A Local’s Guide to Washington, D.C. Attractions for Kids
A visit to Washington, D.C. with kids can be an exciting trip for the entire family thanks to the (free) Smithsonian Museums, historical attractions and variety of neighborhoods that differentiate life in our Nation’s Capital. When planning trip to Washington, D.C. for families, parents and kids alike need something more than just the basics. To take a deep dive into quintessential life in this city of politics, espionage, food and culture, enjoy this local’s guide to Washington, D.C. attractions for kids.
The U.S. Capitol
Although visiting the White House can be memorable, scheduling a tour of the U.S. Capitol through your local Congressman or Senator provides adults and children a living history lesson and a glimpse into current events. Schedule a visit through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center or directly through your member of Congress (which also gives you the potential opportunity to meet your representative in person). While at Capitol Hill, stop for a snack at one of the cafeterias on the basement level of many of the buildings for a traditional Congressional experience.
After visiting the Capitol, explore organic produce and local crafts at Eastern Market. This Washington, D.C. landmark has been restored to its original Victorian style after a fire in 2007. Eastern Market is also a perfect stand-alone destination on a weekend morning for a breakfast of tasty crêpes or as a way to start the day before exploring the nearby Smithsonian museums.
A visit to the trendy Union Market is another easy way to experience Washington, D.C. like a local. This bustling center has evolved from its early days as the Centre Market in the 1870’s to a venue that combines entertainment, food and culture in a neighborhood that many tourists never explore. With pop-up shopping and artisans, a visit to Union Market is a great way to take a break from museums and sightseeing with kids while in Washington, D.C.
International Spy Museum
Families with children that are interested in gadgetry and espionage will love the International Spy Museum. The interactive exhibits help children learn about spies through hands-on exploration, innovative exhibits, films, and more. From invisible ink to buttonhole cameras to creative disguises, each exhibit will appeal to the super sleuth in children. Kids can even prepare for their visit by visiting the Kids Spy Zone which is full of spy vocabulary, games and more to build their background knowledge before their visit and extend their excitement afterwards.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
For a truly quintessential culinary experience, families will enjoy the casual atmosphere at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a U Street neighborhood institution since 1958 for a “half-smoke” (sausage). Though be forewarned, it might be hard to choose what to eat from half-smokes covered in chili, inspired by Bill Cosby, to chili or cheese fries.
Where to Stay
Both Capital Hilton and Washington Hilton offer convenient access to this local’s favorite Washington, D.C. attractions for kids. Each hotel is within blocks of a Metro station, which can help you get to these fun places quickly and easily.
- Learn about more Washington, D.C. attractions for families.
- Read about other family vacations to Washington, D.C.
- See all of our vacation photos from Washington, D.C.
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