A vacation in Washington DC with family is a great idea for nearly any family trip. Washington D.C. has something for everyone and many kid friendly spaces. 

This is your ultimate guide with sample itineraries (scroll down), best places to stay, best activities, family friendly places to eat, and tips on transportation.

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Best Places To Stay

There are many options when it comes to staying in Washington DC with your family. In the winter consider hotels that have indoor pools so that your children can have a great time both inside and outside the hotel. If you need extra space there are also plenty of places that have large family suites. 

Luxury Hotels

For families who wish to indulge in comfort and style, there are several luxury family-friendly hotels in Washington DC. 

For luxury hotels with suites check out:

The Conrad Hotel

Nestled in the heart of the city, The Conrad Hotel is renowned for its sophisticated design and exceptional service. Families can enjoy spacious suites, a rooftop bar with stunning city views, and easy access to Washington DC’s major attractions.

The Watergate Hotel

With its rich history and iconic status, The Watergate Hotel offers families a luxurious stay with a twist of intrigue. The spacious family suites and indoor pool make it a perfect retreat after a day of exploring the capital’s landmarks.

The Intercontinental At The Wharf

Located on the scenic waterfront, The Intercontinental At The Wharf is ideal for families looking for luxury and relaxation. Guests can enjoy waterfront views, fine dining options, and a variety of family-friendly activities right at their doorstep.

Pendry At The Wharf

The Pendry At The Wharf combines modern luxury with exceptional service, making it a favorite among traveling families. Its prime location offers easy access to the Wharf’s entertainment and dining options, while the hotel itself features family-friendly suites and amenities.

Value Hotels

For families looking to save some extra time and money, the capital has a number of value hotels. One of the best ways to save is to choose a hotel that is near the metro but not quite in the middle of the city. The DC metro system is well connected and if you have children that can get on and off the metro easily, its a great way to see the historic sites, have extra space and save some money.

Embassy Suites Washington DC

Embassy Suites Washington DC provides spacious suites that are perfect for families looking for comfort without compromising on budget. Guests can enjoy free breakfast and an evening reception, adding great value to their stay.

Hyatt House At The Wharf

Hyatt House At The Wharf offers families modern and spacious accommodations with the convenience of home-like amenities, including fully equipped kitchens. Its location at The Wharf brings entertainment, dining, and scenic views right to your doorstep, making it an excellent choice for family stays.

Citizen M Capitol Hill

Citizen M Capitol Hill is an ideal option for families with one child, offering smart, compact rooms that are high on style and technology. Its central location provides easy access to Washington DC’s major attractions, making it a convenient base for exploring the city.

Marriott Residence Inn Convention Center

Marriott Residence Inn Convention Center features suite-style accommodations with fully equipped kitchens, making it perfect for families wanting the comforts of home. The hotel’s free breakfast and proximity to Washington DC’s attractions ensure a comfortable and hassle-free stay for the whole family.

The Watermark Hotel in Tysons

Although not technically in Washington DC, this lovely hotel is a short walk from the metro which will bring you downtown. The Watermark Hotel in Tysons offers a unique blend of luxury and convenience, making it a fantastic choice for families visiting the area. 

The rooms here are quite spacious with many having small kitchenettes. There are also several onsite restaurants where you can grab food after a long day of sightseeing. You can get much more space here for less compared to hotels that are in Washington DC. 

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Renting A Car?

There are pros and cons to renting a car.


If you prefer the freedom and convenience of driving, renting a car is a viable option. Be mindful that there will likely be a lot of walking involved when visiting national monuments and attractions, and parking near the monuments can be challenging. 

It can also be expensive not just to rent the car, but to park the car at the hotel and then at different garages.


However, having a car makes it easier to reach places like Mount Vernon, which is 13 miles south of DC, and other nearby locations for day trips. Having a car can save you a lot of walking time from the metro station especially when visiting the Zoo or the National Aquarium (in nearby Baltimore). 

If you are traveling with very young children it can be helpful to have a car to carry around all the things they need like a diaper bag and a stroller. 

