Washington, D.C., the capitol of the United States, has lots to offer! The city is full of family friendly attractions at low or no cost. It is a great option for any family vacation. Here are 20 free or inexpensive things to do with the kids:
1. Visit the National Zoo
The National Zoo is a fail-safe attraction for children, plus it has free admission! You can’t go wrong here. Escape the city for a few hours and spend some time admiring the giant pandas, elephants, bobcats, bird species, tigers, and various other species. The zoo is open daily 8am to 5pm with extended hours in the summer months. I would recommend visiting during the week if possible because the weekends tend to get very crowded.
2. Walk the Reflecting Pool
The Reflecting Pool sits between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The pool spans 2,028 long and 167 feet wide. The kids will love walking along the side of the pool and taking in the reflections of the famous memorials. There is no cost to visit the Reflecting Pool.
3. Visit the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
The Smithsonian Natural History Museum is located within the National Mall and offers various exhibits that the kids will be sure to love, including elephants, bones, butterflies, Egyptian history, and fossils. The museum also offers a discovery room for children with hands on exhibits. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.
4. Visit the Washington Monument
Visit the well known towering Washington Monument and take a ride to the top. The family will love the stunning views of the city and it’s famous landmarks. You can get tickets online at www.recreation.gov months in advance for a $1 fee.
5.Visit Six Flags America.
What kid doesn’t love a theme park? And adults just as much! Take the 30-40 min. outside of the city to Six Flags America where the whole family can enjoy rides, games, food, and entertainment. It can be a nice escape from the city and is sure to be a blast!
6. Visit the National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum is another Smithsonian Museum located in the National Mall. It is open daily from 10am to 530pm and again admission is free. The museum includes various exhibits on air and space history with airplane/space ship replicas. Any space lover will love it!
7. Visit the United States Botanic Garden
The US Botanical Gardens is another great option for families. Spend some time wandering the grounds and allowing the young ones to stretch their legs. The gardens also offer a children’s garden that the young ones will love to explore. The gardens are open daily from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.
8. Visit the Beauvoir Outdoors Playground
If you are visiting on the weekend make a stop at the Beauvoir Outdoors Playground. It is an elementary school playground, but offers lots to keep the kids busy for hours. The playground is complete with rope climbs, tree houses, traditional playground equipment, and a zip line!
9. Take a Harbor tour.
If you are visiting during the warmer months jump aboard and spend a couple hours on the Potomac River taking in great views of the nation’s capitol. There are a number of tour companies offering scenic cruises throughout the day. It can be a great escape from the crowds.
10. Visit the Lincoln Memorial
Spend some time climbing the stairs to the monument and standing below the large statue of President Lincoln. You can also admire views of the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument from the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial.
11. Visit Rock Creek Nature Center
Visit the Rock Creek Nature Center and come face to face with various animal species, including snacks and turtles. You can also spend some time hiking or visiting the Discovery Room and Planetarium. The Rock Creek Park is open year long dawn to dusk, while the nature center is open Wednesday through Sunday 9am to 5pm and the Planetarium is open select days throughout the week. Be sure to check hours before your visit. Admission is free.
12. Stroll the National Mall and grab a bite to eat.
Spend some time walking the National Mall, taking in many of the famous Washington DC sites, relaxing in the yard, and grabbing a bite to eat or bring a picnic lunch! There is plenty of space for the kids to run.
13. Visit Nationals Park
Take your family out for a ball game while enjoying classic ball game foods. If your children are interested in sports this will be a great experience for them.
14. Visit the Wharf
The Wharf is an outdoor space near the waterfront that offers oversized board games, swings, fountains, and free events offered throughout the year.
15. Visit Ford’s Theater
Visit historic Ford’s Theater for a tour or catch a show that the family will enjoy. The theater is open for guided tours on select days and offers different plays, readings, etc. throughout the year.
16. Visit the White House
Take a stroll along the outside of the White House and see perhaps the most well known “house” in the country. If you plan ahead and request a tour (must be done 1 to 3 months in advance through a member of congress) you may be able to go inside and see where the president lives (may be better suited for older children).
17. Visit Madame Tussauds DC
Visit Washington DC’s wax museum located a short distance from the National Mall. View life size wax figures of many well known people, including presidents, first ladies, and astronauts. Admission to the museum is $26 at the door with online discounts. The museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm, with the exception of Sunday when it closes at 5pm.
18. Visit the Capitol Building
The Capitol Building is located at the eastern end of the national mall. It is open to visitors Monday through Saturday. This attraction may be more suitable for older children.
19. Visit the National Postage Museum
The National Postage Museum is open daily and offers free admission. The museum is full of family friendly exhibits, including a stage coach, semi-truck, stamp making demonstration, package sorting, and meet Owney the Dog, the mascot of the Railway Post Office.
20. Visit the National Museum of American History.
Like the National Museum of Natural History and Air and Space, the National Museum of American History is open daily and offers free admission. It offers various exhibits that the whole family can enjoy and offers a Wegmans Wonder Place and Spark Lab for children.