Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do with Kids in Washington, D.C.

  • Published 2022/12/19

No one can deny that Washington, DC, the capital of the United States of America, is always on the top list of every traveler.

Despite being nearly destroyed during the War against Great Britain in 1812, the City of Washington, District of Columbia, or DC, has stood firm until now and serves as a place where history is stored.

Washington, located on the Potomac River, is home to numerous museums, memorials, and government buildings such as the United States Capitol and the White House.

This city has something for everyone, whether you like history or want fun.

If you’re hoping to make unforgettable memories with your loved ones, especially your kids, there are plenty of great activities in Washington, DC.

Here are the best things to do with kids in Washington, DC:

Travel through Time at the National Mall

National Mall during sunset

Sean Pavone /

With so many attractions to explore in this mall, it’s not surprising that it can attract more than 36 million visitors annually.

The National Mall, regarded as the country’s most famous national park, is home to numerous memorials and museums that allow visitors to travel through time.

You can find statues and memorials of people who made significant contributions to American histories, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Abraham Lincoln.

Bird's eye view of National Mall

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There are also numerous museums in the area.

Check out the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Then, visit the National Portrait Gallery, the National Air and Space Museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and many others.

People can learn about American history and culture and commemorate those who have played significant roles in history at the National Mall.

This is the best place for a family to visit in Washington, DC.

Visitors gathered around the Lincoln memorial at National Mall

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Learn Science and Math at the National Children’s Museum

Established in 1974, the National Children’s Museum is like a learning center inside a museum serving families and kids for almost 30 years.

Here, children are allowed to have fun in playful exhibits and, at the same time, learn.

This museum has over nine exhibits with playground-like facilities, including Little Dreamers and the Innovation Sandbox.

Exterior view of National Children’s Museum

Rosemarie Mosteller /

One of their exhibits is the Dream Machine, a three-story climber and slides where kids can test their strength and agility.

What’s nice about this is that the museum specifies the knowledge they can gain from this exhibit and the profession that best suits them.

The National Children’s Museum’s primary focus is science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).

These subjects are frequently considered difficult to learn, but children will be motivated to study them through this museum.

Expand Your Knowledge at the Library of Congress

Facade of the  Library of Congress

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While it’s not the oldest, The Library of Congress, established in 1800, was once known as the most extensive library in Washington and around the world.

With millions of books, newspapers, photographs, films, and manuscripts that everyone can access, tourists will have a great time visiting this place.

Reading room at  Library of Congress


Several interactive exhibits are also available at the library.

The majority focuses on American history and culture and showcases significant artifacts like Waldseemüller’s Map of the World and a few items from Jay I. Kislak’s collection.

With stunning architectural designs, you’ll appreciate this library even more once you know there’s a space where researchers can access many resources.

Books at  Library of Congress

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

The Library of Congress also established a Young Readers Center with storytime and book clubs for youngsters to join.

This will undoubtedly make the kids’ visit more enjoyable.

Bring your kids and widen your knowledge of politics and history when you check out this destination!

Interior view of the  Library of Congress

DCStockPhotography /

Learn about Courage at the National World War II Memorial

View of National World War II Memorial

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The National World War II Memorial, one of the sites on the National Mall, opened in 2004.

It honors individuals who dedicated their lives to protect their nation’s independence.

To be exact, this memorial is for over 16 million members of the American armed forces, 405,399 people, and countless other heroes.

Everything you see in this place isn’t just for decorative value since several significant displays exist.

Some memorialize America’s World War II victory, while others symbolize unity.

Beautiful fountain at National World War II Memorial

Orhan Cam /

Another magnificent element of this memorial is its Freedom Wall, which contains over 4,948 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans, in honor of these heroes who died during the war.

Read the quote written on the stone, “Here we mark the price of freedom.”

This is one of the attractions that everyone, especially children, should try to visit because it can teach us an important lesson about fighting for freedom.

Instill within your kids an appreciation for the bravery of the nation’s veterans by bringing them to the National World War II Memorial.

Wall of stars at National World War II Memorial

Erika Crawford /

See the Iconic U.S. Capitol Building

Outside view of U.S. Capitol

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As the symbol of the United States, the U.S. Capitol is the seat of the federal legislative department, the US Congress.

This dome-shaped structure has been standing since 1800.

It was once partially destroyed and had to be restored to its former glory.

There are many exhibits in the United States Capitol.

Most of them introduce the Members of Congress and how they work.

There are also various activities held at the Democracy Lab.

