1. The White House
A must to visit when in D.C. The first time we came really was incredible. We tried to get tickets to tour this historical and iconic site. It was our ‘we’re willing to drop everything/anything’ to tour this place. We applied in advance (no more than 3 months and no less than 21 days) through our local congressman, but unfortunately the three days we submitted for tours were denied 🙁 Next time maybe!
If you have time, try to visit during the day and at night. It’s amazing both times.
2. U.S. Capitol
While we didn’t have enough time to take a tour, you can find information for booking one here. It is definitely on our ‘next time’ list!
3. Library of Congress
We were so glad we made time to explore the Library of Congress. The Library is open Monday through Saturday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Walking Tours are free and during peak visitation, the Library also offers free Family Tours that are ideal for kids ages 6-14. Check in with the desk located on the ground floor to see what is available. We took our own walking tour (it was definitely off-peak the day we went) and the kids had fun doing the little activity booklet (pictured below) the Information desk gave them.
Want a library card? You can find all details here including preregistering for one!
4. The National Archives
Oh- we LOVED the Archives. Our kids could have explored this all day. Photography is not allowed in several parts of the building, including The Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights, found in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. It was something we won’t soon forget, viewing these historical documents. During off peak, there was about a 20 minute wait to see these. Plan for much longer during peak season. We enjoyed the many documents, photographs, letters and other records found in the Public Vaults section of the Archives. Block at least 2 hours, although you certainly could spend more or less depending on your schedule.
5. Supreme Court
Before walking through the Supreme Court, we ate breakfast in the Cafeteria. It was really fun for our kids to eat a yummy breakfast here! There are lots of options from a hot meal (made to order omelets, eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage etc.) to muffins, yogurt, bagels, fresh fruit, cereal, etc. Definitely something for everyone and everyone gets exactly what they want.
There is a model of the Supreme Court our kids enjoyed looking at. You can also walk upstairs (the architecture is gorgeous!) and view courtrooms.
Upstairs they also hold lectures open to the public. Find more information on dates, topics & tickets (if necessary) here.
(Note: A lecture might not be the most appropriate thing to do with young children, however teens and adults may find certain topics interesting.)
6. Arlington National Cemetery & the US Marine Corps War Memorial
What beautiful and sacred grounds! This is definitely a must when in D.C. You can either drive or take public transportation to Arlington National Cemetery. We choose to drive, as there is ample public parking available for a small fee of $1.75 per hour for the first three hours (and $2.50 per hour after the initial three. We were only there about 2 hours and were able to see everything we wanted to). After going through security, there is an information desk inside the Welcome Center. Here you can pick up a map that will show you the many different points of interest. Note that Arlington Cemetery is very large and much of it is on a hillside. There are shuttles available if you prefer to get around that way (when you exit the Welcome Center, you will see the first stop to your left). We choose to walk and our kids did great. It was a rainy, but warm day. There were many field trips going on, but other than that was not crowded at all. Hours vary depending on the season (8am-5pm or 8am-7pm), and it is open 365 days of the year. Restrooms are located inside the Welcome Center as well, so plan accordingly with young kids 🙂
We started with The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This was very memorable for our children.
We visited President John F. Kennedy’s grave next and the Eternal Flame.
We finished with the US Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. Based on an iconic image of the second flag-raising on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II, the US Marine Corps War Memorial is dedicated to “the Marine dead of all wars and their comrades of other services who fell fighting beside them.” nps.gov The Memorial is open year-round, from dawn to dusk. There is parking surrounding the memorial and we’ve never had a problem finding a spot. It is closed certain evenings in the summer, so plan accordingly.
7. Other Notable Buildings
Department of the Treasury and the J. Edgar Hoover Building (Headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation). Both offer tours but you must apply several weeks in advance through your local Congressmen.
What other historical landmarks do you like to visit when in D.C.?