Urban destinations are more enjoyable when cooler fall weather arrives and you can walk around comfortably for hours. One of our favorite autumn trips for kids at any age and stage is to visit Washington DC.With wide sidewalks and excellent public transportation, the city is easy to get around, clean, and there is always something interesting to experience.
We love to enrich our kid’s education by visiting the various museums around the city. Whether it is the mammals and butterflies at the Natural History Museum, or the Sioux Indians at the National Museum of the American Indian, we find something inspiring and engaging to learn.
Although we often spend a week here, DC is easy to access by plane, train, or car and works well for long weekends too. Exploring this area requires thorough research and planning. I’ll spend Washington DC Week outlining what I’ve uncovered through our trips over the past few years. I’m kicking things off with a list of top planning resources. Then, I’ll cover top activities for families, strategies for exploring the city, and finish the series with my favorite hotels.
I’m all for spontaneity, but I find visiting DC works much better with a plan. Wandering aimlessly quickly because overwhelming. There is simply too much to see and do and before you’ve seen even the highlights, everyone will be exhausted. Keep in mind that the walking continues in the museums and monuments too.
Research is my thing. I spend hours on-line trying to create memorable itineraries that are suitable for kids and interesting for adults.
DC Websites, Articles, and Guides
Go Smithsonian: Online version of the free printed visitor’s guide to the Smithsonian. Includes a directory of all the special family events so you can map out the timing of museum visits
The District: General tourist’s guide to DC
The Smithsonian: Articles on how to approach DC with children
Our Kids DC: Family-focused website offering thorough coverage of kid events in the DC area
Ciao Bambino: Top 5 Kid-Friendly Activities
Cookie Magazine: DC City Guide, family-focused comprehensive overview by geographic area
Taking the Kids to Washington DC by Eileen Ogintz for CNN
Guide to DC by The Washington Post
We Just Got Back: Insider Guide to DC
Travel for Kids: DC tips
Let’s Go: Family Guide to DC
Travel & Leisure “How to Do DC” offers an innovative perspective with multiple theme-focused itineraries.
Family Travel Files: coverage on DC with many links to other
General games for before or after their visit to help them get excited
Smithsonian Kids interactive website
In addition to the planning sites, there are two books that I recommend buying before you go: Open Roads Washington DC with Kids and A Kid’s Guide to the Smithsonian. There are also plenty of great stories and they will be more engaged in what see when they have read something interesting about the sites beforehand. Check out my DC book list for a few recommendations.