January 23, 2018

25 Things to Do with Kids in Washington, DC


cherry blossomsWe got our last snow yesterday (fingers crossed that it really was the last snowfall), so I’m moving on and am getting excited about spring here in Washington, DC. So, naturally I had to put together a post with 25 super-fun things to do with kids in and around our Nation’s Capital now that the weather is (almost) warm. Here are my top picks:

1. Enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Get out and see the pink blossoms at the Tidal Basin (peak bloom is expected to be from April 8 to 12). You’ll also want to arrive early to get your seat for the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 12.

2. Visit the Giant Pandas at the National Zoo. Follow the animal footprints around the zoo before going on a scavenger hunt using printable sheets from the National Zoo website. Download the National Zoo app for a GPS-enabled map of the zoo, self-guided tours and schedules of animal demonstrations.

3. Go to the Top of the Washington Monument. At long last, the Washington Monument will re-open on May 12 to visitors following a nearly three-year restoration project. Tickets are free, but you may want to reserve them online (starting on April 16).

4. See the First Pitch at a Baseball Game. Stay in the city for a Washington Nationals baseball game, or head out into the suburbs to see minor league teams play, including the Frederick Keys in Maryland and the Potomac Nationals in Virginia.

5. Take an Open-Air Trolley Tour. Take a 90-minute hop-on, hop-off trolley tour around Washington, DC with Old Town Trolley Tours. The drivers are very knowledgeable, and it’s a nice way to take a break and learn about the history and landmarks of the city.

6. Throw Around a Frisbee on the National Mall. If you’re planning a day to visit kid-friendly museums, like the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History, be sure to bring along a Frisbee. There’s plenty of free play space and it’s a great way to burn off energy.

7. Become a Junior Ranger at Rock Creek Park. Walk, bike or get in some horseback riding right in the middle of DC at Rock Creek Park. Enjoy plenty of ranger-led programs before completing an activity booklet and taking the pledge to become a Junior Ranger.

8. Watch Airplanes Fly Overhead at Gravelly Point. When I lived closer to the city, one of my favorite things to do was to go to rollerblading at Gravelly Point. Adjacent to Reagan National Airport, your kids will love watching planes fly in and out, and the planes feel like they’re almost close enough to touch.

9. Go on a Scavenger Hunt Around Town. Sign up to for a themed scavenger hunt around Washington, DC using your smartphone as a guide. Stray Boots offers three different tours that take you around Georgetown, Penn Quarter and  some of the Smithsonian museums and galleries on the National Mall.

10. Ride in a Paddle Boat. Head to the Tidal Basin and rent a paddle boat from Tidal Basin Paddle Boats. Paddle boats are a great way to explore the area, including the Jefferson Memorial, and of course, the spectacular cherry blossoms. Through mid-April, you’ll want to reserve a boat due to high demand.

11. Watch the Dragon Boat Races. On May 17-18, head to Thompson Boat Center for a weekend festival complete with crafts, dancing, and of course, dragon boat racing. Races take place on both days with 250 meter races on Saturday and 500 meter races on Sunday.

12. Take a Hike at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. When the flowers begin to bloom, the gardens in McLean (VA) are the place to be. Hike around seasonal plantings and keep your eyes open for a Korean Bell Garden, as well as ancestral totem poles and a sculpted turtle fountain.

13. Explore the Embassies of Europe. On May 10 from 10 am to 4 pm, explore the foods, music and traditions of embassies of the European Union. My kids did this last year and had the chance to check out Ireland and Luxembourg. This is a very popular event, so get there early.

14. Explore the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art. Just outside the National Gallery of Art, kids will find and enjoy the Sculpture Garden, which not only includes interesting sculptures, but also flowers, trees, paintings and a fountain.

15. Go on a Photo Safari Around Town. Go on an organized photo walk of monuments and memorials around Washington, DC with a photography company, like Washington Photo Safari. Or, plan your own safari, researching sites around the city that you want to snap before you go.

16. Get Picking at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival. Get out of the city to Sky Meadows State Park over Memorial Day Weekend for the annual Delaplane Strawberry Festival. Enjoy hayrides, a cake walk, a petting farm and plenty of strawberry shortcakes and sundaes.

17. Get Your Passport Stamped at National Parks. Pick up a blue Passport to Your National Parks passport book and collect cancellation stamps at parks, memorials and monuments all over town. Be sure to also pick up the companion guides to help you find each stamping location.

18. Pose with The Awakening Sculpture at National Harbor. Before you cap off a day of shopping and dining at National Harbor, stop to pose with the five-piece iron sculpture called The Awakening, which depicts a giant that appears to be coming out of the earth.

19. Paddle in a Canoe or Kayak. Get out on the Potomac River in a kayak, canoe or even a paddleboard. Look to Boating in DC for everything from guided kayak trips at sunset to stand-up paddleboard yoga. You can even enjoy a three-hour cherry blossom kayak adventure through mid-April.

20. Take a Bike Tour of DC. Bring your own bikes to scoot around town or check out Bike and Roll for daytime and nighttime guided tours of the city. Children’s bikes are available from Bike and Roll. Plus, they even have trailers and trailer tandems so little ones can ride, no matter how small they are.

21. Stand in Line for Cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake. It’s a lot more pleasant to wait in line for the extremely popular cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake when the weather is warm. As a quick side note, Georgetown Cupcake is the home of the popular TLC show, “DC Cupcakes.”

22. Check Out the Vendors at Eastern Market. Head to Eastern Market to check out farm fresh produce, crafts and various wares from local artisans. Stop over on Tuesday afternoons for the Fresh Tuesdays Farmer’s Market for the very freshest produce of the week.

23. Ride on the National Carousel. No trip to the National Mall is complete without a ride on the National Carousel, which has had its place in DC for more than 60 years. Or, get out of town and head to Glen Echo Park for a ride on the carousel starting on May 3.

24. Explore the Greenery at the U.S. Botanic Garden. At the U.S. Botanic Garden, kids can become an official USBG Junior Botanist when they complete several on-site adventures and an in-home activity. They’ll also receive a certificate signed by the USBG botanist, an official field journal and future “assignments” to keep watch on the plant world.

25. Seek Out National Treasures at Mount Vernon. Walk the grounds of Mount Vernon and be sure to pick up an Adventure Map for the kids. Solve nine puzzles as you hunt for clues around the grounds. National Treasure: Book of Secrets fans, look out for the one-hour behind-the-scenes walking tour.

Photo Credit: Link576

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