Washington with kids: 12 family activities!
You can have a great day in Washington with kids, and with a little creativity, a weekend should do as well. There are some fun kids’ activities in this political city, but it’s not like you can have a whole week of family fun here. Many families go to Washington when traveling in the eastern United States and/or visiting New York City. We list the best activities in Washington with kids in this blog.
Table of contents
Washington with kids #1: the white house
When you think of the city of Washington, most people immediately think of the world-famous White House. In fact, the official residence of the most powerful man in the world is located in the city of Washington. Of course, it’s fun to at least stop by the White House and take a picture. Of course, it is not possible to visit the White House and you will find that the security measures around the White House are quite strict.
You can take a great walk through the park with your kids and stop at some of the city’s famous attractions along the way. For example, in the park you have the Washington Monument which was built by America’s first president (George Washington) and is the tallest obelisk ever built.
You will additionally pass by the World War two Memorial which looks impressive. In addition, the Lincoln Memorial is located in this park as well as the famous United States Capitol, home to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Near this Capitol is also the famous Union Square square. In short, many famous buildings that you’ve seen on TV at one time or another, and it’s especially fun during the summer months to take a walk around here and take in these sights.
Washington with kids: family-friendly museums
You can also visit a number of family-friendly museums in Washington with kids. We briefly list the best museums below.
#2 National Museum of National History: this museum is located in the same park where you can take your tour around all the sights around the White House. A great advantage of this museum is that admission is free, so you can also go in with your kids without little risk. The museum has three floors and several interesting collections for kids. For example, they have many stuffed animals, dinosaurs, gems and also all kinds of things from ancient Egypt.
The museum is in a beautiful building and, especially on a hot day, it is also nice to cool off in the building. The museum also has a butterfly garden and you do pay a fee for that.
#3 National Air & Space museum: opposite the National Museum of National History is this museum, so these two museums are great to combine. The museum focuses on the history of aviation and space travel, and again, admission is free. You do pay extra for the movie or if you want to go into a simulator, for example.
The museum is very interactive for kids and the museum also has a planetarium. The museum also has real rockets and airplanes for you to view. As with the National Museum, there is little risk (because it is free to visit) in just walking in with your kids.
#4 National Children Museum: This museum is also very close to the other two museums and you can walk to this one in just over five minutes. This museum is for young kids and here the main focus is on play and discovery. So it also looks very different from the regular museums and you also just have climbing equipment here, where the kids can climb and scramble.
Washington with kids: family-friendly parks
You can also go to a number of family-friendly parks in Washington with kids in the city. We list the best parks below.
#5 United States Botanic Garden: these botanical gardens are also located in the area of the various museums and the Capitol, so you have a lot of attractions all together in a small area. This garden is also free to visit and you have both an indoor and outdoor garden here. In addition, you also have a butterfly garden here that you can visit.
#6 The Yards Park: if you are visiting the city of Washington on a hot day with your kids, this park is ideal for cooling off. From the Capitol you walk to this park in about half an hour and in the park you have a large fountain where kids cool off in the summer months. You have great views of the river and there are several options in and around the park to grab a bite to eat and a drink. There is also a supermarket near the park, making it easy to picnic in the park with the family as well.
#7 Georgetown Waterfront Park: this park is another place where they have a fountain with sprinklers and where kids can cool off on a hot day. This park is also on the river, only it is a little further from downtown than The Yards Park. By public transportation, you can get there in just over half an hour. As with The Yards Park, it’s smart to bring swimwear for the kids when you visit this park.
Washington with kids: exploring the city
The public transportation system in Washington is one of the best in the world and you can move around the city very easily by subway and streetcar. Still, there are other means of transportation you can use to explore the city of Washington with kids. We name two of them below.
#8 Hop on Hop off buses: you can see the city of Washington with the family on these famous double-decker buses with open roofs. In total, the buses run two different routes: a blue route and a red route. The blue route (American Heroes Shuttle) runs a half-hour round trip and stops at two different spots, and on the red route the buses stop at ten different points. Over this red route, buses run for an hour and a half. You can hop on and off as many times as you like during the bus tour, and it’s a way to see a lot of the city quickly.
#9 Baja Bikes: it is also possible to see the city of Washington with kids by bike. The Dutch company Baja Bikes organizes three-hour bike tours led by an English-speaking guide along various sights in the city. You can also rent children’s bikes and carts behind the bike for this organized tour, so even small kids can join this tour.
Washington with kids: other activities
In addition to the activities described above, there are a number of activities you can do with kids in Washington. We mention them briefly below.
#10 Washington Zoo: You can also take the family to the zoo in Washington. It is not a super large zoo, but they do have some great animals that you can admire such as the lion, elephant, tiger and various monkeys, but the highlight of this zoo is still the panda bears that you can admire here. Big plus of this zoo is that you can visit the zoo for free. So that really is a great budget activity with the family!
#11 Old Post Office Tower: if you want to have a nice view of the city of Washington then a visit to this tower is a must. A visit to this tower is also free and you have a 360-degree view of the city at the top of the tower.
#12 Beauvois Outdoor Playground: this is quite a playground in the city, where kids can have a great time. By car you can get to this playground from downtown in just over ten minutes, and by public transportation it takes about half an hour.
Where to stay in Washington with kids?
You can stay in Washington with kids just fine. You have plenty of family-friendly accommodations where you can stay with kids. Washington is a big city and you obviously want to be right in the center of town with your hotel. Therefore, we have listed the best family-friendly hotels located in the middle of the city in different price ranges. Click on the blue link for more information about the respective hotel.
Budget hotel: Cambria Hotel Washington, D.C. Convention Center
Mid-range hotel: Washington Plaza Hotel
Luxury hotel: Hotel Madera