Washington, D.C. is, for good reason, a destination for school groups and families alike. The museums in the Smithsonian System are FREE, the monuments are absolutely stunning, and it’s the capital city of the United States! With so much going on in one place, it can be hard to know where to start. This is our TOP TEN favorite places to go with my young daughter (in no particular order), including some old standbys and hopefully some places that are new to you. Enjoy!
I love, love, love this museum so much that I’ve bought a family membership. This is one of the few museums in D.C. which is not in the Smithsonian System, i.e. pay per entry. It’s worth every dollar, two separate children’s areas keep kids of different ages engaged for hours, not to mention their rotating exhibits and on-site cafe.
Getting there: Metro (Judiciary Square red line and Gallery Place yellow and green lines) Paid street parking where available
Cost: $16/adult, $13/children (3-17), students with ID, and Seniors (60+)
#2 – WEBMANS WONDERPLACE – NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY
I visited the National Museum of American History FIVE times before I we jouneyed past the Julie Child’s kitchen exhibit. And only when my daughter was willing to explore beyond this favorite did we realized the original elmo puppet is on display upstairs. I cannot praise Wegman’s Wonderplace highly enough, I wrote a longer review on my blog, here.
Getting there: Metro (Smithsonian Station: blue, orange, and silver lines, Archives-Navy Memorial green and yellow lines)
#3 – imagiNATIONS – NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
ImagiNATIONS has daily story times and crafting sessions, in addition to the many hands-on activities such as; igloo building, kayaking and skateboarding. This exhibit is housed in the American Museum of the American Indian. Aside from being fabulously informative, the museum has an excellent cafe.
Getting there: Metro (Federal Center: blue, orange and silver lines, L’Enfant Plaza: blue, green, orange, silver and yellow lines)
#4 – THE YARDS PARK
Can’t decide between going to a pool, waterfall, or splashpad? Why choose, when you can come to Yards Park and have all three! This is hands down the best summer play date spot amongst locals. Bring your sunscreen, lots of water and cozy up to the pool with a scoop or three from nearby Ice Cream Jubilee.
Getting there: Metro (Navy Yard, green line), paid street parking and paid parking lot on site
#5 – ROCK CREEK PARKWAY
Want to walk from the National Mall to the National Zoo on a path that makes you *mostly* feel like you’re in the middle of the woods? The Rock Creek Parkway is the perfect paved path for, skating, biking, jogging, and dog walking.
Getting there: Entry points at The National Zoo, the Georgetown Waterfront and near the Lincoln Memorial, I suggest visiting their website for tips on getting there
I know I’m not the only one who finds water peaceful. How about being on the water at the National Tidal Basin? Choose between a traditional paddle boat or a swan boat and take a gander at the Jefferson Memorial, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the cherry blossoms if your timing is right.
Getting there: Metro ( Smithsonian: blue, orange and silver lines) parking with parking panda
Cost: $16- $30/hour
#7 – THE NATIONAL ZOO
We visit the National Zoo twice a week. It’s the best! In addition to the exotic animals (giant pandas, lions, tigers, cheetahs and monkeys) the zoo has a splash-pad and two play areas for children, the prairie dog and the pizza garden playgrounds. I’m also completely enamored by the baby sea lion.
Getting there: Metro (Woodley Park, red line) On site lot $22/flat rate
Uh-mazing. I didn’t know that water lilies could be taller than my daughter with leaves the size of dinner plates. This is definitely a lesser known gem of the city, so you can claim some serious street cred with a visit. Wander through the maze of lily ponds, check out the swamp via a series or boardwalk trails and snap some artsy flower photos for your instagram.
Getting there: Free onsite parking, no convenient metro stop
#9 – KALORAMA PARK
Located in Adams Morgan, a cute, laidback neighborhood with great coffee shops and eateries. This park is the perfect place to let your kids rampage while you sip on a mint mojito iced coffee from that aforementioned coffee shop, Philz. Afterwards grab jumbo slice pizza and follow it up with a visit to Pleasant Pops, popsicle shop and you’ll definitely be a hero to your kids.
Getting there: Metro ( Woodley Park, red line) street parking where available
#10 – SCULPTURE GARDEN ICE RINK – NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART
If you visit during the winter, an excellent idea for having the museums all to yourself, you don’t have to miss out entirely on outdoor activities. Wear out the kids with a couple laps around the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink and follow it up with a hot cocoa from the adjoining cafe.
Getting there: Metro (Archives/Navy Memorial, green and yellow lines, Federal Triangle, blue, orange and silver lines)
Cost: prices not announced yet
Tina lives in Washington, D.C. with her toddler, two dogs and husband. She can be found surfing the internet, walking her dogs or exploring the city with her daughter who is affectionately called, Ooey. In addition to writting her own blog she has also contributed pieces to alternative mom website PunkyMoms and urban mom website MommyNearest. Follow along via Instagram @DCwithKids, Facebook DCwithKids, and on her blog DO DC WITH KIDS.