washington, D.C. free museums.
Smithsonian American Indian Museum
Smithsonians American Indian Museums mission is to advance knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures in the United Statespast and present. Its also a great place to take little ones to teach them about native peoples importance in history! Though constantly rotating, the kid-friendly exhibits here are created in partnership with Native leaders, and thus true-to-life. Kids will particularly love The American Indian Museums interactive exhibits! Be sure to visit the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, which is open every day 10 5
Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is located on the D.C. National Mall. It is filled with real planes and different pieces of rockets and spaceships.
The hanging aircrafts are visuals that will leave you looking up during the majority of your visit. Different rooms bring you through the history of flying, from cargo to commercial planes, into space and beyond.
The Air and Space Museum is perfect for families with kids of different ages, as exhibits speak to both teens and toddlers who love to fly.
For even more air and space crafts, head out towards Dulles International Airport to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Air and Space Museum annex where they house the REALLY BIG rockets and airplanes.
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Free Museums In Dc Near The National Mall That Do Not Require Advance Tickets
There are many free museums in Washington DC that are not managed by the Smithsonian. Some of these, like the National Archives and White House Visitor Center, are must-see attractions for families visiting Washington DC. Others like the US Botanic Gardens are a great place to spend some time indoors if the Smithsonian museums are crowded and the weather is rainy, cold, or humid.
The National Archives is one of the most important free attractions for families visiting Washington DC. At the National Archives, families can see the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The National Archives offers many family programs including story times for tots and sleepovers for children 8 years and older.
White House Visitor Center
The White House Visitor Center is located across the street from the White House. It does not require tickets and takes about 20-30 minutes to visit. It is a modern museum. Children will enjoy the touch screen that provides an inside look at some of the rooms that can be seen on the White House tour. This is also the place to pick up booklets for Junior Ranger programs featuring the White House and Presidents Park, the area surrounding the White House.
US Botanic Garden
Library of Congress
National Gallery of Art
Pay Respects At Arlington National Cemetery
A visit to Arlington National Cemetery is at the top of many to-do lists in Washington DC and it can be respectfully done and even keep them interested with kids.
We also have a list of some things to keep in mind when visiting Arlington Cemetery with kids below.
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Rock Creek Park Hikes
- Milkhouse Ford Hike: 1.75-mile loop hike passing a Civil War fort, poets cabin and historic creek crossing.
- Three Mile Rolling Meadow: a paved trail perfect for families with kids in strollers that gives hikers creek and forest views.
- Rapids Bridge Hike: A beautiful 2-mile loop hike that parallels Rock Creek for part of the hike. This is unpaved, so babies should be held in hiking backpacks or baby carriers.
- Meridian Hill Park: Although not connected, this park popular for drum circles, is part of Rock Creek Park and worthy of wander, especially if the cascading waterfalls are active.
The Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium also offers nature walks for families to join.
Visit The National Mall’s Monuments And Memorials
TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain
While visiting iconic landmarks along the National Mall requires a lot of walking, theres plenty of room for kids to move around as you marvel over the historic sites. The monuments and memorials here are so beautiful even the youngest visitors can appreciate these national treasures. Start with the Lincoln Memorial , where there are plenty of stairs to climb and a huge statue to admire.
Older children will be impressed with the history some of the monuments depict. The National World War II Memorial, for instance, has representation from all U.S. states and territories and honors the 16 million service members who served during WWII as well as the more than 400,000 who perished. For those whose grandparents lived during this era, the monument offers an opportunity to reflect and connect their stories with this time in history. Nearby, the tall and iconic Washington Monument makes an impressive backdrop for a family travel photo.
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Have Fun At The Play Work Build Exhibit
Kevin Allen / National Building Museum
Big Bus Tours offers great views of the White House, U.S. Capitol Building, national monuments and memorials, the National Cathedral, and Arlington National Cemetery, among other popular D.C. sites and attractions, from its double-decker buses. Its one of the best sightseeing tours to enjoy with young kids, especially those with short attention spans, since they can take in the sights from the open-air top deck as you ride around townjust remember to wear sunscreen, as the top deck can get quite sunny.
