Photo: Andy He

25 Things to Do in Washington, DC with Kids

1. National Zoo

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. Located within the sprawling Rock Creek Park, the National Zoo is home to over 2,700 animals representing more than 390 species. From the iconic giant pandas to big cats, primates, and a diverse array of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, the zoo offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness the beauty and diversity of wildlife from around the world.

One of the highlights of the National Zoo is the Giant Panda Habitat, home to the beloved giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Visitors flock to see these charismatic bears, marveling at their playful antics and adorable charm. The zoo’s ongoing research and conservation efforts for giant pandas have helped contribute to the species’ survival in the wild.

Families can also enjoy the Asia Trail, an exhibit featuring various species from Asian habitats, including the clouded leopard, Asian small-clawed otters, red pandas, and more.

The Elephant Trails exhibit showcases the zoo’s Asian elephants, providing insights into the lives and conservation of these intelligent and social creatures.

The Kids’ Farm is a favorite among young visitors, offering hands-on experiences with farm animals and opportunities to learn about agriculture and responsible animal care. The farm is an interactive space where kids can meet goats, cows, alpacas, and chickens, fostering a connection between children and animals.

The National Zoo offers engaging and educational programs for families, including animal demonstrations, feeding talks, and keeper chats. Kids can explore the zoo’s Nature Play Space, a fun-filled area that encourages creative play and nature exploration.

Admission to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is free, making it an accessible and inclusive destination for families. The zoo is open year-round, offering something new to discover with each visit, whether it’s observing new animal behaviors, witnessing baby animals, or exploring seasonal exhibits.

National Zoo
Photo: Harrison Mitchell

Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008


2. Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is an iconic and revered monument located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Lincoln Memorial is a tribute to one of America’s greatest leaders, President Abraham Lincoln, and it stands as a symbol of freedom, unity, and the enduring legacy of the United States.

At the heart of the Lincoln Memorial is a massive seated statue of Abraham Lincoln. This impressive 19-foot-tall statue portrays Lincoln in a contemplative and dignified pose, exuding strength and compassion. The interior of the memorial is adorned with inscriptions of two of Lincoln’s most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address.

The memorial’s location at the western end of the National Mall makes it a central point for exploring the city’s other historic landmarks, including the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol. It is also a popular spot for gatherings, events, and peaceful protests, embodying the principles of free speech and democratic expression.

The Lincoln Memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience the monument’s grandeur at any time.

Lincoln Memorial
Photo: Stephen Walker

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037


3. National Air & Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum celebrates the remarkable achievements of aviation and space exploration. As one of the most visited museums in the world, the National Air and Space Museum offers a journey through the history of flight and space travel.

Established in 1946, the museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and houses the world’s largest collection of aviation and space artifacts. From the Wright brothers’ first powered aircraft to the iconic Apollo 11 command module that carried the first humans to the moon, the museum’s exhibits showcase the ingenuity and bravery of pioneers and astronauts.

The museum’s main building on the National Mall features numerous galleries and exhibits that cater to aviation enthusiasts, space aficionados, and families alike.

The Milestones of Flight exhibit, located in the central hall, is a must-see, featuring iconic aircraft and spacecraft that have made significant contributions to the history of flight and space exploration.

The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age exhibit is a journey back in time to the early days of aviation, where visitors can learn about the Wright brothers’ groundbreaking achievements and the birth of powered flight.

The Space Race exhibit chronicles the fierce competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to explore space, with spacecraft, satellites, and artifacts from the Apollo and Mercury missions.

Families with young children will enjoy the How Things Fly exhibit, an interactive and educational space that explores the principles of flight through hands-on activities and demonstrations.

The National Air and Space Museum also offers a range of immersive experiences, including flight simulators that allow visitors to experience the thrill of piloting an aircraft or spacecraft, and planetarium shows that take audiences on virtual journeys to the stars.

The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Washington Dulles International Airport, provides an additional opportunity to explore even more aviation and space artifacts. The center features an impressive collection of aircraft and spacecraft, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and the SR-71 Blackbird.

Admission to the National Air and Space Museum is free.

National Air and Space Museum
Photo: Stephen Mease

Address: Independence Ave at 6th St SW, Washington, DC 20560


4. United States Capitol

The Capitol is a historic symbol of American democracy and the seat of the United States Congress.

Visiting the Capitol Building is an opportunity to witness the workings of American democracy and gain insight into the nation’s legislative process.

