Washington, DC

5 Family Activities To Do in Washington DC

Diana Bernardo

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Washington DC is a perfect destination for a fun family trip. From the impressive Smithsonian museums to plenty of parks and gardens to explore, the city has many engaging activities suitable for children of all ages. Of course, parents will have something to do too. And the best part is that the majority of Washington DC attractions are free.

Even though this city is all about history, it is still a modern place. There are so many quirky locations off the beaten path, such as tiny art galleries, hip restaurants, and cafes. So it is clear that Washington DC will be fun for all generations. Here are some attractions your family can see and experience in Washington DC.

Explore the United States National Arboretum

Nestled near the Capitol Building, the United States National Arboretum is a large garden ideal for a stroll with your family. It is an excellent place for a picnic too. This garden features miles of trails and paths that lead you through stunning nature right in the very heart of Washington DC.

Here visitors can see rich botanical collections consisting of plants, shrubs, and trees. The area consists of several smaller gardens. Don’t forget to visit the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. It has an impressive display of bonsai trees, including Pinus parviflora 'Miyajima', a tree that survived an atomic bomb.

Learn About the Past at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian Institutions consist of a total of 20 museums and one zoo. All the museums are free, and you don’t have to purchase a ticket to see the exhibits. All of these locations are simply breathtaking, but if you are unsure where to start, the National Museum of American History is a great choice.

This museum opened its doors for the first time in 1964. Today it features a collection of around three million artifacts related to the history of the United States. So visitors can see gowns worn by First Ladies throughout history, as well as Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves and the famous ruby shoes from the Wizard of Oz.

Take a Tour of the Library of Congress

Located just minutes away from the Capitol, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the States and the biggest library in the world. The archives are awe-inspiring, with more than a million books, photos, maps, and documents available to researchers. The building itself is an architectural marvel, so touring it is an unforgettable experience.

If you decide to follow a tour guide, you will learn so many fascinating details about the Library of Congress. Did you know that all the books were burned in the War of 1812? Then the library acquired Thomas Jefferson's collection and started from scratch. There are plenty of fascinating facts about this library that will probably make you appreciate it even more.

See the National Mall

With more than 24 million visitors each year, the National Mall is one of the most popular sites in Washington DC. The National Mal is essentially a public park between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol. Both locals and visitors like to spend time here because it is close to numerous monuments. Plus, some of the Smithsonian Museums are just a short walk away.

The National Mall has two parts. There is a museum section and a side with monuments. So your family can organize the visit to the National Mall according to your interests. Of course, you may spend time in nature too, and take a relaxing walk by the Reflecting Pool.

Visit the Washington Monument

Built in 1884, the Washington Monument towers over the National Mall. Egyptian architecture influenced the architects to construct the 555-foot obelisk in honor of the first president of the United States, George Washington. Visitors may even go inside the obelisk and enjoy the view from the observation deck.

Of course, the Washinton Monument has a little museum where you and your family can find out more about the history of the obelisk, how it was constructed, and learn about the designers who came up with the idea itself. If anyone in your family is afraid of heights, you can stay outside, enjoy the park by the Washington Monument, and marvel at this impressive structure.

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