Sad to think summer is coming to an end. Someone once told me you really only have 18 summers with your kids so make the most of them. That has stuck with me! We started our summer with a trip to Florida with friends and ended it in the Colorado mountains with family. Although we had some great trips, the highlight of our summer was showing off our hometown to my niece and nephew who are 11 and 6. They came up for five days in July and we had a ball. If asked I think they would say the water balloon fight was the best part of the trip, but we loved showing them some of our favorite spots and trying some new things together too.
Our family arrived in the early afternoon so we started the visit with a trip to Georgetown Cupcake (of TLC fame). We got lucky and the line wasn’t too long so we picked up a dozen cupcakes to fuel us through the next 5 days. I’m not saying they actually lasted five days...(Georgetown Cupcake: 3301 M Street, NW)
The next stop was the Washington National Cathedral. Not many towns have such a spectacular building you can walk through on your own. The Cathedral is open daily from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, with tours offered from 10:00 am – 11:30 am and 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. If you are there later in the day, Evensong is sung every day at 5:30 pm. Click here for a calendar of upcoming tours and events. For families with older children think about walking to the top of the Bell Tower. Children must be 48″ to walk the steps and infants in carriers or arms are not allowed. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online by clicking here. This is an amazing view of the city any time of year, but especially in the Fall. (Washington Cathedral: 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW)
After the tour you can walk to many family friendly restaurants for dinner. Our favorite is Cactus Cantina (3300 Wisconsin Avenue, NW). They have lots of seating and a mean swirl margarita. Other options, also within walking distance, include Two Amy’s Pizza (3715 Macomb Street, NW) and Cafe Deluxe (3228 Wisconsin Avenue, NW). All are good family options.
The next morning it was time to hit the Zoo, while you’re there don’t miss the new Elephant House, the carousel and the baby tiger cubs. Click here for more information to help you plan your visit. If you have an early bird in the bunch keep in mind you can walk through the zoo as early as 6:00 am, but the exhibit halls don’t open until 10:00 am. (Smithsonian National Zoo: 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW)
After the zoo we headed downtown to the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall. The museums are metro accessible, just take the red line from the Cleveland Park metro stop to the Smithsonian stop on the orange and blue line. Click here for more information on navigating the metro (DC’s subway).
There is a lot to see at these museums and we found it can very easily take you half a day to go through the Air and Space Museum or the Museum of Natural History. For more information on the exhibits at each of the Smithsonian museums visit the museums section on the Kids Will Travel website. We spent the afternoon at the Museum of Natural History and in addition to checking out the dinosaurs and the Hope Diamond we also made time for an IMAX movie. The movies are always a great break for your feet! (National Museum of Natural History: 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW)
After the Natural History Museum we called it a day and headed home, but it you find you are on the National Mall around dinner time head over to Penn Quarter for lots of restaurant options. From Mexican to Chinese to pizza, there is something to satisfy everyone in the family.
Day Three it was back to the National Mall and a visit to the American History Museum. Although definitely third in a list of favorites behind the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum, it is still worth a visit (especially if your child is studying America History). It’s here you can learn about the Presidential election process, view the dresses worn by the First Ladies to the Inaugural Balls and see the original Star Spangled Banner. (National Museum of American History: 1300 Constitution Avenue, NW)
We spent that afternoon at the Spy Museum, always a huge hit. As you tour the museum you can assume a secret identity and work to crack the secret code. The kids love this place. The Spy Museum is not part of the Smithsonian so there is an admission fee, but it’s worth it. Click here for more information. The Spy Museum is within walking distance of the National Mall and is located in the previously mentioned Penn Quarter so there are lots of dining options nearby. (International Spy Museum: 800 F Street, NW)
That night we did something that was new for all of us, the Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myer, right next to Arlington Cemetery. The Twilight Tattoo is an hour-long military pageant held every Wednesday from May – August at 7:00 pm. We all had a great time. It is a mix of military history, impressive military formations and cannons! Click here for more information. (Fort Myer: 204 Lee Avenue Building 59, Fort Myer, VA)
Day four we took a road trip to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles. If you have a car I highly recommend this amazing museum. This is where you can watch the planes take off and land from the observation tower, fly a fighter jet in a flight simulator and get up close and personal with a space shuttle. It is part of the Smithsonian so like all Smithsonian museums it is free. (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum: 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly, VA)
After that it was time to burn off some energy at Rebounderz. Again, if you have a car this is a great spot when you need a break from touring. Rebounderz is an indoor trampoline park and arcade, need I say more? Click here for all the details. (Rebounderz: 22400 Davis Dr #180, Sterling, VA)
Day Five was spent back downtown in DC at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history of news. The museum is home to a section of the Berlin Wall and Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, but most importantly you can pretend to me a news reporter. Awesome, right? I have to admit the all glass elevator was a big hit too. Click here for all the details. (Newseum: 5555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW)
After that it was time to head to the airport and we sadly said good bye to everyone until the next visit.
There was so much more we could have done, but you always have to have a reason to come back – right?!
Did you visit DC this summer? Tell us what your favorite part of the visit was…