Travelers can also hop on and off at more than 40 spots around the city, while a guide , give you all the details about every site you’re passing. If something interests you, simply hop off and take your time exploring until youre ready to re-board.
Zoolights At The National Zoo
As a cheerful harbinger of the holiday season, its hard to beat ZooLights at DCs famed National Zoo. Barring an exceptionally cold snap and a few specific dates like Christmas, this wonderful display of over 500,000 LED lights is open nightly from November 27 to January 1 . This outing is ideal for just about anyone from couples to families with young children with plenty to see and do like hopping a ride on the National Zoo Choo-Choo. This trackless train takes you to where the big cats are kept for prime views of the light extravaganza. Snow day or not, you can take the plunge down a 150-foot track for some exhilarating tubing. Catch the light show set to music and wind down after a perfect evening on the parks carousel. With animals, light shows, rides and a night under the stars, theres something for the whole family!
A post shared by Smithsonian’s National Zoo on Dec 13, 2018 at 4:09pm PST
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The Family Drive In Theatre
Watch a movie from the comfort of your car at this classic drive-in in Stephens City, Virginia, about 90 minutes from DC.
And if this isn’t enough fun things to do in DC, and its surrounding metro areas, don’t miss our always packed daily events calendar.
An earlier version of this article first published in 2018 with reporting by Christine Mooney.
Tour Prominent Government Buildings
To learn more about American government and the political process, arrange a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. It is best to plan ahead and book a tour online or through your Congressman in advance to avoid long lines. Include a two to three hour block of time in your schedule for a tour of the Capitol. After youve toured the Capitol Building, you can walk to the nearby Supreme Court. You might be able to watch some of the proceedings if court is in session. If you have time after touring the Capitol and the Supreme Court, stop by the National Archives for a look at the US Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence in their original forms.
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Wolf Trap National Park
Wolf Trap Foundation and the National Park Service present more than 100 performances from late June through early August at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods in Vienna, Virginia. Family-friendly performances, including music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater are held at 10 am and 11:15 am, Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Wolf Trap provides year-round concerts for all ages as well as a variety of education programs, artist master classes, special events, and a Holiday Sing-A-Long. The park is in a natural area with marked trails.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
- Address: 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20019
One of Washington, D.C.s National Parks, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens is closed just three days a year.
Trails are short, the longest being a half-mile loop. Benches are available for snack breaks in between your walks and garden viewing. Dogs are allowed, so the whole family can enjoy this outing.
The aquatic gardens are the main draw, filled with water lilies and lotus flowers cultivated since William Shaw bought the land in the 1880s.
Birding is also big in the park, so keep an eye out while you wander.
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Free Performing Arts Performances In Washington Dc For Families
With so many free things to do in Washington DC, it should be no surprise that there are free performances for families as well.
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
The massive Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is always free to walk through. Families can stop to enjoy the view of the Potomac River, see the bust of John F Kennedy, and walk through the Hall of States and Hall of Nations. If you want to see a performance at the Kennedy Center, stop by at 6PM any night for a free performance on the Millennium Stage. Performances range from dance to folk music to theater and everything in between.
The National Theatre Saturday Morning Performances for Children
Those visiting Washington DC with young children might want to consider taking in a performance at The National Theatre. Each Saturday morning free childrens performances for kids ages 4-10 are held in a small gallery on the second floor of the theater. Free tickets are available to reserve on the National Theatre website one week prior to each performance. The National Theatre is located just about one block east of the White House.
Chase Butterflies In A Blooming Garden: River Farm Alexandria Va
Kiddos can hunt for butterflies in the exquisite childrens garden at history-filled River Farm, one of four farms on the Potomac owned by George Washington and home to the American Horticulture Society, which is celebrating 100 years in 2022. Along with a brick manor house, built in the 1750s, the property has trees that date back to the first president. Budding nature lovers can scout the grounds for the 18th-century black walnut tree, a variety that used to dominate the Virginia landscape. Another fun find? Kentucky coffee trees , a species Washington brought from the Ohio River Valley after a surveying trip. Theres also a roll-worthy hill overlooking the Potomac. Free admission.
