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Guide to Washington DC for Families

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The United States capital is filled with history, but Washington, DC does not only offer monuments and museums. Sure, families will love the many interactive museums in this city, but there are also great parks and restaurants to discover. Follow this guide for a fun and memorable stay in Washington.

Good for
  • Family
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

10 Places

6 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Rock Creek Park

Military Museums, Parks, Speciality Museums

Discovery Theater

Theatres

Mount Vernon Trail

Biking Trails

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Natural History Museums

Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market

Gift & Speciality Shops

National Air and Space Museum

Speciality Museums

Newseum

History Museums, Speciality Museums

Founding Farmers

Restaurants

Red Velvet Cupcakery

Restaurants

Himalayan Heritage Restaurant

Restaurants

Ayako E's City Tips

  • Summer in DC can get very hot, and winter is quite cold. Thus, spring and fall tend to be the best times to visit, but you'll find things to enjoy at any time of year.
  • DC Metro is a convenient way to get around most parts of the city. Note that fares differ depending on whether you are traveling at peak or off-peak times.
  • Some of the DC Metro stations, with their modern architectural styles, are interesting sights in themselves, where you can take cool pictures of your family.
  • It is customary to tip 18-20% when dining out.
  • To ride DC Metro, you can load a farecard with money, or order a "SmarTrip" card, which deducts per ride or comes with 1- or 7-day unlimited travel (order in advance of your trip).
  • Admission to the Smithsonian museums is free.
  • Save
    Rock Creek Park
    Military Museums, Parks, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    One of the oldest federal parks, Rock Creek Park has a long history of providing relaxation and beautiful green spaces to DC residents. Although it's not far from the city center, its peaceful trails and picnic spots feel far away from the hustle and bustle. This is a great place to take a family hike or bike ride, and maybe check out some of the park's historic structures along the way. You might rent boats or kayaks at Thompson Boat Center, or even cool your feet in the creek.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park is fairly dog-friendly, and you'll likely see many people walking with their four-legged friends.
    • The planetarium offers free, ranger-led astronomy programs on weekends, plus a special program for the young'uns during the week. Check the national park website for details.
    • Stop at the Nature Center to pick up maps and look around. The kids will enjoy the exhibits about the park's flora and fauna.
    • A few metro stops are somewhat near the park, but the walks may be long for little legs. Biking or driving are likely the easiest ways to reach the park from the city center.
    • The National Zoo, located in Rock Creek Park, is always a kid-pleaser (whatever your age!).
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #66 of 458 things to do in Washington DC
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Green Space in the City 15/12/2017
    • ... one of the best features that DC has to offer ... 07/11/2017
    • Rock Creek Park
    Address:
    3545 Williamsburg Ln NW, Washington, DC 20008
    Washington DC, DC 20015
    Phone:
    +1 202-282-1063
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    06:00 - 19:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Discovery Theater
    Theatres
    Ayako E Says:

    Operated by the Smithsonian Institution, the Discovery Theater puts on fun, educational shows that kids young and old will love. From puppets to musicians to mimes, living history to wacky science, there's sure to be something showing here to delight the whole family.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • No food or drink is allowed in the center, so feed the kids a snake beforehand.
    • The theater is located in the Ripley Center, but some shows take place at other Smithsonian facilities. Be sure to double check your tickets in advance!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #285 of 458 things to do in Washington DC
    • Smithsonian love kids! 28/07/2016
    • Cute show 21/10/2015
    • Discovery Theater
    Address:
    900 Jefferson Dr SW
    Washington DC, DC 20560-0004
    Phone:
    +1 202-357-1500
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Mount Vernon Trail
    Biking Trails
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    Located just across the Potomac from Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial, Mt. Vernon Trail is great for walking and bicycling. The trails are flat for little legs, and you'll enjoy the river views, with the picturesque DC cityscape in the background.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The closest Metro stop is Pentagon. You can also bike across the bridge from the DC side to get to the park.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 107 things to do in Arlington
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Paved trail with excellent views 18/11/2017
    • Beautiful, safe and clean 09/11/2017
    • Mount Vernon Trail
    Address:
    Along Shoreline
    Arlington, VA
    Other:
  • Save
    Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    Natural History Museums
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    With numerous fascinating exhibits — from dinosaurs, to exotic plants, to the famous Hope diamond, the Museum of Natural History will keep kids of all ages engaged.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The museum regularly offers guided hands-on programs for kids and students. Check out the current programs online (some require reservations).
    • Admission is free, but there are fees for the IMAX theater and the Butterfly Pavilion.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 458 things to do in Washington DC
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great Museums 15/12/2017
    • Amazing A must go!! 15/12/2017
    • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    Address:
    10th Street and Constitution Ave
    Washington DC, DC 20560
    Phone:
    +1 202-633-1000
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    Ayako E Says:

