Top Activities to do in Washington DC with Kids

This summer, Twizzlers is sending ten bloggers across the country to visit some great American landmarks as part of their Twizzlers Landmark Summer promotion.  As each blogger completes their leg of the journey, we hope to encourage you to take your own road trips by giving you ideas on how to enjoy these landmark vacations with your own kids. Our first stop is our nation’s capital, Washington DC.

I am a firm believer that every family should visit Washington DC.  I didn’t visit our nation’s capital for the first time until I was 22 years old, and my time there made me realize how more interesting history class would have been if I had made the journey about a decade earlier.  If you are thinking about visiting Washington DC with kids and want to know the top things to see, museums you can’t miss, and hotels that cater to families, look no further.


Lincoln Memorial:

How many historical speeches, rallies, and moments have been captured by film  in front of the Lincoln Memorial?  Why not add your kids making goofy faces for the camera to that list of iconic moments?  Fun and games aside, this is monument honors one of our nation’s greatest presidents and having school aged children complete the Junior Ranger program while at this monument will help them learn about the man, his life, and his presidency.

Washington Monument: There is so much more to the Washington Monument that staring at it across the National Mall.  A ride inside a special elevator to the observation deck at the top of the monument which offers some amazing DC views.  Trekaroo Superoo fernswife warns that “by ten in the morning, most of the tickets are already spoken for, so plan to stop by and reserve your slot early in the morning. Tickets are free, but there is usually a long line waiting ahead of you to get in, so make sure to allot plenty of time to see the memorial.” The monument is another spot for your kids to learn while earning another coveted Junior Ranger badge.

Read about more great DC monuments your family should visit.


National Air and Space Museum: Kids that love airplanes, rockets, or just have dreams of their own moments in the sky will love this free museum. Viewing the Wright Brother’s first plane in the same museum as modern airplanes and rockets definitely puts great perspective on 107 years of flight.  Be sure to stop in the gift shop to check out the freeze dried astronaut food.

National Museum of Natural History: This massive Smithsonian museum houses galleries filled with dinosaurs, mammals, oceania, gemstones (Hope Diamond anyone?), and much, much more.  Its easy to spend all day here, and the summer crowds can be a bit overwhelming, so plan your time here accordingly.

National Museum of American History: Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Oscar the Grouch. Kermit the Frog. Abe Lincoln’s stovepipe hat.  What do all the icons have in common? They all call this museum housing important bits of Americana home.   While some of the pop culture references in the museum may go over the head of some of the younger visitors, little ones will appreciate the hands-on Invention at Play section.

Read reviews of several other great Washington DC museums.


The White House:It is the most famous residence in America and has been home to presidential families since the early 1800s,  so you why take your family to see how where the first family lives? Lines can be long for tours offered to the general public but Trekaroo Superoo, jennstec, offers some great advice- book a congressional visit through your local congressman’s office.

“Be sure to call WELL in advance to get this type of tour. They have limited availability and book quickly. They are free.  When we arrived that morning (one hour early), we saw a ridiculously long line to the White House entrance.  I asked a Park Ranger if this was the line for the Congressional tour. She said no, our entrance was literally AT the entrance.  So we walked past this “public tour” line (which was about 2 hours long) and right into the White House.  This tour is exclusive, so it is appropriate to dress up in your “Sunday best.”

The National Zoo:

This FREE zoo is the most popular DC attraction with Trekaroo members. Over 50 families have shared their zoo tips and experiences, and the majority give it 5 brilliantly orange stars. Strollers are recommend for exploring this 163 acre zoo with young children- you don’t want tots to poop out before you get a chance to see the pandas!  Pack your own water and snacks because refreshments inside the zoo aren’t cheap and be sure to bring some money for parking, its one aspect of the zoo that is not free.


There are several lodging options in DC, but not all are kid friendly. Here are some of Trekaroo family’s picks for top kid-friendly hotels in Washington DC:

Grand Hyatt at Metro Center:  If you are looking for convenience, the Grand Hyatt is your hotel.  The metro stops at the hotel so taking advantage of DC’s great public transportation system is a breeze.  This large hotel (over 800 rooms) also features several restaurants and a service which will deliver baby gear and supplies right to your room, allowing you to travel light.

Hotel Palomar Washington DC: This boutique hotel located in Dupont Circle offers special touches that are sure make your stay memorable.  Prizes out of a treasure chest upon check-in, afternoon popsicles, and milk and cookies delivered to your room are just some of the special touches that go a long way in the eyes of a child. Parents will love the luxury accommodations and multiple suite options which all them some alone time after the kids go to bed.

Read more reviews of kid friendly lodging in Washington DC.

About the author

Sharlene Earnshaw is Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA, with her husband and 10-year-old son and daughter (twins!). She is a self-proclaimed National Park junkie and has the goal of visiting each and every one with her kids. When she isn't traveling to places like Norway, Peru, Disney World, and Hawaii with her family, she enjoys hiking, beach days, obsessively rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, and planning her brood's next trip.
3 Responses
  1. Barbara

    We decided not to take our kids to DC until they were older to understand what was going on, but it looks like there was plenty for them to see.

  2. Andreas

    Every city we travel in, we hit the zoo, big or small we know the kids will love it… Glad to hear yours is free, that would knock one cheap day off while I’m at a conference.

  3. eileen at FamiliesGo!

    These are certainly the most popular and well-covered things to do in DC. We recently took our 5YO there and she got more out of it than you might expect. We found lots of other kid friendly things to do beyond this including a great, innovative playground, farmers markets and a chicken and waffles truck!

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