Kid Friendly Things to do in Washington DC

Jody Vandergriff

Planning a family trip to Washington D.C. with your kids? Look no further than this list of kid-friendly things to do in the city. I took my 10-year-old son to DC for a memorable trip in November 2019, and it was both a fun and educational experience for both of us. From incredible museums to the grandeur of the National Mall, there is no shortage of activities to keep children entertained and engaged in learning. Here are our favorite spots from our trip. Reach out to your representative in Congress up to 6 months in advance for free tickets to many of the top sights as well as special access. Book as many popular sites sell out quickly!

Tags: Educational, Family Friendly, History, Kid Friendly, US History

  • Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, United States

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      The Torpedo Factory Art Center is a former munitions factory that has been converted into a vibrant art space with over 80 artist studios and galleries. Kids will love seeing the artists at work and learning about different art forms. And it's FREE!

  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, United States

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      If you're visiting Washington D.C., the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a must-see. This museum is a powerful and emotional tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, and it provides a detailed account of the events leading up to and during this tragic period of history. As you tour the exhibits, you'll see artifacts and personal accounts that help to bring the stories of survivors and victims to life. The museum is both educational and moving, and it serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities that can occur when hate and intolerance are allowed to thrive.

  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, United States

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      Incredible tour if you’re lucky enough to visit while it’s open and are able to score a ticket (pro tip: ask your representative in Congress a couple months in advance, and they can sometimes get you in,). The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is where U.S. paper currency is printed and visitors can take a tour to see the printing process in action. Your kids will be fascinated by the high-tech machines and may even learn a thing or two about the history of U.S. currency. You even purchase sheets of uncut bills from the gift shop.

  • Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria, United States

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    • chiefseeker

      A super fun and educational dining experience in the middle of old town Alexandria, just minutes from George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The decor, the menu, the waiters, everything is preserved from the time when George Washington himself frequented this restaurant.

  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, United States

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      The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is a must-visit spot for families in Washington D.C. This museum is home to an incredible collection of exhibits that showcase the diversity and wonder of the natural world. Kids will love seeing the dinosaur skeletons and the sparkling Hope Diamond, as well as the interactive displays that allow them to touch and explore different specimens. With so much to see and learn, this is a fun and educational experience that your whole family will enjoy.

  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, United States

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      The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is a fascinating destination for visitors of all ages in Washington D.C. This museum tells the story of the United States through an incredible collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays. You'll find everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner to the First Ladies' Inaugural Gowns. Kids will love the hands-on exhibits, including the opportunity to play president in the Oval Office and participate in a virtual reality experience about the Civil Rights Movement. With so much history to explore, this museum is a must-see for any family visiting D.C.

  • Library of Congress in Washington, United States

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      The Library of Congress is a hidden gem in Washington D.C. and a must-visit for book lovers and history buffs. As the largest library in the world, it houses an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, maps, and more. Visitors can take a guided tour of the library's stunning architecture and learn about its fascinating history. If you're a U.S. resident over the age of 16, you can even get your own official Library of Congress card, which grants access to the library's reading rooms and online resources. The card catalog at the Library of Congress is an iconic feature of the library's history, but it is no longer available for public browsing. BUT, if you make friends, you might be lucky enough to get a personal tour of the largest card catalog in the world (like we did). The library has digitized its entire card catalog and made it available online, so visitors can search and browse the catalog from anywhere in the world. However, the library still has a beautiful display of the card catalog drawers in the Thomas Jefferson Building, which you can see as part of a guided tour or by exploring the building on your own.

  • Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, United States

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      The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and plays a critical role in shaping the laws of the country. Visitors can attend a lecture, take a guided tour, and even sit in on oral arguments if the Court is in session. Kids will love learning about the history and importance of the Supreme Court, and parents will appreciate the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about the legal system with their children.

  • International Spy Museum in Washington, United States

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      This museum is dedicated to the world of espionage and features a variety of interactive exhibits that teach visitors about the history and techniques of spying. Kids can try on disguises, crack codes, and navigate through a laser maze.

