Don’t Miss D.C. with Kids: 10 Unforgettable Experiences in Our Nation’s Capital

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April 11, 2013

A trip to our nation’s capital is a must-do for every family looking for a vacation that’s both fun and educational. History will come alive before your eyes as you stroll up the steps of the Capitol, catch a glimpse of the Wright 1903 Flyer, and pledge allegiance to the original Star-Spangled Banner. Here are ten don’t miss family experiences while touring Washington D.C. 

Ride a bike around the iconic Washington Monument.

Start out your visit to D.C. at the Washington Monument, the iconic grand obelisk built between 1848 and 1884 to commemorate our first president’s military leadership. Perhaps the best way to tour the monument and the mall is by ranger led bike tour. Rent your bike at one of the many Capital bikeshares located around the city. 

Hop on a trolley tour

Step aboard a trolley and tour more than 100 sights from the comfort of your seat – or hop on and off and save yourself a few steps. Old Town Trolley Tours friendly and witty guides make it easier to tour the city with kids. 

Step under the rotunda of our nation’s Capitol

Step into our historic Capitol, the magnificent building that houses our Congress, and take an informative guided tour that will take you under the rotunda, down into the crypt, and past the National Statuary Hall. Book your tour, at least a couple of months in advance, through the office of your RepresentativeSenator or online

Meet the panda bears at the National Zoo.

There are so many amazing animals to be seen at our National Zoo, but perhaps the most intriguingly adorable of all are the Giant Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who have been living at the zoo since 2001, thanks to an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. With less than 1,600 pandas living in the wild in China, this is amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with a rare and endangered species. 

Meet Kermit the Frog, see a piece of Plymouth Rock and be dazzled by Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers at the National Museum of American History

See the iconic objects that are part history and culture from the original Star-Spangled Banner to the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. The National Museum of American History is quite simply a treasure trove of Americana. 

View paleontologists at work National Museum of Natural History

Located on the National Mall, the National Museum of Natural History features over 127 million artifacts and specimens and is the most visited of the Smithsonian museums. Visit the in-museum FossiLab, a working laboratory where you can view real-life paleontologists in action as they repair and uncover fossils. 

See the tools of the trade of the real Inspector Gadgets at the International Spy Museum. 

The International Spy Museum showcases the lives of real-life spies with its incredible collection of international espionage artifacts – from  lipstick pistols to the Enigma cipher machine. 

Catch a live performance at the Discovery Theater

The Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater both celebrates and brings to life American history via engaging live performances. Check out the calendar for upcoming shows and reserve tickets online at  

Watch closely as millions of dollar bills roll fresh off the printing press at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Witness large, blank sheets of paper as they are almost magically transformed into bills ready to spend! Free tours at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are offered daily and run approximately every 15 minutes. 

Fly high at the National Air and Space Museum

Check out the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world at the National Air and Space Museum, home to the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis and the Apollo 11 command module. Don’t miss a space or flight themed movie at the museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater; the most daring kids should step into the flight simulators (located in gallery 103 on the first floor, west end of the National Mall Building). 

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