Rain, snow and ice make for stir crazy grown-ups and super-bored kids. So if your little darlings have watched enough TV for an entire year, bundle them up and and make a bee-line for the nearest metro. We’ve rounded up the best dry spots off of the Blue, Yellow and Orange lines to hang with the kiddos, grab a snack and ride the rails. Smartrip card not included.
First Stop: If your kiddos are mini history buffs, take the Blue or Yellow line to King Street (FYI: kids under 4 ride the metro for free) and then head west (one quick block) to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and learn some uncommon lessons about our first president. For instance, did you know that he was part of a brotherhood called the Freemasons and was the Acting Grand Master when he laid the cornerstone for the U.S. Capitol? After you’ve tooled around the temples halls, take a ride up an elevator 333 feet to the top of the memorial where you can look out over D.C. Ask your guide why the elevator doesn’t go straight up, but slants at an angle (so cool!). Included in your tour is a visit to the museum where kids can check out the Washington’s family bible, a clock stopped by Washington’s physician at the exact time of his death and a Persian rug that’s now worth over a million bucks!
George Washington Masonic National Memorial
101 Callahan Ave. (Alexandria, Va)
Open: Daily, 10 am–4 pm
Cost: $8/adults; free/kids 12 and under
Second Stop: After you’ve taken selfies and Instagramed the view from the top of the Masonic Temple head back to King Street (going east) and indulge in some seafood at Ernie’s Original Crab Shack. Little ones will delight in whacking their lunch before chowing down on some freshly steamed crabs. Ernie’s is no frills so bring a few bibs and some wet wipes to clean up with after the kids have filled their bellies. The fried clams and hush puppies plate is another kid-friendly pick that will round out the meal before hopping back on the metro.
Ernie’s Crab House
1743 King St. (Alexandria, Va)
Open: Mon–Fri, 11 am–3 pm; Sat–Sun, 12 pm–3 pm
Third Stop: If seafood isn’t your thing, walk a little further east and bust into Hard Time’s Café which is world famous (or just D.C. famous) for their kid friendly, parent approved chili, chili mac-and-cheese, and grilled chicken wings. Since you’re riding the metro, feel free to wash your meal down with some Port City beer brewed just a few blocks away (Insider’s recommendation: The Monumental IPA and Pilsner’s are surefire hits). If you go, be sure to take a pic of your kiddos hanging out with “the horse with no name” in the pickup truck out front!
Hard Times Café
1404 King St. (Alexandria, Va)
Open: Sun–Thu, 11 am–11 pm; Fri–Sat, 11 am–12 am
First Stop: Fans of the National Mall are well acquainted with the Orange Line, but we bet there are a few venues along the way that might surprise your all-knowing little ones. Hop off at the Smithsonian stop, and venture over to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) to “show them the money” with a free (!) tour of the printing process. Older kids will ohh and ahh at latest $100 bills, while younger kids will gaze in wonder at the gigantic stacks of uncut bills. You might even get to watch a master engraver designing new printing plates. If the kids are extra good, stop by the gift shop afterwards and pick up a bag of shredded money for them to play with at home.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
14th and C Sts., SW (National Mall)
Open: Daily, 9 am–4 pm
Second Stop: Jump back on the Orange line and head to the Capitol South station and the Library of Congress. It may be the super-official-sounding research arm of Congress, and the largest library in the world, but that doesn’t mean the LOC isn’t fun for little ones, too. The Young Reader’s Center offers everything from story time (10:30 am on Fridays) to visiting authors and illustrators of children’s books like M.T. Anderson, of “Me, Alone at the End of the World” fame. Moms and Dads can explore their favorite childhood books (perhaps The Little Prince or The Lone Ranger). While you can’t take these library books home, it’s a great excuse to spend all afternoon reading. If your kiddies are in love with all the new books they’ve discovered, grab a recommended reading list and head to your local library, stat.
Library of Congress Young Reader’s Center
Jefferson Building Room G29
10 First St., SE (National Mall)
Open: Mon–Fri, 9 am–4:30 pm
Third Stop: Last but not least, head across the street to Good Stuff Eatery and treat the kids (and yourself!) to a Salty Caramel or Milky Way Malt milkshake. With your minds and bellies full of yummy goodness, limp back to the metro and ride the rails home!
Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave., SE (National Mall)
Open: Mon-Sat, 11:30 am–11 pm
Do you ride the metro with your kids? What are your favorite family-friendly stops? Tell us in the comments section below.
Photos courtesy of meeshypants via Creative Commons, AlbinoFlea via Creative Commons, ssslllooo via Creative Commons, Good Stuff Eatery via Facebook