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Washington DC Trip With Kids

Family with toddler in Washington, DC
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We all love traveling for educational trips with our families, especially with homeschooling on the rise. But the question is, where should you travel to and when should you go? Particularly when traveling with your kids. Kid-friendly D.C. is full of culture, history, and education, so of course, the answer is a Washington DC trip with kids. 

When planning a family trip to Washington DC your first thought might be what can I do that’s safe and enjoyable in such a bustling city? Whether you are planning a 3-day or a 5-day Washington DC family itinerary, this travel guide for your next trip will cover what you should do and where you should stay when traveling with kids.  

There is so much to do, and see and some amazing eats as well. The only regret you might have is why didn’t you choose Washington D.C. sooner.

A Chinese proverb says, “don’t listen to what they say; go and see”. This pretty much sums it up! 

Below I will share a list of places in Washington, D.C. that we frequent often with our son. We are just a train ride or a 2-hour car drive away and visit often. The list will be helpful to those wondering what to do in DC with kids.  

You’ll make a lot of memories on a Washington DC trip with kids!

Related: Printable Flags of the World Flash Cards

Washington DC With Toddlers

We’ve been exploring D.C. since our son was itty bitty and each time it becomes an even better adventure than the last. Here are a few options that are perfect toddler activities in D.C.

Smithsonian Zoo

This is one of my favorite zoos in D.C. that I always visit whenever possible. The zoo is always open at 8 am and closes at 4 pm daily. Opening and closing hours are favorable for all. It is free to enter and contains many animals that range up to 300+ species.

However, entry passes are always required for all guests, including infants. To see the whole zoo, you need 2 to 3 hours to see the entire park, although you can stay in the park until closing hours. There is also a kids’ farm exhibit where kids can interact with friendly animals like cows and donkeys. 

For us mamas traveling with kids, it’s always important to know whether a place is stroller friendly. The Smithsonian Zoo is stroller accessible.

For the protection of animals, be aware the zoo does not allow outside pets and balloons since balloons present a choking hazard to the animals. 

National Building Museum

Even if you’ve never been to Washington D.C., you may have heard of the National Building Museum. It’s found at 401 F Street and it’s open daily from 11 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday. The good thing about this museum is that it educates, entertains, and engages all ages of people. Before your visit, take a peek at the current and upcoming exhibitions that are taking place. Currently, for kids, the “PLAY WORK BUILD” exhibit is on display. As the name eludes, it’s centered on play and building, all of which can help with gross and fine motor skills for our little ones.

The entry fee ranges from $7-10. Everything in a toddler’s world is about learning and exploring. They are never too young to visit a museum to learn, connect and socialize with the kids and objects around them. 

National Children’s Museum

The National Children’s Museum will fire up curiosity and prompt children to explore science and technology. Think bright colors, active learning, climbing, jumping, and touching to trigger all of your kiddos’ senses. Everything is so engaging! 

They will have a blast!

You can also book your tickets on the Museum’s website, which purchasing in advance is encouraged. The hours are from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Note the museum is only open Wednesday-Sunday.

The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Visit the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with your toddler. It’s a great area to take your toddler to. To escape their stroller or carrier and run around a bit.

Stop by Georgetown Cupcakes and grab a few and head over to the Reflecting Pool and take it all in while having a sweet treat. I should probably tell you the line is always incredibly long at Georgetown Cupcakes.

Related: Drive-Thru Safari With A Toddler

Mother and toddler at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, DC.

Family Trip To Washington DC On A Budget

The National Museum Of African American History and Culture 

The National Museum Of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is an absolute must-see when in Washington DC with kids. There are 4 levels of rich African American history and culture. It’s actually the only museum that’s dedicated to African American history and culture.

It’s all in one place, under one roof from the history of Black athletes, Civil Rights to the most recent life, experiences, history, and culture.

The museum is now back open seven days a week from 10 am to 5:30 pm. You can visit for free with timed passes. The museum releases passes 30 days in advance starting at 8 am. If you are looking for a same-day pass, they are released starting at 8:15 am.

We did the same-day passes, and it was every bit of a gamble. It was as if I wasn’t hitting the refresh button fast enough. But we got lucky. If you are short on time but want to visit, get your passes well in advance. They go rather quickly.

You can have a nice lunch with your family in the museum.

If you are a teacher, be sure to check out NMAAHC Kids!

Planet Word Museum  

 “Reading is important because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.” — Tomie dePaola

If you have children who have a love for language, reading books and are fascinated by interactive exhibits, you’ll have a great experience at Planet Word.

It’s a new Washington DC attraction for kids and adults alike. The world’s first voice-activated museum.

Your first interaction will be with the Speaking Willow Tree, where you’ll hear hundreds of languages as you pass by.