Pro Rental Car Tip:

Stay at a hotel near a metro that is outside the city where parking at the hotel is more affordable. Then use the metro to get into the city and use your car to see the places that are just outside Washington DC like the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, and Mount Vernon. If you have time, even explore some of the fun family friendly wineries that are close to Washington DC. 

Public Transportation

The good news is that Washington DC has an efficient public transportation system which includes buses and the Metrorail. The Metrorail connects to many of the city’s best places to visit, including museums, monuments, and entertainment hubs. There are many metro stations in the city and in the nearby suburbs. 

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Where To Eat

A Washington DC family vacation wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some of Washington DC’s best food. Many visitors to Washington DC do not realize how big a food scene DC has. From amazing pizza places to great sushi, you can find it all here. 

There are also many restaurants that have rooftop views of the monuments and are even kid friendly. Be sure to also check out some of the nearby wineries in Maryland and Virginia.

Here are some popular kid friendly places to eat:

Colada Shop

Colada Shop has a few locations throughout Washington DC. It is a casual dining spot that serves yummy Cuban cuisine. 

Lulu’s Wine Garden

This is one of the most popular wine bars in all of Washington DC. The patio is very kid friendly and pet friendly. Both parents and kids will enjoy this spot. 

Emmy Squared

Emmy Squared also has multiple locations in Washington DC. This pizza spot is kid friendly and serves up great Detroit style pizza.

Busboys & Poets

Busboys and Poets is one of the few places that is also open for breakfast on weekdays. This restaurant also has a couple locations and you can see which one may be walking distance from you.

Founding Farmers

Another place that is open for breakfast and that is family friendly is Founding Farmers. They even have vegan breakfast options at many of their locations. 

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Sample Itineraries

From iconic landmarks like the U.S. Capitol and the White House to famous Smithsonian Museums, there is no shortage of exciting and educational activities for families to enjoy. Here are some sample itineraries for visiting DC that are kid friendly

2 Day Itinerary

While visiting Washington D.C. with your family, two days might feel short, but with the right planning, you can experience some of the city’s most iconic attractions. Here is a suggested two-day itinerary to help you make the most of your time.

Day 1 Morning

Start your first day by exploring the National Mall, a sprawling public park that houses many significant monuments and landmarks. Begin at the iconic Capitol Building, which offers guided tours starting from the visitor center (Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.). Book your tour first thing in the morning so you have the rest of the day to explore.

You can explore the various government buildings in Capitol Hill before walking over the US Botanical Garden. This is a fun place for children really any time of the year. If your children are hungry and need to eat there is a food court here as well.

Day 1 Lunch

For lunch check out one of the food trucks that are usually located right outside the Smithsonian museusm so you can continue to sight see. There’s also a cafe at the National Gallery Of Art if  you want a sit down lunch.

Day 1 Afternoon

In the afternoon, continue to explore the museums indoors especially if you are visiting in the hotter months of June, July or August. This will keep you cool during the extreme temperatures. 

Leave Capitol Hill to check out the Smithsonian Museums, a collection of 17 free museums and galleries that offer something for everyone. The National Air And Space Museum requires a timed entry ticket so plan for that ahead of time. 

Some museums that are great for kids include:

  • National Air And Space Museum: This is one of the most popular museums. The best way to make sure you get a ticket is to plan in advance. Free tickets become available for reservation usually six weeks ahead of time.
  • National Museum of American History: If your children are older they may enjoy this one also. 
  • National Museum Of Natural History: The Natural History Museum is a real hit with young children. Here, they can marvel at the magnificent Hope Diamond and stroll through the awe-inspiring Butterfly Garden. The latter houses hundreds of exotic, live butterflies and plants, creating a magical experience for all ages. The gift shop here has some fun things you can take home with you.
  • National Archives: This museum is conveniently located right next door to the Natural History Museum.
  • National Children’s Museum: This museum is great for very young children. Its “Dream Machine” is a three-level jungle gym that invites visitors to explore a vibrant, interactive space. Kids can also participate in hands-on activities and exhibits designed to spark their curiosity and imagination.
  • International Spy Museum: For older teens, check out this museum. This museum is not free since it is not part of the Smithsonian Museums.

