There’s a lot to do in and around the Washington, DC area with kids, almost too much to do. So, if you live in the area, or are planning to play a visit during the winter holidays, take a look at 50 fun and easy things to do with your kids.
1. Be Like Indiana Jones. Head to the National Geographic Museum and catch Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology before the exhibit closes January 3. Check out the review at FamilyTravelsUSA.
2. See Model Trains. Go to the U.S. Botanic Garden for plenty of model trains, as well as local landmarks, like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, made entirely out of plants.
3. Take a Selfie with the Capitol Christmas Tree. After your visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden, stop across the street for a selfie with the Capitol Christmas Tree. This year’s tree hails from Alaska.
4. See the National & State Christmas Trees. Need more Christmas trees? Head to the Ellipse to see the National Christmas Tree, as well as decorated trees for all 50 states.
5. Slide Down an Ice Slide at ICE!. Head to the Gaylord National Resort to slide down ice slides, watch sculptors make ice sculptures and see the story of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town all made from ice.
7. See Star Wars. The holiday break is the perfect time to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the kids. For a memorable movie-going experience, head to the Uptown in DC or the Alamo in Ashburn.
11. Become a Junior Inventor. Head to the National Museum of American History for STEM-based activities in Spark!Lab. The hands-on activities are best for kids ages 6-12.
12. Go to the Top of the Washington Monument. Get free, same-day tickets starting at 8:30 am each day or reserve tickets online (there is a $1.50 per ticket fee to order online).
13. Enjoy Christmas at Mount Vernon. Through January 6, tour the mansion, watch chocolate-making demonstrations and meet Aladdin the Christmas Camel at Mount Vernon.
15. Drive Through a Lights Display. Enjoy a festive drive-through lights display. Check out the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville or the Winter Lights Festival in Gaithersburg.
16. Book a Staycation. Spend a night or two away from home as part of staycation. Cambria Hotels & Suites in Rockville is offering a Regal Winter Package that pairs a stay with movie tickets.
17. Splash at an Indoor Swimming Pool. Get your swimsuits on and head to an indoor pool with a water slide and a lazy river, like the pool at Claude Moore Recreation Center in Sterling.
19. Get Hands-On at the Children’s Science Center. Head to the Children’s Science Center at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax for hands-on science experiments and activities.
20. Visit Hersheypark. Get out of town and head up to Hersheypark for the last days of Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, which runs through January 1. Don’t forget to drive through Hershey Sweet Lights.
21. Go on a Spy Mission. Head to the International Spy Museum and sign up for Operation Spy for an interactive spy mission. Or, try Spy in the City, which takes you on a secret mission outside the museum.
22. Try a First Day Hike. First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative started by America’s State Parks to encourage families to get outdoors. Look for a New Year’s Day First Day Hike near you.
23. See the Giant Pandas. Head to the National Zoo to see giant pandas, Tian Tian and Bao Bao. Starting January 16, new panda cub, Bei Bei, will be on display (for now, you can see him on the panda cam).
24. Take a Spin on the Capital Wheel. Head to National Harbor for a spin on the 180-foot Capital Wheel for a bird’s eye view of our Nation’s Capital.
25. Play Reporter for a Day. Stop in the Newseum to play reporter for a day. Touch-screen kiosks allow visitors to prepare news stories. Or, sit behind the news desk to read the news on-camera.
27. Meet and Greet All 44 Presidents. Head to Madame Tussauds and take a walk through the Presidents Gallery to see all of our presidents (all made out of wax). You’ll find Taylor Swift there, too.
28. Hunt for Fossils & Shark Teeth. Go on a winter island tour to hunt for fossils and shark teeth on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay with Ruddy Duck Adventures. As a bonus, free hot chocolate.
29. Go to a Children’s Theatre. Take in children’s show, like A Lump of Coal for Christmas at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo (through December 31). A Year with Frog and Toad is playing at Imagination Stage.
30. Make Your Own Stamps at the National Postal Museum. Kids will love the National Postal Museum. It’s free and they can design their own stamps or start a stamp collection.
31. Go to a First Night Celebration. Many cities around the metro area have family-friendly First Night New Year’s Eve celebrations. One to check out is First Night Alexandria.
34. See an IMAX Movie. Head to the National Museum of Natural History for a 3D IMAX movie, like Dinosaurs Alive and Mysteries of the Unseen World.
35. Visit the Nation’s Largest Library. Stop at the Library of Congress, which houses more than 34 million books. Print out activity sheets in the Young Readers Center to complete in the library.
36. Enjoy a Free Planetarium Show. Head to Rock Creek Park for free planetarium shows, including Young Planetarium on Wednesdays and Seasonal Night Sky on Saturday afternoons.
37. Sign the Declaration of Independence. Get a peek at the the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. Before you go, head online to add your signature.
38. Explore a Children’s Museum. The National Children’s Museum may have officially left National Harbor, but you can still check out the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester.
39. Visit the New Glen Echo Park Aquarium. The Glen Echo Park Aquarium opened up in September, so why not pay a visit for live animal exhibits and interactive displays that teach about the Chesapeake Bay.
41. Indulge in a Sweet Treat. Stop for an ice cream at Thomas Sweet in Georgetown. You and your kids will love ice cream flavors, like Bubble Gum, Cookie Monster and Cake Batter.
42. Go Sightseeing in Your Own Town. Try a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour. Purchase discounted tickets through Viator, which features hand-picked tours and attractions in must-visit cities.
43. Take the Kids to ZooLights. Head to the National Zoo evenings through January 2 for ZooLights. Be sure to enjoy the zoo tubing tracks and the National Zoo Choo-Choo.
44. Go Rock Climbing. Burn off some energy by rock climbing. Try SportRock in Alexandria or Vertical Rock Indoor Climbing Center in Manassas.
45. Go on a Mansion Tour at Oatlands. Through December 30, take a mansion tour at Oatlands in Leesburg. You can also sit for an afternoon tea between 1-3 pm in the historic Carriage House.
46. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Ritz-Carlton. Enjoy tea sandwiches, fresh fruits, scones and sweets, as well as a hot cup of tea, of course at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner. Served daily 12-4 pm in December.
47. Watch Planes Take Off and Land. Go to the Observation Tower at Udvar-Hazy Center to watch planes take off and land at Washington-Dulles International Airport. There’s free parking after 4 pm.
48. See a Life-Size Gingerbread House. Stop in the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC for a look at the hotel’s first-ever life-size gingerbread house. It’s 10-feet high and weighs more than 1,300 pounds.
50. Check Out a Tool Kit at the National Building Museum. Check out one of four family tool kits at the National Building Museum for hands-on learning related to various aspects of building.