If you are heading to Washington, DC with the kids, be ready to have an amazing time! You have chosen an outstanding destination for families. My family and I spent a recent school break in the Capitol City and we honestly didn’t want to leave. Filled with a wealth of history, culture, sports, and amazing food, everyone in the family found something they loved. Plus, so many activities are free!
Top Tips for Visiting Washington DC with Kids
Family-Friendly Washington DC Hotels
The Mandarin Oriental. If you are looking for one of the most plush and posh Washington DC hotels, this one is it. Five star luxury in the heart of the nation’s capital? Yes please. Families can book connecting rooms or a suite for added space. Want to upgrade your trip? Reserve one of rooms in The Club for exclusive benefits like Lounge access with complimentary breakfast, snacks, drinks, and an Asian-inspired evening reception.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco. When visiting Washington DC with kids, don’t just learn about history, let them live it! Dating back to 1839, this gorgeous historic building that used to be a post office is now the Kimpton Hotel Monaco DC. It is chic and luxurious and filled with DC’s movers and shakers. Close to the National Mall and the Verizon Center, you are close to just about everything families want to do. Take advantage of the complimentary bicycles and go out for a ride! Book one of their recently refreshed specialty suites and/or connecting rooms to give your family the room you need.
Ritz-Carlton. This is a 5-star urban retreat that is the epitome of luxury. Expect flawless service, extraordinary accommodations, and exclusive amenities to make your stay restful and exciting. This hotel might be posh, but it is one of the most family-friendly hotels you can find. The Ritz Kids program makes children feel welcome with complimentary take home gifts, a scavenger hunt and even a kid-friendly turndown.
Embassy Suites, Chevy Chase. We were blown away by their value-added extras, stunning recent renovations, and general good cheer of the staff. With a full, hot served to order breakfast included as well as a complimentary Evening Reception, this is one of the Washington DC hotels that will impress you more than you think. This Embassy Suites is located within the Shops at Chevy Chase, so there is TONS of shopping without even having to go outside. The metro is also located right in the same building for ultimate convenience.
Tips for Visiting Washington DC with Kids
Be ready to walk. Prepare yourself and the kids that you will be doing a lot of walking. While the Metro is great, walking is going to be a nicer and probably shorter trip to many DC sights. Check out the private Kids National Mall Walking Tour from Context Tours. The 2 hour tour covers all the major sites on the Mall with kid-friendly docents that are trained in visual thinking strategies.
Bring good shoes. Hanging out in Washington, DC with kids is not the time to look cute. Since you will be doing a lot of walking, bring good walking shoes. Flipflops and heels are trendy, but won’t hold up to the miles you will be walking. Gym shoes are going to be your best bet.
Stay close to a metro stop. Driving in Washington DC is CRAZY, so take the Metro anywhere you can. When taking public transportation, the walk to the train is a big deal. You don’t want to have your hotel be too far from a stop, especially if the weather is bad.
Go to the bathroom when you can. When touring the National Mall and the monuments, you will not find many bathrooms. When you do see one, make everyone “try”. Backtracking a ½ mile to find a bathroom isn’t going to make anyone happy. And walking around in wet clothes won’t either.
Taste the homemade pop-tarts at Ted’s Bulletin. When visiting Washington DC with kids, your trip isn’t complete without getting the homemade pop-tarts from Ted’s Bulletin. So good! Head to the Capitol Hill location, but be prepared to wait if you come on the weekend. If you plan to eat a meal with your pop-tarts, you can call ahead and put your name on the list. Or, just take your pop-tarts to go and skip the wait.
Make it educational. To get kids excited about the trip, do some research on the monuments and Washington DC history in general before you leave. Use the technology your kids are always asking for. My kids love asking “Siri” questions and they asked so many I would not have thought of. Did you know it took 12 years to build the Lincoln Memorial?
Get to Washington DC museums early. Washington DC museums are awesome for families. They are free and you can hop from one to another to keep the kids interested. However, at some of the most popular museums, you may find lines, especially depending on the time of year you are visiting.
We made a plan to go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and so did EVERYONE else. We waited in the cold for nearly an hour and a half to get in. If we had gotten there earlier in the day, we would have just walked in. It’s always a good idea in these instances to have a plan B ready to implement. Also, double check about tickets. You need them well in advance for places like the African American Museum.
With a little patience, some creativity, and the right attitude, Washington DC with kids can be amazing any time of the year. And just in case you need some dining recommendations, check out these favorite DC restaurants.
Thank you to Maria Smith from Mamalicious Maria for this wonderful article.