The compact U.S. capital punches well above its weight for attractions for families.
The National Air and Space Museum is home to enormous planes, flight simulators and hands-on activities, the Library of Congress is packed with everything from the Wright Brothers’ flight logs to magic books from Harry Houdini’s personal collection. The National Museum of American History has Spark!Lab, a hands on interactive exhibit for kids, while the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is abuzz with everything from insects and dinosaurs to giant diamonds and a Live Coral Reef. And if that’s not already enough museum action for your family, 007 wannabes should head to the International Spy Museum.
There are plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun in the great outdoors too with surrounding National Parks and nature centres offering an insight into the natural habitat of the area. And the Tidal Basin, located in the heart of Washington DC, is the spot for picnics, paddle boating and a visit to the Jefferson Memorial. If you’re seeking bigger thrills, Six Flags theme park boasts 100 rides, shows and the area’s largest water park.
Of course, no trip to Washington DC would be complete without a visit to The White House, and to the National Archives to see the original Declaration of Independence along with interactive exhibits that allow you to touch and explore America’s history. But it’s not only pandemonium of the political variety that can be found in the US capital – head to the National Zoo to meet Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Bao Bao, the zoo’s famous pandas.
There’s no shortage of national treasures to explore in Washington DC.
Get outside to enjoy Washington DC’s pretty parklands and zoo with the kids. The Glen Echo Park near Bethesda is particularly great for little visitors with so much more than just space to explore. Enjoy a puppet show at the Puppet Co. or a children’s theatrical performance at Adventure Theatre along with year-round concerts and the gorgeous Dentzel carousel (that runs from May through September). At Guy Mason Park there’s a fantastic pre-school friendly playground with low structures, an igloo, playhouse and large sandpit. Or just let the kids chase the ducks at Georgetown Waterfront Park or splash in the fountain during summer in this sprawling city park.
And littlies will adore visiting the National Zoo to see the collection of more than 400 different species of animals, including giant pandas, elephants, lions, giraffes, bears and orangutans. And admission is free.
Washington DC, the capital of the United States, has four distinct seasons. The busiest times of the year are generally autumn, from September to Thanksgiving in November, when the cherry blossoms begin to appear. Then again from mid-January to June when Congress is ‘in’ and the hotels fill with guests visiting for business and conferences, which can make it both crowded and expensive.
Summer, especially the months of July and August are typically hot and humid and not the best for exploring the outdoors. However, there are plenty of indoor attractions like museums filled with cool air and the crowds are smaller.
Winter can be unpredictable. The days can be anything from mild to very cold with snow falls and even the occasional ice storm. Autumn is our favourite season as the city trades its green leaves for the brilliant colours of the fall foliage.
Dining with the family does not have to be stressful in Washington DC. While there are a few restaurants that are strictly child-free zones, the majority will welcome a hungry horde.
From full service to fast and casual takeaways or even sugar fix at a doughnut shop, Washington DC has you covered. You will find it easiest to eat either at, or close to all the major attractions where many of the family-friendly restaurants include a kids’ menu and offer entertainment for the kids.
Try Jaleo, in Penn Quarter, for tapas served on a glass-covered foosball table. Comet Ping Pong is awesome for pizzas, amazing deserts and… ping pong. And at Mitsitam Café, located near the Smithsonian, you’ll find a menu inspired by foods from Native American regions. Then there are the popular chains like Hard Rock Café, and Shake Shack for burgers and truly irresistible shakes.
January – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Celebrated on the third Monday in January, enjoy a fabulous performance by the Freedom Choir at the Kennedy Center.
Late March to Mid-April – National Cherry Blossom Festival
This three-week-long festival sees events including a parade of marvelous floats and performers throughout the city.
April – White House Easter Egg Roll
Held on Easter Monday, children of all ages hunt for Easter Eggs on the lawns of the White House.
May – Flower Mart
This blooming family spring event is held at the Washington National Cathedral.
Late June- Early-July The Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Thus festival celebrates cultural traditions from around the world.
July – Independence Day
Join the morning parade on National Mall and a concert before ending the day with the huge fireworks display at the Washington Monument.
September- H Street Festival
This high energy party offers live entertainment, neighbourhood artists and ethnic eateries.
December – National Christmas Tree Lighting
Join in at President’s Park on the grounds of the White House when they flick the switch to light up the National Christmas Tree.
Look beyond New York, New York to find amazing cities across America – there’s something for history buffs, thrill-seekers and nature-lovers.
These wanderlust-inducing photos will make you want to drop everything and visit all 61 US National Parks
A maze, a zoo and an outdoor art gallery – Washington DC lights up in time for Christmas with three glowing family events this holiday season.
Get notified about new articles