Ready for a family trip to remember? It’s time to plan your Washington DC family vacation!
Washington DC is packed with interesting historic monuments, museums, restaurants and activities, and the area around it has endless outdoor adventures to discover! The Potomac River, historic government buildings, National Mall, and neighboring national parks are ready to show your family some unique wholesome good times.
But with so much to see and do, planning a perfect Washington, DC, family vacation can be overwhelming.
Here are all the tips and tricks you need to plan a Washington, DC, family trip that is fun for everyone.
Where to Stay in Washington DC
There is no shortage of accommodations to find in DC. From city to nature, luxury to rustic, you can find a great place to rest your head.
In the City
We recommend staying in Georgetown, Capitol Hill or Columbia Heights to have several museums, monuments and tourist sites right at your fingertips without sacrificing a charming neighborhood ambiance. These areas are beautiful, full of walkable places and close to several DC must-sees. Hundreds of fantastic hotels and unique vacation rentals in these three areas range from upscale to budget-friendly.
If you want to trade the city streets for lazy rivers, forest trees and wildlife sounds, Front Royal is only a 1.5-hour drive from the city. You can find lovely cabins near Shenandoah National Park along the Shenandoah River, right near George Washington National Forest that are big enough for the whole family!
Family-Friendly Attractions in Washington, DC
Wondering how you’ll fill your days? Here are our favorite activities for a great Washington, DC, family vacation!
Washington DC Activities for Families with Young Children
- Visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, home to over 1,500 animals, including giant pandas. Your kids will love seeing these famous pandas up close.
- Head to the National Children’s Museum, a fun-filled space where kids can engage in interactive exhibits and programs.
- Enjoy the outdoors at the Capitol Riverfront, a vibrant neighborhood along the Anacostia River. You can find parks, splash fountains, and even catch a baseball game at Nationals Park.
- Take a trip to the National Aquarium in nearby Baltimore, Maryland. This aquarium features diverse marine life and offers interactive exhibits, including a touch tank and dolphin presentations.
Washington DC Activities for Families with Older Children and Teens
- Explore the National Mall, where you can visit iconic landmarks such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and U.S. Capitol. Take a stroll and enjoy the open spaces.
- Discover the Smithsonian Institution’s museums along the National Mall. Some popular options for children include the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of American History.
- Visit the National Building Museum, which features exhibitions and activities focused on architecture, engineering, and design. The museum offers exciting exhibits that children of all ages can engage in.
- Explore The Wharf, a waterfront district with several restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Enjoy a waterfront stroll, rent a paddleboat, or relax by the water.
- Engage in the world of espionage at the International Spy Museum. Kids can have fun exploring interactive exhibits, solving spy challenges, and learning about the history of espionage.
Dining in Washington DC
There are thousands of fantastic restaurants in DC, but many may not be family-friendly. So here are our favorite restaurants in DC that you and your kids will love.
Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Washington DC
- Founding Farmers: Only three blocks from the White House, Founding Farmers is an excellent break from sight-seeing with farm-to-table ingredients and a fun theme.
- Ted’s Bulletin: This retro-style diner is known for its all-day breakfast, famous homemade pop tarts, and vintage comic-book theme.
- Busboys and Poets: This restaurant, bookstore and cultural hub celebrates art, literature, and social justice. Busboys and Poets offer a diverse menu with a dedicated children’s menu.
Outdoor Adventures Near Washington DC
Sometimes the best thing you can do in the city is get out of it! That’s when you head to one of the neighboring forests and national parks for a much-needed nature escape.
Our Favorite Family-Friendly Nature Retreats Near Washington DC
- Choose Your River Adventure: From exciting Shenandoah raft trips to relaxing Shenandoah river tubing, you can find fun for all ages on the Shenandoah River. With a dedicated shuttle and easy watercraft rentals, all you need to worry about is having fun on the river.
- Mount Vernon: Visit George Washington’s historic estate and stroll through the beautiful gardens overlooking the Potomac River.
- Shenandoah National Park: Discover stunning vistas, go hiking, and explore the wilderness in this national park in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- George Washington and Jefferson National Forests: Explore the vast wilderness with opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and scenic drives in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.
Washington DC offers a unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment that will engage and educate every member of your family. No matter how you plan your next family trip, you will find several ways to bond with your favorite people. If you end up in the Front Royal Area on your adventure, reach out to our team to plan an exciting or relaxing afternoon on the Shenandoah River!