There’s way more to D.C. than history makers and political figures, especially when it comes to exploring with kids this summer. We’ve scoured the entire DMV to find the best family activities, whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor to the area. Without further ado (and in no particular order) read on for the best things to do with kids in Washington D.C.

Photo: Stephanie Gill Photography used with permission by Melissa

1. Get your sugar fix at one of these bomb bakeries. Bonus: These spots also offer nut-free/gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free goodies!

2. One of D.C. kids’ favorite play date spots, you can build, run, climb, and explore freely at the National Building Museum.

3. Pick your own produce at one of the DMV’s top fruit (and flower) farms.

4. Make a reservation at a restaurant with an emphasis on pre-meal entertainment that keeps kids occupied until dinner is served.

5. Hop in the car–or on the Marc train–and enjoy a day in Charm City (aka Baltimore).


6. Organize a family donation day. Clean out clothes and toys and find them a new and loving home.

7. Blast brain drain with an easy at-home science experiment.

8. We are a lucky lot! Many of the breweries in and around the DMV serve beers and ales in a family-friendly setting. Check them out!

9. If your kid’s idea of a good time includes hurtling toward concrete at 81 miles per hour and slurping frozen lemonade, snag tickets to one of these amusement wonderlands.

Photo: National Mall

10. Visit the National Mall like a pro, which includes stopping by the Hirshhorn for storytime and pizza for lunch.

11. Teamwork makes the dream work, so sign up as a duo at a cool kid-plus-grown-up class (think: cooking, art, and yoga).

12. Three words: Indoor. Water. Park. Pack your swimsuits and beach towels, and go make a splash!

13. Slide, swing, or zip-line your way to a new-to-your-crew playground.

14. Head out on the highway to one of these kid-favorite day trips, all two hours or less from the Capitol.

15. Put on your sorting hats, change into your robes, and grab your wands to check out Watson Adventures Wizard School Scavenger Hunt.

16. Whether you want to cruise on a pirate ship, kick back and watch a comedy, dig in the sand, or ply a bevy of geese with some oats, the Potomac River has you covered. 

17. Pitch a tent at the beach for sun and sand with a side of s’mores.

18. Kid-friendly Smithsonian exhibits do exist. Here’s where you can take enlighten little ones (and also exercise that mommy brain!). 

19. Go where the wild things roam at the National Zoo or the Reston Petting Zoo.

Photo: National Harbor

20. Ride the Capital Wheel at National Harbor. But don’t stop there. National Harbor is a families playground.  

21. Spend the day at Roosevelt Island. It’s actually one of the most baby-friendly places to hike in the DMV. 

22. Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home-sweet-home, will fill up a blank afternoon in no time. 

23. Spend a relaxing morning at Glen Echo Park. The puppet shows for kids will pull at your heart strings. 

24. Stroll around one of D.C.’s classic markets, including Eastern Market or Union Market.

25. Spread out at the Georgetown Waterfront. This iconic neighborhood may require a double header–come back the next day for more fun. 

26. Head to the Chesapeake for a day or spend the night. Follow geotrails, go boating, hunt for fossils, and more!

27. Explore underground at Luray Caverns Whether you want to tire the kids out on an endless hike, ride an elevator 34 stories down, or listen to nature’s pipe organ, the opportunity to go spelunking is just a cave away.

28. Go off to see the Wizard at Watkins Regional Park Wizard of Oz Playground. Don’t forget your camera! There’s a real life yellow brick road at this park for your crew to skip down. 

29. Three words: yoga with goats. Yes, goats. What more is there to say about that?

Photo: Patrick Shanks via flickr

30. Take your team out to the ballgame. Of course we’re rooting for the Nationals and the Orioles.

31. Grab a flashlight and check out some of your favorite monuments at nightThese are particularly stunning under the stars: JeffersonFDRLincolnMLK.

32. Don’t let it rain on your parade. Play and stay dry at an indoor playground. If you haven’t visited Badlands yet, a drizzling day is the perfect time to do it! 

