Discover why Washington D.C. is  a great place for a family vacation.
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  • Aug30

    My husband and I found early on that if we could find a playground when we were touring we would have a much happier child on our hands. It’s amazing how a few pushes on a swing can make a grumpy child happy again. So if your child is like ours, where should you go for a trip down the slide in DC? Here are a few suggestions.

    The National Mall is known as America’s front yard and is a great place to let children run and run. Stop into one of the Smithsonian Museum gift shops and pick up a kite or a ball to play with.

    There is also a carousel outside of the Smithsonian Castle, midway down the mall. It costs $3.50 to take a spin and is open 10:00 am – 5:30 pm daily from March through Labor Day. The Fall and Winter hours are Labor Day through February 28th, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.

    Capitol Hill is the best place to find a playground near the major tourist sites. There are three playgrounds within walking distance of the Capitol and Union Station. All of these playgrounds are located on the East side of the Capitol, opposite the National Mall.

    The biggest is Lincoln Park, located on East Capitol between 11th and 13th, on the border of NE and SE. This is a big grassy park, perfect for running, but it also includes two small gated playgrounds with slides.

    Another option is Stanton Park, located between 4th and 6th Streets and Massachusetts Ave., NE. It is a much smaller park, again with a gated playground with slides. This park is located close to Union Station, where you can catch the metro, rent a bike or grab a bite to eat.

    The final park on Capitol Hill is on the SE side (same side as the House of Representatives) of the Capitol. This park, called Garfield Park, is quite near the raised SW Freeway, but is a popular spot none the less. It has a gated playground with baby swings and a larger climbing area for the older kids.

    If it’s a hot day and you don’t mind if your kids get wet then there are two more options to keep in mind.

    Yards Park is located near the new Nationals baseball stadium. The park is a 1.4 mile walk from the Capitol or you can take the metro to the Navy Yard Station. This is a great spot with a large grassy area for running, a walking trail along the river and awesome water fountains and pools. Click here for a complete list of seasonal activities.

    Another similar park, although much smaller, can be found along the Potomac River at the Georgetown Waterfront. This park is part of a great biking trail along the Potomac River and the Georgetown Canal. It would be fun to rent some bikes and take a family bike ride as it is pretty flat and very scenic. Capitol Bike Share has a bike kiosk just steps from the park on Wisconsin Avenue at the C&O Canal. But back to the water park, the water fountains are located at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and K Street, NW. Georgetown is also a great place for shopping and eating. Click here for some of our favorite restaurants.

    Have fun exploring!


  • Aug24

    I love to be a tourist in my own town and that’s just what I was today. We joined some friends and headed downtown for a tour of Washington, DC with the DC Ducks.

    The DC Ducks is a unique tour of DC in a converted WWII DUKW amphibious vehicle, which means after you take a drive past the major sites you’ll splash down into the Potomac River for a unique view of the city from the water. You may have seen similar tours in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Seattle.

    You can buy your tickets for the tours online (at a discount), but you are not able to choose a specific tour time. The vehicles leave from Union Station and are filled on a first come first serve basis. It is best to arrive early in the morning (9:00 am) to get your name on the list. If you don’t make the first car/boat at 10:00 am you can choose a later tour and come back. Union Station is near the Capitol and the National Mall so you will find you have plenty of options to fill your time if you end up on a later tour. We arrived at 9:30 am and were able to get on the first tour, but it is August – not the height of the tourist season.

    We were with kids ranging in age from six to eight. It was a slow start (literally) as we were driving through DC traffic and the kids were a bit antsy and hot, but Captain Kent, our tour guide, kept it light and funny and the kids listened and asked questions. The tour is light on heavy history and heavy on fun facts.

    Once we splashed down into the Potomac and headed out onto the water the kids got more into it, especially as the they were allowed to drive the boat. How cool is that!

    And we watched as the planes landing at National airport flew right over us, cool and loud.

    But it was about to get louder! Once we got back on dry land Captain Kent passed out the Quackers and we quacked our way back to Union Station,

    Past the Jefferson Memorial

    And the Air and Space Museum

    And the Captiol.

    After singing/quacking happy birthday to Captain Kent, it was his 49th birthday, we disembarked and I asked the kids what they thought. They gave it a thumbs up and we happily quacked our way back home.

