Washington, D.C., is filled with so many family friendly attractions that visitors could spend a whole month visiting the different museums available to them. That’s not to mention the several famous historical spots around town to check out. Visitors can simply walk to the very spot where Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre or where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. No matter what interests your family might have, D.C. has something for everyone. Check out one of these five family friendly attractions to jumpstart your D.C. exploration. Hopefully, you have at least a week to experience them all, and more.
Take your D.C. exploration to the water with DC Ducks. The part-land-part-water World War II-era amphibious vehicle takes families on a trip that looks at the city’s historic monuments from all angles. The 90-minute tour starts on land at Union Station and then journeys down Pennsylvania Avenue, where passengers get a glimpse of the Washington Monuments while listening to historic circa-World War II sound bites that include newscasts and speeches from past politicians such as FDR. Then, the vehicle will drive straight into the Potomac River, and tourists will see more sights such as Arlington Cemetery from the water before ending up under the flight path of planes landing at the National Airport.
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is the nation’s 163-acre zoological park. This free attraction allows families to visit the zoo 364 days a year and see the 2,000 different animals, representing more than 400 species. One of the more rare animals to see is the panda. The giant panda cub Bao Bao is now on exhibit, where visitors can see her in her natural habitat of trees and bamboo. The zoo also offers children’s classes that give kids an interactive look at nature. The Lion King class, for instance, teaches children about the six new lion cubs at the zoo as well as Simba’s wild friends such as meerkats and peccaries. Hakuna Matata!
Another fan-favorite in the Smithsonian Institution portfolio is the National Museum of Natural History. The green-domed museum located on the National Mall was the first Smithsonian building constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities. The museum’s collections include 30 million insects, 4.5 million plants and 2 million cultural artifacts. Here, guests can visit a real T-rex specimen on a loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which excavated the fossil predator. The Hope Diamond is also on display here in the Harry Winston Gallery.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum satisfies the pilot or astronaut in just about any family member. The largest of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, the museum’s collection includes about 60,000 objects ranging from Saturn V rockets to jetliners to microchips. For the space-y members of the family, the Apollo to the Moon exhibit tells the story of man landing on the moon via displays that include a huge F-1 rocket engine as well as space food and personal items astronauts took into space. The Early Flight exhibition highlights a different vantage point of flying with some of the first gliders man ever built to take flight.
A nod to the budding Walter Cronkites of the world, the Newseum takes visitors on an innovative tour of some of the world’s greatest new stories via its 15 major galleries and 15 theaters. For instance, guests can take an emotional tour through the 9/11 Gallery, which explores the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and how journalists chronicled the attack on America. The Berlin Wall Gallery features eight 12-foot-tall concrete sections of the actual wall, the largest on display outside of Germany. For photojournalism fans, Level 1 features Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, including the one taken of marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima.