Summer can be a great time to get reacquainted with some of the amazing museums we have right in our backyard. And, if you’ve avoided museum tours for a while, thinking that your kids will never be interested enough to stay engaged, you’re in luck. We’ve found nine museum tours that the whole family will love.

Photo: elstudio via Flickr

The art of the tour: National Gallery of Art’s Stories in Art
For the budding artists in your house, check out the National Gallery of Art’s Stories in Art. Designed for kids ages 4–7, the program runs three times a week and focuses on a different topic each week. This summer series takes you on a trip through the Netherlands with everything from Rembrandt and windmills to Dutch still life. The 60-minute session is free on a first come, first served basis.

National Gallery of Art
Between 3rd and 9th Sts. on Constitution Ave.
Online: nga.gov

From National Treasure to Potomac Cruise: Tours at Mount Vernon
When thinking about local area museums, we usually run off downtown. But Mount Vernon has so much to see, so much history to experience, and so much to do whether you’re wandering the gardens or exploring the mansion. While it isn’t free like the Smithsonian, a trip to George Washington’s home can make for a lovely summer day trip. And, it has a handful of really fun tours for all ages.

For older kids: National Treasure Tour
Go behind the scenes of National Treasure: Book of Secrets and see the locations featured in the film.

For younger kids: Sightseeing Cruise of the Potomac
What kid doesn’t love a boatride? Learn about the Potomac’s history and see wildlife like eagles and osprey during this 45-minute river cruise.

For all: Through my eyes tour
Guided by ‘character interpreters,’ this 45-minute tour will immerse you in the time of George Washington and make history come to life.

Mount Vernon
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. (Mount Vernon, Va)
Online: mountvernon.org

Show me the money: Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tour
A few blocks from the National Mall, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing offers a different kind of museum tour experience. From 9 am–2 pm, Monday through Friday, a 40-minute tour takes you behind the scenes to watch the money printing process. Whether it’s seeing the big machines or looking at all of that money in one place, your kids won’t forget this one. Free tours require tickets and leave every 15 minutes, 9am – 2pm, Monday – Friday.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
301 14th St., SW (National Mall)
Online: moneyfactory.gov

This tour will not self destruct: International Spy Museum Tours
Although slightly off the beaten path, it’s no secret that the Spy Museum is fun for all ages. Just wandering through the museum can make for an exciting day. But if you’re looking for something a little more structured, check out these tours:

For older kids looking for something a little more interactive: Operation Spy immerses kids 12 and older in the world of espionage.

For slightly younger kids: Sir Veillance’s Family Mission Guide offers a fun way to work your way through the exhibits and pick up some fun spy facts along the way.

International Spy Museum
800 F St., NW
Online: spymuseum.org

The spooky side of buildings: The National Building Museum Ghost Tour
There isn’t much about the building museum that isn’t great for kids. So the next time you stop by for the Building Zone (or when you’re there for Iceberg this summer!), check out the Ghost Tour. For kids 10 and older, this evening tour explores the spookier side of the building and the artifacts it holds.  

National Building Museum
401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square)
Online: nbm.org

What are your favorite museum tours to take with kids? Tell us in the comments below.

–Tricia Mirchandani