33. When all else fails, go bowling!

34. Roll around on some skates. Show off your moves at Skate N Fun Zone or Temple Hills Skate Palace.

35. Eat all of the ice cream. With this many cool treats, there’s no time for watching that waistline.

36, There’s more than one reason to love Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral. It’s stocked with beautiful roses, fun exploring pathways, a tiny pond with goldfish and frogs, a shady stone gazebo, and a big open lawn to run around in or spread a picnic blanket on.

37. Every evening at 6 p.m., the Kennedy Center opens its doors for visitors to check out local, national and international talent for free.

38. Pint-size aviation buffs will love hanging out at Gravelly Point Park, which is conveniently situated just off of the George Washington Parkway. It’s there where they’re able to watch planes take off (right above their heads!) from Reagan National Airport.

39. Stroll the halls of the Torpedo Factory, a former munitions factory turned art space.

Photo: Nathan Gilliat via flickr

40. You don’t get much more epic than the Discovery Shuttle up close and amazing. Check it out at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

41. Relive Night at the Museum for the most epic sleepover ever. Bonus: you don’t have to clean up popcorn from your carpet the next morning!

42. The one thing that makes King Street in Old Town Alexandria better for kids (aside from a scoop at Pops) is the free trolley system that runs up and down it.

43. On Saturday mornings, the National Theater invites kids to check out a free family-friendly performance from the likes of Uncle Devin, The YoJo Show and Magician Brian Curry. Trust us—this is 1,000 times cooler than watching cartoons.

44. Take a selfie with The Big Chair. Dubbed as Anacostia’s most recognizable landmark, the Big Chair stands (er, sits) at a magnificent 19.5 feet high.

45. See the National Mall (or Capitol Hill or U Street) with DC by Foot, a walking tour company that gives free, kid-friendly tours (gratuity recommended) infused with games, fun facts and trivia.

46. Feel the beat at Meridian Hill Park on Sundays (weather-permitting) to hear the famous drum circle, a fixture in the park since the 1950s.

47. The rangers at Jones Point Lighthouse in Jones Point Park offer a cool, one-hour exploration tour for families. Every second Sunday of the month, kids learn about one of the last riverine lighthouses in the country through games and arts and crafts. Jones Point Park (Alexandria, Va)

48. Located just outside the National Academy of Sciences’ building, this larger-than-life Albert Einstein Memorial makes for a perfect photo-op (and a snack stop).

49. Be amazed at the National Bonsai Museum. One of the super pruned, mini trees at this National Arboretum housed museum dates back to 1625. Not a typo.

50. Whether it’s their birthday or they just need to bounce off the walls, the DMV has plenty of bounce house locales.

Photo: National Aquairum

51. With over 20,000 underwater critters, puffin feedings, a 4D Immersion Theater, and more, the National Aquarium has something that floats everyone’s boat.

52. Do Loudon County like a true local.

53. Sure, the local cineplex is a great way to show them life on the big screen, but the D.C. area has several more options, where you can see a film, grab a snack and maybe enjoy the cheap seats, with kids.

54. You could literally spend all day in Arlington and not get bored. Here’s proof.

55. Need a change of play scenery? There are plenty of new-to-you indoor play areas located in the most unsuspecting place: the mall.

56. Dip your toes in the water at Sandy Point Beach. If you can’t make it to one of the more popular beaches, take a day trip to Annapolis, Md! It’s only an hour away.

57. Watch ice cream being made right before your eyes. And then eat it too! All at the Nicecream Factory.

58. Go ice skating! Rinks open year-round can be found at Fort DupontCabin John, and Fairfax.

59. Head to Harper’s Ferry for a float down the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

Photo: Wolftrap

60. Enjoy an outdoor concert at Wolftrap. Don’t forget to bring a picnic basket filled with goodies and a blanket!

61. For the history buffs in your crew, spend a few days in Colonial Williamsburg. You’ll explore the city and rub elbows with “residents” (er, actors dressed up to look like residents) living during the revolutionary time period.

