Three Washington, D.C. Attractions Off the Beaten Path

Family trips to Washington, D.C. are often filled with museums, national monuments and major attractions. While it makes sense to make the most of your time in the city, day after day of Smithsonian museum exhibits or national landmarks can become tiresome for children.

The Solution: Go off the beaten path with these three recreational Washington, D.C. attractions!

1. Go for a walk or hike at Great Falls
Great Falls National Park sits perched along the Potomac River on both the Maryland and Virginia sides. The Maryland side offers walking along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C & O) towpath and picturesque hikes along the Billy Goat trail. The Billy Goat trail is perfect for families because it is broken up into three sections, each different from the other and offering varying levels of difficulty. Section A, though very exciting for families that like to scramble over rocks, provides the longest and most difficult terrain while Sections B and C are shorter and more manageable while still granting great views.

If you would like to take a walk without really hiking, the C & O Canal towpath extends all the way into Georgetown for a leisurely pace in one of the city’s hidden gem neighborhoods.

Tip: Bring water and snacks or a picnic lunch with you. Parking is available for an entrance fee to Great Falls or for free at the trail head near Old Angler’s Inn.

Washington DC Attractions - C & O Canal Towpath
The towpath makes a perfect family walk either near Great Falls or in Georgetown.

2. Paddle on the Potomac
Whether you want to kayak, canoe or try stand up paddle-boarding, families can paddle their way up and down the Potomac as an alternative way to sight see in the city. We love exploring a new city from the water, and Washington, D.C. boasts views of the Kennedy Center, Roosevelt Island and Georgetown from the Potomac River.

3. Spend a morning climbing and zipping at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
Located about 30 minutes from the city, everyone in the family will love the aerial ropes course at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring. With thirteen trails of all levels, the course provides a challenging yet fun family activity to offset the days spent in museums. You might think that three hours of climbing, balancing and zip lining through the air does not fit within a Washington, D.C. trip, but taking time to laugh and play as a family will re-energize kids for sightseeing AND give the whole family something to remember.

Tip: Bring water and snacks or a picnic lunch for after your climbing session.

Washington DC Attractions - Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is one of the Washington, D.C. attractions that will take you high off the beaten path.

These three family adventures in Washington, D.C. are more than just things to do. Each one showcases kid-friendly Washington, D.C. attractions that may rise to the top of favorite moments from your family trip.

Hilton Washington, D.C./Rockville would be a convenient location for these adventures with a central location in Maryland that’s across the street from a Metro station.

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Know Before You Go

  • Many of the monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall are open 24 hours a day!
  • Driving through the city isn’t recommended – walking or taking the Washington Metro are great ways to navigate the city.
  • Be prepared for numerous security checks if you are visiting any government buildings!

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Hilton Mom Voyage Team. Are you interested in traveling to Washington DC? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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