This week, I invited Kate – a proud momma, wife and teacher to share some of her family’s favorite places in Washington, DC. She’s always traveling, exploring and looking for ways to learn more while spending time outdoors with her kids.
Washington DC is full of fun and sights for families. But, it can be expensive. REALLY expensive. So what’s a family to do to get the most out of their trip when they have kids? First off, take advantage of hotels near the metro system. You can avoid the hassle of driving around and finding (non-existent or free) parking.
I’m especially a huge fan of staying in Arlington. It’s only 10 minutes from Downtown DC, but way friendlier on your wallet.
So you’ve got the hotel, and now you want to experience the most out of DC with your kids.
Luckily, DC is jam packed with free activities and museums that’s both educational and fun for parents too!
Take a look at some of the free things to do in Washington, DC with kids, with a special thanks to the Smithsonian for offering free admission, ALWAYS.
National Air and Space Museum
Probably one of the coolest and fun things to do in DC, the National Air and Space Museum is one of the Smithsonian’s most famous museum.
Here kids will get to see the history of aeronautics and space travel with massive planes, space shuttles and interactive exhibits that will make your child (and you) amazed.
The museum is located right in the National Mall, so finding it isn’t rocket science! (I can be funny sometimes).
National Museum of American History
A visit to the Museum of American History will spark your kid’s interest and imagination of the past.
This museum is also located in the National Mall, and has tons of fun activities that will engage your child to learn about America’s past.
Throughout the museum you’ll find cool exhibits featuring battles, inventions and historical influences that lead to America being the country it is today.
If you have kids between 6-12, then they’ll love the hands on activities at the Draper Spark!Lab. Here they’ll become inventors themselves and engage in experiments, test inventions and explore their creative side.
Smithsonian National Zoo
Do your kids love animals? So do we! The National Zoo is one of a handful of zoos in the United States that’s free.
Located just north of Downtown DC in Woodley Park, the zoo is home to over 1500 animals across 300 different species. The most famous attractions are the three Giant Pandas and the newborn Cheetah cubs (they’re adorable).
For kids who want to pet and cuddle animals, visit the zoo’s Kid’s Farm that encourages children to socialize with farm animals. They’ll learn interesting facts about each animal and play to their hearts content. Plus, who WOULDN’T want to pet an alpaca?
National Museum of the American Indian
A huge favorite amongst families, the National Museum of the American Indian takes us into the culture and history of America’s earliest people. The museum is full of interesting artifacts and shows off the resourcefulness of Native Americans from the past.
Kids will especially enjoy the hands on activities set up at various exhibits, teaching kids basic skills that helped Native Americans persevere in America.
There’s also an imagiNATIONS center. Activities such as weaving baskets, exploring tepees and crafting tools are just some of the fun things your child will get to do.
United States Botanic Garden
If your child loves flowers and nature, then the US Botanic Garden will be an incredible experience. Walk in and explore vastly different environments from tropical jungles to arid deserts.
Feel like an adventurer as you learn about different plant species and how they survive in their environment. There are 14 different ‘gardens’ with their own personal themes to explore.
Visiting DC in the summer months? Lucky! Because the Children’s Garden is open during the summer, and allows your kid to play and learn about plants and gardening. Biggest enemy of this activity? Allergies and clean clothes.
National Museum of Natural History
Yet another free museum thanks to the Smithsonian, kids with a passion for science will have the best time at this museum! The museum is also situated in the National Mall, so it’s easy to get to by metro.
You’ll find plenty of fascinating exhibits about nature, animals and biology here. Plus, every kid will love seeing the dinosaur fossils up close! From the smallest cellular life-form, to the largest mammals, this museum will pique your child’s curiosity of the natural world.
Bonus Fun: the Q?rius jr. Discovery Room is great for young kids who want to do some hands on activities to bring out their inner scientist (parents get to play too).
Library of Congress
Some kids may not like the idea of visiting a library on vacation. But, this isn’t just any library. The Library of Congress is a massive architectural wonder, with tons of family friendly activities that kids will enjoy. Especially kids who love to read (like I was). Free access to the public areas and tours are especially nice.
It’s not just books here either! The museum has an extensive collection of historical music and art ranging from topics such as baseball, adventurers and architecture. Really, a visit here will make your kid appreciate the value of libraries, which is a huge win.