Washington DC with kids
Spending two weeks in our nation’s capital was a treat and we loved every minute. There is so much history to (re)learn and some incredible sites to see. We struggled to find playgrounds, which hasn’t been an issue in any other city we have visited. But who’s going to Washington DC to play on a playground anyway? 🙂 The best one we found was on P Street – Stead Park. My dad came in town for a day and met us here to play with the girls and have lunch. What a special surprise!
We had an AirBNB with a phenomenal location off 14th Street, and within walking distance to most tourist sites . Our host was very thoughtful and helpful, and even gave the girls little gifts before we left.
The city is full of museums, political buildings, and so much more. Here are our favorites and recommendations for anyone traveling here with kids:
National Mall. This is what we were the most excited about visiting, and where we spent a number of days. This is the area stretching from the White House to the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, with the Washington Monument centered in it all. Many of the Smithsonian Museums surround the mall, making this a top tourist destination. Most days we packed lunches and picnicked somewhere in the shade with a view 🙂 We also found a carousel, which we of course loved. There is so much space to run around, and lots of walking to be done!
Smithsonian Museums. Most Smithsonian Museums are free to enter! We visited the Air & Space, National Archives, and Natural History museums, Botanical Gardens, and the National Zoo, all of which are free. We loved them all and would recommend them to anyone. Parking seemed tricky so I would recommend an Uber/taxi. Some museums offer timed passes, but we never had any issues entering the ones we visited.
The Air & Space museum had lots of things for the kids to touch and even a small plane play in. There was also a jet pilot simulator where you can perform barrels rolls and all sorts of acrobats while pursuing your opponents (This was probably Chris’s favorite thing to do). The National Archives museum holds the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, Magna Carta, and many other documents important to our nation’s development. The Natural History museum is amazing for visitors of any age, where you can see dinosaur fossils, mammals and fish, and learn about ancient civilizations. Also, the one of a kind Hope Diamond is on display here!
Capitol Building & Library of Congress. The Capitol Building has a $600 million visitors center development, and the cost is evident the entire time you’re inside the building. You can book guided tours in advance, or request them from the information desk once inside. Security is pretty strict and food is not allowed, however there is a cafe inside with plenty of options.
If you have time, you can take an underground tunnel to the Library of Congress (this is not the only way to access the LOC, you can also enter from the outside through the main entrance). This library contains a rare book room, the beautifully designed Thomas Jefferson Reading room, and several other book exhibits throughout the year. This may not be the best place to bring small children, but ours were napping so we had the opportunity.
Georgetown University. The Georgetown area of DC is incredibly cute. We didn’t spend much time here, but we will definitely make it point to go back to. There were tons of little restaurants and fun shops. Chris and I would like to stay in this area if we were to return to DC without kids.
We visited the Georgetown University campus, and loved our afternoon here! The old buildings here are beautiful and the lawn was really fun for the girls to play on. There were so many good photo spots!
Mount Vernon. A place to easily spend an entire day! Parking is free and easy, and admission is $20 for adults (cheaper online) and kids 5 and under are free. You can walk through George Washington’s house, visit the slave quarters, and go on a few hikes right by the Potomac River. There is still some farm land here, a few farm animals, and plenty of land for exploring.
National Harbor. We spent an afternoon here and loved the waterfront playground and carousel. The carousel was blasting Disney songs, so the girls (and me!) thought that was really fun! There are some shops and restaurants, and a huge ferris wheel! This outdoor shopping mall wasn’t so unique that it’s a must visit, but if you have time there’s a little something for everyone.
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