Updated April 2017
by Karen Stysley
Washington, D.C., offers a perfect day trip for families in the Baltimore/Annapolis area. Catch the MARC train or Metro outside the city limits, and it’s an easy ride right into the heart of the nation’s capital and all it offers families.
The benefit of living so close to the nation’s capital and all it offers is not lost on Lindsey Gill, a mom of two from Odenton. Two to three times a month she loads her kids onto the MARC train and heads into the city for some hands-on education and fun.
“There’s just so much history and opportunities we really like to take advantage of,” Gill says.
Gill and her son Cullen, 6, and daughter Ella, 4, might be found having lunch at Union Station and then heading to the National Postal Museum. Or they may take a ride on the paddleboats at the Tidal Basin, see a free show at the Kennedy Center or picnic at the National Mall.
“I think it’s a neat experience to be able to do all the things that a lot of people travel so far to come see,” she says. “There’s just so much (the kids) really enjoy.”
Weekdays are the best time to visit Washington, D.C., but Gill says sometimes they will brave the crowds on a weekend and hit the “Memorial loop” including the reflecting pool, the FDR Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
“We try to switch it up,” she says, since there are so many different things to see and do in D.C.
Below are a few of the lesser-known sites and activities that are worth a stop on a day trip to D.C. this spring and some spots to get a bite to eat when the kids get hungry.
D.C. fun beyond the typical tourist stops
Features a wide range of changing exhibits for all ages. Check out Earth Explorers, a highly interactive, hands-on, family-friendly exhibition that allows visitors to learn and use methods employed by Nat Geo explorers in the field. Through September 2017.
Admission: Adults $15, ages 5-12 $10. Invisible Boundaries exhibit is free.
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Getting there: A few blocks from the Farragut North Metro or street parking and nearby parking garages.
1145 17th St. NW
NGS Café available in the museum with a variety of foods from international to kid fare, open weekdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Or check out District Taco less than a half-mile away at 1919 M St. NW, a popular place to get Mexican-style food.
Any child who has wondered how the mail gets to the house will enjoy learning how the postal system works. Examine many different kinds of stamps, check out a 1931 Model A Ford Parcel Post truck, hear the stories of the Pony Express and much more.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily.
Getting there: Across the street from Union Station. Take the MARC or park at Union Station or on the street.
2 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Union Station food court offers many fast-food style restaurants in the historic train station.
50 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Watch millions of dollars being printed and see exhibits about how money is made. The free, 40-minute experience includes an introductory film and gallery tour of the production process. Tickets are required during peak season — March to August — and can be obtained at the ticket booth at Raoul Wallenberg Place beginning at 8 a.m. Tours are every 15 minutes 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. No tickets required from September to February.
Hours: The Visitor Center is open weekdays only, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Getting there: Located near the Smithsonian Metro. Very limited street parking.
300 14th St. SW
Street vendors, food trucks or the Museum Café in the Ross Administrative Center adjacent to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.), which has pizza, knish and other kid-friendly options.
Click Next below for more fun things to do in Washington, D.C.