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11 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Washington, DC

11 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Washington, D.C.

Whether you’re visiting Washington D.C. as a local or are traveling from out of town, our Nation’s Capital is full of activities for families with children of all ages. What’s more, many of them don’t cost a thing! Here are the 11 best family-friendly activities in Washington, D.C.

1. Planet World

925 13th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Planet World is an “immersive language experience.” Located at the historic Franklin School, this museum tops the list of things to do in D.C. with kids because it’s ideal for children of all ages. Whether signed, spoken, sung, or written, language connects humans and shapes nearly every moment – from the mundane to the extraordinary. Experience the world’s first voice-activated museum and explore words and language in an entirely different way than ever before.

Upon entrance to the museum, you’re met by a Speaking Willow Tree that murmurs in hundreds of languages as you walk beneath its branches. From there you can discover how humans learn to speak, learn about the origin of our language, paint with words, and watch books come to life before your eyes. General admission is free, and the museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

2. Smithsonian National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Spanning 163 acres of D.C. parkland, the Smithsonian National Zoo is home to over 390 species and 2,700 animals. Among all of the family-friendly things to do in Washington, D.C., the zoo is a must! This free zoo is committed to educating the public not just about the resident animals themselves, but about the importance of the Smithsonian’s research and global conservation efforts.

Visit the Cheetah Conservation Station, where, in addition to cheetahs you can get a look at some of the most threatened species in the world. Stop by the Primate Exhibit to view gorillas, orangutans, monkeys, and close to a dozen other primates as they go about their days. Walk along the American Trail to learn about animals native to the United States and Canada such as the bald eagle, gray seal, maned wolf, and so many more.

3. Rock Creek Park

5200 Glover Rd NW, Washington, DC 20008

The Rock Creek area of D.C. was deforested during the Civil War and the timber used to create barriers and obstacles which prevented a Confederate march through Rock Creek Valley. After the war, Rock Creek Park became one of the first federally managed parks in the nation. Today, most of the attractions at Rock Creek Park are available for free. These include activities like hiking and golfing, as well as Ranger-led and educational programs. If you’re looking for things to do in D.C. with kids on a rainy day, check out Rock Creek Park’s indoor Nature Center and Planetarium. You’ll enjoy a bit of the great outdoors without all the water.

4. Stead Park

1625 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036

This 1.5-acre municipal park is located in the Dupont Circle area of NW, D.C. Along with the usual recreational courts and fields, you’ll also find many free public events at Stead Park. Check out Summer Movie Mania, Washington Renegades Rugby practice, outdoor holiday events, Storytime in the Park, and much more. Most activities are organized by Friends of Stead Park. Visit their Facebook page to learn about upcoming events and activities.

5. National Museum of Natural History

10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560

Searching for family-friendly things to do in Washington D.C. on a bad weather day (that won’t break the bank)? Look no further! The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is dedicated to teaching visitors about the natural world and our place within it. Exhibits and artifacts from nearly every era allow visitors to follow the evolution of our world. We especially recommend the Q?rius Jr. exhibit, which allows students to practice their scientific skills as they interact with items from the museums collection.

Plan to spend a good amount of time here, as the National Museum of Natural History is huge!

Like other Smithsonian museums, this one is free to the public and open most days from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM.

6. National Air and Space Museum

600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560

Home to the world’s largest collection of space and aviation artifacts, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum maintains exhibits that encompass all facets of human flight, related works of art, and archival materials. Kids and adults will all love the hands-on How Things Fly gallery that explains the basic principles of aerodynamics; The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age tells the story behind the invention of the world’s first successful airplane; and the Time and Navigation exhibit explores the ways timekeeping revolutions have influenced our lives on earth. These are just a few of the many opportunities for free fun and learning at the National Air and Space Museum.

7. Glen Echo Park

7300 Macarthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD 20812

This one has a little bit of everything, including plenty of kids’ activities. D.C.’s Glen Echo Park is home to nature, aquatic life, social programming, theaters, and galleries. In short there is something for everyone at this 130 year-old outdoor establishment. The National Park Service collaborated with artists and local organizations to create this distinct locale with plenty of outdoor activities and a rich arts program. The grounds are open from 6:00 AM – 1:00 AM every day. Visit for more details.

8. United States Botanic Garden

100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001

Among the many things to do in D.C. with kids, you’ll find the United States Botanic Garden. Inside this wonderful oasis on Capitol Hill is an ordered, documented, labeled assemblage of more than 65,000 living plants. The collections include economic plants, medicinal plants, orchids, carnivorous plants, succulents, historic specimens, and more, all of which are used for exhibits, study, and exchange.

At the Conservatory, you’ll find sensory experiences of all kinds, from tropical rain forests to desert plant exhibits, which highlight the diversity of plants around the world. Outdoors, the National Garden features plants native to the mid-Atlantic region as well as rose, butterfly, and water gardens.

9. International Spy Museum

700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024

With a mission to educate the public about espionage and intelligence in an engaging way, the International Spy Museum provides the context needed to understand how important a role intelligence has played throughout history. Visitors explore the successes, failures, challenges, and controversies of U.S. intelligence and national security.

You’ll start your Spy Museum experience on the 5th floor with a briefing before you begin stealing secrets, making sense of them, and using covert action to sabotage our enemies. The fourth floor includes exhibits such as Spying that Shaped History and An Uncertain World, which explain what happens when secrets are kept (or revealed) and how agencies protect against threats, respectively. And of course, you can browse the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever made available for viewing by the public.

10. Beauvoir Playground

3500 Woodley Rd NW, Washington, DC 20016

The unique environment at the Beauvoir School Playground encourages natural curiosity through free imaginative play in a safe, fun environment. On the playground you’ll find enclosed ropes courses, rock walls, running water, sand, and nearly any piece of play equipment you can imagine. Since the playground is part of the Beauvoir School campus, it is only open to the public when school and camp are not. Visitors are welcome any time on weekends and holidays, and after 6:00 PM otherwise.

11. Nationals Park

1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Not only is the new Nationals Park, located on the Capitol Riverfront, a beautiful location from which to catch a game, it’s full of kid’s activities; D.C. natives and visitors will all love spending a day at the park. The PenFed Kids Fun Zone was designed especially for the youngest Nationals fans and is open during all home games. Children ages 4-12 are invited to run the bases after every Sunday afternoon home game, no pre-registration required. The Nats even offer certificates to commemorate your first game at Nationals Park.

If your visit to D.C. doesn’t coincide with a Nationals home game, you can take a tour of the park! Over the course of two hours, you’ll get to see the Champion’s Club, media area, suites, Dugout, Bullpen, and more.

Stay with Your Family at The Hotel at the University of Maryland

There’s certainly no shortage of family friendly things to do in Washington D.C., so why not make it an overnight trip? The Hotel at University of Maryland is the perfect home base for your visit, as it’s conveniently located near several major airports and interstates, and just four miles from the D.C. border.

Easily access the Nation’s Capital by catching the Metro at the College Park Station, less than a mile from our front door. When you’re ready to wind down, the entire crew can kick back in our luxurious guest rooms. Check out our special offers and book your stay today!


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