24 Unforgettable Things to Do With Kids in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C. is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, with more than 20 million Americans making a pilgrimage to visit each year. There are more museums per capita than any other city in the country, so it’s no wonder many families choose to vacation there. The number of free attractions in our nation’s capital also helps make it a standout choice for parents traveling with youngsters. There’s no shortage of educational and immersive experiences to enjoy!

Here is a suggested list of some of the most interactive and interesting sites to see when visiting Washington, D.C. with children. 

1. National Air and Space Museum

Air And Space Museum - DP
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Kids are guaranteed to be over the moon when visiting the National Air and Space Museum. In addition to the museum’s permanent and limited exhibitions on space and air travel, the institution offers morning story time (great for kids and adults!) on select days. The museum’s planetarium offers free guided constellation tours and even a Chinese Sesame Street-hosted journey through the night sky.  

2. Smithsonian National Zoo

Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC
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While the pandas may no longer be on view, the National Zoo is an incredible (and free) way to spend the day with children. You can reserve your complimentary passes in advance and meet an array of animals, from reptiles and amphibians to fish and birds. Youngsters can even play with animals at the Zoo’s Little Critters Nature Play, offered Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

3. LEGO Discovery Center

LEGO Discovery Center
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The LEGO Discovery Center is a choose-your-adventure world of wonder. Located just outside DC in Springfield, VA, the center’s 12 different LEGO zones include miniature as well as oversized journeys. Kids can even build a custom LEGO figurine to come along for the ride.

4. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C
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Kids love hands-on learning. They also love dinosaurs. Take your child to learn about the history of living things by exploring the National Museum of Natural History’s many exhibits on science, nature, and culture.

5. National Mall

The National Mall and Washington Monument
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Memorials, statues, and vistas, oh my! The National Mall is home to the Washington Monument, Tidal Basin, Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR Memorials, and more. The National Mall is the home base for many of the nation’s most important (and free!) museums and monuments. It’s a must-visit when in The District.

6. Magic Ground

Magic Ground
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If you need a break from DC’s monuments, museums, and memorials, pay a visit to Magic Ground. An indoor park offering a range of classes and activities from music and ballet to art and cooking, Magic Ground is a great way to keep your child engaged all day long. They even offer drop-off services so the adult can do their own thing while the kids play.

7. Planet Word Museum

Planet Word, a language arts museum, in Washington DC
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Language comes to life at this new museum in downtown Washington, DC. Located in the historic Franklin School, Planet Word is completely immersive. Through interactive visual and auditory exhibits, children can explore where words come from and discover languages from around the world via word-sleuthing adventures and music-based exhibits. 

8. National Children’s Museum

National Children's Museum, Washington D.C.
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You can’t get more kid-friendly than the National Children’s Museum located in downtown Washington. A special place for kids of all ages, the museum offers an array of interactive and age-appropriate exhibits and programs. While some exhibits are more about climbing, playing, and having fun, others are more educational. Here, kids can learn about topics from weather and data science to art and technology. 

9. National Museum of African American History and Culture

African American Museum
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The newest museum to open on the National Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is an excellent way to educate children on Black identity, history, and culture. The museum’s highly interactive exhibits make it a great place to add to your family-friendly itinerary. 

10. Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park
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Located just outside DC in Bethesda, Maryland, Glen Echo Park offers a variety of workshops, classes, and activities for kids as well as adults. Their special camps for kids and teens cover theatre, music, art, and nature and aquatic life. It’s a beautiful and well-rounded place to visit if you have a lengthier stay.

11. United States Botanic Garden

United States Botanic Garden
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The Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Gardens is a bountiful way to introduce your child to plant life. While seasonal (open from Spring to Fall), the Children’s Garden allows kids to play in the dirt while learning how to nurture herbs, flowers, and more.

12. International Spy Museum

Spy Museum
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This interactive museum is a favorite among local families and visitors. While there is no age limit, the museum encourages parents to bring children ages 7 and above. Here, the family can learn about famous spymasters, the history of the CIA and the FBI, and embark on a series of missions throughout the museum to bring the undercover world to life.

13. National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts
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Recently reopened in 2023, the National Museum of Women in the Arts features artworks and contemporary mixed media by female artists from around the world. It’s the only museum that exclusively features women artists. While not free, the museum is worth its ticketed cost. Aside from their brilliant exhibitions, the museum features concerts, films, and workshops centered around important topics.

14. National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
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The Virginia outpost of the National Air and Space Museum in downtown Washington, the Udvar-Hazy Center features a massive collection of air and space artifacts. Kids can learn about the history of air travel as seen through the lens of historical events from World War I to the Cold War. Space flight is also a big part of the museum. The Space Shuttle Discovery is on display as are satellites and other items that have been to the moon and back.

15. National Geographic Museum

National Geographic Museum
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While temporarily closed, the museum is set to reopen next year. Due to its highly educational and interactive exhibits, it’s a great place to have on your list of potential spots to visit in the nation’s capital. 

16. National Gallery of Art

National Art Gallery
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The National Gallery of Art offers age-specific programs for children. With an emphasis on learning new skills like observation and critical thinking, the museum’s family-friendly offerings are guaranteed to leave your child wondering. The museum features classical paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more and is a great way to expose children to the most important artworks of all time.

17. National Building Museum

National Building Museum
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An ideal place for kids, the National Building Museum gives visitors a peek into how we construct and design physical environments. Here, kids can learn about architecture, construction, and even affordable housing while taking part in interactive exhibits that allow them to simply play.

18. The White House Visitor Center

The White House Visitor Center
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What better way to learn about the history of the American presidency than by visiting the White House? Unlike other DC attractions, the White House requires planning. You can submit a request via your Congressional representative or State Senator up to six months in advance to schedule a tour.

19. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Holocaust Museum
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While a difficult topic for kids to fully grasp, children must understand the significance of the Holocaust and its role in World War II. Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story is the one exhibit in the museum specifically designed for children and their families. The exhibit tells the story of a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany and features interactive elements, so kids are guaranteed a hands-on learning experience. 

20. National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
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Portraits of our nation’s most historical and significant figures are on display at this downtown museum. Located on the second floor, the America’s Presidents permanent exhibit is the country’s only collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. Even if your child may not be interested in all the artworks on display, taking them to see the contemporary portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama should be on your list.

21. Renwick Gallery

Renwick Gallery
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This American arts and crafts museum, located near the White House, is a great way to spend an afternoon. Its exhibits constantly shift, and admission is always free. Featuring decorative art, painting, sculpture, and photography, the Renwick Gallery is a visually inspiring hub of American artistic culture. 

22. National Postal Museum

National Postal Museum
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Located near Union Station, the National Postal Museum takes families on a journey of our country’s postal system. It’s a great way to educate children on the history of mail and stamps. The museum has the world’s largest stamp collection and is a fun, interactive way to keep your child engaged. We guarantee your kids will give it their stamp of approval. 

23. Georgetown Waterfront

Georgetown Waterfront in Washington DC
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There are several activities to explore in the city’s oldest neighborhood. Families can rent kayaks and canoes and then enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants along the harbor. Taking in the beautiful views of the Potomac River and the C&O Canal is also a great way to break up your museum-heavy itinerary. 

24. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
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The John F. Kennedy Center is the theatrical home of the District of Columbia. Featuring Broadway shows, special concerts, and holiday festivities, the Kennedy Center is an entertaining way to spend an evening with the entire family.

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Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.