Amy Tara Koch | Washington DC with the Kids
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Washington DC with the Kids

Washington DC is like the Magic Kingdom of culture. But, instead of rides and make believe characters, the city serves up activities that make living history the star attraction. The city’s bounty of world class museums, iconic monuments and landmarks define it as one of the most exciting destinations in America.

Before heading to DC, do some research and plan your days carefully. There is so much to do that it is easy to get overwhelmed. One of the best ways to sightsee is to book an Open Top Sightseeing tour to hear about the iconic people and historic buildings that make up the city’s capital. The National Zoo is a must see. Situated in the middle of the city, the Giant Pandas, flying orangutans, reptiles and elephants are a delight to behold for kids and parents alike. Ford’s Theatre is thrilling. The perfectly preserved museum is the actual site where John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Visitors can see newspaper clippings, photographs and the actual (wee) gun used in the assassination. Blow up descriptions and images depict the events leading up to the shooting in child friendly verbage. Across the street at Petersen House you can see the actual room where the 16th President died.

Panda & Peterson House

Giant panda Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday at the National Zoo (left); The Peterson House (right)

What kid isn’t infatuated with James Bond and his ilk? The International Spy Museum is dedicated to all things espionage including exhibits of a Soviet show transmitter and East German cameras capable of photographing through walls. There are secret passages in the ceilings which allow kids to enact spy scenarios by scuttling through air vents. The Museum of American History is catnip for culture vultures of all ages. This vast edifice is home to Julia Childs’ PBS test kitchen, the Star Spangled banner, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, civil rights mementos and a fragment of Plymouth Rock. The monuments are a major attraction in DC. TIP: avoid massive crowds and make visiting these historic landmarks an evening activity. There are moonlight tours that are far more enjoyable. You can take a group tour or ask the hotel concierge to book your family a private tour that suits your family’s needs.  I did this after dinner and it was one of the highlights of our trip. If you are visiting in the spring/summer, you can book a C&O Canal Ride and experience what it was like in 1870 to travel the canals pulled by mules.

international spy museum and c&o canal ride

International Spy Museum (left); C&O Canal Ride (right)

 

On the food front, Georgetown is filled with family friendly options. In fact, we rarely leave M Street! Try the pasta at Filomena, burgers and salads at Clydes and pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso. A Bonus to staying at the Four Seasons is that one of the DC’s mega chic power eateries-Bourbon Steak-is situated in the hotel lobby. In between activities, sugar up at Georgetown Cupcakes (home to the TLC hit DC CUPCAKES) or The Pie Sisters which serves up every imaginable form of sweet and savory pies. If you want a date night, arrange babysitting with the concierge and rub shoulders with power brokers at upscale Italian eatery Café Milano. It is walking distance from the hotel. The Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons is impressive.

cafe milano & georgetown cupcakes

Home made pasta at Cafe Milano (left); Georgetown Cupcakes (right)

We only got to experience a fraction of what Washington DC has to offer. Next time we plan to visit during the cherry blossom season and hit the news history museum Newseum, the just-restored Washington Monument and a few of the National Gallery of Art.

newseum and washington monument

The Newseum (left); Washington Monument (right)