United States Capitol | Laura Powell

One of the hardest things about visiting Washington, DC is paring down your list of things to do during your visit. We’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up our favorite things to do in DC. Kids will learn about United States culture and history and have lots of fun along the way. Best of all, most attractions in Washington, DC are free.

View from inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda | Laura Powell

1. The United States Capitol. Renovated and expanded in 2016, watch a video on the history of the Capitol and get a guided tour of the Capitol rotunda and basement area for a couple of hours of fun and learning. Consider getting there early to beat the lines. Additionally, get passes from your Representative or Senator to the chambers of the Senate and House where you can watch Congress in session.

2. National Postal Museum. Did you know there are U.S. postage stamps worth thousands of dollars? You’ll see the inverted Jenny, one of the world’s most famous printing errors, and two of the first U.S. postage stamps at this museum near the Capitol. Kids make their own stamps and can email images of stamps to friends and loved ones.

National Air and Space Museum | iStock

3. National Air and Space Museum. Don’t sweat the crowds here. Your kids will love the hubble telescope exhibit, going inside a vintage commercial plane, and getting hands-on at the many interactive exhibits. Nearby, browse the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, with its Instagram worthy photo opportunities especially for older kids. Don’t miss the vintage carousel near the Air and Space museum on the National Mall, as well.

4. The Presidential Memorials. Get your steps in and learn more about Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and more. We visited the memorials at night for a fun change in routine.

Newseum | iStock

5. The Newseum. Learn about the power of the First Amendment and how it affects our lives through tragedy and civic progress. Kids will get the most out of the second floor where they can read the news and take pictures behind an anchor’s desk. Parents will appreciate the view of the National Mall and downtown Washington, DC and reading headlines from around the nation on the fifth floor of the building; throughout the rest of the museum, browse print and video news artifacts. While kids six and under are free, this museum is best suited for kids 10 and up.

6. National Portrait Gallery. One of the few museums in Washington, DC open until 7pm, see the new portraits of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with other important United States leaders and cultural icons.

7. Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center. See world class bands and more at these family friendly live shows every day at 6pm.

Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC | Laura Powell

8. Rock Creek Park. Get away from the bustle of the city for some fresh-air at this park near Downtown DC. The park is a short drive from the National Mall, or about a half mile walk from the Cleveland Park Metro stop. Also, visit the National Zoo, which borders the park.

9. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Visit George Washington’s home, about an hour drive from downtown Washington, DC. Learn about Washington’s life, the estate, and participate in special tours and activities.

Where to Stay

Kimpton George Hotel

Steps from the United States Capitol, this boutique hotel (starting at about $150 a night) has bunk beds for kids and a great location for exploring attractions and museums in downtown Washington, DC. Don’t miss the french fries and more traditional French bistro fare at the full service restaurant on site, Bistro Bis. Union Station is just a couple blocks away from the hotel, with easy public transportation options and lots of shopping and food including H & M, Shake Shack (with foosball and shuffleboard upstairs) and more.

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