If you’re a parent of mobile children, then you’ve spent some time around fountains. They pop up everywhere: in the center of the mall, at your neighborhood outdoor shopping center, or in random places as you walk around town. And kids can’t get enough of ogling the sprays of water, dipping tiny fingers into the shallow pools, and tossing in pennies rescued from the bottom of your purse. Normally these fun water features are interruptions in your day. But we’ve got five fountains that are worth more than just a random pass-by. Beautiful, legendary, and conveniently located near other fun points of family interest, you’ll want to make an excursion just to see them. (Don’t forget the pennies.)

Photo: Mihir R. via Yelp

Sculpture Garden Fountain at the National Gallery of Art
Water arcs skyward from the perimeter of this expansive fountain set right outside the National Gallery of Art. But the best part is that you can sit along the edge and dip your feet in. Kids will love watching the water shoot intermittently into the air. And when they get antsy, you can duck into the Pavilion Café for a snack or walk through the Sculpture Garden.

3rd and 9th Sts., NW on Constitution Ave., NW
Online: nga.gov

Photo: Matthew U. via Yelp

WWII Memorial
Nestled in the middle of a ring of pillars, the fountain at the WWII Memorial dazzles young and old. While you can’t play in the fountain, you can enjoy the view as you wander around and look for your home state’s pillar. When you’ve had your fill of the fountain, wander further along the Mall for more to see or space to run around.

1750 Independence Ave., SW
Online: nps.gov

Photo: Daniel S. via Yelp

Dupont Circle
One of the more architecturally intricate fountains in the area, the fountain that marks the center of Dupont Circle features a design by sculptor Daniel Chester French in which three figures represent the Sea, the Stars and the Wind. Sit along the edge to take in the sights and sounds of the famous circle. Then walk a few blocks to either Stead Park or Mitchell Park for some playground time. You could also drop into Kramer Books or stop for lunch at Pizza Paradiso.

1 Dupont Cir., NW
Online: nps.gov

Photo: Hazel C. via Yelp

Bartholdi Fountain
Stop by the Bartholdi Fountain on your way to or from a visit to the U.S. Botanic Gardens. Also known as the Fountain of Light and Water, the entire basin lights up at night but the view is just as lovely in daylight.

100 First St., SW
Online: usbg.gov

Photo: Ilhana V. via Yelp

Meridian Hill Park Fountain
The 13-basin cascading fountain at Meridian Hill Park is the longest cascading fountain in North America. After you enjoy the view, roam around the park’s green space to run, play, and picnic. Stop by on Sundays and experience the Meridian Hill Park Sunday Drum Circle.

16th & W Sts.
Online: nps.gov

What’s your favorite local fountain? Tell us in the comments below. 

–Tricia Mirchandani