Things To Do With Kids In Virginia & Dc
Every year, tons of families visit Virginia and surrounding areas and find lots of family fun. Our family friendly activities are great for kids of all ages there are things to do with toddlers in Northern Virginia, tons of kids activities and attractions, but also enough to keep your teenager occupied and interested. Youll find great things to do for the whole family! There are also some great Free Things to Do with kids in the area!
From fun and interactive displays at the kid-friendly educational center at George Washington’s Mount Vernon to the fastest jet in the world at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. Even to outdoor performing arts theaters, built JUST for kids. Northern Virginia has many kids and toddler activities that will have them saying “Best Trip Ever!”
If you are looking for the complete family vacation be sure to check out our family getaway in Northern Virginia itinerary or explore all the best activities for each age group in the search below:
United States National Arboretum
- Address: 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Pop the baby in a baby carrier or stroller to see the National Arboretum gardens in bloom throughout the year.
Springtime brings cherry blossoms and azaleas, while summer shows off its fields of flowers and shade-providing trees, and autumn brings brilliant colors and fields of yellow to the landscape.
The Washington Childrens Garden inside the National Arboretum near Fern Valley along Crabtree Road connects kids to the food they eat. Family events get kids hands in the dirt, learning about food cycles, as well as why pollinators are so important when your kids wander through the butterfly garden.
While there is a fence around the garden, that is not to keep you out, just the deer from sneaking a snack out of the garden.
The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
This powerful 30-foot granite statue, the capital citys newest major memorial, was dedicated in 2011 to pay tribute to the African American Civil Rights leader. The unusual design, the result of a competition, is based on a line from Kings I Have a Dream speech, With this faith, we will be able to hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope. The memorial depicts Dr. King as the stone of hope and the two massive separated pieces of granite behind him as the mountain of despair. Excerpts from his writing are engraved on the surrounding walls.
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Mt Rainier Railroad And Logging Museum
Formerly known as the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, the Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum is a historic railroad located in the charming town of Elbe. Visitors can hop aboard a heritage steam train, which chugs through the forest to another small town called Mineral, where there’s a fascinating logging museum with a collection of historic logging locomotives. The railroad also operates several special holiday trains, including a Charlie Brown-themed ride to the pumpkin patch during the Halloween season and a festive Polar Express train ride during the Christmas season. Discounted tickets are offered for kids between the ages of 3 and 11.
54124 Mountain Hwy E, Elbe, WA 98330, Phone: 360-492-5391
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C & O Canal National Historic Park Georgetown
- Address: 1057 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007
The C& O Canal is 184.5 Miles long with a portion in Georgetown, D.C.
Restoration of Locks 3 and 4, along with a new boat for canal rides is in the works.
Work on the locks, towpath, plazas and street crossings are also planned, but for now, you can walk along the towpath and across the bridges in Georgetown.
Its a great place to get the baby to sleep in your baby carrier before you pop into one of the many coffee shops and restaurants in Georgetown.
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Experiencing Monuments & Memorials With Toddlers In Washington Dc
Visitors young and old are bound to pick up a bit of patriotism and respect for the countrys veterans while visiting DC. The Washington Monument is surrounded by American flags. In the summer time, vendors sell red, white, and blue popsicles nearby.
When my children were preschoolers, my four-year-old used to shout, Thats our flag! every time we drove by a memorial or monument flying the stars and stripes.
Then, my five-year-old sang the refrain, Youre a Grand Old Flag, over and over again. Toddlers can be kept busy simply by counting the American flags around the monuments in Washington DC.
Walking around the National Mall, my preschoolers used to love spotting the American flags. They also enjoyed tracing the engravings on some memorials with their finger.
When visiting the , my kids found the engraving of the name of Martin Luther King Jr. right at their height. They traced his name with their pointer finger over and over again.
Smell The Flowers At The Enid A Haupt Garden Behind The Smithsonian
The Enid A. Haupt Gardens is one of my favorite gardens in DC because it seems like there is always something blooming! March brings the famous Magnolias, April for beautiful Cherry Blossoms, May with Tulips and Roses in the summer. It is a smaller 4 acre plot but a great spot in DC with babies because of the cool shade in the summer and bright colors year round!
Open dawn to dusk.
