Washington, DC with kids may be the most fun way to explore the Nations capital. Did you know nearly all museums are family friendly and free? Your kids will be transported from hum-drum history lessons, to exciting hands on tours and exhibitions. These eight attractions will capture the attention of even the youngest sightseer.
Washington, DC With Kids: 8 Family Friendly Attractions
Are you planning a trip to Washington, DC? Take a look with me at our favorite family friendly attractions in our Nations Capital.
1. International Spy Museum
This state-of-the-art museum offers a full days worth of spy-related intrigue and family fun. This 14,000 square foot museum is located in L’Enfant Plaza, and close to the METRO stop. In total, 39 countries are featured in the museum, with spies from Asia, Europe and the Middle East all showcased. New exhibits also go into much deeper detail regarding the science, technology and analysis used in spy-craft.
When you begin your adventure through the Spy Museum, make sure to check in to receive your Undercover Mission. You will receive a lanyard, which you can use to scan at a kiosk to begin your solo operation. You will be asked several questions, the answers to which determine your mission, cover identity and expertise. From there, you continue your mission on kiosks throughout the exhibit rooms. Along the way, you will be challenged to analyze clues, keep your cover, find and contact sources, collect intel at dead drop sites and much more.
There is a fee for the Spy Museum, and it is recommended that you purchase tickets in advance, as admission is timed.
2. U.S. Botanic Garden
Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden for a scavenger hunt that sends kids off to identify plants and get their passports stamped. Stop in the Children’s Garden where they can play in the playhouse, pump water, dig with shovels, water plants and on occasion, and even help the staff plant flowers.
Admission to the U.S. Botanic Garden is free.The Conservatory and National Garden are open every day of the year from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM, and the National Garden has extended evening hours staying open until 7 p.m. from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Bartholdi Park is open every day of the year from dawn till dusk.
3. National Air and Space Museum
Always a favorite among kids, the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall offers daily programs involving science and aviation. Kids can make and fly their own paper airplane, look through a real telescope with astronomy experts, take in a show at the Planetarium, climb in an aircraft, watch an IMAX film or ride a simulator. This is truly a full day museum, and the best part is it’s free!
Local Tip: Stay at the Gaylord National Resort, at National Harbor and enjoy Summerfest if you are visiting between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
4. National Museum of American History
This is personally our favorite museum, and we spend hours exploring. The American Presidency, America on the Move and The Price of Freedom are all interactive exhibits. Don’t leave without visiting Spark!Lab, where kids can try their hand at inventing. Wegmans Wonderplace is another kid-friendly exhibit perfect for pre-school age, that includes a kid-sized version of Julia Child’s kitchen and a tugboat that the young ones can captain.
Be sure to ask the Welcome Center about the daily programs, which may include peeking through a stereoscope, using a printing press or handling a cotton gin.
5. White House Visitors Center
The White House Visitor Center has several interactive exhibits. Activities include guessing who ordered from various plates of food on display, watching a film about the presidency and reading letters from children to past presidents. The Visitor Center provides a window into the Executive Mansion and its history as a companion to a White House tour, or as a stand-alone experience for those without a tour. Nearly 100 artifacts are on display, some for the first time, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s desk.
6. National Law Enforcement Museum
The National Law Enforcement Museum is a state-of-the-art facility that memorializes American law enforcement and is home to 20,000-plus objects that tell the story of this country’s law enforcers, including the past, present and future. Visitors can participate in a training simulator and the museum hosts a number of family-friendly programs and tours throughout the year. The museum is open from Sunday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. admission cost varies, check their website for pricing.
The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building is located in Judiciary Square, just blocks from the National Mall and numerous DC landmarks.
7. National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History offers Q?rius, an interactive learning space for tweens and teens allowing them to engage in real-life science experiments. Kids of all ages will be fascinated by daily tarantula feedings or a stroll among live butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion. From dinosaurs, to rock and minerals and sharks kids of every age will love exploring this fascinating museum.
8. National Postal Museum
At the National Postal Museum, kids can create a stamp using their own design, write and mail a postcard, sit in the cab of a postal truck, ride in a stagecoach and sort packages like folks in the mail room. Check out the museum’s kid-friendly itinerary !
In between museum visits, be sure to visit the monuments and memorials including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial. Washington, DC is a fantastic city full of learning and exploration perfect for any age.