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15 Best Places to Go with Kids in the Washington DC Area


Washington, DC is a great place to explore with kids. With so many choices of things to do in the region, here are my top suggestions for children of all ages.

1. National Zoo

Photo © Smithsonian National Zoo
One of the most kid-friendly places to visit in Washington, DC is the National Zoo where you can see more than 400 different species of animals. The National Zoo is set within the beautiful Rock Creek National Park and is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is FREE!

2. National Museum of Natural History

© Smithsonian
At this favorite Smithsonian museum, kids enjoy examining a wide variety of artifacts including an 80-foot dinosaur skeleton, an enormous prehistoric white shark, and a 45-and-a-half carat jewel a known as the Hope Diamond. The Discovery Room is a great hands-on display for young children. Feel the skin of a crocodile, examine the jaws and teeth of different animals or try on clothes from around the globe.

3. National Air & Space Museum

Photo © Eric Long/NASM
The Washington, DC museum displays the largest collection of air and spacecraft in the world. Visit here and learn about the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight. There are IMAX films and planetarium shows several times a day. Children marvel at the lifesize exhibits. For an excursion outside of the city, visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the second location, near Dulles International Airport.

4. National Children's Museum

© Rachel Cooper
Just opening at National Harbor in December 2012, the museum features hands-on exhibits and activities to inspire children to care about and improve the world. A theatre features participatory productions and the Museum’s Center for Learning and Innovation houses program rooms for special activities, birthday parties, visiting school groups and other events.

5. Discovery Theater

© Discovery Theater
The Smithsonian's Discovery Theater, located in the Ripley Center on the National Mall in Washington, DC, is a live theater geared towards school-age children. Classic stories and folktales are told through puppet shows, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes. All shows are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

6. National Museum of American History

Newly remodeled, the Smithsonian museum is a great place for kids of all ages to use their imaginations and learn about our nation's history. Head to the the Spark! Lab, a hands-on science and invention center and America on the Move where you'll see how transportation shaped America.

7. Bureau of Engraving & Printing

Photo © Maria Toutoudaki/Getty Images
Everyone loves to watch real money being printed! See how U.S. paper currency is printed, stacked, cut and examined for defects. Tours are every 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

8. Washington Monument

© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Take the elevator to the top of the memorial to George Washington, our nation's first president, and see a wonderful view of Washington DC. Kids love to see the city from a bird’s eye view.

9. Glen Echo Park

© Daniel Schreiber
This wonderful park near Bethesda, Maryland offers year-round activities in dance, theater, and the arts for the adults and children. There are concerts, demonstrations, workshops, and festivals. The antique Dentzel carousel delights children May through September. Enjoy a puppet show at the Puppet Co. or a children’s theatrical performance at Adventure Theatre. At Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, explore nature, history, and the arts through innovative educational programs and exhibits.

10. Six Flags America

Photo © Six Flags America

Six Flags America offers a full day of fun just 30 minutes from downtown Washington, DC. This theme park features more than 100 rides, shows and the area's largest water park. The park is open April through October.

See More of the Best Washington, DC Places for Kids on Page 2

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