The Capitol’s central dome, which rises to a height of 288 feet, is crowned by the Statue of Freedom, a powerful symbol of liberty and the enduring principles of the American republic.

Visitors can take guided tours to explore the Capitol’s historic rooms, such as the Rotunda, where significant events, including presidential inaugurations and the lying in state of distinguished Americans, take place.

One of the Capitol’s most recognized features is the National Statuary Hall, a majestic circular room adorned with statues of prominent figures from each state. The Statuary Hall Collection offers a visual narrative of the nation’s history and diverse cultural heritage.

The Capitol grounds are beautifully landscaped and feature various outdoor monuments and memorials that pay tribute to important events and figures in American history.

United States Capitol
Photo: Andy Feliciotti

Address: East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004


5. Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is one of the most recognized landmarks in the United States, a symbol of the nation’s founding ideals and a tribute to its first president, George Washington.

The Washington Monument stands at an impressive height of 555 feet and is constructed from marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. Its design is inspired by ancient Egyptian obelisks, symbolizing the timelessness of Washington’s legacy and the enduring principles upon which the United States was founded.

Visitors can take an elevator or climb the 897 steps to the top of the monument’s observation deck, which offers panoramic views of the National Mall and the city. The vistas from the top provide a unique perspective of the city’s many iconic landmarks, including the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial.

The Washington Monument is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped park. The grounds are popular for picnics, leisurely walks, and as a spot for commemorative events and ceremonies.

The monument holds significant historical importance and has been the site of numerous historic events and gatherings. The Reflecting Pool, located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, has been the setting for famous speeches and civil rights demonstrations, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in 1963.

Washington Monument
Photo: Mayer Tawfik

Address: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20007


6. White House

The White House is a historic and iconic destination that families can explore to experience the essence of American democracy. As a symbol of national pride and history, the White House offers families a unique opportunity to connect with the rich heritage and democratic traditions of the United States.

Families can take a public tour of the White House to explore its beautifully decorated rooms and learn about the history of this iconic residence. The tour offers a chance to see where past presidents and their families have lived and worked, and children can gain insights into the roles of the President and the significance of this historic building.

Before or after the tour, families can visit the White House Visitor Center, which provides engaging exhibits and displays that tell the story of the White House and its occupants. The interactive elements and hands-on activities make it an educational and enjoyable experience for kids.

Throughout the year, the White House hosts various family-friendly events and celebrations, including the annual Easter Egg Roll. Families can join in the fun-filled activities and games, making cherished memories together.

Visiting the White House is a unique and memorable experience for families, allowing them to be a part of American history and witness the traditions that have shaped the country. It is a place where families can reflect on the values of democracy, unity, and leadership that have guided the United States for generations.

White House
Photo: Ana Lanza

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500


7. Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial pays tribute to one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.

Designed by architect John Russell Pope, the Jefferson Memorial was completed in 1943, and its design was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, reflecting Jefferson’s admiration for classical architecture. The memorial features a grand circular colonnade with 26 Ionic columns that represent the 26 states in the Union at the time of Jefferson’s death.

At the heart of the memorial stands a commanding bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, sculpted by Rudulph Evans. Jefferson is depicted in a contemplative pose, holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a testament to his pivotal role in drafting this historic document.

Visitors to the Jefferson Memorial are welcomed by the inspiring words of Jefferson, inscribed on the memorial’s walls. These quotes capture the essence of his beliefs in liberty, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Jefferson Memorial is an inviting space for families to explore and learn about the life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Families can take leisurely walks around the Tidal Basin, surrounded by the beautiful cherry blossom trees that bloom in spring.

The memorial’s location provides magnificent views of the iconic landmarks of Washington, D.C., including the Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Families can capture memorable photos while admiring the city’s historic beauty.

Jefferson Memorial
Photo: Yeon Choi

Address: 701 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242


8. Washington Nationals Baseball

As the professional baseball team representing the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals offer a family-friendly and inclusive environment that celebrates the thrill of the game and the joy of shared experiences.

Going to a Washington Nationals game with your family is an experience like no other. From the moment you step into Nationals Park, you’ll feel the electric atmosphere and camaraderie among fans of all ages.

The Washington Nationals organization goes above and beyond to ensure that families have a fantastic time at the ballpark. The Nationals Family Fun Area is a favorite spot for kids, featuring interactive games, activities, and face painting. Children can also meet the team mascot, Screech, and pose for photos with this lovable eagle.

