Exploring Our Nation’s Capital: A Family Friendly Guide to Visiting Washington, DC with Kids
This year, we’ve been on the move crossing off items on our family Bucket List. One of those items was exploring our nation’s capital. Washington, DC is undoubtedly one of the best family friendly locations for a family vacation. There’s tons to see & do, the district is extremely Military friendly and you’re sure to find a million and one ways to turn this trip into a learning experience. If you’re planning a family trip to Washington, DC with your kids in tow then this is the guide for you. Keep reading for our family friendly guide to visiting Washington, DC with kids.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Hilton Hotels and Mazda USA. However, all opinions are my own. For more information on our policies click HERE.
Washington, DC with Kids: Trip Planning and Arrival
Washington, DC is such a charming and historic city making it a tourism magnet all year long! When planning for your family vacation to the Nation’s Capital, it is important to consider some things. Are your dates flexible? What is your travel budget? How long will you be staying? These are all such important questions to be answered. If you have a flexible travel schedule you may be able to save yourself some money and a headache.
Although spring and early summer is a beautiful time to go, everyone else thinks so too. DC is extremely crowded from April-Summer because of Cherry Blossom season and schools letting out. If your kids are smaller, I would suggest visiting in the fall and maybe even the winter if your cold weather tolerance allows. The time of the year that you decide to go also determines how much you will spend. Often, the same hotels that are $150-$200 during the fall and winter are $400 or more a night because of heavy tourism season. If your kids are school aged but you would really love the experience, consider asking the school to count the trip as a hands on educational experience. There will be plenty to do and learn in DC.
Also note that there are 3 major airports in the DC metropolitan area, you’ll want to do your research before booking to see which airport and airline will offer you the best price. Although Regan and Dulles Airports are more convenient, Baltimore is only an hour drive and could give you an opportunity to explore beautiful Baltimore which is also family friendly before making your way to the District.
Washington, DC with Kids: Where to Stay
Washington, DC, like any other touristy city has tons of accommodations to choose from to meet your family needs. As a personal preference, I find that Hilton hotels are always a great option for travel. As a Military family, I find it important that a government/military rate is offered as well as a Hilton Honors discount which is an awards program for those who enjoy traveling often. There are two amazing hotels in the area that I recommend. Both of which fit the needs of different family needs and sizes.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington, DC Georgetown
This Embassy Suites location is the PERFECT accommodation for families. Located in the heart of historically charming Georgetown, it has offers a pristine location for shopping, eating and exploring the quaint neighborhood. Embassy Suites is an all-suite hotel which comes equip with a 2- bedroom style suite, bathroom, kitchenette and sitting area. What’s more, Embassy Suites offers a FREE made to order breakfast and evening snack and drink reception + some awesome amenities. For a full review of Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington, DC Georgetown, click HERE!
Washington Hilton Hotel
The Washington Hilton Hotel is another great family friendly option for your DC stay. The historic hotel is a reflection of where Old Hollywood can be seen in the Nation’s Capital. This newly renovated hotel offers a luxurious experience fit for a smaller family with three guest room options (regular guest room, suite or executive suite). With Hilton’s top of the line serenity bed, 4 on site restaurants, amenities and excellent location, you’ll want to consider this hotel for a high class stay without the price tag. For a full review of the Washington Hilton Hotel, click HERE!
Washington, DC with Kids: Getting Around the City
For our trip to DC we had the pleasure of teaming up with Mazda USA to let the patriotic beauty (2018 CX-5) take us around the city. She was the perfect car for our travel arsenal. DC was NOT planned for automobile traffic and that is truly reflected in the streets. With cars parked on both sides of a small 2 lane street, it can be hard to maneuver downtown. Luckily the CX-5 got us around in stylishly compacted comfort. This 5 seater AWD, was the perfect size for our family and to combat the crazy roads.
With 31 HWY and 21 City Miles per gallon, I was extremely pleased to see that we only had to fill up once in 7 days despite the insane DC Traffic. Speaking of traffic, there is nothing worse than missing your exit in it, the Mazda navigation kept us right on track and we surely appreciated the assistance while traveling around the city. One of my favorite features was the apple capabilities, I am loving that my apps are easily accessible in the newer cars.
The CX-5 also boasts rear view camera, power rear life gate and I-Activesense safety technology which truly made me feel safe traveling with our little one in the car!
Let’s be honest, DC is busy and on vacation you have no time to waste. Some days, we parked the car and either walked or took alternative transportation like the Big Bus Tour. Although DC offers plenty of Tour services, we found Big Bus to be most efficient for our needs as a bus stop was located right outside of our hotel. For $100 for 2 (or $70 on Groupon…Thank me later) you’ll have access to an all- day hop on-hop off service with automated guided tour. What I loved most about big bus was that you had a choice to ride in the air conditioned lower deck or see all the sights with the best seat in the house. Either one you choose, you’ll receive headphones to listen to the automated guided tour and a ride to all the major tourism spot. We’ve found that getting dropped off at the Lincoln Memorial stop put us in the perfect position to hit all our major must see sites.
Washington, DC with Kids: What to See
The Washington metropolitan area has no shortage of things to do and see. To make the best of your trip and budget especially when traveling with the whole family, plan to see the free sites which can be a fun and interactive learning experience.
Important Military Sites: I highly suggest visiting Military sites as a Military family. The WW2 Memorial was breathtakingly gorgeous and words cannot describe the feeling you have watching the change of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. I think everyone should at least see it once in their lives!
Arlington National Cemetery
National Harbor: National Harbor is a short 20-minute drive outside of downtown and absolutely worth the trip. Here you’ll find casinos, family-friendly carnival like activities, awesome shopping and really tasty food. If that’s not enough to convince you, at least take the trip for the views of the water.
Smithsonian’s: Smithsonian Museums are an awesome way to engage and encourage learning for the entire family. There are 17 museums and a zoo within the district that serve different educational purposes. We only had the chance to visit one as we started our last day a bit late and they close around 5pm every day. The one we chose was the National Air and Space Museum and even my 2- year -old was amazed to see and learn about aeronautics up close and personal.
That’s it for our Family Friendly Guide to Visiting Washington, DC with Kids,What are you waiting for? Start planning your DC Family vacation! It truly is the experience of a lifetime and what better way to explore than with your family?