    Quick Facts:

    • Visit the DC Ducks website for complete information.
    • The tour is 90 minutes long and departs from Union Station. This is not a hop on/hop off tour, but the driver will stop after you exit the water for a bathroom break.
    • There is a metro stop and parking at Union Station. The DC Ducks ticket desk is just in front of you as you enter the main entrance of Union Station.
    • Tours run every 30 minutes from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, 7 days a week from mid-March through October. Tour buses do not run on Memorial Day, the 4th of July or the day of the Marine Corp Marathon.
    • Tickets may be bought in advance on the DC Ducks website for a discount or you may purchase tickets at Union Station. Tickets are $39.00 for adults and $29.00 for children under 12.
    • You can take food and water on the tour. It is advised to leave your strollers behind the ticket desk in Union Station.
    • There are lots of food options both in and around Union Station. Click here for some ideas.
    • And a final tip, for the best pictures sit on the right hand side.
  • Aug16

    We have escaped the stifling August heat in DC and are enjoying the cool mountain air in NC. There is nothing better than sleeping with the windows open and spending the entire day outside, with no humidity.

    If you do find yourself visiting DC this month, skip the walk and catch a ride on one of the many pedicabs found around the city, take in an IMAX movie at one of the Smithsonian museums or try your skills at the indoor putt putt course at the National Building Museum.

    I hope you’ll enjoy these last long lazy days of summer no matter where you are!



  • Aug07

    My daughter was three when I got my first iPhone. She is now six and fully integrated into the iPhone/iPad world. As parents we constantly struggle with how much time to let our children play on the computer or watch tv, but apps have relieved some of this guilt because there are so many great apps out there that actually teach your child something.

    Whether you are in the car on a roadtrip, trying to keep your child happy on the airplane or just waiting in line at the grocery store here are some of the apps we love…

    Duck Duck Moose ($1.99) These were some of the first apps we downloaded for our daughter. The interactive games teach the kids nursery rhymes, letters and numbers. Some of our favorites were Itsy Bitsy Spider, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Fish School.


    Little Cook ($3.99) by Aqility This game allows you to make ice cream, pizza, etc. The child is given different ingredients to choose from and when they’re finished a little girl or boy tastes it and tells them if it’s good or not. After three years I have to say we are getting a lot more, “that’s delicious” responses as opposed to “that tastes bad.”


    Matching Zoo (Free) by Tomato Interactive, this version of the game Memory is another one of our favorites. My daughter has always been better than me at this game, at any age. Note: You don’t need the volume to play the game. Hint, hint.


    Toddler Teasers ($2.99) has both flashcards and “quizzes” to help your child with their letters, numbers and shapes. As the child answer questions correctly they earn stickers. Every kid loves a sticker, even if it’s electronic.


    Maverick Software ($0.99) has a series of similar apps that allow your child to make everything from sundaes to salad. You are provided the ingredients and are then able to choose different toppings, etc. Our favorite was the cupcake maker, maybe not the most educational choice, but I was amazed how long kids will play.

    Now that our daughter is six we have moved on to games like:

    Road Trip Bingo ($0.99) by Bright Bunny is the bingo game app we used and found it to be very kid friendly. This is my favorite car game.


    PicPocket Books ($0.99 – $3.99) Love this app, it’s like having a children’s library on your phone. You’ll find a large selection of  books and you can decide if you would like the book read to your child or you can turn off the audio and let the child read it themselves. This is a great choice for a child at any age, but especially an early reader.

    Tales2Go (Free for 30 days) Another great choice to instill the love of reading in your child. These are purely audio books. Your child can sit back and let their imagination run wild – perfect if your child is prone to car sickness! Take advantage of the free 30 day trial, you’ll be amazed at the choices available.

    And for fun…

    The Secrets of Grisley Manor (Free) This app is not scary at all, especially if you turn off the music. My six year old needed help (from her mom and her grandfather), but it is great fun to wander through the rooms of the house searching for clues. A second version called, “The Lost City” was just released…we’re working on that one now!

    The best tip I have:  Don’t forget the headphones!




  • Aug03

    Visiting art museums with children doesn’t necessarily conjure up feelings of enjoyment, but contrary to what you may believe, visiting an art museum can be fun for all of you.

    Many art museums in DC offer special programming for children. From family days to museum guides designed specifically for children, there are lots of options to help kids enjoy looking at art.

    DC’s Corcoran Gallery of Art offers a great handout for families. In it are helpful tips for visiting art museums with children. Here are some of my favorites.

