Washington, D.C. is one of the best kid-friendly cities in America.
It’s filled with educational and exciting attractions, offers clean and easy-to-use public transit, and features a number of family-favorite restaurants. It’s got everything you could hope for in a family vacation destination!
If you’re looking for things to do in DC with kids, check out this list of our favorite kid-friendly activities, including…
- The Capital Wheel
- Madame Tussauds DC
- Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour
- Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
- The International Spy Museum
- and more…
Save on Admission to Kid Friendly Attractions
Many of these great kid friendly attractions are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass®.
Choose as you go from many of the top DC area attractions and save up to 40% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Dedicated entirely to the history of mass media in the United States and around the world, the Newseum offers an unexpectedly fascinating and totally unique experience for museum goers.
Browse through world newspaper covers, see how media coverage and technology has evolved over time, and more.
You’ll be able to compare media documents and newspaper clippings from major events in American history and see poignant artifacts, like the wreckage from the Twin Towers and the largest piece of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany, first hand.
It’s an exciting museum that kids who love media (and don’t they all?) will enjoy exploring.
Getting In: Newseum tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
The Capital Wheel
This 180-foot-tall observation wheel provides some of the best views of iconic sights, including the Washington Monument, Capitol Building, downtown Alexandria, the Potomac River, and various locations in Prince George’s country.
You’ll see lots of the city sights all while enjoying the nice and easy ride from your luxury gondola space. Kids will enjoy seeing everything from such a great height!
Be sure to bring your camera, you’ll get lots of perfect photo opportunities from the National Harbor entertainment district.
Getting In: The Capital Wheel tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explore Pass.
Madame Tussauds DC
The renowned wax museum that first began in London, Madame Tussauds’ DC location is a favorite among visitors because of its decidedly historical bent. Tour the Presidents Gallery and “meet” each of America’s presidents.
Explore the Civil Rights Room and the Media Room for a glimpse inside the very DC-esque worlds of politics and media. Of course, you’ll still be able to enjoy the usual celebrity fare!
Kids will appreciate the opportunity to snap photos with their favorite famous people, and you’ll value the educational context in which they’re placed.
Getting In: Madame Tussauds DC tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour
This hour-long tour of DC’s ballpark is an excellent option for sports-loving families.
As a newer ballpark, it’s got a lot to offer in terms of exciting shops and food options along the concourse, really nifty behind-the-scenes stuff, and an amazing view of the booming SW Waterfront neighborhood.
Some of the fun stuff you’ll get to explore includes the PNC Diamond Club, the Nationals Dugout, the visiting team clubhouse, and more.
If you happen to be visiting DC in season, a few game tickets might be in order as well! The park is very family-friendly, is easy to get to via public transit, offers excellent snacks/dining options, and has plenty of interactive fun to go along with the ball game. What’s not to love?
Getting In: Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass. Game tickets are separately priced and are not included with the pass.
Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour
What better way to explore DC than with a bus tour of Washington, D.C.?
This convenient and informative hop-on hop-off tour circulates you throughout the most popular areas of the city, including …
- US Capitol & Botanical Garden
- Air & Space Museum
- Washington Monument West
- Jefferson Memorial
- White House
- and more!
Kids will love seeing the sights without walking in the oppressive D.C. heat, and the flexibility to hop on and off at multiple locations will make trip planning that much easier. Plus, that flexibility will be big when the kids get bored and you need to find a change of scenery!
Please note that although it might be tempting, we don’t recommend using this bus as your primary means of transportation — DC traffic is too unreliable and the Metro system is usually quite good.
Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus DC tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
The International Spy Museum
This innovative museum is an amazingly fun things to do and a treat for kids of all ages. We’re sure adults will really get a kick out of it, too.
With interactive exhibits, authentic artifacts, and exciting special exhibits, the International Spy Museum truly provides an engaging look at the international history of espionage.
It’s not only entertaining, but it’s also quite educational. A visit here will show you the true story behind historic acts and missions, genuine technologies utilized by real government agents, and so much more.
A must see for fans of 24 or the James Bond franchise.