The team’s commitment to family-friendly entertainment extends to their gameday promotions and events. The Nationals often host themed nights, fireworks displays, and special giveaways that appeal to both young and old fans. From “Kids Run the Bases” events to “Youth Baseball and Softball Day,” there’s always something special happening for families at Nationals Park.

Nationals Park offers a wide range of dining options to satisfy every palate, including kid-friendly concessions with all-time favorites like hot dogs, nachos, and ice cream. Families can indulge in delicious treats while watching the game, making every visit to the ballpark a delightful experience.

Nationals Park
Photo: Sung Shin

Address: Nationals Park, 1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003


9. National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository of the U.S. government’s most significant documents.

The National Archives houses an impressive collection of historical records, including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, known collectively as the Charters of Freedom. These iconic documents, on display in the Rotunda, are a testament to the enduring values of liberty and democracy that define the United States.

Families can explore the museum’s engaging exhibits, which showcase a diverse range of documents, photographs, and artifacts that tell the story of the nation’s past. From the Civil War and the struggles for civil rights to space exploration and presidential history, the exhibits offer a comprehensive and immersive experience for visitors of all ages.

One of the highlights for families is the “Public Vaults” exhibit, which allows visitors to access interactive touch-screen displays and discover a wealth of historical documents not usually on public view. This hands-on experience brings history to life, making it both enjoyable and educational for children and adults alike.

The National Archives also offers educational programs and workshops designed specifically for families.

Families with young children can participate in “DocsTeach” activities, where kids can engage in interactive exercises that encourage critical thinking and exploration of historical materials. These activities are a fun and interactive way for kids to connect with history and develop a deeper understanding of the nation’s heritage.

Visiting the National Archives is an experience that instills a sense of pride and patriotism in families.

Address: 700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408


10. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is a place where families can witness the process of creating the nation’s paper currency and learn about the artistry and security measures behind U.S. banknotes. As the agency responsible for producing Federal Reserve Notes, the BEP plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and trustworthiness of the nation’s currency.

At the BEP, families can take guided tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the printing and engraving processes. During these tours, you’ll witness how blank sheets of paper transform into crisp, recognizable bills.

One of the highlights of the tour is the observation gallery, where visitors can watch the printing presses in action, producing millions of dollars’ worth of currency each day. The rhythmic hum of the presses and the meticulous precision of the operators create a sight that excites visitors of all ages.

Address: 14th and C Streets SW, Washington, DC 20228


11. International Spy Museum

The International Spy Museum takes families on a thrilling journey into the secretive world of espionage and intelligence. As the only public museum in the United States dedicated to espionage, the International Spy Museum offers an experience for visitors of all ages.

The exhibits are cleverly designed to transport visitors into the clandestine world of spies, with interactive displays, spy gadgets, and narratives that make you feel like you’re part of an espionage mission.

The International Spy Museum features artifacts, including real spy tools used by intelligence agencies from around the world. Families can see gadgets such as concealed cameras, code-breaking devices, and other tools of the trade that have been employed by real-life spies throughout history.

At the “Spy School” interactive experience, kids can test their spy skills, solve puzzles, and learn about the techniques and strategies used by professional spies.

Spy Museum
Photo: Yohan Marion

Address: 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024


12. National Portrait Gallery

At the National Portrait Gallery, families can explore the stories of American history through art. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Portrait Gallery houses an extensive collection of portraits that depict notable figures who have shaped the nation’s past and present.

The National Portrait Gallery showcases an impressive array of portraits, ranging from presidents and political leaders to artists, writers, scientists, and civil rights activists. Families can discover the faces behind the history books and gain a deeper understanding of the individuals who have played pivotal roles in shaping the United States.

The museum’s collection includes iconic works such as the “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, the “Hope” poster featuring President Barack Obama by Shepard Fairey, and portraits of trailblazers like Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass.

The popular “America’s Presidents” exhibit features portraits of every U.S. president, providing an in-depth look at the leaders who have guided the nation throughout its history. Children can learn about the challenges and triumphs of each presidency and gain insight into the evolution of the presidency over time.

Address: 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001


13. Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a place where families can immerse themselves in the arts and experience performances that showcase the best of American and international talent.

The Kennedy Center, often referred to as the “Nation’s Cultural Center,” was established as a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. Since its opening in 1971, it has become a vibrant hub for the performing arts, offering a wide range of events, including music concerts, theatrical productions, dance performances, and more.

