Vacation to D.C. with Kids

Updated on May 17, 2011
C.B. asks from Garland, TX
9 answers

Hi Moms,
You all are the best consultants I know of!
We're headed to Washington D.C. for a week in June. First, I'd LOVE to hear your hotel recommendations (and rejects!). We're flying into Reagan Int'l (DCA). Also, please share your "don't miss" highlights and other sight-seeing recommendations. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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answers from Washington DC on

There's LOT to do in DC.

1) Even if you are staying in the suburbs, drive to Metro and take the train. 2 children under 4 are free for each paying adult. Get each paid rider a SmarTrip card - cheaper than paper fares and most Metro owned parking lots require SmarTrip to get out.

2) Hit the Smithsonian museums (free), but don't eat there. Walk a couple of blocks to the Old Post office, which is basically an old post office (you can go up in the bell tower) converted to large food court. Much cheaper and better food.

3) If you can swing it, hit the Newseum and/or Spy Museum. Those are paid attractions, but very neat.

4) Don't go to the DC aquarium. Take the trip to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and do the aquarium there if your kids are big into fish. I really like it.

5) Consider a "duck" tour. WWI (or II? I can't remember) amphibious vehicles that play music and are usually a lot of fun for kids. They give the riders quackers.

6) Go to the zoo! Free, and a lot of fun for the kids. There is a bird room where the birds fly freely around you and make the walk down to the Amazon Trail.

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answers from Dallas on

We had great luck flying into DCA and and staying in Adams Morgan (short rail ride, safe, walkable area with great restaurants). I booked our hotel on priceline (4* for ~100 per night). Each morning we would get up and get on the train and head to a Smithsonian, monument or Art Gallery. I would never miss the Newseum or the Holocost Museum.

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answers from Norfolk on

We just did this trip. We stayed at a Residence Inn (333 E Street SW I think was the address). Good for the free breakfast and the indoor pool. The hotel was about 4 blocks from the Mall; there was a Safeway supermarket within walking distance. Be prepared to walk A LOT. You'll definitely want to hit the Natural History Museum. The National Zoo is a MUST! And we enjoyed the Botanic Garden quite a lot, too. Go to museums during the week so maybe it's less crowded than on the weekends. We spent a lot more time out of our hotel than we thought we would, and spent a lot more money on food than we anticipated. You can take the Metro pretty much everywhere so don't waste money renting a car. Have a great trip!

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answers from Houston on

I think the TourMobile busses are worth the money. You get a narrated tour to each of the monuments, and you can get off the bus for as long as you want, then just wait for the next bus to come by whenever you're ready. I was amazed at how much we learned from the tour guides. The ticket used to be good for two days. I assume it still is.

Do not miss the Holocaust Museum and as much of the Smithsonian as you can see. It would be worth reading up on the Smithsonian so you can decide which of the museums your family would enjoy the most.

Also, you might want to check this site to see if you can hear and see the Marine Band when you are there.



answers from Louisville on

Ditto on several already listed -- ride the Metro, see the changing of the Guard (remind kids to be quiet tho they might understand that w/o being told!) and Arlington; Vietnam Wall and any of the other war memorials; Lincoln and the other memorials (we never got up in the 'needle' as it stormed each time we tried); any/all of the Smithsonians.

If you want to see the Bureau of Printing and Engraving (money-making!), you'll have to get there early to get tickets for that day (check - maybe they do some online now?) - was a freebie tho!)

Great if you can catch the Marine or maybe the Army band, too! The ducks are WWII vehicles converted to tourist use - kids would probably like those! Might also like the mule-drawn canal boat ride in Georgetown!

Can't help you on hotels - been too long ago! (and we flew into BWI on Southwest)



answers from Dallas on

We stayed in D. C. just a few blocks from the National Mall at the Liason Capitol Hill. It was newly renovated and offered a great rate of $99 per night, but this was two years ago, so don't know how much it would be now. It was very nice and had a pool on the roof, which my kids thought was cool.

If you do stay in D. C. don't rent a car, because it will cost you around $50 per night to park at a hotel. As everyone has suggested, take the metro and just rent a car one day to go to Arlington Cemetery, etc. My kids loved the Spy Museum and most of the Smithsonian Museums, but they really got tired of going to museums. The Smithsonian is all free, but if you buy a family membership for around $35, you get a big discount on the IMAX movies and they send you a Smithsonian Magazine for a year. Don't know the age of your kids, but ours were 10 and 14 at the time. We paid for them to see several of the movies, so my husband and I could spend more time looking at the exhibits without them.

We did the Capitol Tour which you arrange through your State Representative. You can't get into the White House, unless you apply at least 6 weeks in advance, but worth walking by it and there is a small visitors center. The Old Post Office is pretty cool. It has been turned into a mall, but you can ride an elevator to the top and have a great view of the city. If your kids have seen the movie National Treasure, then they will enjoy the National Archives where they keep the Constitution. Skip the Bureau of Printing and Engraving - there is one in Fort Worth.

Meals are expensive, especially in the museums and so plan to have meals away from the attractions. If your kids are like mine, then try to schedule some "pool time," because the constant museum/monument thing can get a bit tiresome for them. Hope you have a great trip!



answers from Louisville on

When we went to DC (several years ago), we stayed in Fairfax, VA, at a HomeSuites (?I think)which I think was close to a Metro station. We caught the Metro train in every day and bought an all day pass. The Metro is super easy to get around on. We took a trolley tour one day and got an easy to read map with all the landmarks/attractions on it. Everything in DC is in walking distance of the metro. Don't miss the Smithsonians, the monuments and memorials. Especially don't miss the changing of the guard at Arlington.



answers from Dallas on

Depends on the age of your kids.
Expect to walk LOTS! Use the Metro - go online now and buy the monthly pass, it'll be cheaper than doing the daily passes, plus the daily passes only work after a certain time of morning (can't remember 9AM or 10 AM) so if you are trying to use it before then you have to buy a single pass plus your daily pass (it's to get DC folks to use the monthly pass for morning commuters). The Metro also has a stop at DCA so if your hotel is on the way, it's super easy.
For kids - National Zoo, Museum of Natural History (a bit outdated but they won't notice, also the rooms with the jewels are PACKED! with people but mom won't want to miss them), Space Museum if they are into that.
For adults - we most enjoyed American History museum and the FDR Memorial. I would not recommend taking under 14-15 yr olds to the Holocaust Museum. It's an absolutely great museum, but they won't get it, will be bored ... and it's a very serious subject matter.



answers from Philadelphia on

We were just in DC over Easter break. I would see World War ll Memorial,Lincoln monument, take a double decker bus tour. Go to the spy store...but I would skip the spy museum. We stayed at ALOFT located in National Habor, Md. It was 10-15 min away. Quaint little town. As clean as Disney World.

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