Day 1 Dinner

Washington DC has so many fun places to dine. Head to either the restaurants in Penn Quarter or the Wharf for a bite to eat. These neighborhoods are very close to many of the sites in your Day 1 itinerary. The Wharf has many kid friendly restaurants and dessert places.

Day 1 Evening

If you have teenagers or children that can stay up late, the evening time in DC is the best time to see the beautiful monuments. The crowds have gone down and the monuments are beautifully lit up. A nighttime monument tour is one of the best things to do during a visit to Washington DC. 

Day 2 Morning

Start Day 2 with a yummy breakfast or brunch in Georgetown. This historic neighborhood has so many awesome places to eat. 

After breakfast, head to Dumbarton Oaks Garden. This is a great place for kids to walk around and you can also explore the museum inside.  

Day 2 Lunch

Grab lunch on the Georgetown waterfront and enjoy views of the Potomac River. 

Day 2 Afternoon

After lunch head over the nearby Kennedy Center. If you were unable to see the monuments by night, use this afternoon to do that over the Kennedy Center. Popular monuments and memorials include the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and of course the iconic Lincoln Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. 

3 Day Itinerary

Keep Day 1 and Day 2 as described above, and add this third day to your DC itinerary.

Day 3 Morning

On day three, start your morning with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. The Arlington National Cemetery is home to over 400,000 military service members, including war heroes and former presidents. After paying your respects, here, head over to Downtown Arlington for some lunch.

Day 3 Lunch

The distance to Arlington National Cemetery is approximately 3 to 4 miles, depending on your exact starting point and the route you take. The travel time by car can vary from about 10 to 15 minutes under normal traffic conditions. Public transportation options, such as the Metro, are also available and can be a convenient way to travel between these locations.

Day 3 Afternoon

Mount Vernon is the former estate of President George Washington. If you are driving, the parking is free and includes designated areas for cars, buses, and motorcycles. The parking lots are located a short walk from the main entrance and visitor center, making it convenient for guests to access the estate’s attractions. 

Because Mount Vernon is a popular tourist destination, the site is open almost every day of the year. Typically, during the peak season (April through August), Mount Vernon is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 

In the off-peak season (November through February), the hours are usually from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. During the shoulder seasons (March and September through October), the estate might adjust hours to accommodate the changing amount of daylight and visitor volume. Be sure to check the website especially if it is your first time visiting.

4 Day Itinerary

As mentioned above, you can keep days 1 to 3 the same and then add this Day 4 family friendly itinerary to your list.

Day 4 Morning

Visit the Smithsonian National Zoo, a paradise for kids with over 2,700 animals, including the beloved pandas. The zoo’s interactive exhibits and kid-friendly pathways make learning fun and accessible. Early mornings offer cooler temperatures and more active animals, perfect for young explorers.

Day 4 Lunch

Enjoy a family-friendly lunch at the Wharf, offering a variety of options that cater to all tastes, including kid-approved menus. The waterfront setting is perfect for a relaxed meal, and the boardwalk is great for a post-lunch stroll with ice cream in hand. The area’s open spaces are ideal for kids to run and play.

Day 4 Afternoon

Take a water taxi from the Wharf to Old Town Alexandria, an adventure on water that kids will love. The scenic ride offers unique views of the Potomac River and landmarks, making it an exciting journey for little ones. 

Alexandria is a charming town with history and it is family friendly. There is historic charm, ice cream shops, and great rooftop restaurants with amazing views. Be sure to check the water taxi schedule so that you have a way home. If the water taxi is not running later into the evening you can always take a ride share back to your hotel. 

5 Day Itinerary

If you are able to stay even longer in the nation’s capital, be sure to check out some of the most popular neighborhoods here. 

U Street

Discover the vibrant U Street corridor, known for its rich African-American culture and music scene, including the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, which offers a casual dining experience that’s fun for kids. The area is dotted with colorful murals and interactive art, perfect for sparking children’s creativity. Street performers often add to the lively atmosphere, entertaining families as they explore.

14th Street

14th Street offers a mix of trendy shops and family-friendly dining options that cater to all ages, making it a great place for a leisurely stroll with the family. Many restaurants feature outdoor seating, allowing parents to enjoy a meal while keeping an eye on their kids. This neighborhood is also home to several parks and playgrounds where children can play and relax.