  • InterContinental the Willard Washington D.C. in Washington, United States

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      The InterContinental the Willard Washington D.C. is a great choice for places to stay with kids in DC - it is a luxurious and historic hotel located in the heart of the city, directly across from the White House. Even if you aren't staying here, it is worth a visit for its historical significance. Originally built in 1818, the hotel has played host to many famous guests over the years, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, the hotel is often referred to as the "Residence of Presidents" because almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce has stayed there. In 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln famously stayed at the hotel on his way to his inauguration, and it was during his stay that he first met with his future Secretary of State, William H. Seward. The hotel was also the location of the Peace Conference of 1861, which attempted to prevent the outbreak of the Civil War. The term "lobbyist" originated from the practice of people gathering in the lobbies of government buildings to try to influence lawmakers. This practice dates back to the early 1800s, when people would wait in the lobbies of the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. to talk to lawmakers. The term became widely used in the late 1800s to describe individuals or organizations that work to influence government policies and decisions on behalf of a particular interest group. Today, the term "lobbyist" is commonly used to describe a person who works to influence lawmakers and government officials in order to shape public policy in favor of their clients.

  • Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria, United States

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  • Old Town in Alexandria, United States

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      Old Town Alexandria was founded in 1749, making it over 270 years old. It was originally a busy port town and played a significant role in the American Revolution. Today, it is a charming and historic area just a short drive outside of Washington D.C. With its cobblestone streets, boutique shops, and delicious restaurants, it's a great place to explore with the whole family. Be sure to visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Gatsby's Tavern, take a stroll along the waterfront, and try some of the famous Alexandria cupcakes.

  • Bike and Roll DC, United States

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      IMO, the very best way to tour the National Mall is by bicycle. You can cover much more ground and it doesn't get more epic than watching the sunset behind the Washington Monument while cruising on 2 wheels. This place is where we rented bikes but there are others around.

  • Lincoln Memorial, United States

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      The Lincoln Memorial is an iconic symbol of American history and a tribute to one of our greatest leaders. Kids will be in awe of the massive statue of Abraham Lincoln and the inspiring words of his speeches etched into the walls. It's best to visit early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds and see the memorial in a more peaceful setting.

  • Washington Monument, United States

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      The iconic monument stands tall at over 555 feet and offers stunning views of the city from the top. Visitors can take an elevator or climb the stairs to the observation deck, which is located 500 feet above the ground.

  • National Archives Museum, United States

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      Of all the DC museums, this is one not to miss. Here you can see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The museum also has many other interesting exhibits and artifacts on display, including the Emancipation Proclamation and the Louisiana Purchase Treaty.

  • National Mall, United States

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      The National Mall is a beautiful and iconic area of Washington D.C. that every family should visit. With its vast green spaces, world-class museums, and stunning monuments, the National Mall offers something for everyone. Renting a bike is the best way to experience the Mall, as it allows you to cover more ground and take in all the sights at your own pace. You can rent a bike from several locations around the Mall or bring your own.

  • United States Capitol in Washington, United States

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      Visitors can tour the Capitol building and see the impressive architecture and artwork, including the famous dome and the Statuary Hall. Tours are free and can be reserved online or through your Member of Congress, but they fill up quickly, so it's recommended to book in advance. Additionally, families can explore the surrounding Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is home to historic sites, charming shops, and delicious restaurants.

  • George Washington's Mount Vernon in Mount Vernon, United States

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      A short Uber ride from DC, this historic estate was once the home of the first President of the United States and offers a fascinating glimpse into life in colonial America. Visitors can explore the mansion, gardens, and farm, as well as the newly opened Museum and Education Center.

  • The White House in Washington, United States

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      Visiting the White House is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many visitors to Washington D.C. The home of the President of the United States, it is an iconic symbol of American democracy and history. While the White House tours are currently suspended, visitors can still request a tour through their Member of Congress up to six months in advance, with tickets issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Alternatively, visitors can admire the White House from outside the gates, taking in the impressive architecture and surrounding gardens.