Family Vacations in Washington DC

The Washington DC area is a mecca for family-friendly entertainment and museums. There is so much to do here that is novel and interesting; even riding the Metro is an exciting experience for most kids! Vacation packages to Washington DC often include ticket specials for public transportation.

Family vacations in Washington DC invariably include the Smithsonian. Discovery Theater, located in the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, presents performances including puppetry, theatrical performance, dance, storytelling and musicals, designed to entertain, educate, and enlighten young audiences.

When visiting the Museum of Natural History, children are particularly fond of the Dinosaur-Fossil Hall, O. Orkin Insect Zoo, Discovery Room, and the Hall of Gems and Minerals. The largest (stuffed) African bush elephant in the world is located at the rotunda"s center. If your kids like spiders and insects, then check out the tarantula feedings at the Insect Zoo. The Discovery Center houses hands-on-activities and a state-of-the art Johnson IMAX Theater.

Popular kids" exhibits at the National Museum of American History include early cars, trains, printing, and musical instruments. See a collection of Teddy bears (originally named for Theodore Roosevelt), Dorothy's ruby slippers, a five-story dollhouse, and the original Star-Spangled Banner.

Family vacation packages to Washington DC must include the monuments and memorials. Kids love the high-speed elevator at the Washington Monument, and especially the Jefferson Memorial, where you can rent a paddleboat for a small fee and take in the monument from the water of the Tidal Basin

Not all family vacations in Washington DC are on the beaten path. For example, at National Geographic Explorers Hall, you can touch a tornado, explore the solar system, or discover more about the delicate equilibrium of Earth"s ecosystem in the ongoing exhibit Geographica. Video clips and multimedia kiosks add to the entertainment value for kids. You can even shoot your photo against a blue screen, and have it digitally inserted into a National Geographic magazine cover as a souvenir of your Washington family vacation!

Don't forget the International Spy Museum! Whether your children enjoy the puzzle of cracking codes, or the delicate precision of undercover disguising, families will find a wide assortment of public events to help develop spy skills and have fun doing it. Courses on undercover makeup, high-tech tools, cracking codes, and the science of espionage are offered on a regular basis, along with performance of spy magic, and overnight events called Operation Secret Slumber. The gift shop has fun spy toys, as well, like Secret Agent kits, fingerprinting kits, and hidden camera plant holders.

If your children like animals, remember The National Aquarium in Washington DC when you take your Washington family vacation. There are tanks everywhere, containing piranhas, sharks, and hundreds of other kinds of fish. Of course, you can always take the children to the National Zoological Park, which is free to visit, since it is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Giant pandas, cheetah cubs, and Kandula, the Zoo"s youngest Asian elephant, will keep your kids happy for hours.

If you are lucky enough to take a family vacation in Washington DC during one of the marches on the National Mall, you might consider taking your kids. Besides learning about the active use of one's democratic citizenship, marches and rallies invariably include live entertainers at no cost, and interesting vendors, too.

These are but a small sampling of the activities your kids will enjoy during your Washington family vacation. Check the Friday "Weekend" section of the Washington Post before you visit, to learn of specific performances and special events.

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