Are you headed to Washington DC with kids? My husband is from Sweden and even though our son was born here in the US, he is also a Swedish citizen. Every 5 years or so we have to go to Washington, DC to renew their Swedish passports. We all have to go in-person to the Swedish Embassy so we might as well make a fun trip out of it!
Now that Parker (my son) is 6, he’s at the perfect age to really enjoy so many things that DC has to offer. And I can only imagine that in another 5 years, he’ll love it even more.
While we were there, I posted about our adventures on IG and FB and so many of my viewers where asking questions or telling me they too were soon going to DC. So I thought I’d share all the things we did and the places we went for anyone else who might be traveling with kids.
We took this trip on January 11-13, 2020 (Saturday-Monday).
Where to Stay
If you’re going to Washington DC with kids, there are SO many great places to stay! Since we knew we would be going to several places around the National Mall, we wanted to stay in a hotel where we could walk mostly anywhere. We decided to stay at the JW Marriott hotel on 14th St and Pennsylvania Ave.
I will say that the hotel was beautiful, clean and the staff was very friendly! We had a room with two double beds and it was about $175 per night. Which I felt was actually a great deal for it being in DC!
Breakfast was not included, but in the restaurant they had an a la carte menu as well as a buffet. Side Note: Kids under 4 eat free!
As most hotels do, they had free wi-fi but also have mobile check-in and a digital key option through the BonVoy app.
The National Mall & Museums
Since arrived on a Saturday afternoon, we knew we would only have a couple of hours to visit one museum that day. We decided to venture over to the National Air & Space Museum.
Wow! To see the rockets, satellites and even get to touch a real moon stone was pretty amazing! I know that my husband, Jonas, and I could have stayed twice as long to actually read everything there was to see, but the attentions span of a 6 year old wouldn’t allow. Maybe next time!
Even so, Parker was blown away by all there was to see. Getting to walk through part of an old space craft was pretty cool. He loved seeing a space toilet, shower and how they eat!
Next up was the National Gallery of Art. If you like art or appreciate the history in the amazing collections, you and your spouse may want to take turns staying with your kids. It can be a little boring or underwhelming for younger kids. Parker thought some paintings where cool, or funny (if they were naked), but was quickly ready to “skedaddle” out of there. However, if you’re able to walk through – it is simply incredible!
The Renwick Gallery is another art museum that was recommended to us but we didn’t have a chance to go.
You can’t go to Washington, DC with kids and not see the dinosaurs! We planned to spend the whole day at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I loved every bit of it, but think I was most excited to see the newly re-opened Dinosaur exhibit! It was incredible and did not disappoint!
Tip # 1: go up to the little stations of 1-2 staff members! They share little mini-classes that give you such a personal experience. You can ask questions, see (and sometimes touch) fossils, and really engage with these scientists & experts to get a deeper dive into that specific topic. Such a great way to get a bigger impact!
Tip # 2: don’t skip out on the Gemstone & Diamonds exhibit upstairs! Parker’s mind was BLOWN be all the crystals, jewels and gemstones. He brought his little digital camera and took a picture of almost every single one. I think as adults we forget how incredible they really are.
Tip # 3: go to the Curious Jr’s Lab on the 1st floor. It is a fantastic place for kids (and parents) to look at just about anything under the microscope! Everything from fossils/gemstones to bugs to owls! Watch your little scientists eyes light up!
We only had a couple of hours before we needed to check out and get to our passport appointment at the Swedish Embassy. So we took this chance to walk by the White House (which I’ll talk about later) and have a quick visit in the National Museum of American History. While it wasn’t our favorite museum, two things we enjoyed seeing most where the Bat Mobile and the Value of Money room. I personally really liked looking at all of the little boat and ship models, but Parker was only interested in seeing the first one and then moving on.
Another place we didn’t get a chance to visit, but want to next time, is the International Spy Museum. We would totally love to crack codes and be James Bond for a day!
Smithsonian National Zoo
The Zoo was something we didn’t get a chance to do during this trip but we went the last time we were in DC. A quick subway or uber ride and you’ll get to see some fascinating and beautiful animals. And better yet- it’s FREE because it’s a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Another perfect thing to do if you’re in Washington, DC with kids!
White House & National Monument
We went on a Monday before heading to our appointment at the Swedish Embassy and it was a lot quieter as opposed to going over the weekend. If you walk around to Ellipse Rd by the National Christmas Tree – there’s a great photo op spot for the White House.
We ate at our hotel for breakfast each day just due to convenience.
Saturday night we went to Old Ebbitt Grill (a classic near the White House). It was an eclectic yet cozy atmosphere and the food was delicious! There is usually a wait list – we waited for only about 20-30 minutes and took that time to walk down by the White House just across the road.
We had lunch at the Ocean Terrace Cafe (inside Natural History Museum) and it was great! They have really fresh salad and grain bowls with a variety of toppings, as well as soups, sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, snacks, beer & wine. Yes, it’s a little pricey but it’s totally worth it to be able to stay in the museum and get a yummy, healthy meal!
That night we went to Oyamel Cocina Mexicana (Mexican Tapas) and had a wonderful time. I don’t know about you, but in my family- you can’t go wrong with house-made guacamole, chips & salsa, and salt foam margarita’s!! (I don’t know how they make them but they were so good!) They made Parker a kid-friendly quesadilla with rice on the side. Great atmosphere and I highly recommend!
We were also recommended to try Matchbox and Founding Farmers; however we just didn’t get a chance to go. We’ll be sure to try them out next time!
That sums up our latest quick trip with our 6 year old in tow! If you are planning on going to Washington DC with kids, or desire to go one day, I hope you received some take aways from our experience. There are so many fun and interesting things to do, we could have easily stayed for a few more days to pack it all in. Even though we only went for two nights, I think we were able to do a lot!