Families visiting the Kennedy Center can choose from an extensive lineup of family-friendly performances and programs that cater to all ages. From Broadway musicals and classic plays to family concerts and interactive workshops, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The “Performances for Young Audiences” series offers engaging and interactive shows designed specifically for children and families. These performances often include opportunities for kids to meet the artists, participate in post-show discussions, and take part in creative activities related to the performance.

The Millennium Stage, an integral part of the Kennedy Center, hosts free daily performances, making the arts accessible to all visitors. Families can enjoy a diverse range of musical genres, dance forms, and cultural presentations from both local and international artists.

Kennedy Center
Photo: Mike Stoll

Address: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566


14. National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the diverse stories and achievements that have shaped the United States.

As one of the Smithsonian Institution’s most visited museums, the National Museum of American History boasts an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits that span over three centuries of American history. Families can discover iconic objects, such as the Star-Spangled Banner, the original “O Say Can You See” manuscript of the national anthem, and the First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns.

The museum’s interactive exhibits engage visitors of all ages, encouraging families to participate in hands-on activities and educational programs. From playing historical games to dressing up in period clothing, children can actively immerse themselves in history, making learning fun and enjoyable.

The “America on the Move” exhibit is especially popular with families. Children can climb aboard a vintage locomotive, sit in a classic diner, and even test their skills as a train conductor, as they gain insights into the evolution of transportation and its impact on American life.

The “Spark!Lab” is another family-friendly space where kids can participate in inventing, experimenting, and problem-solving activities. It encourages young minds to think critically and creatively.

National Museum American History
Photo: Christian Lucas

Address: 14th St NW & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560


15. United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. Nestled near the foot of the U.S. Capitol, the Botanic Garden covers over 30,000 square feet and features various indoor and outdoor gardens.

Families can stroll through the conservatory’s greenhouses, each housing different ecosystems, from tropical rainforests to arid deserts.

The Children’s Garden is a delightful area where kids can explore and learn about plants in a fun and interactive way. With sensory play, educational activities, and a treehouse, the Children’s Garden ignites curiosity and fosters a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

There are year-round exhibits that engage families with diverse themes and horticultural displays. Seasonal exhibits, such as the Orchid Show, bring vibrant blooms to the conservatory, while the “U.S. Botanic Garden’s Primeval Garden” showcases ancient plants that provide a glimpse into prehistoric times.

The Botanic Garden also hosts educational programs and workshops that cater to families. From gardening classes to plant discovery tours, children and adults alike can learn about the importance of plant conservation, gardening techniques, and sustainable practices.

National Botanic Garden
Photo: Elliot Lanham

Address: 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001


16. Passport DC

Passport DC takes place every May and presents a series of events and activities that showcase the embassies and cultural institutions located in the nation’s capital. One of the main highlights of the event is the “Around the World Embassy Tour,” during which embassies open their doors to the public, inviting families to experience their unique traditions, customs, and cuisines.

Families can embark on a fascinating cultural adventure, visiting different embassies and learning about the arts, music, dance, and culinary delights of various countries. From trying traditional dishes to watching live performances and participating in cultural workshops, Passport DC offers an immersive experience that appeals to visitors of all ages.

The “Embassy Chef Challenge” is another exciting aspect of Passport DC, where talented embassy chefs compete to create exquisite dishes from their respective countries. Families can savor a diverse flavors and culinary delights from around the globe for a truly unforgettable gastronomic experience.

In addition to the embassy events, Passport DC hosts various cultural performances, exhibitions, and special events throughout the city. From street festivals to cultural showcases, families can enjoy an array of festivities that celebrate the world’s diverse heritage.

Passport DC’s Kids Euro Festival is a particular highlight for families. This special program brings European artists, performers, and puppeteers to Washington, D.C. and provides children with an enchanting and educational experience of European culture.

Passport DC is not only a celebration of culture and diversity but also an opportunity to foster international understanding and friendship. Families can interact with people from different backgrounds, exchange ideas, and learn about the similarities and differences that unite humanity.

Address: various


17. United States National Arboretum

The United States National Arboretum boasts an impressive collection of plant species from around the world.

Families can explore themed gardens, including the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, where they can marvel at these ancient and meticulously cultivated miniature trees.

One of the highlights of the National Arboretum is the stunning “National Capitol Columns,” a majestic display featuring 22 Corinthian columns that once adorned the U.S. Capitol Building.

