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40+ FREE Things To Do With Kids In DC
Washington DC is the perfect vacation place for families. Check out these 40 Free things to do with kids in Washington DC!
Are you traveling to DC with kids? Oh the fun you will have! Going to DC with kids is an excellent way to have a frugal vacation, seriously. This city offers so many free things for families to do together it’s unreal. Today I’m featuring my favorite free things to do with kids in DC so that you can plan a family trip to DC soon.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for a Map with all these attractions highlighted!
There are many National Monuments in DC to visit for free. Here is a list of some of the best National Monuments to visit while you’re in DC with kids:
1. Washington Monument
Location: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024
Check out Washington Monument built to commemorate George Washington who was commander-in-chief of the first continental army and the first President of the United States. You can actually walk to the top of the memorial.. also free.
2. Lincoln Memorial
Location: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037
A National memorial built to recognize United States 16th president Abraham Lincoln. This is located across from the Washington Monument.
3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Location: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
The MLK Memorial is located on 4 acres where you can also see The Stone of Hope along with the MLK sculpture carved by Lei Yixin. This is a great place to get awesome views of the National Mall; particularly during the cherry blossom season.
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Location: 1850 West Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242
A memorial dedicated to United States 32nd president, Franklin D Roosevelt. This is an under the radar memorial between the Jefferson and MLK memorials on the Tidal Basin. It is surprisingly moving.
5. Korean War Veterans Memorial
Location: 900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is dedicated all those who served in the Korean War. This is a haunting memorial, particularly in the winter after a snowfall.
6. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Location: 5 Henry Bacon Dr NW, Washington, DC 20245
A 2-acre memorial dedicated to service members who died and served in the Vietnam Conflict. This is an incredibly moving memorial.
7. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Location: 701 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242
A memorial dedicated to one of the most important American Founding Fathers and the writer of the Declaration of Independence. This might be my favorite memorial in DC. The views area amazing (clear shot of Washington Memorial) and I love the inscriptions of Jefferson’s words on the inside of the rotunda.
8. World War II Memorial
One of the newest memorials on the National Mall; it is located right in front of the Washington Memorial.
9. Iwo Jima Memorial
This fantastic memorial is located inside Arlington National Cemetery and is worth a trip in and of itself.
10. Albert Einstein Memorial
Kids love climbing on this memorial tribute to one of the smartest men to ever live.
11. Arlington National CEMETERY
Younger kids might not appreciate the Arlington National Cemetery, but if your kids have any appreciation of history, a visit to this cemetery is a must-do. If you see nothing else, visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
12. Stroll Along the Tidal Basin
Location: 701 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242
A partially man-made reservoir that’s located between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel. Enjoy the view of Cherry Blossoms and the National Monuments while you stroll along the Tidal Basin.
There are many Smithsonian Museums located in DC that you can visit with kids for free. You could spend the better part of a day visiting just one of these phenomenal museums.
13. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Location: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560
As far as kids are concerned, the National Museum of Natural History is a dream come true! The Hall of Mammals will delight them with lions, giraffes, bears and many other animals. You can see the Hope Diamond, play with butterflies, and more. And (and this is the best part) after almost 10 years of renovation, the Dinosaur Hall will reopen in June 2019!!!! How cool is that?
14. National Museum of American History
Location: 1300 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560
Younger kids will love playing at Wegman’s Wonderplace. Any kid old enough to understand history will be completely fascinated with national treasures such as the Star Spangled Banner, Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers, Kermit the Frog, and so much more!
15. National Museum of the American Indian
Location: Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560
Here you’ll learn more about the American Indians from the Western Hemisphere through a partnership with Native people and others educated in American Indian culture, both past and present. Kids will love the imagiNATIONS Activity Center with loads of activities for kids.
Also, daily there are fantastic drumming demonstrations in the main hall. AND if you stand in just the right spot at just the right time of the day, you can actually stand in the middle of a rainbow!
16. National Air and Space Museum
Location: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560
The National Air and Space Museum is probably the most popular Smithsonian Museum and for good reason.
Families can get close to tons of airplanes, including a replica of the Wright Brothers flyers, the Skylab 4 Command Module, and the Spirit of St. Louis.
Tip: If you want an even better Air and Space Museum, check out the Smithsonian Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the Dulles Airport. It is twice as big and a day trip location you can’t miss!
17. National Postal Museum
Location: 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Enjoy learning more about the postal service history at the National Postal Museum. This museum is a fantastic place for kids and adults to see more about how people got their mail over the years and it is a hidden gem that most people overlook. If you have kids, you don’t want to miss this museum.
18. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Location: 301 14th St SW, Washington, DC 20228
Another fantastic museum where kids actually get to see how money is made!
19. National Museum of African American History and Culture
Location: 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560
This is the newest Smithsonian Museum to open and ever since its opening, admittance passes (which are FREE) are routinely maxed out every day. This is a phenomenal museum you will definitely want to try to visit.
20. National Zoo
Location: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
You could seriously spend all day having out with the animals at the National Zoo. Some of our favorites are the lions and tigers, panda bears (of course), gorillas, seals, and orangutans.
21. National Gallery of Art
Location: Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565
The National Gallery of Art is a world class art museum with tons of fun activities kids will enjoy. Family Programs include Drop-In Art activities, Art Investigators (age 4-7), and Family Workshop (age 8 and older). Kids will also love the underground tunnel from the East to West building and the giant blue hen!
