Heading to DC with the family, and trying not to break the bank? Here are some low-cost (or free, in some cases) activities for kids in DC:
Visit a Museum
Kids’ museums provide wonderful learning opportunities , while still allowing your kids to have a little fun! The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center is an excellent place to start. Every Sunday, kids ages 5 to 12 can participate in the Kids @ Katzen program ($10), which introduces them to new exhibitions and leads them in creating their own art projects!
If your kids are into spy movies and TV shows, they’ll love the National Museum of Crime and Punishment! The museum’s motto is that you will have “So Much Fun, It’s a Crime!” The museum offers fun interactive experiences, a crime lab, and a filming studio (where they film the TV show “America’s Most Wanted”). General admission runs from $14-18, but you can often find deals if you purchase tickets online.
Love building with legos? The National Building Museum offers a unique perspective on building, architecture, and design. Your kids will love the interactive areas, where they can design their own small-scale buildings with blocks of all sizes, participate in group activities and games, and more. For an extra fee, younger kids (ages 2-6) can stop by the Building Zone to build towers, drive play construction trucks, and dress up in goggles and a hard hat. The museum is open seven days a week; adult admission is $8 and kids are just $5.
While not free, the wax museum is another fun activity for kids in DC. Madame Tussaud’s is full of celebrities, sports stars, and a special Presidents Gallery, featuring all 44 U.S. presidents. It’s a great educational activity, and it’s open 365 days a year! Admission ranges from $10-17 depending on the day, but you can find discounts and coupons pretty easily in local travel guides.
Learn About Animals & Enjoy the Outdoors
Animal lovers, listen up – head over to the National Zoo for a great afternoon learning about animals and wildlife! And the best part? It’s free to get in! The zoo is best known for its giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. There are some beautiful gardens within the zoo, as well as an Amazonia exhibit, a Reptile Discovery Center, a Small Mammal House, and much more.
If your kids love airplanes, be sure to hit Gravelly Point Park on the Virginia side of the Potomac. It’s at the end of the runway, and planes fly overhead every few minutes. Parents will enjoy the view of the DC skyline and the huge lawn offers ample space to let your kids to run and play.
Montrose Park is another free park that is a great place to go. Art lovers will enjoy all the free art activities that are held here throughout the year, including art walks and art shows. The park is full of beauty all year round!
Experience Theater and History
One extremely famous site in DC is Ford’s Theatre. It’s more than just a theater, though – it’s a full campus that traces the story of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. You and the kids can take a self-guided tour around the Ford’s Theatre Museum, learn about the Civil War with a National Park Service Ranger, explore the Peterson House (where Lincoln died), or go to one of the many shows and performances. Ticket prices and schedule vary; check their website for more details.
At the heart of our nation’s capital, the National Mall is a must-see for kids in DC. Here you can wander around, visit the various monuments and memorials, soak up the sun in a paddle boat, earn a special badge in the Junior Ranger program, and much more. Grand trees shade the Mall and there are plenty of free celebrations and demonstrations that take place here all year long. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, for example, takes place every spring. It’s a free festival that draws crowds, vendors, and plenty of outdoor artists and street performers.
These are just some of the great activities for kids in DC! Turn off the TV, grab the kids, and get out and have a fun and educational afternoon. Enjoy!
Photo by InSapphoWeTrust