Washington, D.C. is a fantastic destination for families. There are so many fun things to do for kids here that you will never be able to do all of them in one trip. From world-class museums to zoos and more, there is something for everyone, and many of the attractions are also free. Here is a selection of the best places to enjoy hands-on activities and have lots of fun while in the state.
International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum provides great fun for the whole family. The museum tells the history of spying, and it does this through a range of fascinating exhibitions packed full of interactive exhibits.
Find out about the tools, strategies, and missions of spies through the ages; get a cover identity; find out what it takes to be a spy at the School for Spies; go back in time to find out about the history of espionage; see old tools and gadgets used by spies; and discover 50 years of Bond villains in a special exhibit. There is also Spy in the City, a GPS experience where you can go on outdoor missions, and Operation Spy, a combination of special effects and activities.
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum houses the biggest collection of spacecraft and aircraft in the world in over nearly 15,000 square meters of space. Opened in 1946, it welcomes over six million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited museums in the world.
Most of the aircraft on display are the originals, and you can see items such as the Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia", the 1903 Wright Flyer, and Space Shuttle Discovery. A number of fascinating exhibitions include Apollo to the Moon, which explores the history of human exploration, America by Air, which looks at commercial aviation, and the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery, which features the history of flight during the 20s and 30s.
There are many hands-on activities, experiments, and flight simulators, making it a fun as well as fascinating and educational visit.
National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is located on the National Mall, so find a nearby hotel using a service like Hipmunk and you can visit with ease. It's free to enter, and it is open throughout the year. It is one of the most visited museums in the world and the most visited in North America.
The museum contains over 126 million specimens relating to human origins, geology and gems, mammals, dinosaurs, insects, the oceans, and more. Fascinating temporary exhibitions are regularly held, so there is always something new to see. 'The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World' is a current exhibition that will last until 2018. Here you can go on a journey back in time to find out about the very last dinosaurs on the continent and their demise.
One of the highlights is Q?rius, a learning lab on the ground floor that is open to the public and school groups. This provides a fun and interactive way to learn so that children can get a greater understanding of science.
The National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country, having opened in 1889. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution, and it is free to enter. It comprises two campuses, over 300 species, and nearly 2,000 animals, many of them endangered.
See the famous giant pandas, as well as great apes, elephants, birds, reptiles, and more. For hands-on fun, visit the Kids' Farm and learn about agriculture and the animals. You'll find cows, alpacas, hogs, goats, and donkeys, with rare breeds like San Clemente Island goats. Kids can stroke the animals with supervision from staff, making it an ideal way to get up close to real animals.
The Newseum is an interactive museum focused on news and journalism. It is located on Pennsylvania Ave. NW, and it comprises seven levels. There are some fascinating galleries here, including the Berlin Wall gallery, the 9/11 gallery, and others focusing on the history of the news, press freedom, and the First Amendment. Kids can deliver the weather forecast, become a photojournalist, and see news stories from around the world on the international front pages.
Other Attractions to Visit
These are just the start, and there are many more attractions to visit here. These include the National Building Museum where there are plenty of hands-on activities in the Great Hall; the National Geographic Museum, with lots of special exhibitions for kids; and the Public Vaults, which provides a fun and interactive way to learn about history.
Enjoy a Fun-Filled Time in Washington, D.C.
There is plenty to enjoy for the whole family when you visit Washington, D.C. So many top attractions can be found here, and many of them have interactive exhibitions and activities to keep the kids entertained all day long. So visit some of these on your next trip and enjoy a fantastic time.
Fiona Moriarty works at Hipmunk as a content strategist. She likes to write about lifestyle and family topics. Look for her posts on many living and family websites.