Looking for tourist destinations that both visiting grandparents and their grandkids will love? Check out these seven DMV attractions for easy trips that will make everyone–young and young-at-heart–happy.
Photo: Roer’s Zoofari
If the larger National Zoo is too much for your visitors, try Roers’s Zoofari, also known as the “Reston Zoo,” which is a lot more manageable. Kiddos will love feeding the animals (in designated feeding locations, $3.50 per cup or $12 per bucket), and you can pay a little extra to feed a camel or giraffe. Keep in mind that unlike the National Zoo, the Zoofari costs money (adults are $15, seniors get a discounted rate of $13, and kids 2-12 are $10), but the open-air bus tour ride is free the first time you ride it.
1228 Hunter Mill Rd. (Vienna, Va.)
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s everything you can see from the safety and comfort of Gravelly Point, where kids and adults can watch the planes take off from Reagan National Airport. Be sure to bring your camera—getting a picture of your kiddo (plus, nana and papa) reaching for the planes could be a precious opportunity. Parking is limited, so take one car if possible and bring along a picnic lunch and some comfy seating for your parents.
George Washington Pkwy. (Arlington, Va.)
Photo: National Harbor
Located just south of D.C., the Waterfront sports pirate ship rides, the capital wheel, a carousel, and the Peeps & Company candy store where grandparents can spoil their grandkids with a sweet treat. Most importantly, there are lots of restaurants where families can take in the views without going very far.
165 Waterfront St. (National Harbor)
Your Nearest D.C. Public Library
Shhh. There’s no talking in the library, so it’s guaranteed to be a fun destination for grandparents looking for a quiet setting to spend time with their grandchildren. You can also check out for their story time hours or have grandparents read to kids themselves. (Note: The Martin Luther King Jr. Library closed on March 4, 2017 for modernization and will reopen in 2020).
United States Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden has breathtaking plant exhibits, a jungle room, a butterfly garden, and an easily walkable outdoor mid-Atlantic garden that your parents will enjoy strolling through and your kiddos will love to explore. There are bathrooms an easy walk away from anywhere in the building, and you can find a wheelchair-accessible route marked on .
100 Maryland Ave., SW
Photo: Village at Shirlington
The Village at Shirlington
Your parents will love their pick of upscale restaurants in Shirlington, where favorites like Copperwood Tavern keep DMV residents coming back. Or they can choose more wallet-friendly options like Best Buns Bread Company or Lotus Grill and Noodles. Kids will enjoy walking around town, watching the dogs play in the nearby dog park, or seeing a kid-friendly flick at AMC Shirlington 7. Currently going on is the Shirlala Music Festival, which means live music every Thursday night from 6:30-8:30, June 15-August 24.
Does your kiddo love trains? Why not take visiting grandparents to Union Station, where they can eat, shop, people watch, and learn about the history of this impressive hub? Union Station’s lower level has a food court, but there are other dining options throughout the station or a very short walk away. The station can get crowded, so this is a better choice for grandparents who don’t mind an active location or are very interested in architecture.
40 Massachusetts Ave., NE (Union Station)
Tell us about your favorite grandparent-friendly spots in the comments below.
–Kelly Ann Jacobson