We just returned from a short, wonderful vacation with family in Washington, DC. Free of scheduled nap times, the extra bags and strollers that come with babies and toddlers, we really enjoyed this trip with our children ages 11, 9, and 6.
There is so much to see in DC it can be overwhelming to know what to do and where to begin. My kids and I sat down to talk about our trip and gave “kid-approved” rating and highlights of the things we saw. We are in no way travel experts, but I hope this post will offer a few tips and ideas if you are heading to DC.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US and OUR RATING SYSTEM:
WHAT WE SAW AND HOW WE LIKED IT:
Our MUST-SEE Recommendations:
A few suggestions of PLACES TO EAT…
Our family ate at Ted’s Bulletin four times on this trip. It’s a great family restaurant. They serve breakfast and lunch, and have a wide variety of choices. We have many different diets in our family- gluten-free, vegan- and we were all able to find something to eat and enjoy. The service is excellent. (And they make homemade pop tarts which are a delicious treat!)
“Mitsitam” means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. The museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe enhances the museum experience by providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy the indigenous cuisines of the Americas and to explore the history of Native foods. The Cafe features Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains. Each of the five food stations depict regional lifeways related to cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary dishes. Selections include authentic Native foods such as traditional fry bread and corn totopos as well as contemporary items with a Native American twist—think buffalo burgers!” – National Museum of the American Indian Website
We had lunch here twice! (When we find something that works, we stick with it. 🙂 ) The first time I had a chilled cherry soup with three-sisters salad. The second time, I had vegetarian chili with fry bread!! (Ahhh, fry bread, where have you been my whole life?) The food was delicious and it wasn’t as crowded as other museum cafes.
A FEW TIPS BEFORE YOU GO:
1.) Make a tentative daily schedule of the places and things you want to see.
2.) Many museums have floor plans, exhibits, and maps online. Download and print museum maps ahead of time. Some museums list their must-see exhibits and offer additional educational items to print. As attention spans decreased and weariness increased, I was glad I took the time to look over the maps and buildings so I could direct my crew to what we wanted to see and save energy.
3.) Even though we used Google Maps for walking directions when needed, a printed copy of the National Mall was helpful . I used this one from the National Park Service.
4.) Some buildings and tours require prior arrangements and reservations. The U.S. Capitol Vistor’s Center offers advanced reservations. I would highly recommend contacting the offices of your representatives and senators for booking a tour. We had an excellent tour by one of Representative Ruiz’s staff members. If you you are hoping to see millions of dollars being printed, tickets are available and required for a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Admission is free but tickets are on a first come basis. The ticket booth opens at 8:00 AM (click the link for more information.) United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives offers advanced tickets.
5.) Save some money by bringing and refilling a water bottle. And if visiting DC in the spring or summer, be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella for showers and pop-up storms.
NOTE: you will need to go through security at every museum at least once (sometimes multiple times.) Pack a light bag and help keep the security line moving by taking off backpacks and unzipping bags for security guards to easily look through items.
6.) The Metro, Public Transportation, and Uber saved time and tired legs. You can purchase a SmarTrip card online or in the Metro stations.