Getting In: International Spy Museum tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
National Geographic Museum
See topics from the iconic print magazine brought to life in fun and interactive ways geared towards kids at the National Geographic Museum.
This museum features a variety of temporary exhibitions and permanent collections that include everything from exploring the magazine’s famed photography to interactive explorations of human nature, environments around the world, wildlife, and more.
Getting In: National Geographic Museum tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Rent a Bike
Get in a little exercise while you sightsee when you explore the city by bike–one of the best (and most fun) ways to explore the National Mall and National Monuments and one of the most rewarding things to do in DC with kids.
DC is a very bike-friendly city. There are plenty of bike trails that circle the monuments, memorials, and museums along the National Mall and lots of roads are designed with bikers in mind, too, so you biking beyond the sights is pretty easy–even with family in tow.
If you’re visiting in the springtime, we especially recommend a bike ride around the Mall and Tidal Basin to see the famous cherry blossoms!
Getting In: DC Bike rentals by Bike and Roll are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Have any US History buffs in the family? Be sure to visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon, an iconic American landmark and one of the most visited historic sites in the entire country.
You’ll get a guided tour of the mansion and gardens, a chance to visit both the old and new tombs of George and Martha Washington, and a first-hand look at the role of slavery and Washington’s wavering and contradicting views on the matter at the Mount Vernon estate.
Kids will find this a really enchanting educational experience, and you’ll feel good knowing they’re learning a lot about history in a fun context.
Getting In: George Washington’s Mount Vernon tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Washington Monuments Cruise
This relaxing sightseeing cruise is one great way to enjoy DC’s waterfront and see the sights of DC from a whole new angle.
It’s a great way to get in some unique photographic opportunities and get acquainted with the city for first-time visitors. Kids will particularly love the chance to be on the river, cruise under bridges, and enjoy the great outdoors.
You’ll glide along the Potomac River past famous monuments, landmarks, historic buildings, and picturesque DC landscapes.
Some top sights you’ll see along the way include the Kennedy Center for the Performing arts, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery, and more.
Getting In: Washington Monuments Cruise tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
The National Zoo
The world-famous zoo has been a family favorite destination for generations, especially since the arrival of the country’s first two giant pandas in 1972.
Today the zoo is home to hundreds of animals from around the globe, distributed in exhibits like Amazonia, the Asia Trail, the Giant Panda Habitat, the Great Ape House, and more.
Keep in mind that you’ll do a decent amount of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and be sure to bring money to the gift shop!
Getting In: Admission to the National Zoo is free.
The National Air and Space Museum
The number one destination for school field trips in DC, the National Air and Space Museum is one of the Smithsonian Institution’s most popular attractions. It’s an amazingly interactive museum filled with real historic spacecraft from the global history of aviation and space travel.
Some of the highlights of their collection include Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 module Columbia, and even the 1903 Wright Flyer.
Getting In: Admission to the National Air & Space Museum is free.
The National Museum of American History
Another Smithsonian heavy hitter, the Museum of American History is an ideal family destination.
It’s educational, exciting, and filled with tons of unique artifact and exhibits. Where else in the world can you see the original Star Spangled Banner and Dorothy’s ruby slippers?
The new Innovation Wing is designed to be especially kid-friendly and offers a significant selection of educational programming that’s great for school groups.
Kids will particularly enjoy their extensive collection of memorabilia dedicated to sports, pop culture and music.
Getting In: Admission to the National Museum of American History is free.
The National Museum of Natural History
With an entry way marked by the iconic African elephant, the Museum of Natural History is nationally recognized as an educational institution.
Plus, kids love the fascinating exhibits, real live creatures, and skilled scale models of creatures from around the globe.
Home of the Hope Diamond and one of the best collections of dinosaur fossils in the country, this museum is unbeatable when it comes to distinctive displays. Save some money for the gift shop at this place!
Getting In: Admission to the Museum of Natural History is free.
There you have it. Our list of some of the top things to do in DC with kids during your vacation.
Remember, many of these great ideas are included on the Go DC Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Consider adding a few of these kid friendly options to your upcoming itinerary. Enjoy!