Washington, DC is home to historical landmarks, museums, cultural centers, and more. But, not every destination in the National Capital Region is kid-friendly. Some landmarks are downright boring to the under-5 set. Others will make your teens and ‘tweens run for the car. Other Washington, DC metro attractions score high marks with the young ones but put the parents to sleep. What’s a DC, Maryland or Northern Virginia parent to do?
Looking for family-friendly destinations conveniently located near the Nation’s Capital? Wondering how to keep everyone in the family interested and engaged? Not sure where to start? Check out these Top 5 Kid-Friendly Adventures in the Washington DC Metro Region. Must-visit attractions for young and old and everyone in between. Great fun for everyone in your family.
1. National Zoological Park (Smithsonian Institution)
3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 633-4888
Hours: Open daily. Vary by season. Zoo closes early for special events, so best to call ahead of your visit
Transportation: Parking ($16 for 3 hours/$22 for more than 3 hours; Metro (Red Line/Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan station stop; Limited street parking.
Details: Enjoy 163-acres of the nation’s premier zoological park nestled within the oh-so-lovely Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. The National Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals from 400 different species. From Giant Pandas to Great Cats, the National Zoo promises to appeal to everyone in your family. Check out National Zoo’s special events and exhibitions. Can’t visit anytime soon? Check out the National Zoo’s Animal Web Cams which feature flamingos, lions, gorillas, cheetahs, and more. The National Zoo actually has a downloadable App so you can take the sights and sounds of the zoo’s many residents with you. Open 364 days a year, the National Zoo will be one of your family’s favorite year-round destinations.
2. Rock Creek Park /Nature Center and Planetarium
5200 Glover Rd., NW, Washington, DC,
Telephone: (202) 895-6070 / Call for details on your planned event or activity.
Hours: Park open during daylight hours only. Hours vary by season. Call for details.
Transportation: By car, once in the park, follow signs for the Nature Center and Planetarium. By metro, use Red Line to Friendship Heights/Ft. Totten for Nature Center and Planetarium.
Admission: Free. Call for reservations for group picnics, sports fields, weddings and more.
Details: Nine miles long and 1 mile wide, with 1754 acres in all, Rock Creek Park houses several attractions for Washington DC metro families, such as Nature Center and Planetarium, Old Stone House, Peirce Barn and Peirce Mill, and more. Take a ride around the many trails that Rock Creek Park has to offer on your bicycle. Play tennis, golf, or rent a kayak or canoe at Thompson Boat Center. Take a nature walk or hike one of dozens of trails. Arrange for horseback riding. Take a class. You name it, Rock Creek’s got something for everyone in your family.
3. Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, Maryland 20812
Telephone: (202) 895-6070
Website: www.glenechopark.org (Arts Programming); www.nps.gov/glec/index.htm (Official National Park Service site)
Hours: 6am-1am / Events Hours as well. Closed on major holidays.
Transportation: Ample parking available. Adjacent to the Potomac River.
Admission: Free (Ranger Led Tours ); $1.25 per ticket (Carousel); other fees by event.
Details: If you haven’t visited Glen Echo Park, you’re really missing something. Glen Echo is a hidden treasure for families all over the National Capital Region. Originally a Chautauqua retreat, Glen Echo later became an amusement park. Today, it’s a sensational National Park that boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene and is sure to be a hit with you and your family. Glen Echo’s got it all. From ballroom dancing and folk festivals to drawing, painting and more, Glen Echo’s sure to please. Check out the superbly restored Dentzel carousel. Truly priced to ride. Or, visit Winter’s Eve, an annual celebration of arts and crafts, musical performances, and more. Year round, there’s something for everyone in your family at Glen Echo.
4. Claude Moore Colonial Farm
6310 Georgetown Pike, McLean, Virginia 22101 • 703-442-7557
Telephone: (202) 895-6070
Hours: 10:00 am – 4:30 p.m. (Wednesday-Sunday); Limited dates/hours in December; closed for winter. Holiday Shop open (December).
Transportation: Ample parking available.
Admission: $2-3 per person (regular); Discounts available; Other pricing for Market Fair
Details: You and your family must visit Claude Moore Colonial Farm. A living history museum from another age, the farm showcases what family life was like in 1771. A favorite with area schools, Claude Moore features all kinds of programs and other events that will give you a real idea of what life was really like in colonial times in Virginia. Want to step back in time? Check out the farm’s Colonial Living Experience, a weekend overnight camping program where you and your family will wear period clothes, sleep in cotton tents, cook meals, and learn all kinds of 18th-Century skills. Sure to make an impression with everyone in your family.
5. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151
Telephone: (703) 572-4118
Hours: 10:00 a.m-5:30 p.m. Closed Christmas Day
Transportation: $15 (public parking)
Details: Special events, demonstrations, book signings and more means that the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center has something for everyone in your family. You see, the Udvar-Hazy Center is located near Washington Dulles International Airport and is a companion location to everyone’s favorite, the National Air and Space Museum on the National Capital Mall. Udvar-Hazy Center is a very special place, conveniently located and established to expand the number of aviation and space artifacts and equipment not possible at the main museum in Washington, DC. There’s even an Observation Center where you and your family members can watch and learn about air traffic at nearby Dulles Airport. My personal favorite attraction at this great museum and aviation showcase? Space Shuttle Discovery, of course! The kids will love the IMAX theater and special events.
FAMILY FRIENDLY RESOURCES
Kid Friendly DC
Washington Post Kid Friendly Guide