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Ethan from Chicago asked

Seeing D.C. with kids?

My wife and I are taking the kids to see D.C. next month for about a week. We've never been there together as a family and we'd love some ideas. Our older son is really into history, but the younger one is more into just having fun and destroying things. ;) Any ideas?

Washington, DC (District of Columbia)

1 Answer
answered first by
Tiffany from Corvallis

I think that all of the DC museums are fairly good at balancing the educational stuff with the hands-on destroying things stuff, so you have more to do that time at this point. 

I insisted on dragging my nephew to the National Archives last year and we did the United States Capitol tour. Both are free, but don't take all day, so they are worth doing. 

Of all the DC Smithsonians, the Museum of Natural History is the most fun on the mall for boys.  They'll like the National Air and Space Museum too, but the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center & National Air and Space Museum near the Dulles Airport is better.  (You can easily combine a trip to the National Air and Space Museum in Fairfax with a visit to Great Falls National Park.)

My girls enjoyed visiting the Bureau of Engraving and Printing .  It's free.  If you're interested in WW2 history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a small children's exhibit that is free, quick, and does a great job of telling the story in an age-appropriate way.  It's close to the money tours, so it's an easy stop.  You'll also be close to the Tidal Basin here, so you can walk over and rent paddleboats here and paddle right by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Fdr Memorial, Washington, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Just north of the mall are two great museums that are NOT free (look for online coupons), but are FUN.  My girls LOVE the International Spy Museum and have done their extra secret mission thing.  It's cheesy, but the kids really love it. They'll get to see cool spy stuff, adopt an identity, and see James Bond's car.  The National Museum of Crime & Punishment is a lot cooler than I thought.  It goes through history, so you see the wild west, Bonnie and Clyde, and the gangster era all the way to the present.  In every room there are hands-on things for including a simulator for police training, for driving, and an old Western-style shoot-out.

If you have time, go to the National Zoological Park.  It is not the best zoo I've ever seen, but it is nice, free, and fun for kids. 

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