Navy Yard

The Navy Yard is a waterfront oasis with parks, splash pads, and riverfront trails that are perfect for families looking to enjoy outdoor activities. Catch a game or a family event at Nationals Park, where kids can enjoy baseball and special activities. The area’s modern playgrounds and ice cream shops are sure to be a hit with the younger crowd.

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Parks & Outdoor Activities

Washington DC has many green spaces and recreational activities for families to enjoy. If you have time between your sightseeing to enjoy some time relaxing outdoors, these areas below are great for kids and families

Rock Creek Park

One of the most popular national parks in the area is Rock Creek Park. It is a natural oasis spanning over 1,700 acres. With its lush foliage, flowing streams, and winding trails, it’s a great way for families to immerse themselves in nature without leaving the city. Outdoor activities are abundant within the park, including hiking, cycling, and picnicking.

Picnic At Gravelly Point

If your kids love planes, Gravelly Point is a must visit. This large green space is located on the Virginia side of the Potomac River and its a quick drive from Downtown DC. 

Here you can set up a picnic and bring some outdoor games. The biggest highlight of this park is that you can see planes taking off and landing from Washington DC’s DCA airport. They fly right overhead and are a real thrill for young kids. 

United States Botanic Garden

A must-visit destination for families is the United States Botanic Garden. Established in 1820, it is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. As a living plant museum, visitors can admire the diverse flora from around the world, including rare and endangered species. 

The garden also offers educational programs and interactive exhibits, perfect for curious children and adults alike.

Picnic On The National Mall

The National Mall is home to iconic monuments and landmarks, the National Mall is not only a green space but also a hub of American history. Families can enjoy picnics, flying kites, or simply admiring the sights together.

Yards Park

Located along the Anacostia River, the Yards Park has interactive water fountains, a boardwalk, and green spaces where families can relax with a view.

Constitution Gardens

A serene, 50-acre park that includes a small lake and a memorial to the signers of the Declaration of Independence—ideal for a tranquil afternoon with the family.

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Seasonal Events

Washington DC offers a variety of events and seasonal highlights throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for families. Depending on which time of year you visit, there are usually some fun family friendly events going on. Let’s take a look.

Cherry Blossom Festival In March And April

One of the most iconic annual events in the city is the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This festival takes place from late March to early April. One of the best places to see the beautiful blooming of cherry blossoms is around the Tidal Basin. Take a picture of the flowers against the backdrop of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin.

The Cherry Blossom Festival includes a parade, cultural performances, and a variety of family-friendly activities. The best part about this event is the kid friendly kite flying festival which takes place on the grounds of the Washington Monument. 

Smithsonian Folklife Festival In June And July

During the summer months, visitors can enjoy outdoor activities and special events like movie nights and concerts on the National Mall. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival occurs annually around late June to early July, showcasing different cultures and traditions through music, dance, food, and interactive displays.

Independence Day Celebrations And Fireworks In July

Of course, there’s no better place to be to celebrate the 4th of July than Washington DC. The nation’s capital and the surrounding areas host numerous events and there are many fireworks displays in the area. 

Tennis Tournament In July And August

The Citi Open happens at Rock Creek Park in the months of July and August. This popular outdoor tennis event is great for families who have kids that enjoy playing and watching tennis. It can get pretty hot this time of year, so be sure to pack appropriately.

Holiday Events In November And December

There are many holiday events that take place in DC during the months of Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are many places to holiday lights and even to go to ice skating. 

Vacation In Washington DC With Family: Summary

Taking a trip with family members to Washington DC is a lot of fun. Whether you want to spend spring break in the nation’s capital or just a weekend here, there’s no shortage of things to do. Many of the Smithsonian museums have free admission and there are also many parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy. The best option for what to see and do during your time in DC really depends on you and your family. 

Top picks include visiting the Smithsonian National Museum Of Natural History, the Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum, the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, the National Museum Of The American Indian, National Museum Of African American History, and the many lovely monuments an memorials. Renting a car may be helpful with very young children, but DC also has a great metro system. If coming from New York City, the train is an easy and quick way to visit.

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