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If You Go – Washington, DC w/Kids


It’s up to you. Generally speaking, the hotels closer to the National Mall and other attractions tend to be more expensive, and hotels a short train ride from downtown (say, in D.C.’s Chinatown) tend to cost less.


There’s plenty. Don’t try to do everything in one day. You won’t make it.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
at 14th and C Streets NW
202.874.2330, or toll-free at 866.874.2330

Hours: The visitor center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., though the doors close at 3 p.m. Tours are free, and you’ll need a ticket during peak season (March-August). Tickets are first-come first-serve and are given out starting at 8 a.m. at the ticket booth on Raoul Wallenberg Place.

International Spy Museum
800 F Street NW

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sept. 6. After that, the museum’s generally open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call or check the website before you head over, since there are some different hours and closings around holidays.
Admission: $18 (ages 12-64), $17 (ages 65 and older, members of the military of intelligence community), $15 (ages 5-11). Tickets to “Spy in the City” (meant for ages 10 and older) or “Operation Spy” (for 12 and older) cost extra.

The Kennedy Center
2700 F St., NW, at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue NW and Rock Creek Parkway

Hours: Free concerts are every day at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage. No tickets needed! For a free, guided tour of the building, go to the tour desk on Level A. Tours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. weekends.

Lincoln Memorial

Hours: Open 24 hours a day. Rangers are on duty from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Memorials by Moonlight

Meet at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, near the accessible entrance sign. Tours begin at 6:30 p.m. and run through Labor Day.
Cost: $20 per person, and bring cash. Kids 3 and younger are free, but remember that it’s a three-hour walking tour.

National Air & Space Museum
Sixth and Independence Avenue SW

Hours: Open every day except Dec. 25. 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (March 29-Sept. 5), 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. other times of the year. Call or check the website before you head over, since the museum sometimes has early closings because of special events.

National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW

Hours: Open every day except Dec. 25. 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Labor Day, and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. other times of the year. Call or check the website before you head over, since the museum sometimes cancels its extended hours because of special events.
Admission is free, but there’s a charge for tickets to butterfly pavilion. To buy tickets, go to www.butterflies.si.edu/tickets/index.htm

The National Zoo (officially, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park)
3001 Connecticut Avenue NW

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day (April through October), 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day (November through March).
202.633.4800 (a recorded zoo information line)

Rock Creek Park
5200 Glover Road NW (this is the address for the nature center and planetarium)

Hours: The park is open during daylight hours. The nature center and planetarium are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. Planetarium shows are free, and tickets are available at the nature center’s information desk.

Tidal Basin Paddle Boats
1501 Maine Avenue SW

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last boat at 5 p.m.). Open seven days a week March 15 through Labor Day, and Wednesday through Sunday Labor Day through Columbus Day weekend. Two-passenger boats are $10 an hour and four-passenger boats are $18 an hour.

U.S. Capitol

The capitol is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It’s closed Inauguration Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Reserve free tour passes online at visitthecapitol.gov or through the office of either your senator or representative.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Hours: Open 24 hours a day. Rangers are on duty from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Washington Monument

Hours: Open every day except July 4 and Dec. 25. Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 31 through Sept. 6 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year. Admission is free, but tickets are required and are given out starting at 8:30 a.m. People often line up well before then, so your best bet may be to reserve tickets (www.recreation.gov/tourParkDetail.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=77811) and pick them up at will call. Each ticket will have a $1.50 service charge.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

The visitor center is at the corner of 15th and E Streets.
Hours: Tours are available 7:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to noon on Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. They’re free and self-guided. To get tickets, e-mail your congressman with the date you’d like to visit (offer a few dates, in case your first choice is booked). You have to request tickets at least a month in advance. Travel light – you can’t bring your purse, camera, stroller, and several other items. Check the website for details.


The museums and the U.S. Capitol’s visitor center have café’s, and offerings vary from fast food (at Air & Space, for example) to cedar-planked roasted salmon (National Museum of the American Indian). Or bring sandwiches and grab a bench at Haupt garden outside Smithsonian castle.


The Metro is by far the easiest way to get around D.C. There are public parking garages around the District, but save yourself the aggravation. Go to Metro’s website (www.wmata.com), plug in your destination and the site will tell you the route and one-way fare. The Smithsonian station (on either the blue or orange lines) will put you right on the Mall.

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