Washington D.C. is an outstanding and unforgettable experience for families. Parents love the history of our nation’s capital, and the kids love the assortment of activities available. Although the actual list is endless, these are some of my favorite things to do in Washington DC with kids.
The Smithsonian is a perfect place to start. The National Zoo was formally established in 1889 when President Grover Cleveland signed a law creating the National Zoological Park. The law stated the Zoo would be for “the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” However, the park’s existence can be credited to William Temple Hornaday. He set out to preserve other species from extinction when he saw the bison population was sparse. Today, the Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute cares for about 2,700 animals and more than 390 different species.
There are several exhibitions to visit at the Zoo. The Amphibian Alert and the Coral Lab, The American Trail, the Asia Trail, The Good of the Hive Mural, Me and the Bee Playground, the Squirt Zone, and the Speedwell Conservation Carousel. This is one of the few solar-powered carousels in the world. At Amazonia, you can visit the Amazon without leaving the country. The Electric Fishes Demonstration Lab is home to a 5-foot-long electric eel. This eel is capable of generating up to 800 volts of electricity. In addition to the eel, it also includes four black ghost knifefish, more than a dozen bluntnose knifefish, and three elephant-nose knifefish. While entry to the Zoo is always free, you will need to register for a pass online to enter.
The Zoo is located on 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008, and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for Christmas. The National Zoo is always an exciting thing to do in Washington DC with kids.
The International Spy Museum is a fascinating experience for both parents and children looking for things to do in Washington DC with kids. The Spy museum documents the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage and houses the most extensive collection of international espionage artifacts. Originally, the Museum opened in 2002 in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Eventually, they relocated to a new larger building at L’Enfant Plaza in 2019.
Through its exhibitions and exhibits, the Museum sheds light on the hidden world of intelligence, exploring its challenges, successes, and controversies. The Museum’s mission is to educate the public about espionage and intelligence. As a result, you can understand the crucial role intelligence has played and continues to play throughout history. In its role as a non-profit, the Museum explores the impact of secrecy on civil liberties, technology’s changing role in intelligence, and disinformation in today’s social media environment.
There are several exhibits and amenities available at the Museum, like the Undercover Mission. In this interactive activity, you can receive your cover identity and test your spy skills on an undercover mission. Your performance at interactive stations is tracked by cutting-edge technology, and you are provided a debrief at the end of the exhibition. Besides your full debriefing and photos, you will be granted access to a website where other spies like you can “meet.”
Visit the Stealing Secrets exhibit to see hundreds of inventive inventions used to steal secrets. Spying That Shaped History breaks down how spying has affected our world. In addition, the Museum demonstrates several artifacts. Such as iconic devices like the Aston Martin DB5 from 1964 (Bond Car), a Pigeon Camera from 1917, a Lipstick Pistol from 1965, and the Steineck ABC Wristwatch Camera from 1949 in West Germany.
A private VIP tour will feature stories about missions, gadgets, and agents. During this tour, you will learn secrets and stories that are not typically known by American citizens. Adults cost $29.95, children 7-12 cost $18.95, and children under 6 are free. In addition, they offer discounts for seniors (65+), military, and college students for $26.95. They are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There are also several historical landmarks within Rock Creek Park if you’re looking for learning experiences for your children. Although this is not as famous as other Washington DC parks, it hosts a variety of historic buildings and activities all year round. The Old Stone House, Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park Civil War sites, Fort DeRussy, Battleground National Cemetery, and Fort Bunker Hill–just to name a few. Visit Junior Ranger Camp to become an official Junior Ranger at Rock Creek Park. The Yards Park is a spectacular waterfront destination with green space and water features along the Anacostia River. The Dancing Fountains at Yards Park’s entrance combine playful water jets and scrims.
There are many options to choose from when your family is in Washington D.C. This list is only a tiny fraction of the incredible things to do in Washington DC with kids. Still, one thing is certain: the city has something for everyone.
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