Every American kid should visit Washington DC, the nation’s capital at least once before they grow up. It is the place where they can experience the country’s history, culture, politics and the government.
Washington DC provides lots of free places to visit and parents with kids can walk to all the famous landmarks without the need to pay for transportations or tours. With preparation and the right travel tools, it is possible to make your visit to Washington DC with your kids affordable and memorable.
Before you leave for Washington DC, check out five of Travelmath’s travel tools:
1. Flight and hotel
2. Cost to drive or fly, for example Cleveland to Washington DC
3. Direct flights, for example Cleveland to Washington DC – 7 direct flights
4. Hotels in Washington DC
5. Driving distance, for example Cleveland to Washington DC is 374 miles
Here are places to visit for free in Washington DC with kids
One: Capitol Hill
Tours of the U.S. Capitol are free but you must have tour passes.
According to Capitol Hill’s website:
Same-day reservations are not available. However, same-day tour passes may be available at the “Public Walk-up” line near an Information Desk located on the lower level of the Visitor Center. During peak visitation periods such as spring and summer, fewer same-day tour passes are available, and there are often longer waits for these passes.
The best ways to secure a tour is to write to one of your States Senators or Representatives. Here is a list of the United States Senators. You can go directly through the offices of your Representative or Senators if you prefer not to do it online. Many of these tours are staff-led to constituent groups of up to 15 people.
The Capitol is symbolic to the nation and is one of the most impressive architectural buildings in the world. The Senate and the House of Representatives have been meeting there for over two centuries.
Two: White House
The White House is another landmark to visit in Washington DC. According to the White House’s website, public tour requests must be submitted through your Member of Congress. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 am to 11:30 am Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 am to 1:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis and requests can be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. For those who are citizens of a foreign country, a tour inside the White House is possible if you contact your embassy in Washington DC to request a tour.
For more information, please read more on the White House’s website.
Three: The National Mall and Memorial Parks
The National Mall and Memorial Parks are open 24 hours a day. You must schedule a night tour of the monuments if possible especially to the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and World World II Memorial. All monuments are floodlit at night and dramatically change the atmosphere of the area.
Here is a list of iconic memorials and monuments (taken from the National Park Service) All are free unless stated
• African American Civil War Memorial
• Constitution Gardens
• District of Columbia War Memorial
• East Potomac Park
• Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site and the House Where Lincoln Died (timed entry tickets are not free)
• Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
• Hispanic Heroes on Virginia Avenue including Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin Park
• Korean War Veterans Memorial
• Lincoln Memorial
• Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
• National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
• Old Post Office Tower
• Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site and Park
• Thomas Jefferson Memorial
• Vietnam Veterans Memorial
• Washington Monument
• West Potomac Park
• World War II Memorial
• Fountains, circles and more
Four: Smithsonian Museums
There are almost 20 Smithsonian museums including one National Zoo in Washington DC. The great thing is – they are free!
Here is a list of museums:
• Smithsonian Castle
• African Art Museum
• Air and Space Museum
• Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
• American Art Museum
• American History Museum
• American Indian Museum
• Anacostia Community Museum
• Freer Gallery of Art
• Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
• National Zoo
• Natural History Museum
• Portrait Gallery
• Postal Museum
• Renwick Gallery
• Ripley Center
• Sackler Gallery
Check out their website and plan your visit before arrival.
Five: The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center is a living memorial to President Kennedy. The center offers more than 400 free performances each year featuring international, national and local artists. A daily 6 pm concert at the Millennium Stage is free.
It is located on 17 acres overlooking the Potomac River and has been open since September 8, 1971. Since then, the center has produced and presented musicals, dance and ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, world and folk music for all ages.
Washington DC is kid-friendly. Is it time to visit the nation’s capital? Let us know.