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Washington DC is a great location for a family vacation. Located between Virginia and Maryland on the east coast of the United States, Washington DC is the capital of the United States. A trip to Washington DC can be lots of fun and very interesting. It's not going to be terribly relaxing and may be best for older kids. We think late elementary school to middle school age may enjoy it the most. Of course, it depends on the kids.
Things to do on a family vacation in Washington DC
The National Mall - Click here to learn more about the National Mall. This is an area in the center of downtown Washington DC. Located at and around the Mall are many of the Smithsonian museums, memorials, as well as government buildings like the Capitol and the White House. The mall can be toured in a number of ways to best suite your family.
National Museum of Natural History - Click here to learn more about this great museum of natural history.
National Air and Space Museum - Click here to learn more about this unique interactive museum of flight.
National Zoo - A great place to unwind from the city and museums. Learn more about this free zoo here.
Other sites of interest - Other places kids might like in Washington DC. Like the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing (look at all that money Dad!), Iwo Jima Memorial, and, more.
Washington DC is full of history and amazing buildings. Going to the National Mall and viewing the White House, the Capital Building, Washington Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial (just to name a few) is truly awe inspiring. You'll get great exercise walking though the Mall and the Museums. There are opportunities to take breaks or ride a tour bus as well. There is much to see and do. Before you leave you'll want to plan out what you want to see. Make sure you leave some time to take breaks and rest. It varies on how much you want to see and the pace you want to view things, but 3 to 5 days can be a good length of time for a family vacation. Too much shorter and you may not get to see all you want. Too much longer and the kids may start to get bored with museums and buildings.
For the kids, be sure to sprinkle in some fun activities between the historical stuff. The Air and Space Museum has an IMAX theater and a lot of interactive fun stuff to do. The zoo is a good break. Also, maybe catch a movie or go somewhere like the ESPN Zone for a fun break.
How to get around Washington DC
There are many ways to get around Washington DC, but one thing is for sure….be prepared to walk and make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes. Much of what you will want to see will be around downtown and the National Mall,
If your family is not staying downtown or you decide to venture away from downtown (like the Zoo, the Iwo Jima Memorial, or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) you can get to other places using Washington's excellent public transportation. Of course, you can drive, but parking can be difficult and expensive. We find it easier and more convenient to use the train and bus services. We found these safe and easy to navigate with the family.
Washington DC National Mall map .pdf
Click on these maps to see larger view:
Where to stay with your family in Washington DC
We prefer to stay right downtown and walk to the museums and memorials. The main drawback here is the price of the hotels. Another great option is to stay further out and take the train into town. It stops right at the National Mall and can be a fun experience for the family.
Other vacation ideas and reviews:
New York City
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