Discover why Washington D.C. is  a great place for a family vacation.
  • Off the beaten path
  • Aug21

    If you are planning to stay in the DC area for the long Labor Day weekend I encourage you to drive over to National Harbor and try the ferris wheel. It is simple fun, but still a thrill for the kids.

    National Harbor

    The Capital Wheel at National Harbor is 180 feet tall, has enclosed gondola type seats that are both heated and air conditioned and each compartment holds up to eight people. On a clear day you can see Old Town, National Airport, the Capitol and the Washington Monument. If you look down you’ll catch a glimpse of paddle boarders and boaters out on the Potomac River and the adorable swan and rubber duck paddle boats that you can also rent at National Harbor.

    Capital Wheel National Harbor

    We rode the ferris wheel during the day, but I can imagine it is lots of fun at night as the whole wheel lights up. Check the National Harbor calendar to plan your visit. There are free outdoor concerts on Friday nights and family friendly movies shown on Sunday nights through the end of September. At different times during the month there are also free family nights offered at the National Children’s Museum, just a two block walk from the ferris wheel.

    National Harbor is located in Maryland across the Potomac River from DC and is a quick 20 minute drive. In addition to the ferris wheel there are lots of restaurants and shops and a carousel. You will also find an outlet mall just up the road and Cirque De Soleil has a permanent home there.

    As you can see, you can easily make a day of the trip.

    Quick Facts

    • Hours: The ferris wheel is open from 10:00 am – 11:00 pm through the end of August. Beginning in September the ferris wheel will open an hour later at 11:00 am.
    • Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at National Harbor. The ticket booth is located on the board walk as you approach the ferris wheel. Adults are $15.00 and children 11 and under are $11.25.
    • Strollers are not permitted on the ferris wheel.


  • Nov13

    Have you got family visiting you for the holidays? Are you looking for somewhere other than a museum to take them? Here are some suggestions…

    Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Arena 

    Rebounderz Sterling VA

    Rebounderz in Sterling, VA is a huge warehouse of trampolines.The trampoline park is open from 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm on Monday through Thursday and 10:00 am – 10:00 pm on Friday through Sunday. Be sure to check out their daily deals like unlimited jumping on Friday nights for kids 12 and older and take advantage of the option to buy tickets for a specific time 24 hours in advance. Rebounderz is located three miles west of Dulles International Airport in Sterling, VA.

    Ice Skating

    Ice skating in DC has gotten a lot more scenic recently with the addition of two new ice skating rinks. The rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden will always be a favorite, but now you can also skate away an afternoon at the Washington Harbor in Georgetown and at Canal Park near the Nationals Baseball Stadium. The ice skating rinks are scheduled to open soon so visit the below websites for more information about opening day and hours of operation.

    National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden – opening in mid-November

    Washington Harbor – opening the second weekend in November

    Canal Park – opening in mid-December

    While you’re there sip on a cup of hot chocolate and take in the views. The National Sculpture Garden has a small cafe with snacks and drinks and there are several restaurants surrounding the rink at both Washington Harbor and Canal Park.

    Imagination Stage

    Imagination Stage will take your child on a journey to one of their favorite books or most loved stories with a musical performance designed especially for children, and more importantly a child’s attention span. With an ever changing offering of plays, a great gift shop and kid-friendly cafe it is a fun outing for the entire family. Visit their website for more information on the upcoming plays scheduled for this fall and winter, Lyle the Crocodile and RumpelstiltskinImagination Stage

     Washington National Cathedral 

    National Cathedral

    Fall is the perfect time of year to visit the Pilgrim Observation Gallery at the Washington National Cathedral. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful changing leaves in the city and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Currently the observation deck has an exhibit of the broken pieces of the cathedral that fell during the 2011 earthquake and the reconstruction is visible from many of the windows. The observation deck is open Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. If you are able to visit on a Monday or Wednesday at 12:30 pm you will hear the cathedral’s enormous organ and every Tuesday and Wednesday a traditional English tea is served on the observation deck at 2:45 pm. The Cathedral is open to the public and free to visitors, but donations are encouraged. Visit the Washington National Cathedral website for additional information.



    Nothing puts you in the mood for the holidays like the ICE exhibit at the Gaylord National Hotel at Washington National Harbor. After putting on your complimentary parka you will enter a 9 degree winter wonderland made completely of ice. This year’s theme is ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and your kids will love the hand carved life size Santa and the two story ice slide. After your visit stay awhile and warm up with lunch or dinner at one of the many area restaurants. There are many family friendly options such as Elevation Burger and Rosa Mexicano. You also don’t want to miss the holiday decorations and nightly indoor snowfall at the Gaylord National Hotel.  This year the holiday festivities begin on November 15th and run through January 5th. Visit the Gaylord website for information on purchasing tickets. Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac

    What are your favorite activities when you have family in town? Let us know…

  • Aug23

    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.

    Georgetown Cupcakes DC

    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)

    Washington National Cathedral

    Getty Images

    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.

    Elephants National Zoo

    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.

    Star Spangled Banner

    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)

    Fort Myer

    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)

    Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Dulles

    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)

    Rebounderz Sterling 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…


  • Jul10

    Lincoln Memorial, check.

    Jefferson Memorial, check.

    The U.S. Capitol, check.

    If your kids are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the touring then take a side trip to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum for a little bit of fun, pop culture and history (snuck in there quite cleverly!)

    Never heard of Madame Tussauds? She was a famous French artist who created wax models popular with the family of the famous King Louis XVI. She began a museum to exhibit these models and it still continues around the world today. Quirky, yes, but also lots of fun.

    The museum is now home to models of our present day rich and famous, think Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie and JLo. The museum in Washington, DC is also is home to models of all 44 U.S. Presidents. Your children can get their picture with George Washington crossing the Delaware or sit with President Lincoln in the famous Presidential box at Ford’s theater.

    Madame Tussauds DC

    There is also a special section dedicated to the current president where you can take questions from the podium during a press conference or make a call from the Oval Office.

    Madame Tussauds wax museum DC

    In addition to posing with our favorite presidents, movie stars and singers, the best surprise was actually getting a wax mold made of our hands. Very cool!

    Wax mold Madame Tussauds

    It took us about an hour to go through the museum (plus time in the gift/candy shop.) There is a video when you first arrive explaining how the molds are made.  It was a bit off to the side and we missed it when we first walked in so watched it before we left. I would definitely recommend watching it though as it was really interesting…and narrated by Beyonce.

    All in all the museum was a big hit with the kids. We enjoyed looking at the different styles of clothes all of the presidents wore and commenting on who was tall and who was short. We struck our most fierce pose with Madonna, pretended to walk on the moon and gave Katie Couric a few reporting tips. The kids gave it two thumbs up and we have the wax mold to prove it!

    • Location: 1001 F Street NW (Corner of 10th and F Street)
    • Metro Stop: Metro Center on the red, blue and orange lines
    • Hours: The museum is open 365 days a year and opens at 10:00 am. Closing times vary depending on the time of year so check the website for current hours.
    • Tickets: It is advised to buy your tickets online in advance as they are less expensive.  Tickets can be even less expensive if you plan to visit during non-peak hours during the day. The prices range from $12-$20 for adults and $10-$14 for children ages 3-12.