Ready to Bike The Sites
This post wraps up our Washington DC week. After the Resource Guide and Favorite Family Activities, practical strategies are necessary to maximize time in the Capitol without running your kids into the ground.I remember times growing up when the marathon days at the Smithsonian became boring—it was enough to keep me away from museums for a long while. That’s not the effect we’re going for. So how do you visit multiple DC sights, but keep the family engaged?
Guidebooks:A great guidebook is a key tool while at a destination, not only for maps and kid-friendly places to eat, but also opinions and interesting facts about the sites. It’s easy to get a general list of the top attractions from any tourist guide. More challenging, is finding out which ones are worthwhile and age appropriate. For recommendations, check out my DC book list.
Site Selection:Before your trip, choose a handful of activities that you think your children would like, ensuring that it also sounds interesting to you (since you’ll be the guide, it works better when you are genuinely interested.)Then solicit input from the kids to narrow that selection down. Make sure you find out what events are happening while you’re in town. Consider the distance you need to cover to get from place-to-place and factor this into the plan.The blocks are long, and although it doesn’t look far on the map, it can feel like forever with little feet.
Hotel Palomar DC M&M tray
Start with a Tour: Starting with a tour in any urban destination is an efficient way to get an overview of the area and the sights. You can then go back to the sights that pique your interest. The hop-on hop-off tours in DC are a perfect way get around to the monuments without wearing out your children. We loved Bike the Sites for an innovative and eco-friendly approach to sightseeing.Also, Tourmobile Sightseeing is the only tour that has direct access on the Mall.Finally, Old Town Trolley tours provide a friendly staff and an open-air feel.
Minimize Wait Time: Since you are going to be on your feet at the sites, you certainly don’t want to wait in line if you can avoid it.You can make reservations at the George Washington Memorial, The White House, and several other venues.
Family Pamphlets: Almost every site in DC has a special pamphlet focused on kids. Start at the Smithsonian Information Center and ask about any handouts for families or teachers. Museum family pamphlets provide kid-focused games and insight. An example is this online family handout posted by The Q Family Adventures for “America on the Move,” an exhibit at the American History Museum.
Take Breaks: Work many breaks into a day of sightseeing. Pack a ball or Frisbee, a Razor Scooter (easier if you’re driving to DC), whatever, so that you can make DC your personal playground. Also, stop and get snacks at a cafe, eat ice cream, go to an IMAX movie—something to have fun and rest a little while. Our favorite place to relax is back at the hotel where we can nap or watch a movie.
Decked out in Hotel Palomar’s pint-size leopard robes
DC Hotels: That brings me to the hotels in DC.We love Kimpton Hotels for many reasons, but mostly because they go the extra mile to creatively welcome families. My husband was so impressed that he teamed with Kimpton to open the Lorien Hotel and Spa.Given that, I’m biased toward the Lorien, but they do have innovative amenities for kids and parents. Favorites include sleeping bags and lanterns to camp out on the terraces,a “dream menu” where you can get a teddy bear or pre-bed munchies, and all kinds of little touches that make the experience special.When we stayed at the Palomar DC, my kids loved the pint-size robes and M&M art tray that they brought up. Every Kimpton hotel has its own personality.