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Washington, DC

What to do with teens on spring break?

My family and I are going to Florida for spring break and will spend a full weekend in Washington, DC.  I am interested in off-the-beaten track things to do in this city with teenagers 13-16.  Please give recommendations for specific, cool Smithsonian exhibits to see, markets, galleries, cool parks, cafes, great places to hang out, cheap eats (not franchises).  What makes you love Washington DC that other cities don't have?  We always are looking for great breakfast places/food.

7 Answers

top answer by
Tiffany from Corvallis

I have two teens and they like TOTALLY different things... so I'll give you a smattering.

Historic Georgetown is just cool. You can see the stairs from the Exorcist, walk around the campus of Georgetown University, do a chocolate tour, shop (great shopping), eat (too many restaurants to choose from), and enjoy the green spaces along the canal. You can even rent kayaks if the weather is nice. Georgetown is kitchy and cool and has some fun street art too.

For breakfast, go to the Eastern Market. There's a little place inside known for their pancakes, but the menu is extensive and the prices are reasonable. This Capital Hill district is cute. Fun shops, coffee shops, book stores, restaurants. It's an easy walk from the United States Capitol and the Library of Congress, but you can also take the Metro to the Eastern Market stop and walk a couple blocks.

Another breakfast spot is actually at the International Spy Museum. It's good and inexpensive. The museum, on the other hand, is a bit pricey, but worth it.

As for Smithsonians, it totally depends on what interests your kids. The National Air and Space Museum is very popular (but the one in Dulles is better - the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center & National Air and Space Museum) If you make the trek out to Dulles, you can combine it with a short hike and visit to Great Falls National Park.

The National Museum of the American Indian is impressive and has a great (though pricey) cafe with foods that are authentic to different regions of the US. My oldest and I love the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It's edgy and begins great conversations. All the Smithsonians are great though - so really, it's up to what you like. We also love the Presidential exhibit and the 1st ladies dresses at the National Museum of American History . The Museum of Natural History is interesting, but is often the most crowded especially around the Hope Diamond... but the rest of the gems exhibit is really cool.

Rock Creek Park is a great place to bike/walk etc... If the kids haven't been before, do the monument walk from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln National Memorial, then see the Korean War Veterans Memorial and Vietnam War Veteran's Memorial, then walk to the Tidal Basin and see the  Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the  Thomas Jefferson Memorial. You can do that entire walk in 2 hours or less at a decent pace, or take a million photos and take 3 hours. Unfortunately, there isn't much food around there, so eat before or metro to good food after.  You may catch some early cherry blossom action around the Tidal Basin. The Cherry Blossoms are beautiful.

Hop on the Metro and explore Alexandria (Virginia). There's an Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and  Gadsby's Tavern where George Washington, Madison and others ate.  Misha's Coffee is the best coffee shop there and you can have amazing Lebanese food at the The Pita House. We also like the BGR the Burger Joint which has a place at Dupont Circle and in Old Town Alexandria.

My daughter just chimed in that she loves the National Museum of Crime & Punishment and that her least favorite thing in DC is the US Capitol Building tour (which is "drawn out and boring") according to her.

If your teens want to shop at a mall, go to Crystal City. The mall is amazing. There's a metro stop too, so it's easy to get in and out again.

If I think of something else, I'll edit this and add a few things.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Historic Georgetown (attraction)
  2. Georgetown University (attraction)
  3. Eastern Market (attraction)
  4. United States Capitol (attraction)
  5. Library of Congress (attraction)
  6. International Spy Museum (attraction)
  7. National Air and Space Museum (attraction)
  8. Dulles (city)
  9. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center & National Air and Space Museum (attraction)
  10. Great Falls National Park (attraction)
  11. National Museum of the American Indian (attraction)
  12. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (attraction)
  13. National Museum of American History (attraction)
  14. Museum of Natural History (attraction)
  15. Rock Creek Park (attraction)
  16. Washington Monument (attraction)
  17. Lincoln National Memorial (attraction)
  18. Korean War Veterans Memorial (attraction)
  19. Vietnam War Veteran's Memorial (attraction)
  20. Tidal Basin (attraction)
  21. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (attraction)
  22. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (attraction)
  23. Thomas Jefferson Memorial (attraction)
  24. Cherry Blossoms (attraction)
  25. Alexandria (Virginia) (city)
  26. Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (attraction)
  27. Gadsby's Tavern (restaurant)
  28. Misha's Coffee (restaurant)
  29. The Pita House (restaurant)
  30. BGR the Burger Joint (restaurant)
  31. Dupont Circle (attraction)
  32. Old Town Alexandria (attraction)
  33. National Museum of Crime & Punishment (attraction)
  34. Crystal City (neighborhood)
6 thankscomments (4)

answered by
Sofia from Washington, DC

A lot of it depends on how much you would like to spend on your trip. The Newseum and the International Spy Museum are both interesting, but also cost money to enter. being said, one of the beauties of Washington D.C. is that there are also museums that don't require a payment for entrance (I would need to know your interests to be able to suggest a museum to visit). Some recommendations for places to eat would be: Founding Farmers, District of Pi and Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Newseum (attraction)
  2. International Spy Museum (attraction)
  3. Founding Farmers (restaurant)
  4. District of Pi (restaurant)
  5. Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Heath from Boston

Some of the best museums in the city are on the National Mall but are not as well known. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a great modern art museum on the Mall. The United States Botanic Garden is also not as well known and despite the uncool name is actually a green sanctuary in the city not far from Capitol Hill. Eastern Market on Capitol Hill is a funky outdoor market on the weekends. Close to the mall by the National Science Foundation (close to the Vietnam War Veteran's Memorial and  Lincoln National Memorial) has an enormous bronze statue of Albert Einstein - Albert Einstein Memorial

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. National Mall (attraction)
  2. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (attraction)
  3. United States Botanic Garden (attraction)
  4. Capitol Hill (attraction)
  5. Eastern Market (attraction)
  6. National Science Foundation (attraction)
  7. Vietnam War Veteran's Memorial (attraction)
  8. Lincoln National Memorial (attraction)
  9. Albert Einstein Memorial (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Shannon from Albuquerque

A great place to take teenagers (and adults) for breakfast would be Busboys and Poets.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Busboys and Poets (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Patrick from Largo (Maryland)

For the best place to grab lunch, go to Bub and Pop's in Dupont Circle. It has the best sandwiches in DC!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bub and Pop's (restaurant)
1 thanks

answered by
Denise from Versailles, Ohio

I would definitely recommend the Newseum and the International Spy Museum, in that order.  Both charge admission, but offer unique experiences.  The Newseum has lots of great exhibits around the news and its place in history.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Newseum (attraction)
  2. International Spy Museum (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

The Eastern Market is a great place to visit.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Eastern Market (attraction)
1 thanks

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