Washington, DC is an awesome destination for families with a diverse choice of beautiful parks and attractions for kids of all ages.
Take a free guided tour of the Library of Congress, and visit the beautiful National Zoological Park. Here are the best things to do in Washington, DC with kids.
1. The Library of Congress
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The Library of Congress is not only the nation's oldest federal cultural institution that serves as the main research resource of Congress, but it is also the largest library in the world. It has over a million books of photographs, maps, and manuscripts in its archives. Fun and enjoyable for the whole family, the Library of Congress offers an array of guided tours, interactive exhibitions, and kiosks to explore.
Enjoy a free guided walking tour of the beautiful building in which the library is housed and learn all about its architecture, art, and history, as well as the work and history of the Library of Congress. The Young Readers Center was designed specifically for young people who love books, and it offers readings groups and story times. More ideas: Day Trips from DC
The Library of Congress
, 101 Independence Ave, SE, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-707-5000
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2. National Children's Museum
© National Children's Museum
The National Children’s Museum is located in downtown Washington, D.C. near the famous National Mall. The museum moved to a brand-new building in late 2019 and expanded the space for many exhibits, and hands-on learning experiences help kids learn sciences, technology, engineering, arts, and math in a fun way. he museum has a modern/futuristic design, and their goal is to provide useful information and to spark creativity within kids for generations to come. The museum is large, and takes at least half a day to explore everything. More ideas: Beaches Near DC
National Children's Museum, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, Phone: (202) 844-2486
3. The National Zoological Park
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Making up part of the famous Smithsonian Institution, which includes 18 museums and galleries and the National Zoo, the National Zoological Park is the world's largest museum and research complex, and it always promises a fantastic day out for the whole family.
Located in Rock Creek Park in the heart of Washington, the zoo covers covers over 160 acres of land and consists of various habitats for more than 2,000 animals, including the well known resident giant pandas, Bao Bao, Tian Tian, and Mei Xiang. The zoo is also home to golden lion tamarins, sloth bears, and Asian elephants, as well as marine animals, reptiles, and amphibians.
The zoo also houses a research, conservation, and education center for endangered species such as the red panda and the river turtle, and it offers an array of educational classes, camps, and programs for children of all ages.
The National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-633-3038
4. The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
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Home to the world's largest collection of aviation and space artifacts, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is a world-renowned institution that provides information encompassing all aspects of human flight. The museum is located in two historic buildings that house a vast collection of items and artifacts relating to the space and aviation industry. It features a range of exhibitions on aviation, planetary science, and space exploration.
The museum is located in the heart of the Smithsonian complex in Washington, DC, and boasts some of the world’s most awe-inspiring icons of flight. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, on the other hand, is situated near the Washington Dulles International Airport and showcases a variety of aircraft and spacecraft, as well as collections of aviation and space artifacts in vast hangars.
Both museums present a variety of educational programs, activities, and performances that reflect the American spirit and enthusiasm for the science and technology of flight. More ideas: Best Weekend Getaways from DC
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Independence Ave, 6th St. NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-633-2214
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5. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial
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Home to one of America’s most influential founding fathers, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial stands as a symbol of liberty, reflection, and inspiration for visitors from around the world. Known as the founding father of America, Thomas Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State for the United States of America. Designed by architect John Russell Pope in a Classic Revival style, the memorial stands directly in line with The White House.
Spectacular cherry blossom trees and a reflective Tidal Basin with dark, tranquil waters surround the memorial. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, and National Park Service Rangers are on hand to provide interpretive programs at certain times of the day and to answer questions.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, 900 Ohio Drive, SW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-426-6841
6. The National Museum of Natural History
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Dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and exploration of the natural world through a world-class range of collections, exhibitions, and educational outreach programs, the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is one of the world’s preeminent museums and one of the top DC attractions.
Located on the National Mall and administered by the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum has an impressive collection of over 126 million specimens, ranging from animals, plants, rocks, and minerals to fossils, meteorites, and cultural artifacts, all of which are displayed in over 350,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum’s new Q?rius is a first-of-its-kind interactive and experimental environment in which visitors can connect science with everyday life through hands-on activities, adventures, and experiments - a must for the kids.
