Things to do in Washington, DC with Kids

I grew up in Gaithersburg, MD, which is a suburb of our Nation’s Capital. I always tell my kids how lucky I was to take school field trips to the Lincoln Memorial and the National Gallery of Art. At the time, I definitely took it all for granted.

Now that I live in Florida, we only get to visit our Maryland family and friends about once a year. When the kiddos were little, we’d just hang at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but over this past April break, it was the perfect time to finally make that trek downtown to see some cool Washington, DC sights!

We had half a day on Saturday to introduce Daniel (age 7) and Annabel (age 6) to the city. Since the time was limited, as well as their predicted attention span, I chose one museum, a couple landmark photo ops, and a ride on the Metro as our inaugural experience.

We started off at 9:00 AM at the Shady Grove Metro Stop in Gaithersburg. The DC Metro system is surprisingly very clean and organized. I know some local folks will grump about all the construction and delays, but for a Saturday ride into the city, it was pefect. Plus, the DC Metro is a perfect combination of convenience and a fun experience for the kids!

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We took the Red line to the Metro Station where we transferred to the Blue/Orange line. We got off at the Smithsonian stop and walked the short distance to the Air and Space Museum. Along the way we took some fun photos on the National Mall which is that large green space between the United States Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument splits up the middle. But, wait. What happened to all the lush green grass I remember as a kid? Hmm.

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It was crazy crowded because it was Easter Saturday, but the line to enter Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum moved fast. You have to bring your patience and a bottle of water. No other food or drinks are allowed.

We explored the hands-on elements of the “How Things Fly” exhibit and even got photos of the kids in a glider aircraft. They loved walking around and looking at the different planes and shuttles hanging from the giant rafters. There is a 3D movie, but we opted out of that so we’d have more time to check out the different collections and exhibits. Before we left, we visited the museum store to purchase some Astronaut Ice Cream. That was my big memory from when I was a kid. I thought it was the neatest thing to eat what the astronauts did and it rates pretty good in taste for being a block of dried out, crunchy neapolitan ice cream!

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It was lunch time, so rather than visit the museum’s food court McDonald’s (or finish off the rest of the Astronaut ice cream), we headed back to the National Mall to find the yummy food trucks. We were blessed with amazing weather, so we plopped under a shady tree and had a picnic. Hubby and I had chicken and veggie gyros. Annabel had a classic hot dog. And Daniel had a small salad. (My picky dude.) Both kids finished it off with froyo in front of the Capitol.

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We decided to walk to the White House. The best part was the people watching along the mall. We saw families of bikers and kite flyers and lots of camera phone selfies being taken. By the time we reached the Washington Monument, the kids were tired of walking. Hubby had the brilliant idea to grab a taxi cab for the rest of the journey. The kids were so excited! They had never been in a taxi cab before so they loved watching the meter tick away. (More than Daddy did. Ha.) They were fascinated.

It was a short ride to the sidewalk where we could hop out and head over to see the President’s home. There are always people hanging out there. There was extra noise and activity because workers were setting up for Monday’s White House Easter Egg Roll. The beautiful flowers were also in full bloom. DC is such a pretty city.

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I wanted to try and make it to the Lincoln Memorial, but the kids were starting to get tired and grumpy. We decided to walk to the Metro Station and take the Red line back home. Daniel had the special treat of seeing a freight train race past us on the way back. He could not wait to tell his friends. You just never know what memories the kids are going to take home with them.

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Mine might be that glass of wine I had after a full day downtown. All in all, a great first adventure with the family. Until next time, DC!

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Note: We found these cherry blossoms along the mall route. Next time we’ll hit the beautiful Tidal Basin!

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