Washington, D.C. (With Kids)

Well, it’s been an intense week.  Time to lighten things up a bit, shall we?

I thought I’d offer you my tips on visiting D.C. with kids.  Obviously, it’s a worthwhile place to visit — for so many reasons — but it is also a very child-friendly city, and we really enjoyed it.

So don’t be afraid to bring everybody along for a crazy family road trip.  Here’s a few tips and and tricks to make for a more memorable trip.


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

I have said it before, but we have found making at least one spot on your journey a pilgrimage site tends to make for a more meaningful trip.

The National Shrine is a must-see for Catholics and really people of all faiths will appreciate it.

Impressive from the outside.

We were blessed to be able to see it in all it’s pageantry — incense, hundreds of priests con-celebrating the Prayer Vigil for Life, loads of faithful people, and a palpable spirit of prayer — definitely a great way to experience the shrine.

The vast number of priests combined with beautiful singing and huge crowds of faithful people from around the country  — so grateful for our faith!

But quiet moments there can be equally beautiful and memorable.  There is so much to see and lovely little nooks to pray in.  You also might enjoy arranging a tour, but we just chose to walk around in the stillness and take it all in.

I couldn’t help but think of the holy men and women who came before us and prayed quietly in these same spots.

This entire side chapel full of beautiful mosaics.

I must admit, there were mixed responses to the huge Jesus mosaic over the main altar.  My 8 year old said he looked kind of “scary” and not like a “holy guy” should look.  Yikes!  That’s his honest opinion.

I think that whoever made it was not focusing on the Mercy of Jesus — as much as His Justice — but hey, we’re in D.C. so maybe the artist was just angry at all the politicians of his day. 🙁

Perhaps  he was hoping Jesus would come down and kick some butt.  I don’t know.  What do you think?

Either way, it makes for a good conversation about art and the attributes of Jesus and the the artist’s own inspiration.

My little ones thought Jesus looked a little scary. 🙁



There are a lot of excellent museums and they’re all free!  Yes!  Big score when you have multiple kids and you’re not sure if you’ll get your monies’ worth with the younger ones.

There is no pressure — just see what you can see and don’t worry about missing out.  You can always come back.

I recommend the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum.  All great spots to enjoy as a family.

Air and Space Museum
Joint mission between the US and Russia. The US may have won the cold war, the space war, and about every other war — but Russia definitely chose the better color — mint green?  Well played, Russia!

The Air and Space Museum had a huge hands-on kids area.  That’s great right?  Wrong!  Do you know the germs that are in those places?  I don’t even want to go there — but truthfully the littles and bigs really enjoyed it.

So risk the bubonic plague — if you dare — because it is full of kid-friendly activities that they’ll enjoy and maybe even learn a thing or two.

The other museums have kid-friendly activities as well.  So wherever you go, there’s bound to be a few things of interest for the littles.

Who doesn’t like a little bling? The Hope Diamond on display in the Natural History Museum.
Hands on bug exhibit Natural History Museum

As an aside, you might notice a funny thing about the Natural History Museum.  You will walk through exhibits that show various stages of evolution presented as fact.

Hey, maybe your great, great, great, great uncle was a monkey — but mine wasn’t! 🙁

Evolution is just one theory amongst others — so not sure why we have to see the skeletal remains of monkeys presented as our actual ancestors — just saying.

And one thing you won’t notice on display — the missing link — proof that evolution across species actually occurred.   Bam! what?

“Oh no you didn’t” — oh, yes — yes I did!

I actually don’t mind it at all — because I have an 8 year old who speaks his opinion freely and says things like, “Oh my goodness, that’s so funny that they think we came from monkeys”.

To which I reply, “Yeah, that is funny”.  And we have a nice laugh about it.


The White House

Hey, it’s the house of the people — we the people — so we should see it, right?  By the way, if you have a month advance notice, you can sign up for a free tour.  I would love to have the foresight to do that next time.

Gotta see the White House!
A better view.

I love that there are people peacefully protesting here and all over DC — First Amendment rights, baby. I might not agree with all of them, but so amazing that we have that right!  Thank you founding fathers!



Choose a few important monuments and share a little about why they were erected in the first place.  It’s worth learning more about the person who inspired such a beautiful response from the citizens of the this country.

These monuments illustrate the importance of men and women standing up and choosing to engage in their government to better society.  We all have a part to play.

Washington Monument and the Mall
Lincoln Memorial
Jefferson Memorial


Go on a Walking Tour

We parents of little kids love walking outside.  You can  raise those fitbit numbers, see sites of interest, let kids blow off some steam — and screaming is easily drowned out by all the noise.  It’s a win-win.

D.C. is a very walkable city and I highly recommend bundling up and going on a walk.  We actually took the metro everywhere — it helps to save your feet when you’re walking all day long.

To save some bucks we stayed in Arlington – a block from the metro – loved taking the metro everywhere.  Works for us.
Bundle up and get outside.
Cool Architecture — and if you kids have been to Europe they’ll recognize its influence everywhere.

By the way, this might also be the time to remind yourself how our government actually works.  Be prepared so you can teach your kids something as they pass all of those mesmerizing buildings.

It might be tempting to make something up — but best to say, “I’ll get back to you”.  🙂

“Daddy, what’s that building?” “That’s the capital, son — that’s where they do their capitalizing.” 🙁
Supreme Court. It’s an important place!
A good reminder to us all — if we don’t know the past we’re destined to make the same mistakes.


Lincoln Museum

This was one we came across by accident because my daughter really wanted to go to a wax museum the last time I was in DC.  More about that one, later.

The Ford Museum highlights the life of Lincoln, his fight for the emancipation of the slave, and even the room where he died.

It’s right across from the infamous Ford Theatre.  I highly recommend it.  It’s self-guided and really easy to navigate.  Though there were lots of stairs,  I’m sure there’s an elevator somewhere.

A really touching place to visit.


Wax Museum (Maybe Not)

I know — I know!  You don’t have to tell me how ridiculous it is to go to a wax museum — especially in D.C.  But when you have teenage daughters — selfies with wax figures is right in their wheelhouse.

I mean, you know a place is good when nobody else is in there, right? 🙁  The Madame Tussaud wax museum is like the best kept secret in D.C. — either that or it’s a total tourist trap and you’re wasting your time.

Maybe go for it.  You be that tourist.  Even when you can’t see it’s value — if it’s important to your kids —  then maybe it should be important to you.

But if you do go — be prepared to just act like a fool.  Check your pride at the door or you will absolutely hate every minute of it.

When in Rome, right?

Not Actually Colbert. 🙁
Not actually the Obamas. 🙁
Not actually Lincoln. 🙁
Look at me. I’m taking a selfie with Roosevelt.  🙁
Hey, look “brangelina” is photo-bombing my shot with Clooney 🙁
I thought the oval office would be more impressive — I thought this post would be more impressive, too. 🙁

Yeah — it was ridiculous!

So hope this helps in some way — at least you know where not to go.  🙁

Have a great weekend.  Linking up with Kelly.

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2 thoughts on “Washington, D.C. (With Kids)

  1. DC was the most economical family vacation we’ll ever take. Tons of free things to do, we ate breakfast at the hotel and got food at the grocery store to make/pack lunch and dinner. We got the hotel using points from our credit card, and basically our only expenses were gas driving there, parking the car at the hotel, and getting Metro cards for everyone. We liked all the monuments.

    1. Jenny –
      Those are all great tips for saving money! It is definitely one of the most unique cities in our country — and if you know a few tricks — very affordable for a family.
      Thanks for your comment!

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