We are lucky to have a terrific selection of museums in the Washington, DC area. Many of the museums have special programs for kids and lots of hands-on activities that are educational as well as entertaining. Here are the top picks of museums for kids in the DC area, including Maryland and Virginia.
National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC. The museum is one of the Smithsonian's most popular and offers something special for all ages. 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. Be sure to check out the Insect Zoo, Dinosaur Hall and Sea Life Hall.
National Air and Space Museum
Independence Ave. at 7th St. SW Washington, DC. Kids love to explore the planes and spaceships, watch an IMAX movie and visit the planetarium. For an excursion in Northern Virginia, visit the Steven F. Udvar–Hazy Center (14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy Chantilly, VA) and enjoy checking out a variety of airplanes, rockets, satellites, helicopters, and experimental flying machines.
National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC. 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.
National Museum of the American Indian
4th St. and Independence Ave., SW. Washington, DC. The Smithsonian Museum recently opened its imagiNATIONS Activity Center which offers hands-on activities highlighting the diversity, history, culture and contributions of tribes across the Western Hemisphere. It features interactive games, storytelling programs and craft workshops.
National Children's Museum
151 St. George Boulevard National Harbor, MD. The museum opened at National Harbor in December 2012 and serves as a cultural and educational center with interactive exhibits and programs.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
14th and C Streets, SW, Washington, DC. Guided tours engage kids as they watch real money being printed! Tours are every 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
Mount Vernon, VA. Kids are fascinated to learn about the father of our country. Visit the 500-acre estate of George Washington and his family. Tour the 14-room beautifully restored mansion furnished with original objects dating back to the 1740's. Tour the outbuildings, including the kitchen, slave quarters, smokehouse, coach house and stables.
Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region
Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD. Explore science and nature through hands-on activities at the small museum inside Glen Echo Park. Outdoor environmental programs are offered for toddlers, families, school groups and scouts.
Washington Navy Yard
9th and M Sts. SE, Building 76 Washington, DC. Learn about more than 200 years of naval history through interactive exhibits and displays including naval artifacts, models, documents and fine art. Exhibits include model ships, undersea vehicles, sub periscopes, a space capsule, a decommissioned destroyer and much more.
College Park Aviation Museum
1985 Corporal Frank Scott Dr. College Park, MD. Visit the world's oldest continuously operating airport, with a museum of interactive exhibits and programs for kids including aviation crafts, kite and model making, movie and a lecture series.
Rose Hill Manor Park and Museum
1611 N Market St. Frederick, MD. Tours are great for kids of the historic manor that was the retirement home of Maryland's first elected Governor, Thomas Johnson. It serves as a Children's Museum, Carriage Museum, and Farm Museum and demonstrates life during the time period of 1746-1950.
Got Teens? See also, Best Things to Do with Teenagers in Washington, DC