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+ Fantastic Free Things To Do In Dc With Toddlers
Washington, D.C. is known as a hub of politics and knowledge, as well as museums and historic sites. When visiting the nations capital, you dont have to worry about what to do with younger kids though there are plenty of free things to do in DC with toddlers and babies.
Cover the basics with a trip to the National Zoo and the Washington Monument, but go a little deeper into what you can do with younger kids when you step into the National Portrait Gallery, U.S. Botanic Garden and so many more spots across the city.
The Reach At The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts
- Address: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
Wander over to the REACH at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see installation art exhibits, peruse the holiday market in December and experience live theater.
It was created to break down the walls between art and the audience, and quickly became a popular spot to gather.
Babies and toddlers will love Blue by Joel Shapiro, a huge blue stick figure in mid-kick surrounded by grass near the Video Wall.
Enjoy drinks and snacks at the Victura Park A Pop-up Wine Garden and Café. This wine and beer garden at the River Pavillion is family friendly with picnic & café tables and patio heaters
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Best Museums & Attractions For Kids In Dc
Most of DC’s biggest museums and attractions are geared towards families so it won’t be hard to find a number of things to do with kids in DC.
Many of the sections above cover some of our favorite museums for kids.
- Has multiple exhibits and construction zones for kids
Watch Planes Take Off And Land At Gravelly Point
A trip to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is a must for families visiting DC, and an essential experience while there is a trot down the Asia Trail. Youll be able to pay a visit to giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Be sure to take a peek at their tiny neighbors, the red pandas, too. Your exploration doesnt stop there, though: the Zoo features more than 1,500 animals across 300 different species in total. As you plan your visit, make sure to review the Zoo’s info on entry passes and safety protocols on its website.
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White House Visitors Center
A stop by the White House Visitors Center is a must-do while youre visiting the nations capital. Inside, youll find a replica Oval Office as well as kid-friendly exhibits about the history of the White House and its inhabitants. Dont forget a camera to take pictures of the White House itself located nearby.
Where To Stay In Washington Dc With Kids
This picture does this awesome place no justice. It was so clean, perfectly located and a classic DC row house!
When choosing where to stay in Washington DC with kids or when choosing the best family friendly hotels in Washington DC with kids, youll want to consider a few things. First, can you walk to the attractions? If not, can you easily grab an Uber or taxi? Second, what part of Washington DC are you wanting to explore? The city is broken up, so its a good idea to stay closest to what you want to see most. Finally, which hotel in Washinton DC is family friendly? . Some hotels in the city cater to business people and some offer suites with multiple rooms for the extra space for families.
We normally dont need a hotel since we have family that lives all around the city. However, we have stayed in an amazing 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath renovated row house. It was in a perfect location with a very easy check-in and out. The apartment owner even let us use her street parking pass, so we could park our car near the apartment. The apartment had a laundry and a full kitchen it was absolutely perfect for us.
Click HERE to see the perfect Airbnb for families in Washington DC.
If youre looking for the best family-friendly hotels in Washington DC, you can use the map below to find a hotel in the perfect location and the right price range for your family!
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The Smithsonian’s National Air And Space Museum Washington Dc
Home to the world’s largest collection of aviation and space artifacts, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is a world-renowned institution that provides information encompassing all aspects of human flight. The museum is located in two historic buildings that house a vast collection of items and artifacts relating to the space and aviation industry. It features a range of exhibitions on aviation, planetary science, and space exploration.
The museum is located in the heart of the Smithsonian complex in Washington, DC, and boasts some of the worlds most awe-inspiring icons of flight. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, on the other hand, is situated near the Washington Dulles International Airport and showcases a variety of aircraft and spacecraft, as well as collections of aviation and space artifacts in vast hangars.
Both museums present a variety of educational programs, activities, and performances that reflect the American spirit and enthusiasm for the science and technology of flight.
Independence Ave, 6th St. NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-633-2214
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Play Outside On The National Malltidal Basin Paddle Boats
Rent paddle boats on the Tidal Basin to get a unique perspective of the Jefferson, Dr. King, and FDR Memorials.
There is a fee to rent the boats and they only operate in good weather.
The Tidal Basin Boathouse supplies life vests for individuals over 18 months of age or 25 lbs.
You can find the operating status and current rates here.
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