Sara lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband and sons Duncan (age 5) and Henry (age 3). We asked Sara to share her favorite places to go in the DMV (DC, Maryland & Virginia).
Everyone should make a visit to the nation’s capitol and when you’re there don’t forget to pack your comfy shoes (and stroller) because there’s lots to see in the District and it’s easier to walk than drive. From the National Mall to the Tidal Basin and the numerous Smithsonian Museums in between – there is something for everyone in DC.
Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) & Union Market (NE) are both great starting points for food. Both have casual and gourmet foods in a food hall atmosphere. My kids like the crepes stand at Eastern Market!
In Arlington our favorite coffee stop is Northside Social.
Local Chains + DC Institutions
No matter where you’re going if you see one these, it’s a good place to stop with kids: Matchbox (kids get pizza dough to play with at the table), Clyde’s, Good Stuff Eatery, District Taco and We the Pizza.
The Capitol Riverfront has an awesome wading pool/splash park that overlooks the Potomac River. Such a great spot in the summer and it’s bordered by great restaurants and bars and only a few blocks from the Washington Nationals Stadium.
Not only are all of the monuments, memorials and museums there, but there are plenty of open spaces to play, and an old carousel!
Gravelly Point is a great open spot in Virginia to run and see planes take off and land (right over your head!).
We are so lucky to here when it comes to the amazing museums. All of the Smithsonian Institutions are free admission and most are located right on the National Mall within view of the Washington Monument and Capitol building. Some of our favorites include: Air and Spade Museum, Natural History, American History Museum (has a dedicated play area for kids), Postal Museum (a real semi-truck and train to climb on), Native American Museum (best food on the Mall, and the 3rd floor is devoted to kids). There is also the original carousel on the Mall.
Where to Stay
The Ritz in Georgetown can’t be beat for service and attention to the kids (rolling out a red wagon for kids to choose their own stuffed animal!). For something more centrally located, the Capitol Hill Hotel is a hidden gem and close to Metro. Without kids, we recommend the W or The Watergate Hotel (yes, that Watergate).
- See a Giant Panda and other rare animals at the National Zoo
- Paddle boat in the Tidal Basin and see the Jefferson and FDR Memorials
- Learn to become a covert agent at the Spy Museum
- Go to Madame Tussauds to see the presidents and the stars
- Ride the carousel at the National Mall
- The Phillips Collections has free Discovery Packs to help kids explore art at the museum
- Start a career in media at the Newseum
- Check out the cool architecture exhibits including Tinkertoys, lego sculptures and more at the National Building Museum
- See the trees and the gardens at the National Arboretum or United States Botanical Gardens
- Experience the three branches of government in person, visit Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and the White House (write to your congressional representative prior to your trip to arrange a tour of the White House).
- Swing by Maryland and go to Glen Echo Park and Billy Goat Trail
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