62. Thrill seekers would be remiss if they didn’t go to Busch Gardens or King’s Dominion…or both!

63. Give the pit master in your troupe a break and head to one of these haunts for a weiner that wows.

64. Go camping at Cherry Hill Park. Take your RV or pitch a tent. There’s mini golf, a playground, and arcade right on-site! Pets are even welcome.

65. Ride a carousel with your preschooler. Some of the tried and true rides can be found at Wheaton RegionalNational Harbor, and Glen Echo.

66. You don’t have to trade in the bottomless drinks for crayons! Pick from one of D.C.’s many spots to have brunch with your kids, friends and family.

67. Have pie for dinner. Yum!

68. End your quest for local comfort food at one of these winning restaurants for soups and stews. Try a gazpacho or chilled soup in the summer.

69. We can all agree that when you have a cookie craving there’s nothing better than a freshly baked classic like chocolate chip, and the D.C. area will not let you down.

70. Dine at a dive. These dining spots might not look like much, but the kitchen holds a world of flavor, and they love it when you bring your kids!

71. Burn some energy at My Gym Bethesda.

Photo: Sky Zone

72. Who doesn’t love flying?Jump out the sillies at Sky Zone or another trampoline park.

73. Just looking to go to a playground on a good weather day? Add Westminster to your list.

74. Enjoy a puppet show at Bloombars.

75. Choo-choo through the B&O Museum.

76. Catch a show at the Atlas Young Theatre. Atlas Theatre presents a series of interactive performances for children throughout the year. 

77. The Playseum always serves up a good time, allowing children to explore and use their imagination to no end.

78. Snap a family pic in front of one of D.C.’s coolest back drops. Do it for the ‘gram.

79. Go fish!

Photo: Potomac Point Winery

80. Take an adventure of grape-tastic proportions. Meet our areas kid-friendliest wineries.

81. Give your courageous kiddos the insect fix they crave.

82. Hike it out on a fabulous baby-friendly trail.

83. Learn about our local furry and feathered friends at a wildlife sanctuary or preservation area.

84. Slip on some comfy shoes, pack some snacks, and get ready to explore some pretty cool under- and over-pass bridges

85. Little ones and outdoor sculpture, it turns out, are a good combination, and a refreshingalternative to the playground circuit. Check some out. 

86. Head to a fairy-dotted forest for an afternoon of whimsy and wonder.

87. Milk a Cow at Frying Pan Farm Park. While you’re there take a spin on the carousel or bump your way around the park on a wagon ride.

88. You don’t have to go chasing waterfalls. We’ve found them for you, and they’re beautiful!

89. Find a way fore-ward at one of our favorite mini-golf courses.

Photo: Eli Christman via flickr

90. Pack your day trip bag and make a bee line to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens near Richmond, Va. It’s AMAZING.

91. Burn some kid energy at an indoor rock climbing gym where scaling the walls is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged.

92. Take a chip trip to Route 11, where potato snacks are hand-cooked right in front of you. 

93. No-fail entertainment for your tot doesn’t get any simpler than story time. Here are our favorites throughout the district.

94. Much more than a few mats on the floor, Scramble focuses on physical and cognitive play for babies and kids up to age 10. Go and stay all day.

95. In an only-in-D.C. moment, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing you can see millions of dollars being printed as you walk along the gallery overlooking the production floor.

96. The National Building Museum’s popular Building Zone is a mama’s dream, and features a host of imaginary play and building activities that will help your kids make sense of the world around them.

97. Plan a staycation in one of our area’s coolest family-friendly Airbnb’s.

98. Sail the ziplines at the Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure in Fairfax.

99. Roll with your tribe.

100. Take a spin on the Capital Wheel at National Harbor. The 175-foot Ferris wheel sits at the end of a pier, overlooking the Potomac River and is patiently awaiting its mini-thrill seekers.

—Ayren Jackson-Cannady



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