We went to Washington DC for a couple for days. This was not my first time or Kevins to DC. Both of us have been separately and we also took the girls about 3 years ago. We LOVE Washington DC. You will never run out of things to do, see, eat and learn! Plus so many of the museums are free, which is awesome!! I asked all of you (on my Instagram) what your top recommendations were for DC and I was not short on ideas from you! Over 1,000 of you told me your top things to do in Washington DC. I narrowed it down to the most suggested and also made sure our favorites were on the list.
Keep reading for a FREE Printable! A Washington DC Checklist! And I also included all of our pictures after it. I wanted them on my blog for personal reasons, but hopefully you enjoy them too!
From our home in Connecticut it is about a 5 hour drive, about the same to take the Amtrak train. I actually took the kids on the train myself to get to DC, because Kevin went a day before to get ready for the NYCFC soccer game, that we went to (he is the ATCL for the team). The train ride was perfect, this coming from the girl who does not like to drive. Although the train stopped for TWO hours on the track, due to an engine issue…. 7 hours later we made it to DC! We did rent a car to drive home, because it is a lot cheaper. It would have been about $450 for us to take the train and it was only $100 to rent a car.
TIP- you really don’t want to have a car IN Washington DC. If you do happen to drive there, it is smarter to park it in long term parking and walk or Uber everywhere. Just to find parking will take you a lot of time!!
Print your Washington DC Checklist HERE
Top Vacation Tips for Washington DC-
Top things to do in Washington DC-
- Night tour of the monuments
- Paddle boats on the Potomac
- National Zoo (FREE! Amazing zoo. Totally recommend this. Look for the Orangutans crossing the wires!)
- Bible Museum
- Paddle boats on the Potomac
- National Geographic Museum
- Newseum (closing soon- a lot recommend this because it is closing)
- Holocaust Museum (I went about 10 years ago without kids, amazing museum)
- Botanical Gardens (FREE! My kids even liked this. Give them a phone or a camera and have them take pictures- this will keep them distracted.)
- Air and Space Museum (Tons recommended this one. We have done it before and I have to say it wasn’t our personal favorite)
- Natural History Museums (New dinosaur exhibit- and First Ladies dresses exhibit. We did this about 3 years ago and it was fun to see)
- Old Town Alexandria
- Tour White House
- Arlington National Cemetery (changing of the guards)
- Mt. Vernon
- African American Museum
- Spy Museum
- The Wharf
- Drive down Embassy Row (neat to see all the different Embassies and the gorgeous homes!!)
- Ford Theater (where President Lincoln was shot)
- Postal Museum
- Please Touch Museum
- Motorized Scooters (age 11 or 12 and up)
- DC Mint (only place in the country that prints paper money)
- Founding Farmers for Dinner
- Gerorgetown Cupcakes or Baked and Wire Cupcakes
- Roast S’mores at the Wharf
- Good Stuff Eatery (burgers)
- Ted’s Bulletin (homemade pop tarts, sad we didn’t go. a lot recommend this)
- District Tacos
- Uncle Julios (Mexican)
- Ted’s Bulletin
- Georgetown Lobster Rolls
- Old Ebbit Grill
- Mi Vida (amazing Mexican at the Wharf)
Riding the train to DC- Lola told Finn a made-up story for about 30 minutes. It was the cutest thing. She really wanted to rock him to sleep too.
7 hours later we made it to Washington Union Station! Then we went straight to watch the soccer game at Audi Field. We were so sweaty and messy after all that time on the train!
First full day the kids swam and I worked out in the morning. Then we went to the Bible Museum. It was amazing. Loved the New Testament live tour on the 3rd floor, all of the kids were into it. The have a really cute interactive kids area too that we all enjoyed. Highly recommend paying extra for the Washington Revelation experience and also the Virtual Tour of the Holy Land (Finn doing the virtual tour was pretty cute).
Funny story. We finished at the Bible Museum then wanted to go eat. I looked through my instagram suggestions and someone said a Pie Shop (can’t remember). I was just rattling off names to Kevin. Next thing I know he had an Uber to take us to this Pie shop. I figured he looked at the menu. Nope. It was all just dessert pies. And not “pizza pie” like he thought. Luckily there was &Pie close that we walked to and it ended up being really good! You walk up and order your pizza, super casual. We ordered a Cesear salad pizza too. All tasty.
From there we took another Uber to The Spy Museum. There was A LOT to see and do there. It was a little overwhelming. Finn was not into it. The girls were, but it required a lot more explaining to Lola (who is 8). They did take some of the “tests” and had fun doing those. But personally I think this is for older kids and adults. A lot of reading- I feel like I could have just watched a movie of it all rather than the exhibits. Ha! They did have this fun part where you see if you can hang on this fat bar for a minute, while the bar slightly spins. Kevin lasted a minute. I lasted about 45 seconds.
Back to the pool. We stayed at The Hyatt at The Wharf. Highly suggest staying in this area. So many great places to eat and things to do. It was also about a mile walk to The Spy Museum and the Bible Museum.
I want my backyard to look like these streets- glowing with string lights and the stars!!
Cute S’more trailer with a fire pit right by it. You could roast your own s’more and sit by the fire. So dang cute.
The next day we went to the Zoo. The Zoo was probably one of the top recommended things to do in DC and it was our first time going. It is FREE too!!! If I lived in DC I would do once a week. Such a great outing. Plus this Zoo is one out of four zoos that have Giant Pandas.
And Bonnie and her group regularly cross from cage to cage along the power lines! The zoo was designed so the oragutangs could do this. I thought we were going to be on the news for animals escaping!! Nope. Totally normal I quickly learned.
PS- so happy we brought our nice stroller (some have asked- we have the THIS Bob Stroller and LOVE it!)
When went to dinner at Founding Farmers. It was so good!!! Everyone loved their meal. I had the farmers salad and want to duplicate it!
After diner at The Founding Farmers we walked to The White House, about a mile walk. The girls sang their school song- about the most famous address in America.
Next we walked over the the monuments, about another mile walk. We then rented scooters for a bit and rode around the Washington Monument (I believe you have to be 18 to drive the motorized scooters, we just gave the girls a little ride on the grass, because they were DYING to do it).
Lincoln Monument is always a favorite. And BTW there are bathrooms to the left of the monument underneath Lincoln and an elevator to take a stroller up or wheelchair.
Loved capturing Ella taking a picture of Lola doing a 💋 face!
Most recommended doing the monuments at night and I agree. We were there as the sun was going down, so not completely dark. But still so pretty. You could do a boat ride, bike rides or scooter!
Last day we went to The Botanical Gardens. Another FREE exhibit. The kids liked it more than I thought they would! They gave them a scavenger hunt when we walked in and they also had cameras to take a bunch of photos. It was the perfect amount of time too!
I loved spotting all the houseplants we have in our home and showing the kids the giant version of them!
We got lunch and cupcakes over in Georgetown. I had the gluten-free peanut butter cupcake, one of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten!!! The line outside was long, but it went really quick.
And always love driving by all the homes. I especially think embassy row is the coolest! Hope that gave you some ideas for your Washington DC vacation! Tell us your favorite thing to do in Washington DC.
Looks so fun!! Thanks for sharing all these amazing tips and places to go and see! Going to plan our getaway 🙂
This is great! Thanks for all your work compiling it. One clarification: the First Ladies Dress Exhibit is in the National Museum of American History not the National Museum of Natural History. 😉
My kids and I took the train to DC several years ago. We loved all of it…museums, monuments and especially the zoo. There was a newborn panda at the time. So adorable!