What Should You Know About Planning a Family-Friendly Trip to D.C.?

Photo by Nick Moore on Unsplash

The nation’s capital is a fantastic place to consider for your next family trip.

The biggest problem is there’s so much to do that it can be tough to narrow it all down and decide what will be most appealing to your family and your unique interests.

From guided twilight tours of the national monuments to visiting the many museums, the options are nearly limitless.

The following are some things to keep in mind and consider adding to your itinerary during a family trip to Washington, D.C.

Getting Around in the City

You will likely find that it’s fairly easy to do a lot when you’re in D.C. because getting around is simple and efficient, so you won’t have to spend a ton of time going from attraction to attraction.

The metro system is convenient and affordable, and D.C. is fairly compact, particularly the areas you’re most likely going to want to see on a family vacation, so you should be able to walk to a lot of places.

Visiting the National Mall

The National Mall & Memorial Parks is the area of the city people most frequently associated with a visit to D.C.

Some of the sites on the National Mall include:

  • Constitution Gardens
  • Korean War Veteran’s Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • World War II Memorial

Most of the monuments are open every day of the year, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling this unless you’re going to do a guided tour.

If you want a guided tour, there are quite a few different options including hop-on-hop-off bus tours, biking tours, walking tours, and private tours.

If you want to do a self-guided tour, there are apps that can serve as your tour guide, or you could print out guides.

Tours Requiring Tickets

Some of the things that are part of the National Mall may require admission tickets.

For example, if you want to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol, you need to reserve this in advance. The reservation is free, and you can start a guided tour at the Capitol Visitor Center.

If the Court’s not in session, you can do free, self-guided tours of the Supreme Court and there are also trained docents who give lectures throughout the weekdays.

The Smithsonian Museums in D.C.

If you’re taking a family trip to Washington D.C. it’s highly likely museums are on your list of must-dos. The Smithsonian Museums include a wide variety of exhibits.

Admission to all of the Smithsonian museums is free, and there are a total of 19 museums and galleries.

Most of the museums are within walking distance to each other on the National Mall; some are located in other areas of the city.

The museums that are on the National Mall include:

  • Smithsonian Institution Building
  • Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building
  • Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
  • Smithsonian Freer Gallery
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
  • Smithsonian Natural History Museum
  • Smithsonian American History Museum
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The museums that are not on the Mall include the National Zoo at Rock Creek Park, the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, among others.

As far as the museums that might be most interesting to kids, particularly younger kids, top picks include the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History.

If you can get to the museum fairly early, it’s going to make things easier and more enjoyable for you.

Head to Georgetown

While the area around the National Mall tends to be the most tourist-centric, if you have a chance during your family trip, carve out some time for Georgetown, which is a scenic part of the city located on the Potomac River.

There are amazing restaurants, including waterfront dining, shopping, and the kid-friendly Washington Harbor.

You can walk along the canal and look at the amazing homes in the neighborhood.

Finally, a few other things to do on a family trip to D.C. include a visit to The Yards Park, and the Eastern Market, at the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. This neighborhood is also home to the Washington Nationals’ baseball park, and there are water activities available in this area such as kayaking. If you want to see a Nationals game, you take the Navy Yard Metro Station on the green line and you’re there.


About the Author

Henrietta Newman is a self-loving empty-nester into smudging, nature, yoga, fitness, healthy living, hunting, camping, hiking, tech, video games, gadgets, recipes, reviews and more.
With a love for the outdoors and visiting local attractions in and around NW PA and Lake Erie, you never know what you'll find in my nest! Subscribe to A Hen's Nest so you don't miss the fun!


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