National Arboretum
Photo: Yohan Marion

Address: 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002


18. Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. celebrates the beauty of spring and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan. Taking place around the Tidal Basin, the festival attracts millions of visitors, including families, who come to witness the cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

The Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Japan to the United States in 1912 as a symbol of friendship and goodwill. The festival typically occurs in late March to early April when the cherry blossoms reach their peak, creating a breathtaking sea of pink and white flowers.

Families can partake in various activities and events during the festival. The opening ceremony features cultural performances, music, and speeches that highlight the significance of the cherry blossoms and the enduring bonds between the two nations.

The “Blossom Kite Festival” is a beloved event where families can fly kites and admire the sky adorned with colorful and creative kite designs. Children can participate in kite-making workshops, adding a personal touch to the festival.

The “Cherry Blossom Parade” is a highlight that brings together marching bands, floats, and performers, showcasing the vibrant diversity of American and Japanese culture.

For families with young children, the “Family Days” event features hands-on activities, storytelling sessions, and interactive performances that engage and entertain kids.

Cherry Blossom Festival
Photo: Zayn Shah

Address: various


19. Washington Capitals Hockey

As a professional ice hockey team based in Washington, D.C., the Capitals offer a family-friendly atmosphere that caters to fans of all ages.

Attending a Washington Capitals game is a fantastic way for families to bond and share their passion for hockey. From the youngest fans to the most seasoned enthusiasts, the team’s exciting on-ice performances and engaging off-ice activities make every game a fun-filled experience.

The Capital One Arena, the home venue of the Capitals, offers a vibrant and lively environment for families to immerse themselves in the game-day excitement.

For young fans, the Washington Capitals offer the “Kids Club,” a special membership program that provides exclusive benefits and access to unique experiences. From meeting players and attending practices to receiving special merchandise, the Kids Club enhances the hockey experience for young Capitals fans.

The Capitals’ commitment to family-friendly entertainment is evident during games, with engaging intermission activities, fan contests, and special giveaways that keep the entire family entertained throughout the evening.

Throughout the season, the Capitals host themed nights and special events that cater to families. From “Family Fun Days” to “Hockey ‘N Heels,” the team ensures that families have a diverse range of experiences to enjoy, both on and off the ice.

Capitals Arena
Photo: Alex Korolkoff

Address: 601 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004


20. National Postal Museum

As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Postal Museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that tell the story of the postal service and its impact on American society.

Families can explore the “Systems at Work” exhibit, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at how mail moves from sender to recipient. Children can experience the process of sorting and delivering mail and gain an appreciation for the efficient systems that ensure letters and packages reach their destinations.

The museum’s “Owney the Dog” exhibit is a favorite among families, offering a delightful tale of a stray dog who became the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service. Kids can learn about Owney’s travels, the medals he collected, and how he became a symbol of postal service loyalty.

Another highlight for families is the “Mail Call” exhibit, which explores the history of correspondence between soldiers and their loved ones during wartime.

The National Postal Museum also offers interactive play areas, where children can dress up as mail carriers, drive a postal truck, and play in a mock post office, fostering imaginative play and learning about the importance of mail in communication and connection.

Special events and educational programs are a regular feature at the museum, and provide families with opportunities to delve deeper into postal history and engage in hands-on activities. From stamp collecting workshops to letter-writing sessions, the National Postal Museum offers a variety of enriching experiences.

Address: 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002


21. National Children’s Museum

The National Children’s Museum is a place where families can ignite their children’s curiosity, creativity, and imagination through interactive and immersive exhibits designed just for them.

One of the highlights of the museum is the “Dream Machine,” a multi-story climbing structure that encourages physical activity, problem-solving, and imaginative play. Kids can climb, slide, and explore the vibrant and colorful environment, sparking their sense of adventure and discovery.

The “World at Work” exhibit takes children on a journey through various professions, allowing them to role-play as doctors, firefighters, chefs, and more. It’s an excellent opportunity for kids to experience different career paths and learn about the diverse roles people play in society.

In the “Xtreme 4D: Virtual Sports Zone,” children can engage in thrilling and interactive sports experiences, from playing soccer to snowboarding, using virtual reality technology. It’s a fun and innovative way for kids to get active and test their athletic abilities.

The National Children’s Museum also offers special programs and events that add excitement and variety to each visit. From art workshops and science experiments to storytime sessions and live performances, families can enjoy a wide range of activities that foster creativity and learning.

The museum’s “Discovery Lane” features age-appropriate exhibits for toddlers and young children, allowing even the youngest visitors to participate and engage in hands-on learning experiences.