Unfortunately, there are no restrooms open at the Gardens right now. There is a chance the Arts and Industries Building next door will have restrooms when it opens in the Fall. Your best bet would be to cross the National Mall and walk 0.4 miles to the Pavilion Cafe of the Sculpture Garden
Weve found parking more than once right in front on Independence Ave. on a weekday between the closures of 7:30-9:30 AM and 4-6:30 PM. Weekends can be tougher on popular bloom days but check the LEnfant Plaza parking garage.
Nursing/Feeding Area: So many quiet corners in the Moon Garden or Fountain Garden with benches galore!
Stroller or Baby Carrier? All paths are paved and stroller friendly.
Good for multiple kids? Great for multiple kids because lots of explore but not a ton of room to roam.
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Bremerton Bug And Reptile Museum
If your kids have a natural interest in bugs or reptiles, the Bremerton Bug and Reptile Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. There are plenty of live creepy crawlies to see, including tarantulas, pythons, and an eight-foot ant farm, and kids can even peer through glasses that show what bug vision is like. The exhibits are interesting enough to keep kids entertained on their own, but the museum also offers scavenger hunts designed to help kids find the most interesting things in the exhibits. The museum is open every day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and there is no admission fee.
1118 Charleston Beach Rd W, Bremerton, WA 98312, Phone: 360-373-7691
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
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Landmarks E Street Cinema
As far as night time diversions go, some things just never go out of style. Heading out to your local movieplex for some choice escapism for a couple of hours is definitely one of those things. When in DC, the preferred destination for such an outing is the E Street Cinema. Widely regarded as the best movie theater in the city, the genres and films screened here range from classic and first-run to documentaries and independent films. You wont have to worry about finding a parking space or feeding the meter while youre inside either as the theater will validate the parking on premises so long as it does not exceed a three-hour period. Going to the movies with the fam is always a special time particularly in a theater that makes you feel at home. Can you smell the popcorn popping yet?
Plan Ahead For Congressional Visits And White House Tours
- For the chance to visit a Congressional Gallery when in session, or to tour the White House, contact your Senator or House Rep well in advance of your trip. White House sign-ups begin three months ahead. When planning your days, remember to allow sufficient time for security checks at these buildings.
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Picnic On The National Mall
On nice warm days, the National Mall, which runs along the Lincoln Memorial, past the Washington Monument and up to the U.S. Capitol, acts as the perfect picnic spot with plenty of room to spread a picnic blanket, fly a kite and play soccer.
The Mall is lined with the beautiful Smithsonian Institution, manicured green grass and monuments on both sides, a perfect back drop for photos or a game of frisbee too.
Take A Short Hike Along The Potomac River With Preschoolers
If you have a car and want to mix up the museums with some more natural scenery, check out one of the many trails along the Potomac River.
My two favorites are the trail at Scotts Run Nature Preserve, just over the border in Virginia, and the Billy Goat B Trail just outside of Carderock, Maryland. Both trails are best for ages four and up, and are located within a half-hour drive of the city. My family has hiked the Billy Goat C Trail with a toddler if youre looking for something appropriate for two or three-year-olds.
If you dont have time or energy for a hike, but still want to head out of the city to get some fresh air, Brookside Gardens and nearby Brookside Nature Center, both in Wheaton Regional Park, offer a nice place to get outdoors in Maryland.
Visiting DC with toddlers on a hot summer day? Let the tots splash in a fountain. Check out Georgetown Waterfront Park or one of our other favorite Fountains and Splash Parks in Washington DC for Families.
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The Yards Park At The Capital Riverfront
- Address: 355 Water Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
Dancing fountains and a huge wading pool for the kids, which includes a waterfall you can walk behind, are what makes this one of the top places for babies and toddlers in Washington, D.C.
There is plenty of grass to spread out on for a picnic, or you can grab a chair at the few tables in the shade under the bridge at the end of the wading pool.
Pack a picnic or grab lunch at one of the many restaurants nearby. Just make sure you grab ice cream at Ice Cream Jubilee before you go home.
In winter, Light Yards takes over, which is fun for babies and toddlers to check out. This annual installation art exhibit centered around the winter holiday, brings a little light to those dark winter days.
Hot chocolate at Ice Cream Jubilee is close at hand to keep you warm too.
Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History & Culture
The National Museum of African American History & Culture is the newest addition to Smithsonians lineup. Its exhibitions tell the history of African Americans, from hardships in slavery to current culture and political issues. Its a beautifully-curated museum, and definitely worth the visit for anyone interested in whats on display. Here, families can literally walk through centuries of history, starting from the basement level up. Plan your visit beforehand to ensure a spot, though! Free, timed-entry passes are required for weekends, which are available on their website.