22. Sculpture Garden
Right next to the National Gallery of Art is the Sculpture Garden, technically part of the Gallery. This is a super fun and unpretentious park with some pretty neat sculptures.
Location: Constitution Ave NW & 7th Street, Washington, DC 20408
The best part though is the very cool public fountain. If it is hot out, your kids will love dipping their toes into the cool water!
23. Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery
Location: F St NW &, 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
This is another hidden gem in DC and totally free. There is a small kid’s area in the National Portrait Gallery, but your kids will love the top floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The modern art exhibits here are pretty engaging and they should give your kids something to talk about.
Another awesome feature at these museums is the Kogod Courtyard. The ceiling of this courtyard is pretty interesting and they have the most unique and kid-friendly fountain. Yes, it looks like a big puddle. Of course you can walk or run or jump through it. We spent at least a half an hour playing here every time we visit!
24. Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center
Location: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
Enjoy the free performance that’s referred to as Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center while in DC with kids. There are many shows, just check their website to see what performances are happening during your trip to DC with kids.
25. Free PErformances at the National Theatre
Location: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
Every Saturday morning you can sign up for a free children’s performance at this iconic DC theatre.
26. Rock Creek Park
Yep, there is a national park inside DC. Yep, it is pretty great for a day hike. This park is particularly lovely in the Spring when trees are blooming, and for fall foliage. Also, you can enjoy a free planetarium show!
27. United States National Arboretum
Location: 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
The US National Arboretum is one of the most awesome places to visit for free in DC. There is plenty of space to roam (pack a picnic!) and if you time it fight, you can see some amazing flowering trees and shrubs.
28. United States Botanic Garden
Location: 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001
Located near Garfield Circle this botanic garden is a gorgeous sight to see for families with kids looking for something free to do. You’ll enjoy viewing a wide range of flowers here with your kids.
29. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Location: 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC 20019
There is one super awesome reason to visit this unique garden– giant lotus blossoms and lily pons. Seriously, the lotus blossoms are mesmerizing! You have to see this garden to believe it!
30. United States Capitol
Location: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004
Be sure to call ahead to get a tour of the United States Capitol that’s open to the public. This is the home of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of government. You can watch potential laws being debated or visit the Visitor Center underneath the Capitol Building.
31. National Archives
This is it– this is THE place you can actually see the founding documents like the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence. If you appreciate history at all, this free site will give you chills.
32. The White House
Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500
This location is the official residence and workplace of the current President of the United States. Every president since John Adams in 1800 have resided and worked at The White House. Tours of the actual White House are limited but regardless, this is one iconic stop you won’t want to miss. There are kid’s programs as well!
33. Supreme Court of the United States
Location: 1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543
Visit the highest court in the Federal jurisdiction of the United States, The Supreme Court of the United States while in DC with kids. This location is open to the public Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on weekends and all federal holidays.
You can actually see judgments being passed down. Click here for more information.
34. Library Of Congress
Location: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540
Why not visit the world’s largest library?
There are free kid-friendly programs as well. A young readers center holds storytime on a regular basis for kids. Here is a link to the calendar.
35. Washington Cathedral
Location: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
I know it doesn’t seem like a cathedral would be fun for kids but this cathedral is. Kids will love listening to the bells or the organ. They can try and find the Darth Vader sculpture (for real), and when you are done hanging out inside the cathedral, your kids will love playing on the Beauvoir Playground.
36. Georgetown Waterfront Park
Location: 3303 Water St NW, Washington, DC 20007
This beautiful waterfront park stretches from the banks of the Potomac River from 31st Street, NW to the Key Bridge. This location is a great place to let your kids get some energy out for free while in DC.
37. The Yards Park
Location: 355 Water St SE, Washington, DC 20003
The Yards Park is a decent sized park with a pretty cool pedestrian bridge (pictured) and, during summer months, an awesome fountain your kids will love cooling off in.
38. The Wharf Waterfront Park
Experience the arts and local history in The Wharf District of DC with kids for free. This location offers a chance to enjoy waterfront views, the arts and history of the local area. Plus there are quite a few fun kids activities like oversized games, swings, and a great splash fountain!
39. Theodore Roosevelt Island Park
This is a great island in the middle of the Potomac where you and your kids can explore nature and run around hiking trails or participate in a ranger-led program.
40. Free Festivals!
There are so many free festivals in DC. Here are some of the best ones.
Environmental Film Festival
Location: 1224 M St NW #301, Washington, DC 20005
Enjoy films, documentaries, shorts and much more at this Environmental Film Festival that’s been providing film entertainment to people in DC since 1993.
DC Shorts Film Festival
Location: 1317 F St NW #920, Washington, DC 20004
You can watch over 300 DC shorts from the years for free at DC Shorts Film Festival. Enjoy learning more about the history here as well with the kids while in DC.
Cherry Blossom and Kite Festival
This is exactly as awesome as you would expect. Here are more details about all the events surrounding the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
This amazing festival happens every summer. Every year there is a different theme celebrating world cultures. Click here for more information.
Library of Congress National Book Festival
This is a fantastic book festival that usually features an enviable line up of celebrated authors.
4th of July Celebrations
There are so many awesome reasons to celebrate Independence Day in Washington D.C. We actually put together a comprehensive guide for getting the most of your visit. Check it out here!
Each of these locations in DC are free to attend with kids and a wonderful way to experience our rich United States history as well as art and entertainment. DC is a wonderful place to visit with your whole family, and I’m still blown away at how many things there are to enjoy here for free. It’s like a city made for families to enjoy quality time together.