Washington, DC with children

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Visiting DC with the kids? You’ve come to the right place! Not only does the US capital offer up valuable history lessons everywhere you look, but there’s plenty of hands-on fun for the wee ones, including interactive museum exhibits, exciting outdoor activities, fun shops and child-friendly eateries. The best part? Most of these kid-tested-and-approved attractions are free – unless of course you decide to buy yourself a souvenir.

Best museums for kids

A mini architect hard at work at the National Building Museum. Image by Tom Moore / National Building Museum A mini architect hard at work at the National Building Museum. Image by Tom Moore / National Building Museum

Top child-friendly experiences

Feeding the family

  • Baked & Wired makes giant, cream-frosted cupcakes in Georgetown (and it's conveniently located near the park)
  • Gourmet Neapolitan style pizza keeps the parents happy, while crayons keep the kids busy at Two Amys
  • You’d never know it from the swank décor, but Legal Sea Foods (legalseafoods.com) has an award-winning children’s menu, with classics like mac & cheese and slightly more highbrow fare, like steamed lobster (which is taken out of the shell then put back in, easy for little fingers to handle)
  • Retro Ted's Bulletin (tedsbulletincapitolhill.com) whips up smiley face pancakes, peanut butter sandwiches and milkshakes (with a booze-spiked option for parents)

Baked & Wired frosted cupcake. Image by m01229 / CC BY 2.0 Baked & Wired frosted cupcake. Image by m01229 / CC BY 2.0

Best stores for kids

  • Tugooh Toys sells eco-friendly stuffed animals and educational games amid the cupcake and ice cream shops of Georgetown
  • The store at the International Spy Museum stocks everything from mustache disguises to voice changing gadgets
  • Dawn Price Baby (dawnpricebaby.com) carries stylish stuff for mom and baby, from designer diaper bags to organic cotton layette sets

Top tours for families

  • Bike & Roll (bikeandrolldc.com) has all-ages, four-mile cycling tours that zip around the Mall and Tidal Basin. Children's bikes are provided
  • DC by Foot (freetoursbyfoot.com) offers pay-what-you-want walking tours. While they're not specifically geared to kids, they are popular with families. The Mall tour takes about two hours and covers a mile; the route is stroller-friendly

Family friendly DC web resources

  • Smithsonian Kids (si.edu/kids) for educational games and projects, plus the lowdown on pint-sized activities at the museums
  • DC Cool Kids (washington.org/dc-cool-kids) for activity guides, insider tips from local youngsters on things to do, and museum info
  • DC Urban Mom (dcurbanmom.com) for active forums to post your pressing DC questions; look for the Travel Discussion and Food & Restaurants threads

For more advice on traveling with young'uns get the word from fellow travelers on the our forum's Kids To Go section. For games, activity sheets and books that will infect them with the travel bug, check out Lonely Planet Kids and follow our tweets @lpkids.