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Things To Do In Clifton Virginia With Kids
If you’re looking for a casual fall adventure for your family but dont want to drive a long way, head to the nearby town of Clifton, Virginia. This historic town, which has been around since the 1700s, is charming, picturesque, and small, with a population of less than 300. And there are plenty of things to do in CIifton, Virginia with kids, from delicious food to scenic hikes.
Read on for our list of nine things to do in Clifton, Virginia with kids. And if you’re looking for more fall family outings, check out our list of fall day trips near Washington, DC, our fall fun guide, and our Halloween events and activities guide. Enjoy!
Explore For Hours At Wheaton Regional Park
Wheaton Regional Park is a destination location in central Montgomery County! It is insta-famous for its Adventure Playground for bigger kids but it has a ton to offer for babies as well. The park includes 11 miles of trails and you can walk from the park to Brookside Gardens. There is also a beautiful 5-acre Pine Lake and dog park and riding stables, if your baby like to look at animals!
Restroom near the Adventure Playground is under construction March 2021. There is another restroom further south which you can see on their website but be advised I read it was not as clean. We used one of our 3 fav car pottys here from Amazon.
Park on Shorefield Road as there are multiple parking lots.
Nursing/Feeding Area: Lots of park benches and picnic pavilions.
Stroller or Baby Carrier? Very stroller friendly!
Good for multiple kids? Yes! The adventure playground is epic
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Things To Do At Night
In this section, we will provide several different ideas for things to do at night with kids in DC. If you’re not tuckered out by night, there are lots of ways to still explore the city after sunset. Many of the free events listed above are great fun for kids.
For a comprehensive list of things to do at night, visit our main post.
Old Town Alexandria Virginia
Old Town Alexandria is a great family-friendly attraction. This historic village is packed with tons of things to do with kids, but with a whole lot less tourists than DC. Our family had a great time taking the town scavenger hunt for kids. It hit most of the kid-friendly attractions in Old Town Alexandria, so no one got bored. We also loved climbing all over the huge anchors in the waterfront park.
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Play At The Botanic Garden
The whole family will enjoy the U.S. Botanic Garden which offers a scavenger hunt where older kids head off to identify plants and get their passports stamped. Little ones will enjoy the Childrens Garden where they can play in the playhouse, pump water, go digging, and water the plants.
The National Garden includes a First Ladies’ water garden, an extensive rose garden, a butterfly garden, and a display of a variety of regional trees, shrubs, and perennials.
Free Things To Do With Kids
In this section, we will provide several different ideas for free things to do in DC. These are in addition to the several items listed above that cost nothing.
Of course, one of the best ways to save money in DC is to get a discount pass. If you want to learn more about everything included with these services, make sure to check our section covering family-friendly things you can do with a tourist pass.
For more attractions and locations that are completely free, read our post about free things to do in DC.
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Hand Cut Portraits By Master Silhouette Artist Karl Johnson Reserve Your Spot
Just in time for the holiday season, master Silhouette Artist Karl Johnson will be creating hand cut silhouette portraits just for KidFriendly DC readers! The event will take place virtually on Friday, November 12, and Saturday, November 13. Each session takes about 10 minutes, and all ages are welcome, even the squirmiest ones!
and be sure to reserve a time slot for each child . Silhouettes are $35, and duplicates and frames are also available. Portraits will be shipped for free in time for the holidays, but they make for wonderful gifts for all kinds of occasions. This event sold out quickly when we hosted it in the spring, so snag your spots soon!
Where: Splash In ECO Car Wash | Clinton, MDWhen: Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 6-10pmAdmission: $29Scarea 51 is a Prince Georges County first! Haunted car washes are a trend coming out of the pandemic and are created to provide car owners and their families with a socially distanced haunted house experience all while getting their car scary clean. Splash Ins custom-designed experience of surprising and startling moments is sure to deliver an evening of family-fun and spooky scares. Splash In is located at 7509 Old Branch Avenue in Clinton, MD.
When: Throughout the weekendAdmission: Varies by activityFarm festivals may be the go-to autumn outing, but there are lots of other fantastic ways to enjoy the season around the area. This KFDC post lists 10 great places to for fall adventures.