    Play I spy. Come up with a few items you and your children are going to look for in the paintings while you tour the museum: dogs, crowns, flowers, for example. Or play I spy with your child while you look at a specific painting. I spy the color red, or circles, for example.

    Create your own scavenger hunt. Make the gift shop your first stop at the museum and pick up postcards of works on display, then explore the galleries and look for the paintings. You can mail the postcards to your friends and family after the visit.

    Re-title the painting. Ask your child what they think the title of the painting should be.

    Jump In! If you were inside the painting what else might you see or hear or smell.

    I love these ideas!

    Below is a list of our favorite art museums to visit with children.

    The National Gallery of Art

    • Metro Stop: Smithsonian
    • Hours and Tickets: The National Gallery of Art, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. The museum is free so no tickets are necessary.
    • Food: There are several food options within the National Gallery. Click here for more information. There are also lots of family friendly options in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area which is within walking distance of the museum. Click here for a list of some of the restaurants we enjoy.

    The National Gallery of Art is made up of two buildings. The West Building houses European art from the 13th century through the 19th century as well as American paintings and sculpture from colonial times to the early 20th century.

    The East Building houses modern and contemporary art.

    The two buildings are connected underground and you get to walk through this awesome tunnel. What kid wouldn’t love this?

    Along the underground corridor connecting the two buildings you will find the more formal Cascade Cafe and the kid friendly Garden Cafe.

    The underground corridor is also where you will find the ever popular gift shops which are filled with great toys, books and art themed activities for kids.

    The National Gallery of Art offers ongoing family programming throughout the year. Click here for a list of upcoming performances and drop-in programs. If you decide to take a quick look around, stop at the visitor’s desk to pick up a free children’s audio tour designed for children 7-12. Click here for more information. The museum also offers a NGAKids website with lots of interactive art activities for the kids.

    American Art Museum

    • Metro Stop: Gallery Place – Chinatown
    • Hours and Tickets: The American Art Museum, located at 8th and F Streets, N.W., is open daily from 11:30 am – 7:00 pm. The Gallery is closed on December 25. The museum is free so no tickets are necessary.
    • Food: There is a small cafe within the atrium at the American History Museum and like the National Gallery of Art, the museum is within walking distance of lots of great restaurants in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area. Click here for a list of some of the restaurants we enjoy.

    The Smithsonian’s American Art Museum houses only art created by American artists. The works span the life of our country and include photographs and folk art in addition to traditional paintings. This is where you will find every U.S. President’s portrait. The American Art Museum offers ongoing family programming throughout the year. Click here for more information. If you aren’t planning to visit the museum during a time when a special program is being offered you can still go online to download themed scavenger hunts to tackle during your museum visit. There is a beautiful atrium at the American Art Museum with a small water feature. A great place for the kids to run around, but you’ll have to watch they don’t get wet. The atrium also has a small cafe, perfect to stop, sit and enjoy a snack.

    The Renwick Gallery

    • Metro Stop: Farragut North or Farragut West
    • Hours and Tickets: The Renwick Gallery, located at 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (at 17th Street), is open daily from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm. The Gallery is closed on December 25. The museum is free so no tickets are necessary.
    • Food: Right around the corner from the Renwick on Connecticut Avenue is one of our favorite cafes, Teaism. The Renwick is located in downtown DC so for other options in the area we recommend you visit our restaurants page.

    Across the street from the White House is the Renwick Gallery, home to the Smithsonian’s American craft and decorative art collection. Don’t miss Wendell Castle’s Ghost Clock, my favorite piece in the collection. The museum is small so you can tour it quickly and offers a kid friendly scavenger hunt at the front desk so be sure to pick one up on your way in.

    The Corcoran Gallery of Art

    • Metro Stop: Farragut North or Farragut West
    • Hours and Tickets: The Corcoran, located at 500 17th Street NW, is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm with extended hours until 9:00 pm on Thursdays. The Gallery is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Tickets are required and can be purchased at the door. Adults are $10.00 and children under 12 are free.
    • Food: See the above Renwick recommendations as the two museums are very close to one another.

    Just around the corner from the Renwick is the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Corcoran houses traditional and modern American and European art from the 18th, 19th and 20th century. As I mentioned above, the museum offers a great handout at the front desk for families. It is full of coloring pages and craft ideas, but the best part is the tips page.

    I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to expose your children to some wonderful art while you’re in DC. And remember the Smithsonian museums are free so if the kids just aren’t in to it you can leave without wasting any money.