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DC questions again - what to do with my 6 yr-old?

DC questions again - what to do with my 6 yr-old?

Mar 26th, 2009, 06:02 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3
I second Mt. Vernon if you have enough time! My 5 & 8 year old loved it last year. You can take Metro subway & bus to get there from downtown & they also have boat rides there from DC(although if you take the roundtrip option you only get 3 1/2 hours there - wouldn't have been enough for my kids)
spdmom is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 06:08 AM
  #22  
 
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The last two mentions above of White House views are from Pennsylvania Ave, the "front" of the White House. You also get a lovely, but somewhat further view from the Ellipse (where you would be if you walked due North from the Washington Monument). There is a small building on the NE corner of the Ellipse with bathrooms (which for some reason don't seem to be open at night, unlike the restrooms at the Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial and WWII Memorial).

Nearby in the Department of Commerce Bldg is the White House Visitor's Center (the Commerce Bldg is also the site of a small but recently renovated acquarium). The new vegetable garden on the White House grounds is located in the SW corner of the White House lawn, see the WaPo article below.

http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisi...CP_JUMP_100461
http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/index.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...032002396.html
DancingBearMD is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 06:14 AM
  #23  
 
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"I can't believe nobody has mentioned the Spy Museum...It is near the Navy Memorial and National Archives. If you walk between them, you can go through Chinatown, which may be interesting or provide a good meal."

DC's small Chinatown is actually a couple of blocks NE of the Spy Museum (which is great but IMO would be better for a bit older child), while the Navy Memorial is about 2 blocks due South of the Spy Museum. Note that the "Wok 'N Roll" restaurant on the East end of the Chinatown block was the Surratt Boardinghouse where the Lincoln assasination co-conspirators met.

OP, will you have a car?
DancingBearMD is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 06:47 AM
  #24  
 
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IMHO, the Spy Museum is too text-heavy for the average 6-year-old. And pricey once you buy tix for everybody. Take them to Natural History instead.
Anonymous is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 07:05 AM
  #25  
 
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I live in DC and have a little one. The Zoo and Building Museum are a MUST for a kids. THe Building Museum has a couple of play areas that kids just ADORE! Additionally it is a great place to go if it is too hot, cold, or rainy outside. DC Moms take their kids their on a regular basis in the winter and summer. Kids never grow tired of it.

As for a guided tour, it is not necessary, but I will admit that I had a blast when I did one. I had lived in the city for 8 years before taking the Trolley Tour and was pleasantly surprised (I am sure that the Duck tour is similar). Kids love it because of things already mentioned above. I found it interesting because the guides gave me some little known facts about areas I visit or pass by everyday. I found it to be worth the money and I don't say that very often.

Spy museum is really fun, but expensive. There are things for kids to see and do, but they may want to move through it faster than an adult since the displays and accompaning text are facinating. If there is an interest, then I wouldn't dismiss it. Every time I go I see tons of kids enjoying themselves.

Definitely get tickets for the Wash Monument and the like prior to coming to DC. It will save time and aggravation.
TheJacksons is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 08:16 AM
  #26  
 
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One more thing to consider--take an umbrella stoller along. My son is 5 1/2 and normally wouldn't be caught dead in a stroller. But a friend suggested this (nearly insisted on it) when we went to Disney a couple of months ago...my son balked at first, but once we got there, after a few minutes of walking he was ready and willing to hop right in. I actually think he would have sat ON his sister (age 3) had we not had a stroller of his own. I took it again to NYC last weekend and was thankful--we were able to accomplish so much more with him in the strololer, and I was surprised he wanted to get in it as often as he did. We talked to him about it beforehand, that when on trips in a big city it is just easier even for big kids to sit in a stroller, and many other kids were in strollers too, so he was fine with it in the end. The umbrella kind folds up so easily that it isn't like you have to lug it around a lot either. And if it becomes an issue you can always just throw the thing away--they cost like $10...no need to get anything expensive. Just a thought...it was a lifesaver for us--twice.
sanibella is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 06:36 PM
  #27  
 
