Washington D.C. Museums and Galleries
Arlington National Cemetery
This is an iconic field trip right outside of D.C., across the Potomac. You can take kids of all ages but the gravity of the place is obviously more easily appreciated by middle schoolers and up. The cemetery’s rolling green hills make an impressive landscape, as does the somber Changing of the Guard ritual, which occurs every hour October 1 through March 31, and every half hour April 1 through September 30, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon
Further than Arlington—about 20 miles from D.C.—Mount Vernon is another quintessential kids field trip. The grounds of this sprawling 18th-century estate include the meticulously restored, 21-room mansion that George Washington lived in. There’s also the outbuildings that were home to daily operations like laundry, spinning, meat curing; six acres of gardens; a crew of animals (many are the same breed as in Washington’s day); the Mount Vernon slave memorial; the Washington family tomb; and working gristmill. There’s a lot for kids to learn here about plantation life, and the live reenactments and hands-on activities serve as a real draw.
National Museum of Natural History
1000 Constitution Ave. NW, National Mall
As a whole, the Smithsonian museums are first rate, but doing them all isn’t feasible (or really all that entertaining for the littles). If you’re choosing just one, we recommend the Museum of Natural History. And if you’re not too squeamish, take the kids to the museum’s insect zoo, a fan-favorite permanent collection.
555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Downtown
Just outside the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art, the super interactive Newseum is cool for adults and kids. The museum opened in 2008 and centers around groundbreaking moments in media history. Their best known exhibits are a 9/11 gallery, featuring the broadcast antennae from the top of the WTC; the Berlin Wall gallery, which is home to one of the largest pieces of the wall outside of Germany; and their collection of Pulitzer Prize photographs dating back to 1942.
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