Address: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004


22. National Building Museum

The National Building Museum is a one-of-a-kind destination where families can explore the world of architecture, engineering, and design.

Located just a few blocks from the National Mall, the National Building Museum is housed in the historic 19th-century Pension Building. The building’s grandeur and architectural splendor create a stunning backdrop for the museum’s exhibits and events.

One of the highlights of the National Building Museum is the “Play Work Build” exhibit, a dynamic and hands-on experience that allows children and families to explore the creative process of designing and constructing buildings. Kids can use blocks, LEGOs, and other materials to build their architectural masterpieces.

The museum’s “Building Zone” is specially designed for the youngest visitors and offers a safe and fun play space where toddlers and young children can engage in building activities and explore interactive exhibits that introduce them to basic concepts of architecture and construction.

Families can also enjoy temporary exhibits that explore various aspects of the built environment, from iconic skyscrapers and historic landmarks to sustainable design and urban planning. Each exhibit provides a unique perspective on the impact of architecture on society and the ways in which the built environment shapes our lives.

National Building Museum
Photo: Kristina Volgenau

Address: 401 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001


23. Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library and a treasure trove of knowledge and culture.

Located near the U.S. Capitol, it is a symbol of America’s commitment to education, research, and intellectual exploration. With millions of books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and recordings, the library houses an unparalleled collection that spans centuries and reflects the rich diversity of human knowledge.

One of the highlights for families visiting the Library of Congress is the “Young Readers Center,” a special space that fosters a love for reading and literature in children and teens. Families can explore a vast selection of books, participate in storytimes, and engage in literary activities that encourage lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress also hosts “Family Storytime” events, where families can gather for interactive story readings and craft activities, creating a warm and engaging environment for children to develop their love for books and storytelling.

The magnificent “Great Hall” of the Thomas Jefferson Building, with its impressive architecture and decorative details, offers a stunning visual experience for families. Children can marvel at the grandeur of the building and learn about the historical significance of the Library of Congress as they explore its exhibits.

Families can also participate in guided tours that showcase the library’s rich history and its role in preserving and providing access to knowledge. The docents share captivating stories about the library’s collections, offering insights into the role of books, ideas, and information in shaping the world.

Library of Congress
Photo: Mateus Campos Felipe

Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540


24. National Gallery of Art

Situated on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art is a world-class museum that houses an extensive and diverse collection of art from around the globe.

The museum’s West Building features works by renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet. Families can admire iconic paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts that have left an indelible mark on art history.

In the East Building, families can explore modern and contemporary art, including pieces by artists like Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder.

The National Gallery of Art offers family-friendly programs and interactive spaces designed to foster creativity and engagement among young visitors. The “Art Cart” program invites families to discover art through hands-on activities, storytelling, and art-making projects that enhance the learning experience.

Families can also explore the “NGAkids” website, an online interactive platform that offers engaging art-themed games, videos, and activities. It’s a great resource for families to continue their artistic exploration beyond the museum walls.

The Sculpture Garden, located between the East and West Buildings, is a serene outdoor space where families can enjoy art in nature. Children can play among the beautiful sculptures, and families can relax on the garden’s grounds.

The museum hosts various family-friendly events and workshops throughout the year. From art-making sessions to family tours, these events provide an opportunity for families to deepen their appreciation for art and connect with each other through creative activities.

National Gallery of Art
Photo: Esteban Bonilla

Address: 6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565


25. Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, the historic estate of George Washington, is just a short drive from Washington, D.C. Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River, Mount Vernon offers families a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the life and legacy of America’s first president.

As the home of George Washington, Mount Vernon provides a glimpse into the life of this revered figure in American history. Families can explore the beautifully restored mansion, which showcases the elegant and gracious living spaces of the Washington family.

The “George Washington: Pioneer Farmer” exhibit offers families a glimpse into Washington’s life as a farmer and innovator. Children can learn about 18th-century agricultural practices, see demonstrations of period farming equipment, and gain insight into Washington’s agricultural achievements.

The “Education Center” features interactive exhibits and educational programs that engage young visitors in the history and significance of George Washington’s contributions to the nation. Families can participate in hands-on activities, explore multimedia displays, and learn about the challenges and triumphs of America’s founding era.

For a special perspective on the estate, families can embark on a “Mount Vernon Cruise” along the Potomac River. The cruise offers panoramic views of the estate from the water and allows visitors to see Mount Vernon as George Washington did when he arrived by boat.

Mt Vernon
Photo: Brock Freeman

Address: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon, VA 22121


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