If you’re planning a weekend getaway with kids then Washington DC should be high on your bucket list. Home to some of the best museums in the country, historical parks and monuments and of course it’s a great place to teach kids about the political past of the United States. It becomes something else in Fall, the auburn colors are breathtaking, there are plenty of indoor activities if it’s wet and there are always loads of seasonal activities like pumpkin or apple picking to take part in. Here are my five favorite things to do in Washington DC this Fall with kids.
1. See All The Smithsonian Museums
With so many to choose from, you could easily spend your whole weekend museum hopping. The good news is that most of them are within walking distance to each other and they’re all absolutely free to visit. If you only have a couple of days, I would tick of the top few.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Home to so many recognizable exhibits and characters, this is where you’ll find the Hope Diamond, an awesome dinosaur exhibit (what kids don’t like dinosaurs?!), the popular Dum Dum (an Easter Island Head made famous by the Night at the Museum movies), and of course Henry the elephant, the first thing you’ll see when you arrive. The museum has lots of hands-on and interactive exhibits and staff members are happy to answer any questions you or the kids may have.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space.
This Museum blew me away, I didn’t expect my daughter to find it so interesting but she threw herself into the interactive science experiments and Space exhibits. You will not want to miss the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia and an actual piece of moon rock. If you can spare the time, try to attend one of the child friendly physics lectures, your kids will learn more in half an hour than a whole week of science lessons at school.
Hirshhorn Modern Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden
I love this gallery, whilst probably not top of your list when visiting Washington with kids, it’s a great place to tone the excitement down a little and soak in some modern culture. The exhibits are colorful enough to keep most kids engaged and the Belief and Doubt installation by Barbara Kruger is worth it for the inspirational quotes alone.
2. The Washington DC’s Monuments
The National Mall is probably one of the best places to photograph the gorgeous Autumnal Colors of the city and is also home to some of the most important monuments in the Country. At one end you’ll find the instantly recognizable Washington Monument standing majestically over the reflecting pool, at the other is the humbling Lincoln Memorial, a fantastic place to teach kids about American History but also respect and kindness in general. It’s Americas most visited National Park for a good reason.
3. White House
Beautiful just to see from the outdoors but if you plan ahead you can take an organized tour of the White House, home to many political scandals and successes and somewhere all kids will find fascinating.
In order to secure your slot, you’ll need to contact your Member of Congress at least 21 days before your visit. If you’re not from the US, you’ll need to contact your embassy in Washington DC.
From the end of November, you’ll also be able to visit the National Christmas tree, there’s nothing better to get you in a festive mood.
4. Take a trip to Georgetown.
My favorite family-friendly district in Washington DC is Georgetown and the Washington Harbour right on the waterfront of the Potomac River.
From mid-November the dancing fountains are transformed into the biggest ice rink in DC with twinkling snowflake lights and regular skating lessons and cartoon Sundays for kids. There are also plenty of restaurants in the area for when your energy levels take a dip.
5. National Zoo
Finally, something all kids are bound to love (and another FREE activity to keep the parents happy) is a visit to see the animals at the Smithsonian Zoo. It’s slightly out of the city center but easy to get to by train, UBER or car.
In addition to a mind-blowing array of native and foreign creatures, think pandas, elephants and big cats, the Zoo holds loads of family friendly events such as Boo at the Zoo for Halloween, Zoolights from the end of November and sleepover nights for the brave amongst you.
Where to stay in Washington DC with kids
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, I highly recommend the Watergate Hotel, not only is it full of intrigue and gossip, something the kids will love, it manages to look stunning with a real sense of humor.
There’s a gorgeous pool, to wind down after a long day of exploring and it’s within walking distance to Foggy Bottom metro station, making it the perfect home from which to explore Washington DC with kids.
Contributing Writer: Karen Quinn
Karen is a family travel blogger and shares her stories over at Are We There Yet Kids
about adventuring around the world with her seven year old daughter Piper. They love finding great value activities, places to stay and family-friendly restaurants all over the world and are always happiest either on or planning their next vacation.
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