Our family loves a good adventure while vacationing, especially when most activities come with low or no cost. With adorable neighborhoods, boutique toy shops, diverse food and a safe public transit system, Washington, D.C. is rich with history, education and one-of-a-kind experiences for an adventurous family vacation.
WHERE TO STAY
The city is divided up into four quadrants with the National Mall of Monuments in the middle. The Southeast neighborhood of Capitol Hill has a convenient metro stop with three lines, shops, restaurants and a nearby farmers market. The adorable row of homes and beautiful landscapes dubbed this area safe, clean and family friendly. With several Airbnb options nearby, breakfast at The Pretzel Bakery is a must.
HOW TO GET AROUND
The bulk of your spending in Washington, DC is typically transportation. After a very quick learning curve, the metro system is safe, well-lit and easy to use. Unlimited ride passes take the stress out of the subway and get you all across the city efficiently. For quick trips within the mall, Uber/Lyft and taxis will get you where you’re going for a heftier fee. Ride passes are available for purchase online, in advance of your trip or in person at a station.
SCOOTER AND BIKE RENTAL
The National Mall itself is just under a two mile stretch from the Capitol to Lincoln Memorial. For little ones, the walk can be tiring. Scooters and bikes are available for rent all over the city; download Bird or Lime apps ahead of time. One of my favorite parts of a D.C. vacation is scootering around the monuments with my husband and family.
MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS
If you’re up for the trek, the Steven Hazy Udvar Center is a hidden gem museum located next to Dulles Airport. For aircraft enthusiasts, the Discovery space shuttle calls the Hazy center home. Smithsonian museums and monuments in D.C. are all free of charge and do not require reservations, except the Washington monument tour and famous International Spy Museum. The Museum of Natural History, the National Archives and the Museum of African American History are a few of our family favorites.
Plan ahead and reach out to your congressman or woman for potential Capitol and White House tours. The Library of Congress, Smithsonian Zoo and Washington Monument require advance reservations online or available day of.
Take a break from the free museums and monuments and explore the stunning waterfront area of The Wharf. Dock swings, boats, finer dining and boutique shops fill the newly built Wharf area. For shopping and delicious eateries, Logan Circle and Union Station are full of trendy boutiques and food. Ice Cream Jubilee in Logan Circle will keep you craving for more!
A trip to D.C. involves a lot of walking, and younger kiddos under age 6 may have a hard time. Planning an itinerary is helpful and using the map app on your phone for metro times is a lifesaver. Bags are checked in almost every location you enter, so pack extra light and have a great pair of walking shoes. For souvenirs and trinkets, White House Gifts on 15th Street will fill your cart with precious memories from an adventurous DC family vacation.