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I've lived in DC for 32 years and have been the "tour guide" for endless numbers of neices, nephews, great-nephews and friends' kids and here's my list of do's and don't's:
1) Do NOT bother with the Spy Museum or the Newseum. Both have kid-friendly sections, but neither one is much fun for the under 8 year old child. Plus DC is a city of free museums and paying $20+ for a museum that you will be dragged through by a bored kid is not cool.
2) No one has mentioned Ford's Theater -- it's newly reopened and there is NOTHING like seeing the box where Lincoln sat that night, not to mention the artifacts they have such as the actual door to the box with the hole in it. Kids love it. Remember, when they start school, it's all about Washington and Lincoln, which leads me to...
3) Mt. Vernon is an all-day affair. It's fun to see the stables and the farm area, but the house tour will not thrill really young ones. However, it's a lot of outside time and that can be good. Plus, remember, it's all about Washington and Lincoln in terms of little kids and American history.
4) I'd skip the zoo if your kids have had zoo-time. It's a great zoo, but it's a full day by the time you get there and walk it, and it's tiring.
5) Better than the zoo is the Natural History Museum (part of the Smithsonian and right on the Mall). Just do the highlights -- the elephant; then to the dinosaurs (so cool!) and then a quick trip to see the Hope Diamond. If more time allows, check out the sea exhibits and then you're done!
6) Food -- there's a Potbelly sandwhich shop on Pa. Ave which is a block up from the Mall and there is a food court in the Old Post Office Pavilion (and by the way, the view up there is really great and generally there's not a huge line. It moves fast when there is one).

It's a great town -- enjoy!
bitsysmom is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 08:49 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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There have been both sides of the zoo issue presented already, but it is one of my favorite places to go in DC. The primate exhibits are amazing as well as the pandas and the new Asia trail. Also, it's free and I find it easy to map out the special animals you want to see, and just visit those. My first trip to DC when I was 6, and my favorite thing was the rocket popsicle from a vendor by the Vietnam Memorial. It's the little things that make it special for us younger folks. Riding the Metro was a big thrill then, and still is now, especially the long escalators. I also loved Mount Vernon, especially the root beer and the crypt.
ZutALaure is offline  
Mar 26th, 2009, 10:08 PM
  #29  
 
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In addition to the Duck Tour, there's a tour bus that is doubledecker, open air upstairs.

The Spy Museum would be way too much for a 6 year old to process. It's fun, but it's far better if you can read and have a basic understanding of history, surveillance, etc.

Leave time to walk around the Tidal Basin and look at the Cherry Blossoms and Monuments. You don't need to go to parade (unless he's really into parades). Few places are as glorious as DC's Tidal Basin when the cherry blossoms are out on a sunny spring day.

If you have a rental car, or want to take the shuttle, the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian Aviation Museum (out near Dulles Airport) has a wide range of cool stuff. A small boy should LOVE it.
kgh8m is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 03:22 AM
  #30  
 
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It's probably worth noting that the OP said ( Mar 25, 09 at 07:13 PM) that her son is not a big fan of zoos.

I agree that Mount Vernon is a great choice especially on a nice day.

I respectfully disagree that Ford's Theater would be very interesting for a very young boy. I agree that the earliest school years are all about Washington and Lincoln but it's pretty superficial stuff with very little historical context. Something about taking a six year old to see where a man was murdered doesn't seem quite age appropriate
obxgirl is online now  
Mar 27th, 2009, 04:05 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
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"If you have a rental car, or want to take the shuttle, the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian Aviation Museum (out near Dulles Airport) has a wide range of cool stuff. A small boy should LOVE it."

Note that the shuttle to Udvar-Hazy was discontinued, it's possible but a PITA to get there without a car now.

If you do have a car, a couple of other attractions that are often overlooked by outsiders are Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Claude Moore Colonial Farm.

"I respectfully disagree that Ford's Theater would be very interesting for a very young boy. I agree that the earliest school years are all about Washington and Lincoln but it's pretty superficial stuff with very little historical context. Something about taking a six year old to see where a man was murdered doesn't seem quite age appropriate."

When we are downtown my son, now 8, seems to take his bearings from "the place where Abraham Lincoln was shot", regularly asking what direction it's in. I've never taken him inside the place, but it's on my regular "quickie driving tour of the sights" that I take our out-of-town guests on. (That's two sentences in a row ending in prepositions!) I agree the concept of the assasination is a bit hard for a 6 yo to grasp, we've had a lot of discussions about "why did they shoot Abraham Lincoln."

