Trekaroo’s Star Spangled Guide to Family Fun in our Nation’s Capital

Washington D.C. holds a special place in the hearts and imaginations of both young and old. The city spills over with historical adventures and political fervor. The international nature of the city offers exciting opportunities for discovering new food and fun that your kid’s have never experienced before. Beyond the numerous options for enjoyment, the greatness of this destination is that many of the activities are free! Multiply that by the number of people in your family and it’s now Fabulously Free.

To help you navigate the many choices any visiting family faces in Washington D.C., we’ve compiled a list of hot spots based on what the Trekaroo community’s been saying.

#1 Place to take Kids: Leave the political zoo for some real monkey business at the National Zoo

Credit: Flickr/wwworks
Captivated by pandas. Credit: Flickr/wwworks

Washington D.C.’s most popular attractions among Trekaroo families, the National Zoo is also the best value in the capital with no charge for admission. The zoo is easily accessible by the metro, which will add to the adventure for the kids and avoid expensive parking fees. At the zoo you’ll be captivated by the two most prominent residents: gorillas and pandas. If reptiles are more your child’s animal of choice, then don’t miss the komodo dragons.

Best Museum Prehistoric Imagining at the National Museum of Natural History

While the National Zoo is a great place to get your fill of the animal kingdom, there’s nothing quite like the colossal dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. You don’t have to be an aspiring paleontologist to appreciate the Museum of Natural History. The museum is much more than dinosaur fossils. You just may find your T-rex obsessed five year old finding a new interest in the deep water world found in the new Global Ocean Systems undersea exhibit.

Best View in Town Soar into the DC sky at the Washington Monument

Credit: Flickr/chanchan222
Credit: Flickr/chanchan222

Any visit to the nation’s capital must include a tour through the monuments. Washington D.C.’s most prominent and possibly the most interesting for youngsters is the Washington Monument, which takes you nearly 500 feet in the air for a spectacular view of the city. The lines can be long, so arrive early or purchase tickets in advance for a small fee. While you’re there, don’t forget to walk by the nearby reflecting pond en route to Lincoln’s Memorial.

Best Neighborhood – Take a trip across the river to Old Town Alexandria, VA

One of the most interesting neighborhoods in the D.C. metro area is Old Town Alexandria. With its classic colonial architecture and abundance of unique shops and restaurants, although many of the eateries are on the pricey side. If packing a lunch is an option, sit down for a bite at one of Alexandria’s beautiful parks and enjoy the atmosphere (and the play structures). The history is not just in the edifices; the past 250 years of the area are well documented in museums scattered throughout the town. For a truly local appeal, visit the Saturday Farmer’s Market that take place every week in the morning.

Outdoor Hotspot – For a journey beyond the usual, visit Theodore Roosevelt Island

Theodore Roosevelt Island is a fitting tribute to one of the United States’ most nature-friendly presidents. Sitting in the middle of the Potomac, the island is traversed by 2.5 miles of walking trails. There is a variety of wildlife to see, such as box turtles, squirrels and snakes. The island isn’t filled with historical placards, but in the island’s center is a monument to Teddy Roosevelt. Being off the radar of most Washington D.C. visitors, the island is one of the few monuments without monumental crowds.

A gypsy moth at Rock Creek. Credit: Flickr/cyanocorax
A gypsy moth at Rock Creek. Credit: Flickr/cyanocorax

Hiking Heaven – Rock Creek Park is a gem

Rock Creek ranks among the best of inner city parks. There are all kinds of ways to take in the outdoor air through walking, biking, boating, or even a gallop on the back of a horse. Beyond the natural beauty and fun of Rock Creek Park, there is some human-made activity as well. The Nature Center has an area geared towards kids with many hands-on activities. After discovering the Earthly realm, stop by the planetarium for intriguing exhibits for all levels of star gazers. A great break for kids from the museum route.

Let's Play Ball. Credit: Flickr/fredosan
Let's Play Ball. Credit: Flickr/fredosan

Favorite Sporting Event – A Washington Nationals game

Nothing says USA like Baseball. So why not catch America’s dearest sport in the Nation’s Capital? A Washington Nationals game makes for a fun day at the park, filled with hot dogs and foul balls. Sundays are a special day at the Nationals’ stadium where kids can get player’s signatures and run the bases after the game. They may even get to meet Screech the Eagle, the Nationals’ mascot.

Which Hotels came up at the top?

Top Kid-friendly Hotels in Washington DC – voted by parents

Other Resources for Washington DC:

Stephen Wanta is a contributing writer for Trekaroo – a reviews site dedicated to exploring and traveling with kids.
Travel with kids to: CA | FL | HI | MA | NY | PA | TX | VA
and now IL and WA

About the author

Esther Lee is one of the co-founders of Trekaroo. She is also the mom to a 6 year old boy and 1 year old baby girl.

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