We have scoured Washington, DC looking for kids having a
really good time. And what we found surprised even us.
Washington, DC does have a lot of activities to offer kids
- museums that let kids do more than look at pictures and
read history. We have put together a list of sights
that have been kid tested and eTravelDC approved - which means
they are both fun and educational activities (but no need
to tell your kids all that!)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Free Programs for Families - The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is one of the world’s leading museums of international modern and contemporary art. Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Hirshhorn is one of 19 Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers.
Closest metro - L’Enfant Plaza
Artlab for Teens at the Hirshorn
Free. Registration is required. The Hirshhorn invites aspiring young artists to transform the Museum’s ArtLab into a working studio space. This five-week program provides high school students the opportunity to offer their own perspective on modern and contemporary art by developing their own projects and sharing their ideas with peers, artists, and museum curators. Students from local schools, grades 9 through 12, may apply. No previous art experience is necessary. Check out past workshops and register for this session on the ArtLab website artlab.si.edu.
||Meet the Artist at the Hirshorn
The Hirshhorn’s Meet the Artist series brings leading contemporary artists from around the world to Washington, DC. Programs take place in the Ring Auditorium. Seating is limited and available on a first-come basis, so plan to arrive early. Unless otherwise noted, doors open at 6:30 pm; advance ticketing starts at 6:15 pm. One ticket per person. Meet the Artist talks are available for download as free Podcasts.
||Tour of the Hirshorn
ASK + FOCUS + PLAN + EXPERIENCE
10:30 am to Noon:
group tours scheduled in advance meet at the Information Desk. Schedule your tour by calling 202-633-2796 or 202-633-8043 (TTY).
Noon to 4 pm:
at the Information Desk, Docents will help you plan your visit and lead you on impromptu 30-minute tours. Guides also roam the galleries to answer your questions and discuss the collection and The Cinema Effect exhibition on the second level.
Young at Art
Young at Art Family Workshops are designed for children ages 6 to 12 and their families, unless otherwise noted. All workshops are free but require registration. For more information and to register, click here. Support for educational programs is provided by the Vivian and Elliot I. Pollock Fund, Lenora and Robert Burstein Memorial Fund, and contributions to the Hirshhorn Education Fund.
||Artist at Work Newsletter
Sign up for family program newsletter from the Hirshorn Family Programs department.
||Art Interactive - Online Activity
Making art is about creating something that represents an idea or vision that is all your own. It involves making choices about materials, shapes, composition, color, texture, and even scale. This art interactive will show you a few different types of sculpture in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and encourage you to explore your own artistic expression by making a piece of art online.
Air and Space Museum -
the number one visited museum in the world, most kids enjoy everything
in this place, but we think the highlights are:
- Smithsonian or L'Enfant Plaza
|| The IMAX Theatre - Did someone
say “Motion Sickness”? Buy tickets (onsite)
to see a 70mm film of "To Fly" and experience flight from
the safety of your theatre seat. This is an exhilarating
30 minute movie that will delight kids and adults alike.
The screen is five stories high and seven stories wide.
||The Einstein Planetarium- Explore the universe in this state of the art planetarium while sitting in reclining captain’s chairs. NOTE- Chairs can be too comfortable for overtired parents and napping may result.
National Museum of Natural
History - Not just the Dinosaur Hall - most kids
don't want to spend hours reading the history, but they love
seeing the skeletons of those prehistoric beings. Also
stop by to see:
|| Gems and Minerals - Mothers..Ladies..Aunts forced to sightsee with their nieces and nephews. This museum is the home of Gems and Minerals. Yes, that’s right- The Hope Diamond. This exhibit has the perfect examples of what our next birthday present should resemble.
Discover Room - a hands on exploration of the museum
objects and no signs saying "Please don't touch" can
be found here.
Insect Zoo - my nephew is eight and he LOVED watching
the tarantulas being fed (at 10:30, 11:30 and 1:30),
and no where else will your kids see a better collection
of cock roaches, bees and ants!
National Museum of American
History - history, yuk!! Not so in this museum. While
you will probably enjoy seeing Archie Bunker's chair or
Fonzie's leather jacket, your
kids may be more interested in:
on Science Center - take part in experiments involving
dry ice or DNA profiling.
|| Hunt for History- Download a guide for kids ages 6-9 or 10-13 at the American History Museum web site.
out the Foucault's Pendulum handing from the
ceiling and knocking down blocks left and right!
National Zoo - This is a medium size Zoo that you could easily spend a whole day discovering. There is no admission fee. There is limited parking onsite so get there early. Yes, there’s a charge for parking (I think there’s a rule against free parking in the city. Don’t quote me!)
- Woodley Park Zoo/Adams Morgan
National Cemetery - Make sure to take your kids
to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the changing of
the guard which takes place during the peak season (April
every half hour. It is a memory that will stay with
them for years to come.
Note: Cemetery is large and you
may want to purchase a ticket for the Tourmobile that services
the cemetery. The Tourmobile is a popular tour buses that
allow patrons unlimited reboarding for a single daily rate.
- Arlington National Cemetery
Bureau of Engraving
and Printing - once you take this tour, you can never again tell
your kids that money doesn't grow on trees. Kids (and adults)
seem fascinated by the money printing process, as well as the destruction
of old money.
Theater and the Peterson House - for some reason kids
seem to be intrigued when they see the place where President
Lincoln was shot - and the bed in which he died. He
was too tall for it and they had to lay him diagonally. There
is still a blood stain on the pillow. Note- Child must be old enough to know who President Lincoln was; the 4yrs old site tester did not. Hence, the ride home was filled with, “Why didn’t we see a movie at the theater?” “What movie were we supposed to see?”……Aspirin Please!!!
- Metro Center
The International Spy Museum
- The museum focuses on human intelligence and reveals the
role spies have played in world events. Exhibits include
Introduction to Espionage, School for Spies, Spies Among
Us, and War of the Spies. There
is an admissions fee but the museum is well done and loads
Newseum - a relatively new museum in Rosslyn, VA.
Kids can actually perform on camera and deliver the news
or the weather (and of course, parents can purchase copies
of the tape!) This museum has done a great job chronicling
the history of journalism.
Postal Museum - how can mail be fun? Well, parts
of it are not but there is a section that kids love and it
is called Moving Mail. They can mail a letter and watch
how it travels to its destination. It's close to
the Capitol Building and worth a quick stop if you have
- Union Station
The following sights are a little out of the norm but
we thought they were worth mentioning:
the Washington Post - kids ages 11 and up can tour
the newsroom, the composing room and the pressroom. Call
(202)334-7969 for more information. Closest
Metro - McPherson Square
by You - Pottery Decorating - spend time in a studio
painting and decorating pottery. Call (202)337-3180.
Petting Zoo - Reston, VA. All ages can play with
goats, bunnies, pigs, deer monkeys and sheep. Call
Awakening - This statue is located in East Potomac
Park and is an enormous statue of a man coming out
of the earth. Fun to climb on and you can bring
a picnic lunch. You can't drive there after 3pm
on weekends or holidays so be sure and go early. Follow
the signs for Hains Point.
to check out our recommended books and software - especially
for kids - click here.