Family Vacation: Washington DC With the Kids

For April vacation, we hopped in the car - a la the Griswolds - and embarked on our own family vacation to Washington DC!  We had a BLAST.  But, touring our nation's capital can certainly be overwhelming.  So, here are a few tips to give you direction when you take the political plunge!

We relied heavily on the Eyewitness Travel Family Guide: Washington DC - a great resource, providing descriptions of all attractions, including maps, hours and "don't miss" spots.

There is a lot to see...so, pour over this guide and related web sites prior to the trip.  Have a family meeting to determine your priorities.  And, don't "overbook".  The boys, ages 9 and 11, got tired.  Some days, a swim in the hotel pool and a good, relaxing dinner was enough after a half-day outing to a museum.

TravelChannel.com highlights several family friendly hotels.

We decided to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum where the boys absolutely loved the fun flight simulators and learning the history of aviation.  The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was also on our agenda.  We experienced a tarantula's feeding time, the Hope Diamond and an awesome IMAX movie about the Ice Age.

Ben LOVES animals, so we spent a day at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park where we saw our first pandas.  The gorillas and crocodiles were pretty impressive, too.

We hopped on bicycles to tour the monuments with Bike and Roll DC.  Of course, seeing the memorials for Lincoln, MLK, Jefferson, FDR - as well as the monuments honoring the wars in Vietnam and Korea - was emotional.  The boys were very moved.  Seeing them by bike was a great way to accomplish a lot in one three hour chunk.

We LOVED the tour of the Capitol which we applied for - four months prior to our trip - through Congressman Joe Courtney's office.  Sam, in 5th grade, is learning all about the Revolutionary War right now and was super-interested in this event.  Our guide was amazing...he made the tour so interesting for all of us, especially the children.

Kids can also become Junior Rangers through the National Park Service by completing a booklet as they see the sites, then earning a badge.

Have you eaten at a Vapiano?  Awesome!

What a great family trip.

Please share your experience, touring DC with the kids!

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