Our nation’s capital is a beautiful city with a landscape full of monuments and memorials perfect for a family adventure. Just walking around this city instills a sense of pride; not a pride that America has done all things perfect, but a pride that our nation has worked within the framework of democracy to its best ability. On top of all that, you can find incredible places to eat and lots of family fun can be had.
Getting Around Is Part of the Adventure
While DC has easy public transport via The Metro, it’s not cheap. Each person must have their own fare card, which includes children. This can be incredibly cumbersome when traveling with small children, but with as much walking as you will do throughout the district, it can work to your advantage to use The Metro from time to time. We have had the benefit of family living in the area so we purchase SmarTrip® cards and keep them at my sister’s house for future use. However, you may find that you only need single fare tickets. Either way, EACH person must present a ticket and we have found this to be very strict- no passing SmarTrip® cards back and forth across the gates.
We have been blessed enough to have stayed with family all of the many times we have traveled to DC as a family, but the city is a widely visited tourist spot so I know you will be able to spend whatever your budget allows. The ease of the Metro allows for your family to find a variety of accommodations in the district and the surrounding area.
Adventure Through the Sites of the District
Put your walking shoes on as you endeavor to explore The Smithsonian, which is a conglomeration of museums, galleries, zoo, etc. All DC area Smithsonian museums and the zoo are FREE! Why do we love this so much? No need to worry about spending extra time if you aren’t loving it, or you’re hungry, or you’re tired. No Big Deal- you can leave and re-enter at your own pace. Utilize the website to plan your adventures, though, because they don’t all have the same hours of operation and a few have timed entry passes.
If you are willing to spend some money on entry fees, consider the International Spy Museum, Ford’s Theater, and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Don’t miss walking past the White House and getting a glimpse of all the powerful places along The Hill. Step into the Library of Congress for jaw dropping interiors and schedule a tour of the capital and definitely do the audio option. There is so much to see and so much to learn! If you love live sporting events, depending on the season you can cheer on The Capitals, The Nationals, The Redskins or The Wizards.
A few of our favorite family adventure highlights have been the night time monuments tour, the botanical gardens during the holidays, the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery, the Marine Corps Sunset Parade, and Mount Vernon. Some of our favorite eats include: Old Ebbitt Grill, Zaytinya, El Centro, Matchbox, Founding Farmers, Jaleo (our 16 year old son’s all time favorite), and Kramerbooks for dessert.
Why D.C. is our #1 Family Adventure City
In our opinion if you live on the east coast, our nation’s capital is the best city for a family adventure. There is truly something for everyone and you can feel great that you spent some quality educational time with the kids. Most curricula is centered around United States history in 5th grade, 8th grade, and high school civics or AP US History. Our trips to the nation’s capital has put meat on the bones for our kids learning so much history.
We have never spent longer than 5 days at a time in the area and have had to spread out all of our adventures over many trips. There is so much to see and do. If this is a one time thing for your family, just know you will need to limit your activities. You can accomplish a lot if you utilize your time wisely, but you won’t be able to do everything without exhausting yourselves.