Washington, D.C. Experience

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Washington, D.C. with Kids

D.C. is filled with kid-friendly attractions. These sights are sure winners:

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Any youngster who gets an allowance will enjoy watching bills roll off the presses. Despite the lack of free samples, the self-guided, 35-minute bureau tour is one of the city's most popular attractions.

DC Ducks

What do you get when you cross a tour bus with a boat? A duck, of course—DC Ducks, that is. Tour the city by both land and water without leaving your seats aboard these unusual amphibious vehicles: standard 2½-ton GM trucks in watertight shells with propellers.

Discovery Theater

Within the Smithsonian's Ripley Center on the Mall, this lively theater began as a low-key puppet show before expanding to feature more than 300 programs a year exploring art, science, and global heritage—everything from robots to the Wright Brothers to African drums.

International Spy Museum

This museum takes the art of espionage to new levels for junior James Bonds and Nancy Drews. Even the most cynical preteens and teenagers are usually enthralled with all the cool gadgetry. Note that this museum is best for older tweens and teens—if you bring along a younger sibling, you could be in for a workout: there aren't many places to sit down, and strollers aren't allowed in the museum.

Mount Vernon

Farm animals, a hands-on discovery center, an interactive museum, and movies about the nation's first action hero make George Washington's idyllic home a place where families can explore all day.

National Air and Space Museum

There's a good reason why this place is one of the most popular museums in the world: kids love it. The 23 galleries here tell the story of aviation and space from the earliest human attempts at flight. All three gift shops sell freeze-dried astronaut food—not as tasty as what we eat on Earth, but it doesn't melt or drip. If you've never crunched into ice cream, it's worth the experience.

National Museum of American History

Oh say you can see … the flag that inspired "The Star Spangled Banner," Oscar the Grouch, the ruby-red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, an impressive collection of trains, and more pieces of Americana than anyone can digest in a day.

National Museum of Natural History

Say hello to Henry. One of the largest elephants ever found in the wild, this stuffed beast has greeted generations of kids in the rotunda of this huge museum dedicated to natural wonders. Take your kid to the O. Orkin Insect Zoo, home to live ants, bees, centipedes, tarantulas, roaches (some as large as mice), and other critters you wouldn't want in your house.

National Zoo

Known more for its political animals than its real animals, D.C. nevertheless has one of the world's foremost zoos. If your child is crazy about animals, this is an absolute must—it's huge!

Paddleboat the Tidal Basin

What better way to see the Jefferson Memorial and the world-famous cherry trees—gifts from Japan—than from the waters of the tidal basin? The paddleboats get the kids and you off your feet and into the sun!

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