BTW, for those (over age 6) who are really into the Lincoln assasination, the bullet and fragments of his skull are on display at a museum of medicine on the grounds of Walter Reed:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/medtour/nmhm.html
DancingBearMD is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 07:23 AM
  #32  
HKP
 
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One more tip about the Zoo (and sorry if I'm duplicating).

The topography is important: The Connecticut Ave entrance is uphill and the Rock Creek Park Entrance is downhill - and it's a steep hill. If you enter down at the RC Park entry, you can take a tram to go up to Conn. Ave. and work your way down hill. If you are using the Metro and the Zoo stop, be aware, too, that it's a little hike to the Zoo entrance - which means at the end of the day, you don't want to have been pulling your 6-yr.-old uphill and then still have to get to the Metro. Use the tram.

Sorry if that's unclear, but it will be pretty clear once you get there.
HKP is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 08:10 AM
  #33  
 
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If you're taking the Metro to the Zoo, get off at the Cleveland Park entrance, which is the stop after the official Woodley Park/Zoo stop, but which is uphill from the Zoo and about the same distance as the Woodley Park stop. Then when you leave the zoo, you can go downhill to the Woodley Park station.

As HKP points out, it's a very hilly area. The Rock Creek park entrance is relevant only if you're traveling by car. But the tram back up the hill towards the Connecticut Ave entrance is useful for everybody!

That;s just a general observation, since the OP has already ruled out the zoo.
Anonymous is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 04:22 PM
  #34  
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Thanks so much for all the great suggestions here! We definitely are gonna go see the White House as suggested. My son will love the see it, just from the outside.

I am not renting a car because I heard parking and traffic is very bad in DC. We will actually stay near the White House and China town, so most of the places should be within walking distance. But we will save the Spy Museum and Newseum for our next trip when the kids are older.

Mount Vernon is a good idea, if we get tired of the big city and museums.

kgh8m, would the Cherry Blossom parade be fun for my son? I am kinda hesitating to go because I am afraid he will be bored after couple hours of waiting.
Purpletulip is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 04:30 PM
  #35  
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))))

Too bad, I just went to book the Washington Monument tickets, but all sold out until June 22nd! Is it SO popular?
Purpletulip is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 04:31 PM
  #36  
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should be : - ((((((
Purpletulip is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 04:32 PM
  #37  
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Can we still go maybe pick up two tickets right there?
Purpletulip is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 05:10 PM
  #38  
 
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They give out a certain number of tickets every morning, but frankly I wouldn't bother. Go up the Old Post Office Tower and/or the Kennedy Center roof. Or even the National Cathedral tower.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 05:49 PM
  #39  
 
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The Washington Monument is really popular. If you don't mind standing in line, check the National Park Service website for the time the tkts get handed out (I think it's 8 or 8:30) and then show up 2 hours prior to that.

The Old Post Office Tower is a great backup for the Wash Monument. National Cathedral is a good choice too. Involves a subway and bus ride to get to by public transport.
obxgirl is online now  
Mar 28th, 2009, 02:00 AM
  #40  
 
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I would put the Kennedy Center roof terrace above the Old Post Office mostly because it's a wide open space that one can linger in, plus if you time it right you can catch one of the free performances and then enjoy the view at dusk from the roof. There is a restaurant at the top (pricey) as well as a cafe (very moderate by DC standards, with entrees around $10 and a small children's menu). My 7 year old daughter and I will be there Wednesday night for Peter Pan; she already loves the view from the roof, so I'll report back on her food impressions.

Like alot of places, visiting Ford's Theater and Mount Vernon really depend on your child's interests. We spent a weekend in Williamsburg last summer with our daughter, then 6, and she loved it because she loves the Felicity character (of American Girl fame) and knows the stories and had read the relevant Magic Tree House books, and that background gave her visit more meaning. That said, it doesn't take long to visit Ford's Theater and explain what happened there to one of our most popular presidents. You never know what children will remember. Visiting Mount Vernon, on the other hand, can really take up an entire day, especially if you have to wait to get into the house. On a nice day the wait can be upwards of an hour or more if you're not there when the site opens; there's no timed-entry tickets. So if it's just green space and a place to burn off steam you need, the Mall offers plenty of that for free.
fourfortravel is online now  

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