Washington DC For Kids: 5 Free Attractions

Washington DC for kids in the USA is a great place for a family holiday. All year round, it offers plenty of free sights and attractions that have historical and cultural significance related to our great nation. It is also hosts dozens of annual events and festivals that include the Cherry Blossom Festival, White House Easter Egg Roll, the Independence Day Parade, Capitol Fourth, and the Turkey Pardon. In honor of this great nation’s day of Independence, here are 5 free Washington DC for kids, family friendly attractions to enjoy with your children while visiting Washington DC.

Washington DC for Kids: The Capitol
The Capitol

Washington DC For Kids, 5 Free Family Attractions

1) The National Archives

The National Archives might not be the first place that comes to mind when deciding on where to go in Washington DC for kids. Any child who has been exposed to United States history will appreciate the significance of the documents on display here. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Bill of Rights, documents that were detrimental to the birth of a nation, are just some of the original artifacts held by the National Archives. It also has excerpts of the Magna Carta, the Civil Rights Act, and even the patent for Michael Jackson’s moonwalk shoes.

Practical Information

  • Location: 700 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (Constitution Ave for Rotunda entrance)
  • Nearest Metro stop: Yellow/Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial stop
  • Hours of Operation: Daily, from 10-5:30pm except Thanksgiving and December 25th
Washington DC for Kids: Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery

2) Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

This aerospace museum is the sister of the National Air and Space Museum and in my opinion, the better of the two. Located just outside of Washington, DC and adjacent to Dulles National Airport in Chantilly, VA, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center has several interesting exhibits that include the recently retired space shuttle Discovery. There is one of twenty Concorde aircraft still in existence; as well as the original plane that dropped the bombed at Hiroshima (Enola Gay). You can also see a supersonic Lockheed SR-71, otherwise known as the Blackbird. There is a dedicated exhibit about the International Space Station, an IMAX theater and a flight observation deck where Washington DC for kids can have the opportunity to watch planes take off and land at Dulles airport.

Practical Information

  • Location: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151
  • Public Transport: There is no Metro stop near the museum, but it can still be reached via metro bus 5A which will take you to Dulles airport. Connect on the VRTA to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on curb 2E
  • Hours of Operation: Daily, from 10-5:30pm, except December 25th
  • Parking fee: $15 before 4pm
Washington DC for Kids: The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

3) The Smithsonian Natural History Museum

A giant model of an African elephant, the most infamous diamond in the world, and a huge exhibit dedicated to ocean life are just some of the offerings by the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. There is also a section on mummies and life in Ancient Egypt for kids interested in anthropology; as well as a history and archaeology lesson on mud masons and Timbuktu. The popular dinosaur exhibit is temporarily closed for renovation, but the museum just recently obtained an almost complete set of T-Rex fossils. You and your children can learn about its scientific history in the Rex Room.

Practical Information

  • Location: 1000 Constitution Ave, NW
  • Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange lines, Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Hours of Operation: Daily, from 10-5:30pm except December 25th
The Rotunda, Smithsonian Natural History Museum

4) The Lincoln Memorial

The grandest of all monuments, fittingly created for one of the United States’ greatest presidents, has in my opinion, the best views of Washington DC for kids. On a gorgeous day, sit and relax on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and view the reflection of the Washington Monument; or head around the back and salute the departed soldiers buried across the Potomac River at Arlington National Cemetery. A very popular place for a breather due to its proximity to both the Tidal Basin and the White House, it is also happens to be a great place to have a picnic with the family while enjoying the views of the Capitol. 

Practical Information

  • Location: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW
  • Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange lines, Foggy Bottom
  • Hours of Operation: 24/7
Washington DC for Kids: Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial

5) The National Zoo

Every kid loves to go to the zoo, but The National Zoo is not just any zoo. It is only one of the four zoos in the country where you can see a giant panda. It currently has three pandas: two adults, and a cub, Bao Bao, who is just over a year old. In addition to the pandas, it has an extensive collection of animals from the African Savannah, the Amazon rain-forest, and the plains of North America. There is also a section about reptiles, giant cats and primates.

Practical Information

  • Location: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW
  • Nearest Metro: Red Line to Woodley Park – Zoo or Cleveland Park
  • Hours of Operation: Daily, 9-5p for shops and the Visitor Center, 10-6p for Exhibit Halls, except December 25th

About Iris A

Website: http://www.travelingwithiris.com

Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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