Itinerary for Bringing the Family to D.C.
Visiting the Washington Monument can be the start of your walking tour to the National Mall, or cross the street and head towards the war memorials. However, if you’d like to see all these wonderful sites and more from about 550 feet in the air, go online before your trip and book tickets to ride to the top of the Washington Monument. You must reserve them in advance or arrive very early in the morning. The elevator ride is seventy seconds, and once you are there, you can stay at the top as long as you want.
The War Memorials and Reflecting Pool
Once you are done visiting the Washington Monument, you can walk right across the street and pay respects to that generation that saved the world. The WWII Memorial starts the tribute to those fallen. Staying to the left of the reflecting pool (heading towards Lincoln) allows you to visit the Korean Memorial, the Lincoln Monument, and circle around to the Vietnam Memorial.
Hot dog vendors line the National Mall and the surrounding streets. There’s nothing better than a street hot dog and a soda from a street vendor when visiting a terrific city like D.C. The kids will enjoy it and, well, parents and can take advantage of the phrase “calories don’t count on vacation.”
Smithsonian Museums: American History, Air and Space Museum or Natural History
The American History museum is great for kids and adults. You can see the First Ladies’ gowns, Julia Child’s kitchen, or the history of American warfare. The kids can enjoy simulators of different adventures, interactive laboratories and displays. Exhibits that both parents and kids can enjoy include Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, Dorothy’s slippers, and Seinfeld’s puffy shirt.
Alternatively, the Air and Space Museum is great for kids and adults and was featured in the movie Night at the Musuem Two with Ben Stiller. The Natural History Museum was also featured in the movie. For the most part, any Smithsonian museum is a treat, but these three are the best for kids.
Dinner at Martin’s Tavern – Georgetown
Martin’s Tavern is a terrifically historical restaurant that is kid-friendly. The food is pub style and the history includes the fact that Jack Kennedy proposed marriage to Jackie in booth #3. Nixon used to sit in booth #24.
The Museum of Crime and Punishment
This is an interactive museum where you can solve a crime by finding clues throughout the displays. You can crack a safe and drive a patrol car. You can also act as part of a S.W.A.T. team raiding a home of suspects. There is a CSI floor where you can investigate an autopsy and exhibits of famous criminals from the mob, to the Unabomber. John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted is a huge supporter of the museum and tapes the show on the lower level. You are permitted (and encouraged) to use the real cameras and sit in the “green room”. You can also have your kids fingerprinted and photographed so you always have means of identification in case the worst should ever happen.
Lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl
Take the Green or Yellow line train on the Metro just a block from the Museum of Crime and Punishment at the Gallery/Chinatown station to Ben’s for a chili half smoke, chili cheese fries, and a shake. It is only three stops north at the Cardozo stop. It is a historic spot as it has survived segregation, and became a sort of safe haven during the D.C. riots where patrons of all races, color, and creed could enjoy a meal in a calm atmosphere escaping the feeling of our nation’s capital coming apart at the seams. Recently President Obama ate there sending Ben’s on a meteoric rise of fame from its already famous trajectory.
The Smithsonian - National Portrait Gallery
A quick stop at this Smithsonian museum at 8th and F Streets (not with the others) will let you see at least one full exhibit, but you will need to choose beforehand. It is the best place to see the collection of official presidential portraits. It is across the street from the Hotel Monaco, a terrific hotel that is also kid-friendly.
Jack’s Boathouse – Kayak the Potomac
A kayaking tour of the Potomac River past the Watergate complex and the Kennedy center is a great way to wrap up your trip as a family. The Lincoln and Washington memorials are visible from the river in all their glory. There are guided tours at dusk on Friday and Sunday nights during the summer. Visit their website listed below to reserve. The tour is about two hours and does not require any experience. The guides provide your equipment and instruction. Wear casual clothes that you don’t mind getting a little damp from the wetness of the paddles.
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