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Family

10 Fun Things to Do in Washington, D.C. Your Kids Will Love

Make your D.C. family vacation one for the books

The Vacationeer
A family of three on vacation in Washington, D.C., posing in front of marble columns.

Washington D.C., formerly known as the District of Columbia, and simply referred to as D.C. by lovers of this capital city, is a top travel destination for all ages.

Boasting a long roster of world-famous museums, galleries and monuments lining its history-laden streets, Washington, D.C. is an ideal family vacation destination full of educational exhibits and attractions—for all ages and stages. Make learning fun and memorable for younger generations by spending time at these favorite kid-friendly and hands-on experiences throughout the city.

Make the most of your family vacation in the nation's capital by adding these 10 spots to your “things to do in D.C.” list.

Bonus: Most D.C. museums are free, so if your littlest travelers get tired at one museum, you can easily hop over to the next without feeling guilty. 

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

A great place for aspiring pilots, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum promises a day of sky-high adventure. Get up close and personal with real airplanes and spacecraft from World War II planes to modern-day rocket ships hung from every available support beam in the ceiling.

Kids will especially love the hands-on experiences throughout the museum, along with the chance to participate in free science demonstrations. When you need to rest your tired feet, catch the IMAX movie on the fantasy and realization of flight. 

Travel pro-tip: Purchase a few bags of astronaut ice cream to enjoy while you watch. 

Library of Congress Young Readers Center 

You don't have to be a bookworm to enjoy the page-turners and special children's programs available at the Library of Congress, where young readers can fill growing minds with the power of the written word. While you're there, stop by the Young Readers Center for a series of activity sheets and scavenger hunts. And if you're visiting on a Friday, stay for Story Hour in the Jefferson Building. 

Travel pro-tip: Pick up your kid's first library card to use wherever you call home within the United States.

United States Botanical Garden

Located conveniently next to the U.S. Capitol, this balmy indoor garden is especially enjoyable to visit during colder months. It's home to more than 4,000 seasonal, tropical and subtropical plants. Spend an hour or so walking through the colorful and sensory-rich exhibits.

Travel pro-tip: Grab a Plant Passport or Field Journal first to help kids explore the garden on their terms. 

Sunset Cruise on the Potomac

Embark on a riverboat tour at the Georgetown Waterfront and spend the next 50 minutes exploring the major Washington D.C. landmarks that hug the Potomac shore. This unique vantage point provides great entertainment for the whole clan, and kids three and under ride for free. 

Travel pro-tip: Level-up the experience and opt for a three-course dinner cruise.

Morning Walk on the National Mall + Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Take your coffee and hot chocolate to go, and take a family stroll along the Mall admiring the Washington Monument, Reflection Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. Then take a walk on the wild side at the massive National Museum of Natural History, home to the world's largest diamond, a full-scale model of a blue whale, a live coral reef, dinosaur skeletons and an insect zoo with regularly scheduled tarantula feedings.

Travel pro-tip: Download the Junior Ranger Activity Book before you go, so your aspiring park ranger(s) can learn a little along the way.

The District Wharf

As one of D.C.'s newest neighborhood attractions, The District Wharf designers must have designed it with kids in mind. Larger than life outdoor games, like bocce ball and mini-golf, make it easy to have a blast, even for the young at heart. Other fun activities include splashing in the fountains, kayaking and paddle boarding in warmer months. Warm yourself up during the winter ice skating. 

Travel pro-tip: Plan your visit so you can enjoy a concert on the floating stage.

Old Town Alexandria

Hop aboard a water taxi to soak up some history in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, located just across the waterway. If you'd prefer to keep your feet on dry land, ride the free King Street trolley, then visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center. This former World War II workshop is now home to the most extensive collection of publicly accessible working artist studios.  

Continue your tour of Alexandria with a walk by the Spite House, the skinniest historic house in America. At just seven feet wide, John Hollensbury built the house in 1830 out of spite to keep loiterers out of his adjacent alley. 

Round out the day with a bite at one of Alexandria's many great historic restaurants, including Virtue Feed & Grain, an American tavern located in an 1800s feed house, or Columbia Firehouse, once home to the Columbia Steam Engine Fire Company. 

Travel pro-tip: If you have a bit more time to spend in Alexandria, stop by The Christmas Attic shop to purchase an inexpensive scavenger hunt and self-guided tour that'll lead you through a maze of clues as you learn about George Washington and the City of Alexandria.

National Building Museum 

Dedicated to the art of building and filled with activity galleries that encourage children to build things, this unique museum is a must-do. The "Please Touch" full-scale construction materials offer a rare opportunity to see how we make buildings. 

Travel pro-tip: Plan your trip around the monthly Saturday family activity, where families work together to spackle walls, chop wood and more. 

International Spy Museum 

For children 10 and up, a visit to the International Spy Museum promises an intriguing introduction to the world of espionage. Learn what it takes to be a spy, how spies work during times of war and peace and how techniques and technologies are changing to deal with cyberspace's new challenges. Exhibits also include more than 200 spy gadgets, weapons, bugs, cameras and other tools of the trade.

Family Bike Ride on the Mount Vernon Trail 

Strap on your helmets and rent bikes for a Mount Vernon Trail adventure. Explore the trail that runs parallel to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and follows the Potomac River's west bank. This flat ride offers beautiful views of the riverfront and Washington's famous landmarks.

Where to stay in Washington, D.C.

Nestled between the well-known Dupont Circle and Georgetown neighborhoods, The District by Hilton Club timeshare occupies the top floors of the Embassy Suites by Hilton, offering convenient access to the city.

Choose vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations, and you'll enjoy proximity to the area's world-famous monuments and attractions, spacious 1-,2-bedroom suites with kitchenettes and the peace of mind that you get when you stay with the most trusted names in travel.

Read 3-Day Getaway: Washington, D.C. for more vacation ideas for your time in the capital.

Vacationeer

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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