Fun Things to Do in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. - what a fabulous family vacation destination. The city and its surrounds are loaded with interesting, educational and fun things to do, for kids and adults alike. Here are just a few of the many attractions in Washington D.C.
The National Zoo is open every day (except Christmas) and is free every day. That's right, FREE. Founded in 1889, the zoo is one of the nation's oldest and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The zoo is home to many endangered and threatened species, and is one of only four zoos in the United States featuring giant Pandas (San Diego, Atlanta and Memphis are the others). The zoo encompasses 163 acres, housing animals like giant clams, golden lion tamarins, elephants, gazelles, cheetahs and more. There is a rather pricey charge for parking, but the Metro serves the zoo and there is some street parking available in the area.
3001 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008.
While many believe the Smithsonian Institution is a museum, it's actually a group of 19 museums and galleries, plus the zoo and research facilities. Highlights include:
Natural History Museum, which displays the legendary Hope Diamond and various species of stuffed animals.
Air and Space Museum, featuring the Wright Brothers bi-plane and the Apollo 11 command module
American History Museum, where you can see artifacts like Jefferson's Bible and Dorothy's ruby slippers
African American History and Culture Museum featuring artifacts representative of the African American experience,
as well as special interest museums like Postal Museum or African Art Museum. Like the zoo, the Smithsonian Institution is free.
Located about 16 miles outside Washington D.C. is the former home of the nation's first president George Washington. Today visitors can tour the original mansion, see a working blacksmith's shop, see a 4-acre replica farm with a slave cabin and barn. Guests can learn about the father of our country's life and accomplishments through films and artifacts on display.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Alexandria, VA 22309
International Spy Museum
Who doesn't love a little mystery and intrigue? The International Spy Museum serves it up with stories, artifacts and interactive exhibits involving actual espionage related items and events, and is a fantastic destination for traveling families. See buttonhole cameras and clever disguises in the School for Spies exhibit, learn about espionage in the days of the civil war and the iron curtain and more. For and additional price, visitors can take part in spy experiences like locating a missing nuclear trigger in Operation Spy or Spy at Night adventures.
International Spy Museum
800 F Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20004
See where the big man lives and makes decisions that alter the course of the world. To tour the White House you must request tickets at least 21 days in advance from your congressman, although they recommend requesting them three or more months in advance for busy tourist seasons like spring. If you're not sure who your congressman or woman is, try Googling the word congressman and your zip code.
There are a plethora of monuments honoring distinguished men and women from american history. Here are a few:
George Washington Monument (pictured above) - http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm
Lincoln Memorial - http://www.nps.gov/linc/index.htm
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial - http://www.nps.gov/frde/index.htm
Jefferson Memorial - http://www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm
Vietnam Veterans Memorial - http://www.nps.gov/vive/index.htm
World War II - http://www.nps.gov/nwwm/index.htm
Jamestown is around 3 hours from Washington DC, but makes for a fun and educational day trip. Every Thanksgiving we hear about the pilgrims who landed in Massachusetts, but 13 years earlier another ship arrived from England carrying 104 men and boys who founded Jamestown, America's first permanent English settlement. Today visitors can take a walk back in time and visit replica homes and shops of the time, with knowledgeable actors in historical costumes who can describe the day to day lives of the early settlers. Jamestown has films and exhibits telling the story of the settlers, as well as three replica ships like those that carried the settlers across the ocean to their new home.
2110 Jamestown Road, Route 31 S.
Williamsburg, VA 23185