The National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-633-1000
7. International Spy Museum
© International Spy Museum
When you’re traveling with kids (and even when you’re not), the International Spy Museum in Washington DC is undeniably one of the coolest attractions to visit. This one-of-a-kind museum is housed in a 140,000-square-foot glass and steel building and features quirky, as well as cheeky, exhibits. Visitors will begin by receiving a unique spy identity and even their own undercover mission before heading into the museum to check out various exhibits. See a collection of spy tools, learn about the history of spies, and even visit a hands-on exhibit where you can try breaking codes and deciphering spy messages. Not to be missed is a collection of seemingly everyday items with deadly hidden features.
International Spy Museum, 700 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Washington DC 20024, Phone: 202-393-7798
8. District Warf
© District Warf Facebook
District Warf is a mile-long stretch of waterfront in Washington D.C. along the Potomac River, just south of the National Mall. With a long and rich history, it is now ready to come to life again with hip restaurants, fashionable boutiques, residences, and businesses, all enjoying monumental views of the river.
The first phase of District Wharf is already complete and fully thriving. Each area of District Wharf has its own distinct personality, and the mile-long waterfront neighborhood is a delight to explore. There are areas catering to foodies right next door to the city’s best shopping, down the street from a verdant park open for relaxation or exercise. What was once a Native American settlement, then later L’Enfant’s vision of a gateway for the nation’s capital, a military hub, and even a fish market, is now a wonderful destination for residents and visitors.
9. Founding Farmers & Distillers
© Founding Farmers & Distillers
Founding Farmers & Distillers is the most diverse restaurant founded by restaurateurs Dan Simons and Mike Vucurevich, as well as the over forty-seven thousand farmers with the North Dakota Farmers Union. The pair opened Farmers Fishers Bakers and Founding Farmers with a goal of connecting diners closer to the food source. Founding Farmers & Distillers continues that tradition and has shortened the supply chain, increased demand, and gotten family-farmed American products closer to the glass and plate. Founding Farmers & Distillers serves carefully sourced, made-from-scratch, delicious food to both visitors and locals alike in Washington, DC, including a brunch buffet on the weekends.
Founding Farmers & Distillers, 600 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, Phone: 202-464-3001
10. The Washington Monument
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The Washington Monument is a 555-foot marble obelisk that towers over Washington, D.C. It was built in honor of the United States' first president, George Washington and stands today in honor of his greatness. Designed by Robert Mills and completed by Thomas Casey in 1884, the monument is built in the shape of an Egyptian obelisk and was once the tallest structure in the world. Visitors can take guided tours in the monument’s interior.
Once inside, they can enjoy unobstructed panoramic views from the observation deck 500 feet above the ground. Just below the observation deck is a museum, which presents the history of the monument and delineates the events leading up to its construction. Visitors can stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens around the monument and take in its splendor free of charge.
The Washington Monument
, 900 Ohio Drive, SW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-426-6841
11. Ice Cream Jubilee
© Ice Cream Jubilee
Crisp, clean and fresh, with high ceilings and Adirondack chairs on the front patio overlooking the river, the Yard's Park Ice Cream Jubilee shop makes you feelcool even before you taste the ice cream. Everything is made in small batches, of natural ingredients.
Depending on the season, expect mixes such as Mango Habanero, Sweet Potato Pie, Pear and Brandy or Bourbon Caramel. No matter what time of year, Caramel Popcorn is everyone's favorite.There is alcohol involved in many flavors, but fear not - while you will enjoy the flavor, there is not enough alcohol to get you drunk. You can find Ice Cream Jubilee flavors in many grocery stores in Washington DC.
Ice Cream Jubilee, 301 Water St SE, Washington 20003, Phone: 202-863-0727
12. National Geographic Museum
© National Geographic Museum
If you love watching shows on the National Geographic Channel or other similar programs, then you and your family will love a trip to the National Geographic Museum. There is no shortage of interesting and engaging displays to visit here as the museum is constantly welcoming visiting collections from all over the world such as the immersive and cinematic Beyond King Tut exhibition. The museum is also home to a gorgeous permanent collection from National Geographic’s many years of publications. See stunning photos up close, learn about famous artifacts from around the world, or visit interactive learning corners that are perfect for curious young and old minds alike.
