Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®.
After our family vacation to San Diego for winter break, we wanted to take a road trip for our spring break. I hadn’t visited Washington, DC with the kids yet, so we decided to drive the 7-8 hours from Boston to DC for a few days. There are so many fun things to do in Washington DC with kids, and we had a great time. We stayed for 4 nights – I’d probably recommend at least 5 if possible. Although there are many hotels located right in Washington, DC, we opted to stay at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland.
National Harbor is a relatively new spot in the greater Washington DC area, featuring hotels, restaurants, shops, and an outlet mall. Since our hotel was located in National Harbor, we spent our first afternoon there. The highlight for my kids was the Capital Wheel. Although the view wasn’t that spectacular (it’s a little too far to see much of DC), my kids still really enjoyed the ride. It’s pricey though, but a fun experience. Be sure to stop at the Peeps store in National Harbor, if your kids love those marshmallow treats.
Admission to the Smithsonian Museums is free, and therefore is a great option with kids. It’s nice to be able to visit a museum knowing that you’ll be able to leave and return whenever you’d like. During our visit, we went to several – the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History (my personal favorite), and the National Air and Space Museum (my kids’ favorite). As with most family-friendly museums, they tend to get more crowded as the day goes on, so plan accordingly. We found it easiest to start at the top floor and move down, so be flexible with your plan.
See the Monuments/Memorials
My son is learning American History in school this year, and was so excited to check out all of the monuments and memorials. We saw them in two separate trips. The first day, we had a cab driver drop us off at the Lincoln Memorial and we walked to the mall, and on our last day, we parked at the Tidal Basin and walked around.
Mount Vernon is located about 30 miles away in Virginia, but is definitely worth the visit. We went on a relatively quiet day, but it definitely can get busy. When purchasing your tickets, you’ll be given a specific time that you can tour the home. If you purchase your ticket online in advance, you’ll have more options to choose your time.
The grounds are absolutely beautiful, but the highlight for us was the wreath ceremony at Washington’s tomb. Several times a day, they perform a small ceremony and place a wreath in the tomb where President Washington and his wife Martha are buried. We arrived at the tomb prior to the ceremony, and my son was chosen to participate.
You can also see several different movies about Washington and the Revolutionary War, which my kids really enjoyed. Expect to spend at least half a day at Mount Vernon.
International Spy Museum
The privately-owned International Spy Museum does charge an admission fee, but is absolutely worth the visit if your kids like learning about spies. My 8 and 10 year old children loved it. Read our full review for more information.
Have you been to Washington, DC? What were the highlights of your trip?