The nation’s capital is at the top of most people’s bucket list, and with good reason. It’s not just a city steeped in history and politics, it’s also a beautiful and always changing town. Washington, D.C. is a great destination for any type of traveler, but it’s especially great for families. If you’re visiting the capital city with your kids in tow, here are some activities to keep in mind.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Washington’s great treasure is the extensive Smithsonian Institution system that includes 19 world-class museums in and around town. The museums are free and almost always open, making them a perfect stop for families, especially on a hot and muggy DC summer day. My favorite Smithsonian museum isn’t in town, in fact it’s about a thirty minute drive away located next to Dulles International Airport. But believe me, this museum is well worth the drive. The impressive National Air and Space Museum extension, better known as the Udvar-Hazy Center, is a massive interactive display showcasing the planes and other aviation associated exhibits that just can’t fit anywhere else. Modeled after an airline hanger, the museum features more than 100 aircraft and 122 space objects including the Enola Gay, a retired Concorde, and even a space shuttle. There are also engaging displays covering the role aviation has played in warfare, showcasing an eerie array of cruise missiles and satellites.
The museum is highly interactive and interpreted in a way that appeals to children and adults alike. At the end of the tour, you can ascend a model air flight control tower where the art and science of modern aviation control is demonstrated. The tower offers stunning, 360-degree views of the Virginia countryside as well as the best viewing spot for incoming air traffic to Dulles. The museum is free, but there is a fee to park.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
On the way back from your visit to the Udvar-Hazy Center, plan to stop by the only National Park in the country devoted to the performing arts for an evening show. Wolf Trap is a beautiful and tranquil series of exhibition centers situated in the dense, Virginia woods. Although events are held here throughout the year, the main draw is the summer concert series that attracts some of the top names in music and performance from around the world. Aretha Franklin, Bill Cosby, The Counting Crows, Broadway musicals and symphony orchestras all perform here on a regular basis. The least expensive tickets are, in my opinion, the most enjoyable – the lawn seats. Over the years, patrons have made lawn seating a tailgating event, bringing elaborate picnics to enjoy before the evening shows.
If you really want to live like a local, then be sure to stop by a secret we Washingtonians try to keep to ourselves – Eastern Market. Originally built in 1873, the market has been in virtual continual use offering up some of the freshest produce, meats and cheeses in town. The real draw happens on the weekends though when vendors from around the region set up tables to sell everything from art to food and all the goodies in between. It’s a fun and festive environment that’s a good time even if you don’t want to buy anything. It gets busy though, so be sure to plan your visit earlier in the day.
These are just a few of the great family friendly activities that make Washington, DC such a great place to visit. Remember, when you're traveling with family, RoamRight has family travel insurance plans that offer one free child with each adult policy purchased.
Do you have a favorite spot in Washington, D.C.?