    Located right outside the Dupont Circle Metro station, Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market is open every Sunday and features a great array of fresh, seasonal and local harvests. The friendly vendors, staff, and visitors make this market a fun, family-friendly experience.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The market regularly offers special events, such as cooking demonstrations and educational programs. Be sure to check out the events calendar online.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 71 Shopping in Washington DC
    • Fresh Local Food 15/11/2017
    • ... definitely a good market and place to visit ... 05/11/2017
    • Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market
    Address:
    20th St. NW
    between Massachusetts Ave. and Hillyer Pl.
    Washington DC, DC
    Hours:
    Sun
    09:00 - 14:00
    Other:
  • Save
    National Air and Space Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    Home to the Wright brothers' original flyer, Space Shuttle Discovery, and so much more, the Air and Space Museum is a great place to entertain the whole family. Hands-on exhibits, flight simulators, and special kid-focused programming makes it especially good for the small ones in your group.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    Tips
    • The museum offers free 90-minute tours twice daily, a great way to make the most of your visit. Check online for details.
    • For families that are really into aviation and space technology, the Air and Space museum's sister facility, Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, may also be of interest.
    • Admission is free, but you'll need to buy tickets for the IMAX and Planetarium. It is wise to purchase in advance, as these often sell out.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 458 things to do in Washington DC
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A national treasure 17/12/2017
    • Fantastic exhibits 17/12/2017
    • National Air and Space Museum
    Address:
    6th and Independence Ave., SW
    Washington DC, DC 20560
    Phone:
    +1 202-633-2214
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Newseum
    History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    Whether or not there's a future journalist in your clan, the kids will love the Newseum's interactive exhibits, which allow them to forecast weather in front of a green screen or 'be a TV reporter.' The museum also engages visitors in fascinating conversations about the roles of the media and how journalism influences our society.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Newseum has an admission fee (free for children under 6). It's good for two consecutive days, though, so you can get your money's worth!
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 458 things to do in Washington DC
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Give yourself plenty of time! 16/12/2017
    • Very informative 16/12/2017
    • Newseum
    Address:
    555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington DC, DC 20001-2114
    Phone:
    +1 888-639-7386
    Price range:
    USD 25 - USD 25
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Founding Farmers
    Restaurants (American)
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    The menu at Founding Farmers features regionally sourced and sustainably grown ingredients, and the farmhouse decor makes for an atmosphere that's laid-back enough for kids but upscale enough that you'll feel like you're treating yourself too.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Located on Pennsylvania Avenue, the restaurant is a short walk from Foggy Bottom or Farragut West Metro stop.
    • The restaurant also has Maryland and Virginia locations, as well as a sister restaurant, Farmers Fishers Bakers, in Georgetown.
    • When dining with kids, this is probably a better spot for breakfast or lunch, rather than dinner.
    • There is no designated kids' menu, but there are "kid-approved" items on the menu.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #35 of 2,519 restaurants in Washington DC
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Spectacular! 17/12/2017
    • Hits below the belt 17/12/2017
    • Founding Farmers
    Address:
    1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington DC, DC 20006-3607
    Phone:
    +1 202-822-8783
    Price range:
    USD 15 - USD 50
    Hours:
    Sun
    09:00 - 22:00
    Mon
    07:00 - 22:00
    Tue - Thu
    07:00 - 23:00
    Fri
    07:00 - 00:00
    Sat
    09:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Red Velvet Cupcakery
    Restaurants (American)
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    What's a family vacation without a little something sweet? Red Velvet offers all manner of tasty cupcakes, from cookies and cream to peanut butter cup.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The shop offers vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, so even family members with diet restrictions can indulge!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #216 of 2,519 restaurants in Washington DC
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good 06/12/2017
    • Pretty Good 29/10/2017
    • Red Velvet Cupcakery
    Address:
    505 7th St NW
    Washington DC, DC 20004-1601
    Phone:
    +1 202-347-7895
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    08:00 - 23:00
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 - 23:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Himalayan Heritage Restaurant
    Restaurants (Indian, Asian, Nepalese)
    See more photos
    Ayako E Says:

    Located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, Himalayan Heritage Restaurant offers a wide selection of Indian/Nepalese food, including many vegetarian options. You can find familiar Indian flavors like Tandori, Tikka Masala, and Naan bread, or try something a bit different, like the 'Mo Mo' (streamed dumplings) and other Himalayan specialties.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Metro access is not the most convenient; you can walk (10-15 minutes) from Dupont Circle or U Street Metro, or take the bus up 18th St NW.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #917 of 2,519 restaurants in Washington DC
    • Unique flavors and dishes 22/11/2017
    • One of the best Indian food in Washington DC 18/09/2017
    • Himalayan Heritage Restaurant
    Address:
    2305 18th St NW
    Washington DC, DC 20009
    Phone:
    +1 202-483-9300
    Price range:
    USD 15 - USD 30
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    17:00 - 22:00
    Sun - Sat
    11:00 - 15:00
    Fri - Sat
    17:00 - 22:30
    Other:
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