National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, Phone: 202-857-7700
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13. The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
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Located on Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D,C., the National Museum of American History is part of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution and offers visitors an informative and educational insight into America’s history. Opened in 1964 and now considered a National Historical Landmark, the Museum features an extensive collection of over three million artifacts, ranging from sheet music written by musical legend Duke Ellington to the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, as well as the favorite item of all - the Star-Spangled Banner Flag, which flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812.
Centrally located in the heart of Washington, DC, the museum is situated within walking distance of a number of other landmarks and monuments, including the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II Memorial. The National Mall is also located nearby.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-789-7000
14. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
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With beautifully manicured gardens and numerous displays that will pull at your heartstrings, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is one of DC’s most popular destinations. It is a must-see attraction in America’s capital and is known for paying homage to its namesake – who was a staunch supporter of national parks himself - President Franklin Roosevelt. Known simply as FRD, Roosevelt was the United States’ 32nd president and is known for leading the country through World War II and the Great Depression. At his memorial, visitors will be able to read 22 of the president’s moving quotes, each of which is engraved onto the memorial’s granite walls. There are also several sculptures to see, admire, and photograph at the memorial by Lawrence Halprin.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, 400 West Basin Drive SW, Washington, D.C. 200024, Phone: 202-426-6841
15. The United States National Arboretum
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Operated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Center, the United States National Arboretum is a garden open to the public. Visitors can admire the various trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants that have been cultivated for educational and scientific purposes. Located in northeast Washington, D.C. just a short walk from the Capitol Building, the arboretum is accessible from entrances on New York Avenue and 24th and R Streets.
Spread over nine miles with a network of roads, paths, and trails, the garden consists of a range of botanical collections and manicured gardens to stroll through and enjoy, either by foot, bicycle, bus, or car. There are plenty of places throughout the park to picnic and take in the beautiful surroundings with the family, and guided tours are offered for groups of 10 or more. The arboretum is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, and admission is free.
The United States National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-245-2726
16. Menomale Pizza Napoletana
© Menomale Pizza Napoletana
Menomale Neapolitan pizzeria will spoil you for all other pizzas. This small, understated place in the Brookland neighborhood of DC makes pizzas the way they should be made according to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana in Naples, Italy. The rules are very strict, and Menomale owners Ettore and Maria Rusciano had to study to be certified as real pizza makers, or pizzaioli in Italian. The rules demand that pizza is baked in a wood-burning hand-made oven that reaches temperatures of up to 900°F.
This is one reason why Menomale pizzas taste so unique and have deliciously charred edges. Another reason for the incredible taste is the ingredients. All are imported from Campania Italian region – 00 flour, San Marzano tomatoes, Fior di latte mozzarella, and extra virgin olive oil. Pizza toppings are fairly simple but of great quality, from hams and sausages to artichokes and arugula. There is a small but good selection of wines by the glass and some interesting house cocktails.
Menomale Pizza Napoletana, 2711 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20018, Phone: 202-248-3946
17. The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
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The famous white dome of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. is one of the world’s most recognizable symbols of the American people and their government. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1874, the complex is not only an architectural achievement in itself, but it also serves as the meeting place of the nation's legislature and houses an outstanding collection of American art.
The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is part of this historic working building and is based underground so as not to detract from the appearance of the Capitol and its beautiful grounds. Guided tours of the Capitol start here, beginning with an exploration of the exhibitions halls and ending with a few memento purchases at the gift shop or a relaxing meal at the restaurant. 202-226-8000, Map
18. Smithsonian American Art Museum
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Home to one of the largest collections of American art in the world, the Smithsonian American Art Museum features an unrivaled collection of artworks, and it highlights America's rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to the present. Housed in a National Historical Landmark building in the heart of Washington's downtown cultural district, the museum’s collection features works from a range of periods, including African American and Latino art, masterpieces from the Gilded Age, and American Impressionist paintings.