Interactive exhibit at Planet Word
Interactive exhibit at Planet Word.

The kids and you will have an enjoyable introduction and learn about how we actually learn to speak. When you are done on the third-floor head to the second into the library and find the secret passage, sing karaoke with the kids and on the first floor share your story in the recording booth.

Another great option for a family trip to Washington DC is on a budget because admission is free at this museum too. You can give a suggested $15 dollar donation to support their mission.

Planet Word is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Vaccinated or not, everyone 2 years of age and older must wear a mask.

Little boy singing Karaoke at Planet Word.
Karaoke at Planet Word.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement. You can access the memorial 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No tickets are required, and no fee is charged.

Be sure to check out the Inscription wall. Here you will find 14 quotes from Dr. King’s sermons, speeches, and writings.

Mom in Washington, DC with kids observing the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.

Explore The National Mall

Get lost on the National Mall. There’s even more to see and do. There’s always action centered around Washington, D.C. There are frequent events big and small.

There are also many other museums, memorials, and monuments to explore.

Georgetown- Get lost in Georgetown. Enjoy some good food and cool boutiques to buy a few items to take back with you. Have lunch or dinner at a waterfront restaurant and take in the views of the Potomac River.

One of our favorite places to have Sunday brunch as a family is Farmers Fishers Bakers. It’s great anytime but Sunday brunch, we love!

Have an early dinner with the kids and introduce them to an Ethiopian meal at DAS Ethiopian Restaurant. Our little one loves it because, of course, he can eat with his hands. The food is so delicious.

National Air and Space Museum

On your next trip with kids to Washington DC explore the incredible Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The museum will take you through aviation history, so if your children love planes, this will be the perfect place for them to enjoy. They will even see exhibits of NASA astronauts.

The National Air and Space Museum is free to visit.

Currently, the museum is closed for a complete renovation and all 23 galleries will be completely overhauled once reopened to visitors.

You can still visit the second location, The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Family Vacation Washington DC- Tours For Families

Eating the food in the city you are in helps to tell the story behind the history of that city. When you are on your family vacation in Washington DC take a food tour.

U Street food tour takes you on a culture, history, and art experience. Tasting food from historic restaurants like Ben’s Chilli Bowl, explore some street art and history.

Another good option is the Georgetown Foodie Tour and Neighborhood Walk.

Take a bike tour to view the D.C. monuments and memorials.

You’ll receive:

  • Bike rental.
  • Helmet.
  • Equipment for the kiddos of all ages.

Related: 6 Tips To Survive A Road Trip With A Toddler

Family Vacation Washington DC- Where To Stay

If you’re wondering where to stay on your family vacation in Washington DC, here are a few options for families and some things to consider when picking a hotel when planning a family vacation in Washington DC.

  • Consider whether there are full room service offerings so if you need to, you could have your meals in.  
  • Is breakfast included so you and your family can start the day off with full bellies?
  • Pick a hotel that has grocery stores close by. If you need diapers, snacks, and drinks for the day out or something like a first aid kit, it makes for easy access and less worry.
  • Are there restaurants nearby? What type of accommodations does the hotel offer? Is there a swimming pool for the kids to cap off their night?

A few hotel choices:

How To Get Around/Transportation

The top 3 ways you will see people getting around on a family trip to the Washington DC area are by walking, bike, or by car.

Walking is probably one of the easiest ways to get around and navigate areas like Georgetown and take in the sites on the National Mall.

You will also see lots of people getting around by bike. There are plenty of bike rental options that provide everything you need during your day out.

You can also glide around the city on a two-wheel Segway scooter tour.

Driving around in a car would be the fastest way to get around. Finding a place to park truly may stress you out slightly. LOL.

Taking the metro is another good option. You could use the Rome2Rio app to navigate the metro. It will provide step-by-step directions.

Enjoy this travel guide for a Washington DC trip with kids and I hope you find it helpful. Have fun!

Washington DC trip with kids FAQs

Is Washington DC a good place for a family vacation?

Yes. There is so much at your fingers tips when visiting Washington, D.C. Explore the city or even take a day out of your vacation and head to Maryland. Or Northern Virginia is a hop, skip, and a jump away.

How many days should you visit Washington DC?

A long weekend is great but in less, you are staying for weeks at a time. You truly won’t be able to get to everything during one visit.

Is Washington D.C. a destination worth visiting?

Absolutely! There is so much history in Washington, D.C. to take in. There are a plethora of free museums to see and visit. D.C. also has some great restaurants and entertainment going on. Pick any week on the calendar and you will find lots to get into.

Is the National Mall walkable?

Yes, you can see and do a lot on the National Mall walking.

Travel With Kids

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