Washington D.C. is an amazing place to visit, especially if you have kids with you. There are so many different activities and restaurants to enjoy, regardless of your interests.
From visiting the National Zoo to exploring the monuments and museums, there’s something for everyone in this great city. So grab your stroller and get ready for some fun!
1. National Children’s Museum
The National Children’s Museum in Downtown D.C. is fantastic for kids of all ages, but the toddler-focused Little Dreamers exhibit concentrates on aviation and cloud-themed hands-on activities developed specifically for those aged 0–3.
They’ll learn about light and shadows, engage their imaginations, and practice their motor skills while taking in a variety of sights and sounds that will stimulate their senses. Little Movers, a play area for toddlers up to the age of three, is well worth visiting.
2. Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building
After nearly two decades of closure, the Arts and Industries Building reopened in November. FUTURES is a 32,000-square-foot exhibit that touts itself as “the first building-wide investigation of the future on the National Mall,” with a diverse range of art installations, experiments, inventions, and items that give viewers a glimpse into the future.
Some of the gadgets are on show for the first time, including an AI-driven rover that can alter agriculture and a space sail for deep space travel. Visitors can also engage in interactive activities such as sniffing a molecule, meditating with an AI robot, and transforming into an emoji. The exhibit will be open to the public until July 6, 2022.
3. Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The National Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Washington, D.C., and for good reason! It’s home to more than 400 species of animals, many of which are endangered or rare. Kids will love seeing the giant pandas, lions, tigers, elephants, and gorillas.
There are also a number of kid-friendly exhibits, such as the Elephant House and the Kids’ Farm. The National Zoo is free to enter, making it a great activity for families on a budget.
4. The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center is a performing arts center that offers something for everyone. There are always new and interesting performances taking place, such as plays, ballets, concerts, and operas.
Kids will love the Family Theater Series, which features shorter (45-minute) versions of classic children’s stories like The Cat in the Hat and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Kennedy Center is also home to the Puppetry Arts Theater, which offers shows that are perfect for toddlers.
5. Tidal Basin Boathouse
The Tidal Basin Boathouse is a great place to take your toddlers for a paddle in one of the pedal boats. They can explore the basin, get some fresh air, and burn off some energy. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
The boathouse also has a cafe, making it the perfect place to relax and refuel after a day of exploring.
6. Yards Park
Yards Park is a beautiful, urban park located in D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood. The park has a playground, Splash Pad water feature, and plenty of green space to run around. In the summer months, there are also free concerts and movies shown on an inflatable screen.
The park is perfect for a picnic lunch and is a great place to people watch.
7. Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is a large urban park that offers plenty of activities for families. There are hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, playgrounds, picnic areas, and more.
The Nature Center is a great place to take kids to learn about the local flora and fauna. Rock Creek Park is also home to the National Zoo, making it a great place to spend a day with the family.
8. Franklin Park
Franklin Park is a small, intimate park located in the heart of D.C. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic lunch. The park also has a playground and splash pad, making it a great place to take toddlers.
In the summer months, the park hosts free concerts and movie nights. Franklin Park is a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of D.C. life.
9. Eastern Market Metro Park
Eastern Market Metro Park is a small park located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The park has a playground, picnic tables, and a sprayground.
The sprayground is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is a great place for kids to cool off on hot summer days. Eastern Market Metro Park is also home to the Capitol Hill Farmers Market, which is a great place to get fresh, local produce.
10. Play, Work, Build installation at the National Building Museum
The National Building Museum is one of our favorite museums in D.C. and it’s a must-visit for families with toddlers. The museum has a number of exhibits that are perfect for kids, such as the Play Work Build installation.
This exhibit features giant blocks, foam balls, slides, and more. Kids can let their imaginations run wild while they explore the exhibit. The National Building Museum is a great place to learn about architecture, engineering, and construction.
10. Big Bus Tours
If you want to see as much of D.C. as possible in a short amount of time, then Big Bus Tours is the way to go. The buses come with live commentary from local experts and offer hop-on, hop-off privileges at more than 20 stops around the city.
The best part? Kids ride for free! Big Bus Tours is a great way to see the sights of D.C. with your family.
11. Picnic and Play at the Playground
There are many green spots in the Washington, D.C., area where you can get some fresh air, have a picnic, and play on the playground. Turtle Park, located in the District’s northwest corner, has a variety of slides, swings, tunnels, a turtle sandbox, and climbing structures. You can also have your dinner in a walled area with shade, seats, and picnic tables.
Closer to Downtown, the leisure facility at three-acre Kalorama Park conducts a summer day camp and special events for kids, including seasonal parties for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and the holidays. During the summer, it’s also fun to take the kids to the community garden to see what’s growing.
12. Toddler-Friendly Programs at a Public Library
The public library is a great place to take kids for some educational and fun activities.
Special programs are offered at public libraries around the District of Columbia to introduce young children to books, rhymes, music, and other literacy-related activities. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10:30 am, story time is available virtually through the DC Public Library’s Facebook page.
Many libraries throughout the District even offer in-person programs (through Facebook Live) so make sure to check the webpage to see which ones work best for your schedule and your child’s interests.
14. The U.S. Botanic Garden
The U.S. Botanic Garden is a great place to take toddlers for a fun and educational outing. The garden has a number of exhibits that are perfect for kids, such as the Water’s Edge exhibit.
This exhibit features a stream with fish, turtles, and other aquatic creatures. Kids can also explore the gardens on a self-guided tour or participate in one of the garden’s many educational programs. The U.S. Botanic Garden is a great place to learn about plants and gardening.
15. The Washington Monument
No visit to D.C. is complete without a trip to the Washington Monument. The monument is open year-round and offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck.
Kids will love climbing the 555 steps to the top of the monument. The Washington Monument is a great place to learn about the history of our nation’s capital.
5 Toddler-Friendly Restaurants in Washington D.C.
1. Busboys and Poets
This restaurant has multiple locations throughout the Washington, D.C., area and offers a wide variety of food options for kids.
The menu includes items such as quesadillas, chicken fingers, and macaroni and cheese. Busboys and Poets also offer storytime, arts and crafts, and other activities for kids.
2. Clyde’s of Georgetown
Clyde’s menu includes items such as burgers, hot dogs, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Clyde’s also offers a kids’ menu with items such as chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese.
The restaurants often have live music and other activities for kids.
Firefly is a restaurant in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The menu includes items such as flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches.
Firefly also offers a kids’ menu with items such as chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and pizza. The restaurant has a spacious patio where kids can run around and play.
4. The Monocle
The Monocle is a restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The menu includes items such as burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
5. Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill is a restaurant in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The menu includes items such as burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
Washington, D.C. is a great city to visit with toddlers because there are plenty of activities and restaurants that cater to families. With its rich history and abundance of museums, the nation’s capital offers something for everyone.
If you’re looking for ideas on what to do and where to eat in the nation’s capital, our guide should be helpful.