Picture your perfect day with the kids in D.C. What does it entail? A stroll down the National Mall? An exhibit at the Smithsonian? Paddle boats at the Tidal Basin? While the District has its fair share of headaches (traffic, anyone?) there are so many more things to dig-to-pieces about this family-friendly city. Here are just a handful of those things.

discover theaterPhoto courtesy of Discovery Theater via Facebook

#1 Discovery Theater
theater completely devoted to kids and their imaginations. What’s not to love?

#2 Museums are free
It’s easy to take this for granted, but don’t. With some of the best museums in the country right here in the heart of the city, the fact that they are free should make us all full-time tourists.

#3 Lazy afternoons on the National Mall
Soccer, kites, hotdogs, and carousel rides—need we say more? This wide-open green space is a free-for-all of fun.

#4 Mini-golf at East Potomac Golf Course
The mini-golf course here is actually on the National Register of Historic Places, and features terrific views of the city and Hains Point. Combine this with a tour of the cherry blossoms for a fabulous family outing.

THX0477Photo courtesy of THX0477 via Creative Commons

#5 Hanging out with the butterflies
Flutter by, butterflies! Yes, hundreds of them. This awe-inspiring experience is part of the Smithsonian National Museum and kids absolutely love it. Bonus: It’s free to be with the butterflies on Tuesdays.

#6 There are Cherry Blossoms…and lots of them
When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, Hains Point Park is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Take a paddle boat out into the Tidal Basin for an even better view.

#7 Rock Creek Park
Fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, the ebb and flow of Rock Creek, and it’s all smack dab in the middle of the city.

#8 Rock Creek Park’s planetarium
As if Rock Creek Park wasn’t awesome enough. The park’s planetarium is the real star of the show!

Messay ShoakenaPhoto courtesy of Messay Shoakena

#9 Watching airplanes at Gravelly Point Park
Located just off of George Washington Parkway, it’s not the quietest place to be, but nowhere else can you get this up-close-and-personal with a flying airplane unless you’re on it.

#10 Comet Ping Pong
Finally! A place where you can have a beer whilst rocking your kid to sleep. Comet Ping Pong is tasty pizzeria/ping pong spot draws an eclectic crowd—from urban hipsters and Capitol Hill politicians to families-of-four and tourists. The best part: everyone (even your raucous 2-year-old) is welcomed with open arms.

#11 The National Air and Space Museum
Speaking of airplanes…. Our very own National Air and Space Museum holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. Did we mention the cost to get in? Yep, free.

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#12 Seeing how money is made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
There’s something about money… You can watch millions of dollars being printed at this money museum as you walk along a gallery overlooking the production floor. It’s mesmerizing for grown-ups and minis alike.

#13 Great Falls Park
Just minutes from concrete-laden downtown and you’re in the center of nature, with beautiful views of the Potomac spilling over a series of steep, jagged rocks. For Great Falls Park, you’ll want to bring your camera.

#14 Flying kites at the Washington Monument
A windy day means a heavenly sky swarming with colorful kites. Insider secret: Bring a blanket and let your babe do tummy time at the Washington Monument—she just might do her first rollover while trying to sneak a peek at the kites above.

 

cupcake-flavorsPhoto courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake via Facebook

#15 CUPCAKES!
Kids love cupcakes, but D.C. kids (and their parents) looooooooove cupcakes. And we’ve got dozens of different bakeries (plus a food truck) that specialize in the sweet treat to prove it. With all of these options, birthday parties are, well, a piece of cake.

#16 That there are panda bears in our backyard
Pandas are only one of the many cool creatures you can scope at the National Zoo, and, like the museums, it’s free.

#17 Fireworks on the National Mall
Full of patriotism and awe, this spectacular show lights up the sky above the Washington Monument.

Harsh1.0Photo courtesy of Harsh1.0 via Creative Commons

#18 The monuments at night
Taking an evening stroll around the landmarks—especially the D.C. War Memorial—is super-pretty and super-chill (the heavy tourist crowds have moved on by 5 pm). Let the kids bring their flashlights and they’ll think they’re on a scavenger hunt.

#19 Crystal City Shops on a rainy day
There isn’t anything super special about the stores and restaurants in this underground shopping center, but there is a long corridor for kids to frolic back and forth through. Crystal City Shops are also great for impromptu walking/stroller workouts. Trust us—you won’t be the only parent there.

#20 Glen Echo Park
Dancing, puppetry, drama, and all forms of art, Glen Echo Park is a mecca for D.C.’s liveliest visual and performing arts.

What do you absolutely love about D.C.? Tel us in the comments section below. 

—Jamy Bond