Interior view of the dome at U.S. Capitol

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You and your kids will also see and interact with artifacts or models and learn about the building’s iconic architectural design.

Since politics plays a role in nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s crucial to introduce the topic to your kids early on.

Visit the iconic U.S. Capitol building and give your kids a chance to experience firsthand how democracy works!

Visitors touring the U.S. Capitol

njene /

Meet the Animals at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Majestic lion at Smithsonian National Zoological Park

EQRoy /

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park is the oldest zoo in the United States, housing over 2,000 animals.

This zoo opened its doors in 1889 and is a special place in Washington, DC, that will help you understand nature’s wonders.

Its mission is to provide a haven for all animals, particularly critically endangered species.

The zoo receives nearly two million visitors each year.

Playful Panda at Smithsonian National Zoological Park

EQRoy /

This 163-acre park allows visitors of all ages to roam freely and have fun with over 360 species, including those adorable pandas.

They used the massive number of visitors they get each year to teach about ecosystem protection to raise a future generation that cares about the environment and animals.

Merry-go-round at Smithsonian National Zoological Park

EQRoy /

This type of place is essential, especially for children, because it teaches them how to be responsible regarding animal care.

Bringing your child here is a good choice, especially if they love animals and want to learn more about taking care of them appropriately.

Elephants at Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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Explore the World at the National Geographic Museum

Exterior view of National Geographic Museum

DCStockPhotography /

The National Geographic Society has provided the best documentaries that allow viewers to see nature’s beauty.

Some of you may have seen them on TV, showing documentaries about animal life and the ecosystem.

Now it’s time to meet and see it in person at the National Geographic Museum!

Viewing their curated works in one location is an excellent experience for you and the kids.

Magazine covers displayed at National Geographic Museum


The National Geographic Museum features a variety of interactive exhibits that allow visitors to see their epic photography, well-known artifacts, and stories created in the name of exploration.

There is also a museum store where you can shop for items like books that feature their works, handmade products, and other accessories available for purchase.

This educational attraction is open to people of all ages, particularly students and kids keen to explore nature’s wonders.

Polar Explorer Cabin at National Geographic Museum

aphotostory /

Identify Every Ornamental Plant in the United States National Arboretum

Column at United States National Arboretum

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The United States National Arboretum opened in 1927.

It is a Washington, DC, attraction dedicated solely to creating a large land filled with ornamental plants.

With over 600,000 annual visitors, this nursery provides lectures, art exhibits, research, group tours, and workshops focusing on the environmental importance of ornamental plants.

This 451-acre Arboretum offers various collections of plants, including the Asian azalea, Gotelli conifer, and other perennial plants.

Garden at United States National Arboretum

Walt Bilous /

They have a list of gardens you and the kids can explore, such as the Fern Valley, Friendship Garden, National Herb Garden, Washington Youth Garden, and many more.

This conservatory is worth visiting with your children since it changes every season and hosts various events.

Set your sights on a wide variety of stunning flora at the United States National Arboretum!

Pretty purple flowers at United States National Arboretum

Halit Omer /

Discover Various Languages at Planet Word

The Franklin School is the first and only museum showcasing the importance of words and languages.

Planet Word is a non-profit interactive museum that offers learning experiences, galleries, and exhibits that will make you realize that you can learn all languages in various fun ways.

One of their exhibits is the tree of Speaking Willow, created by the contemporary artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

Under the Speaking Willow, guests activate speakers that play snippets of various world languages.

Street view of Planet Word

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They also have Lexicon Lane, where visitors can play detective and solve themed word puzzles and riddles.

It contains three cases: Baba Yaga’s Revenge, Trouble on Mount Olympus, and Purplebeard’s Lost Pirate Treasure, a family-friendly puzzle.

Planet Word also offers a variety of programs that visitors, particularly the youth, can join.

You can write essays, go on field trips, and participate in workshops to help them become empowered through a love of words and language.

Become a Spy at the International Spy Museum

Exterior view of International Spy Museum

Erik Cox Photography /

Have you ever dreamed of being a spy?

If so, you need to visit Washington, DC!

The International Spy Museum is a non-government organization and the only museum dedicated solely to studying espionage.

Here, you’ll discover how spies helped shape history and influenced international events.

Exhibits at International Spy Museum

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This museum has a collection of espionage artifacts that every visitor can see.

Check out the Shoe with Heel Transmitter, Lipstick Pistol, Scrotum Concealment, and many more items you didn’t think existed in real life.

