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Washington DC Tourism: Best of Washington DC
About Washington DC
Washington, D.C.’s rep is spot on: For history and politics, you can’t get any closer to the action. But what you might not know is its softer side. The city has over 600 parks, and in the spring, you can see the National Mall all decked out in its famous cherry blossoms. Or, stroll through Georgetown—D.C.’s oldest neighborhood—to find cool shops and restaurants alongside buildings from the 1700s. And while you definitely shouldn’t miss the major monuments and Smithsonian museums, there are plenty of lesser-known landmarks, too. Check out Hillwood Estate (go for the Russian and French art, stay for the 13-acre garden), and the Municipal Fish Market—it’s the oldest in the U.S. and it’s got killer crab cakes. We’ve got more recs where this came from, below.
“[The Museum of Natural History] is just too much to see in one visit and you will get ‘museumed out.’ If you have just one visit available, ask a guide about their favorites. When you have seen those then ask another guide the same question. More [than] likely you will get to see the best.”
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A long D.C. weekend with two little kids
Four nights, two kids under 5, one adorable dog, and unlimited family fun.
- Kimpton Banneker Hotel73For this go-go-go city trip, we wanted a centrally located crash pad where we could comfortably stash both kids. The modern, spacious King Studio Suite at the Kimpton Banneker worked perfectly, with a tucked-away entry alcove for our older son's air mattress and a bathroom for the baby’s pack 'n' play—plus a dog bed and treats.
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden907Few things rally kids and Instagramers in equal measure more than Yayoi Kusama, known ‘round the world for her polka-dots and pumpkins. At the Kusama exhibition at The Hirshhorn, my preschooler bounced from one mirrored, Technicolor installation to the next, giggling as I tried (and mostly failed) to snap the perfect pic. Timed tickets make the experience delightfully crowd-free.
- Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute4,603Zoos have always been a last resort in my parenting arsenal, but even the grinch-iest zoo-goer will be charmed by very adorable (and very famous) giant pandas here. There are lots of incredible other habitats to explore, as well, but the grounds are huge: Bring snacks, strollers, and anything else that will help little legs last until lunchtime.
- Ted's Bulletin 14th Street831There comes a time in any trip with kids where all you wanna do is shove a cinnamon roll the size of a small soccer ball into your face. Enter the "Cinnamon Roll As Big As Ya Head” at Ted’s Bulletin, where a decidedly tot-friendly brunch menu includes eggs, pancakes, homemade Pop-Tarts, and more.
- Commissary1,502With hand-scrawled LGBTQ+ pride flags behind the bar, Commissary is a progressive and upbeat cafe. As we learned, it’s also an amazingly family-friendly choice for happy hour: As my husband and I nursed $4 beers, my sons bopped around the room, grooving to the music while the friendly waitstaff egged them on.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library15We spent a drizzly February afternoon at the children’s room here, where we were greeted with a display of picture books featuring LGBTQ+ characters, a floor-to-ceiling mural from “The Snowy Day,” and a massive Mo Willems trove. But the “secret” slide was perhaps the biggest hit: Just open an otherwise nondescript door and you’ll find a two-story wooden slide that whizzes along floor-to-ceiling windows fronting G Street.
- Da Hong Pao Restaurant151At this dim sum parlor, my kids were googly-eyed as platter after platter of shrimp- and pork-stuffed creations emerged. The rice noodle rolls were so good that we ordered seconds. And when my younger son grabbed a pork bun and waved it around like a glow stick, the waitstaff seemed nothing but amused—a true indication of family-friendliness.
- National Air and Space Museum23,517My preschooler is an outer-space and transportation obsessive, making the Air & Space museum a must-visit. And although he was tired after a rain-soaked walk down the National Mall to the entrance, he perked up at the sight of the moon and the planets. He also loved the experience of “boarding” a real-life American Airlines plane from the 1950s.
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Autumn in Washington DC
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