When the children were young a trip to D.C. was a no-brainer. The zoo or the Museum of Natural History were our top picks. When my son was born we widened our net to include sights that every person living near D.C. or traveling to D.C. should visit.
Once our oldest child was around 9 we started visiting D.C. sightseeing spots. There were times when are younger children were a little bored, but sometimes families have to choose activities that will appeal to all ages even if younger kids are only interested for a short period.
What’s a hit with our preteen, teen, and even our 6-year-old? Touring the monuments in Washington, D.C. No admission fees. Lots of history. Fresh air and exercise from walking outside. We did the following walking tour in one day!
Walking Tour of D.C. Monuments
Make sure preteen and teen are wearing comfy shoes. Bundle everyone up if cold. Pack water and snacks if hot.
– When you ascend the escalator at the Smithsonian station, you will see the Mall right away. Note: Driving in the D.C. is not recommended due to traffic, lack of parking, and high parking fees if you do find an parking space.
– Decide which way you will walk towards the White House or towards the Washington Monument.
– If going to White House for a tour, make sure you contact your Member of Congress up to six months in advance. I last visited the White House as a college student. A White House tour is on my list for my children. Last Easter I tried to get tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll, but the demand was too high.
– The path to the monuments starts with the Washington Monument. As a long-time resident of D.C., I have never climbed to the top of this monument, but tours are available daily.
– Next stop Lincolm Memorial. On our last trip to the Lincoln Memorial my husband read the inscriptions a the top of the monument. As crowded as it was that day during Spring Break, my children stood rapt listening to their dad recite Lincoln’s words.
– A walk around the Tidal Basin is great for older kids or younger ones in strollers, but would be tough for the preschool set. My kids love walking around the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom time. The pathway around the Tidal Basin leads to the Jefferson Memorial, a magnificent, white structure. We spent close to an hour at the monument while one child photographed the inisde, one child read the inscriptions, and one child rested. After a drink and a snack we were ready for our next stop.
– Next stop…Roosevelt Memorial. I had forgotten that this memorial was even in D.C. The memorial is massive. It covers the Great Depression, Eleanor Roosevelt, the war, and many other evens in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life.
– The War Memorials are somber and kids need to be respectful. I explained to my children that people view the memorial like a cemetery or a church. I pointed out a person rubbing the name on the wal, anoher person leaving flowers and a message, and yet another person doing a pencil rubbing of a loved one’s name.
Quiet voices t the war memorials. Talk to your children about the fact that the names on the wall are people who died in wars. My youngest had a few questions, but the preteen and teen walked somberly wihout asking many questions.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial…Korean War Memorial…World War II Memorial — all are well worth a visit.
After a well-deserved ice cream break, we even took a quick look at the National Museum of American History. From there it was back on the Metro headed home.
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these were pretty good, i am a preteen, i would really like to go to the library of congress