They also have permanent exhibits named Stealing Secrets, Making Sense of Secrets, and Go Undercover.

All visitors, especially children, will enjoy exposing themselves to the job of spying and testing their espionage abilities.

Visitors looking at the exhibits at International Spy Museum

DavidNNP /

Like any other museum, the International Spy Museum offers educational programs for young and adult visitors, including field trips, lectures, and events that immerse them in espionage.

Unleash your kid’s inner spy and have a memorable and educational experience here!

Catch a Sensational Performance at the National Theatre

Signage of National Theatre

Felix Lipov /

This theater, situated in downtown DC, is the country’s second oldest.

Established in 1835, the National Theatre has operated for a long time and holds Broadway performances, concerts, operas, and other special events.

This theater does not just focus on providing entertainment.

They also have free programs for those who want to enter the field of performing arts.

Exterior view of National Theatre

AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The theater has three programs: Community Stage Connections, Saturday Morning Live!, and Teens Behind the Scenes.

Visitors of all ages are welcome to participate.

Despite its small size, it’s an excellent place for family entertainment.

Catch an electrifying show at the National Theater with your kids!

See the Water Lilies at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

White water lilly at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

TJ Brown /

While the National Arboretum focuses on ornamental plants, this natural attraction in Washington is a place where you can see aquatic plants such as water lilies and lotuses.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens offers natural wonders for visitors.

This is why most photographers, birders, and people of all ages love the place.

Visitors strolling around the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

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This garden offers its historic ponds containing many 500-year-old lotus and lilies.

Visitors may also use this attraction to relax, picnic, walk, and meditate.

It also offers wildlife viewing because this location is home to over 348 different species of birds, which is especially exciting if you come with a group.

Snapping turtle at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

TJ Brown /

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is the best place for various activities, especially since they bring new wondrous things to discover every season.

Visit this destination with your kids and witness gorgeous flowers and majestic birds!

Pond at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

TJ Brown /

Marvel at the Washington National Cathedral

Exterior view of Washington National Cathedral

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One of Washington’s Historical sites is the Washington National Cathedral.

Washington’s cathedral is the sixth-largest Cathedral in the world and the second-largest in the United States.

Behind the architectural designs of the cathedral houses the history of Washington, DC.

Interior view of Washington National Cathedral

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You will be amazed by the cathedral’s interior design.

Check out the Canterbury pulpit, high altar, vaulted ceiling, exterior designs, and rose and space windows with various sculptures.

Regardless of one’s belief, the Washington National Cathedral is an open act of prayer, offering church activities as andrious outreach and public programs.

Whether your family is religious or not, this destination is worth visiting because of its grand architecture and historical significance to the state capitol.

Side view of Washington National Cathedral

moretown /

Get a Glimpse of Abraham Lincoln’s Life at Ford’s Theatre

Exterior view of Ford's Theatre

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This theater is a good option for children who want to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s life and the importance of his contributions to American history.

Ford’s Theatre offers visitors an opportunity to witness the past through the story and legacy of Abraham Lincoln.

It was also where John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln on April 14, 1865.

The theater features a History Talk that discusses the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a Theatre Walkthrough where guests can wander the theater, and the One Destiny Play that everyone can enjoy.

Interior view of the Ford's Theatre

Sean Pavone /

In April 1865, visitors will see the story of Lincoln’s assassination and what truly happened on that fateful day.

Along with a theater, Ford’s Theatre also houses a museum, exhibits about the Peterson House, and some significant Lincoln-related artifacts.

Gigantic book stack at Ford's Theatre

John M. Chase /

Eat with the Family at Comet Ping Pong

There’s a restaurant in Washington, DC, where you can eat pizza, listen to bands, and play games like ping pong with the whole family.

Comet Ping Pong has operated since 2006.

It’s the go-to destination for families that want to eat and simultaneously engage in a fun activity.

You will fall in love with the make-your-own pizza option, where you and your kids can customize your meal according to your preferences.

Street view of Comet Ping Pong

Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you want more pepperoni or veggies, you can add them to your heart’s content!

Aside from that, visitors can try other items on the menu, such as pasta, chicken wings, and various salads.

Dine on delicious dishes after playing intense ping pong with your loved ones at Comet Ping Pong!

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for sensational entertainment or a historical destination, Washington, DC, has everything you need.

Add these activities to your itinerary to make your visit worthwhile.

Start planning your family-friendly trip to the capital with these best things to do with kids in Washington, DC!

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