Discover why Washington D.C. is  a great place for a family vacation.
  • A Weekend in DC with Kids

DC with Kids

Washington, DC is a great place for a family vacation and although there is enough to do in the capital city to justify a weeklong vacation it is also an easy city to visit for a weekend. So pack your walking shoes (and maybe a stroller) and enjoy exploring the history and culture of our nation’s capitol.


Start your visit by checking in to the Hotel Monaco located in DC’s bustling Penn Quarter. This area has plenty of family friendly food options, is walking distance to the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall and is close to the metro.

Hotel Monaco with fish

photo courtesy of Hotel Monaco

The Hotel Monaco is in a renovated old downtown building and has lots of character, not to mention lots of color. It is fun and funky, complete with leopard robes and goldfish the kids can borrow during your stay. If your kids are old enough, put them to bed and pop downstairs for a cocktail at the Poste restaurant bar. If it’s a nice night you can even sit outside. (Hotel Monaco – 700 F Street, NW)

Friday evening take a stroll through the American Art Museum (which is open until 7pm and across the street from the Hotel Monaco). The American Art Museum is home to the National Portrait Gallery which means you will find portraits of famous Americans from George Washington to LL Cool J. The museum also has an eclectic collection of American art.

American Art Museum Atrium

The American Art Museum is part of the Smithsonian and so admission is free. This means it’s a fun stop even if you only have time (or the attention span) for a short visit. Challenge your kids to a game of who can name the most Presidents or simply walk through the gorgeous new atrium in the center of the museum. (American Art Museum – 8th and F Streets, NW)

Dinner that night should be at Zaytina (across the street from the museum). This is a bright airy place with lots of hustle, bustle and buzz – perfect for a noisy family dinner. The food is Greek/Mediterranean small plates, great for sharing. There is hummus and chicken skewers for the kids and mushroom couscous and spicy sausage for the more adventurous. With each plate averaging $7.00 it is a perfect spot for kids who never eat much anyway. (Zaytina – 701 9th Street, NW)



With kids in tow, chances are it will be an early morning so start your day by hoping on the metro at the Verizon Center for a quick ride to Eastern Market. Breakfast is at Ted’s Bulletin.

Ted's Bulletin Pop Tarts

Ted’s is the perfect spot for pancakes, a breakfast burrito, biscuits and gravy or a homemade poptart. Ted’s opens at 7 am which is perfect for early risers and with eggs and toast for only $5.00 a kid’s meal won’t break the bank. (Ted’s Bulletin – 505 8th Street, SE and Eastern Market – 225 7th Street, SE)

Walk off your breakfast with a stroll over to Eastern Market where on the weekend you’ll find vendors selling everything from fresh vegetables to one of a kind art and jewelry.

Eastern Market DC

After your stop at Eastern Market explore the row houses in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and walk past the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court to the U.S. Capitol. Make your tour reservation ahead of time through the Capitol Visitor’s Center. Tours begin at 8:30 am and last about an hour. On the tour you will see the soaring rotunda and Statuary Hall. Look for the statue of the statesman (or woman) from your state and make sure the tour guide points out the Whispering Gallery where you can magically hear a whisper from the other side of the room. (U.S. Capitol – East Capitol Street, NE & First Street)

Then it’s a short walk to the National Mall and the Smithsonian Museums. The two best museums to visit with families are the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum.

The Air and Space Museum is where you will find airplanes and rockets hanging from the ceiling, a flight simulator and astronaut food in the gift shop.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Natural History Museum has dinosaurs, the Hope Diamond, the Butterfly Pavilion and lots of animals like a giant stuffed tusked elephant. Both museums have a cafeteria (McDonald’s is in the Air and Space Museum.) so grab lunch while you tour. (National Air and Space Museum – 600 Independence Avenue, SW and Natural History Museum – 10th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW)

Smithsonian Natural History Museum

If your kids need to run off some energy buy a kite from the museum gift shop and try flying it on the national mall, run them over to the carousel located in front of the red Smithsonian castle or wander through the National Gallery Sculpture Garden where during the winter you can take a spin on the ice skating rink and throughout the year there are huge sculptures the kids will enjoy.

Smithsonian Castle Carousel

Dinner on Saturday night is at Matchbox Pizza in Chinatown. A family friendly spot with not only pizza, but salads and burgers too. It is walking distance from the National Mall and Hotel Monaco. After dinner, if your kids aren’t ready to crash just yet, walk by the ornate entrance to Chinatown and then stop by Pitango for delicious gelato. My favorite is pistachio, but they have chocolate too. (Matchbox Pizza – 713 H Street, NW and Pitango – 413 7th Street, NW)


Sunday starts with another short metro ride from the Verizon Center to Metro Center. From there it’s a two block walk to a Washington establishment, Old Ebbitt Grill, located it the shadow of the White House and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Brunch starts at 8:30 am and features everything from mini muffins for $6.00 to crab cakes for $18.00. (Old Ebbitt Grill – 675 15th Street, NW)

The White House is currently closed for tours, but after breakfast grab your camera and walk across the street to take a family photo on Pennsylvania Avenue with the White House in the background.

The White House

From there walk a few blocks to the Washington Monument (currently closed for repair) where you can pick up the the big red double decker bus for a tour of the major sites. The kids will love riding up top. The bus runs every 30 minutes beginning at 9:30 am and you can buy your tickets in advance or from the driver. The red loop tour will take you past all of the major memorials, such as the Jefferson Memorial (home to the famous cherry blossoms), the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The buses arrive at each stop every 30 minutes so you can hop on and off as often as you like to explore the area. (Big Bus Tours –

Jefferson Memorial DC

Make the Natural History Museum stop on the tour your final stop and hop off for lunch at Paul, a traditional french bakery with delicious sandwiches, soups and salads, not to mention the sweets. (Paul – 801 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW)

Paul Bakery DC

And finally, after lunch walk down the street to the Old Post Office Pavilion where a quick elevator ride takes you to the top of the bell tower for a great aerial view of the capital city and chance for you to see just how much ground you covered in 48 hours! (Old Post Office Pavilion – 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW)

Old Post Office Pavilion DC

Whether you plan a family trip or find yourself in DC on business and decide to extend your trip to include a weekend visit with your family, you will find DC has something for everyone. You may even discover the kids are having such a good time they don’t even realize they are learning!