The museum also showcases examples of American visual culture, such as photography. Dedicated to facilitating understanding and delight in American art, the museum also offers classroom and video conferencing, gallery talks, Girl Scout programs, and community outreach programs for adults and children.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 750 9th Street, N.W., Suite 3100, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-633-7970
19. Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe
© Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe
The Mitsitam Native Foods Café is a casual eatery located in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian that offers a menu replete with native foods and indigenous cuisine found throughout the Western Hemisphere. The café offers a range of seasonal menus throughout the year that reflect the cuisine and cooking techniques from different regions, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, and Mesoamerica.
Menu favorites include maple and bacon cornbread from Vermont, grilled bison steak from the northwest, and white corn tortillas from Mesoamerica. Mitsitam Native Foods also caters special events and is open from breakfast to late afternoon lunch.
Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, Fourth Street & Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC, Phone: 866-868-7774
20. Ford’s Theatre
Ford’s Theatre is known for many things, but it is most famous for being the site at which President Lincoln was assassinated. It is a place of great tragedy, but also a place in which Abraham Lincoln’s legacy continues to live with offerings like incredible exhibits, live theatrical productions, and engaging learning experiences. The Ford’s Theatre’s Museum is dedicated to Lincoln’s historic presidency with exhibits about the great milestones he accomplished and the conspiracies which would eventually lead to his death by John Wilkes Booth. The theatre often hosts shows about this fateful night from the historic stage itself. Uncover the history behind Lincoln’s last days with galleries like The Fateful Day, An Overnight Vigil, and The Investigation, before exploring virtual exhibits of the Petersen House, and the Aftermath Exhibits.
, 511 10th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20004, Phone: 202-347-4833
21. The Hirshhorn Art Museum and Sculpture Garden
For five exceptional decades, The Hirshhorn Art Museum and Sculpture Garden have given people the opportunity to explore the best of contemporary art and culture from within the heart of D.C.’s National Mall. Art, ideas, and people collide at this museum, which gives many artists a national platform to showcase their craft and chosen mediums. The Hirshhorn Art Museum and Sculpture Garden is one of the country’s most visited art museums thanks to a groundbreaking collection of exhibits, unique events, incredible research, and noteworthy acquisitions. At this museum, visitors can explore over 12,000 pieces of artwork including paintings, sculptures, digital designs, as well as performances by contemporary living artists.
The Hirshhorn Art Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue and 7th Street, Washington D.C. 20560
22. Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center is historic in many ways. Historically it is significant for being a great example of bipartisan support for performing arts thanks to then-President Kenney and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the art community, it is famous for being a vibrant and irreplaceable hub for artists which allows them to explore their innate creativity, increase their sense of wonder, and transform themselves not just as artists but as individuals. The Kennedy Center is also significant for connecting these artists with millions of people who want to experience the best performance arts that the United States has to offer. See performances of popular productions and musicals, or watch performances by the Washington National Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra, and more.
Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW, Washington D.C. 20566, Phone: 202-416-8000
23. Filomena Ristorante
© Filomena Ristorante
Nestled in the historic neighborhood of Georgetown, the Filomena Ristorante is a must-visit for hungry visitors looking for delectable Italian food. The restaurant opened in 1983 along the C&O Canal and is much like visiting grandma’s house thanks to its elaborately decorated interiors, dazzling lights, and many ornaments. When it comes to their cuisine, Filomena is known for its freshly made pasta, which is rolled out daily in the restaurant’s storefront kitchen. Dine amongst dignitaries and even former presidents at this restaurant which offers popular menu items like the Eggplant Lasagna, the Calamari Fritti, and of course, their wide selection of pasta.
, 1063 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20007, Phone: 202-338-8800
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GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar, Washington, D.C.
GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar, or simply GCDC, is the home of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Open for lunch, dinner, and late night libations, GCDC serves a variety of mouthwatering homemade sandwiches, soups, and sides, all of which are freshly made in-house, as well as a full service bar, a popular gathering place in the evenings. Sandwiches are made using freshly baked bread, which is delivered daily, and they are packed with a variety of delicious toppings such as short ribs, chicken, chorizo, or roast beef.
Their meats and other ingredients are sourced from local farmers and producers. The beverage menu features beer from local breweries such as Atlas Brew Works and DC Brau, as well as a range of cocktails and spirits, and the café supports the local community by exhibiting artworks by local artists.
GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar, 1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC, Phone: 202-393-4232