Discover why Washington D.C. is  a great place for a family vacation.
  • After Dark
Washington is often prettiest at night when the white marble buildings almost glow. It is a great time to avoid the crowds and visit the monuments and memorials, but if you checked that off during the day there are plenty of ways to fill the time before the kids go to bed.

The Kennedy Center 

Quick Facts:

  • Metro Stop: Foggy Bottom (plus a bit of a walk) or use the free Kennedy Center Shuttle. Click here for more information about the shuttle and other transportation options.

The Kennedy Center is a beautiful building with soaring ceilings and an amazing view of the Potomac from their wrap around balcony.  In addition to ticketed performances, the Kennedy Center offers a free performance every evening at 6:00 pm on the Millennium Stage. These performances range from young musicians and comedians to visiting dance troupes and usually last about an hour. Click here for a list of upcoming performances.

Another ongoing kid-friendly show is the interactive murder mystery, Sheer Madness, which has been playing in the Kennedy Center’s lab theater for 20 years. The crowd gets to decide how the plot will unfold. It’s great fun for all ages. Click here for more information about tickets.

For a list of all upcoming family programs at the Kennedy Center click here.

The Kennedy Center also offers a roof top restaurant and a cafe for more casual dining so you can make an evening of your visit – dinner and a show!

National Gallery Sculpture Garden

Quick Facts:

  • Metro Stop: Smithsonian
  • Location: Located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. During the evening, when the Sculpture Garden is closed to the public, access to the skating rink and park is restricted to the entrances at Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive near 9th Street.

Ice Skating

Hours: Monday–Thursday, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m. and
Sunday, 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.

From November through March there is ice skating everyday at the ice skating rink located in the center of the National Gallery Sculpture Garden on the national mall. There is also a small cafe serving hot chocolate, sweets, pre-made sandwiches (and beer and wine for mom and dad). There are also several restaurants in the area. Hard Rock Cafe is a few blocks away, as is the Verizon Center and Penn Quarter/Chinatown which has tons of restaurants suitable for kids. Check out Austin Grill, Matchbox Pizza or La Tosca.

Jazz in the Garden

During the summer months on Fridays from 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm the National Gallery offers free concerts in the sculpture garden. Antsy kiddies can explore the sculpture while you enjoy some jazzy tunes. Click here for this year’s schedule.

Evening Parade at the U.S. Marine Barracks

Quick Facts:

  • Metro Stop: 8th and I (Eastern Market)

Nothing says American pride more than a military parade and what better place to see one than in the nation’s capitol. The military parade at the Marine Barracks at 8th and I Street, SE is amazing and for that reason tickets are a hot commodity. The parade features performances by the United States Marine Band known as the “President’s Own,” the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, known as the “Commandant’s Own,” and the Unites States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. The parade starts late, 8:45pm and runs until 10pm, but gates open at 7pm and there is open seating. Keep bedtimes in mind as you plan as this is not the place for squirmy tired kids.

The parade is free, but you will need a ticket. You may request a ticket by fax, letter or email. Click here for more information.

There is very limited parking around the Marine Barracks and so it is highly recommended to metro. The closest metro station is Eastern Market on the yellow and orange line.

Sunset Parade at Iwo Jima

Quick Facts:

  • Metro Stop: Iwo Jima (Arlington Cemetery)

Every summer from June 7th – August 23rd at 6:30 pm the Marines host a Sunset Parade on the Parade Deck of the memorial. The performance lasts for one hour and features the U.S. Drum and Bugle Corp and the Marine Corp Silent Drill Platoon. It is open to the public with no charge so grab a blanket and a picnic! There is free shuttle from Arlington National Cemetery Visitor’s Center. It runs from 5:30 pm-6:30 pm to Iwo Jima and back to the Arlington Cemetery Visitor’s Center from 7:30 pm-8:30 pm.

Need a grown-up evening out without the kids?

Check with your hotel regarding local babysitting services. When my daughter was just a tiny baby and we had no family in town I turned to White House Nannies to find a babysitter and was always pleased. Visit their website for more information about rates and policies.

And what should you do while the kids are tucked in bed?

Well that might have to be my next website! But go to to find a list of great restaurants and there are tons of them! Go bowling at Lucky Strike in Penn Quarter, you’ve never bowled like this before! Afterwards try Spanish tapas at Jaleo, a pomegranate margarita at Rosa Mexicano or Surf n’ Turf sushi at Sei. Ahhh, a dinner that doesn’t involve chicken fingers or ketchup!  If it’s Thursday, take advantage of the extended hours at the Corcoran Museum and stroll quietly through the galleries, then pass the White House on your way to the rooftop bar at the W Hotel where you can take in the spectacular views of the city.