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Taking the Kids: Visiting Washington, D.C.

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Locals enjoy The museums and the National Mall, too. It's a great place for a picnic, a snack, kite flying and Frisbee tossing, especially after spending a few hours In a museum.

Take a free kid-focused National Mall with Kids walking tour and scavenger hunt with Free Tours by Foot (

Sign on for a family bike tour of the National Mall with They have kids’ bikes and helmets, e-bikes and also offer a tour to see the monuments at night.

“My favorite memory from Washington, D.C., was visiting all the monuments in the dark. They were all lit up beautifully,” said Greta, 11, from Idaho. She was one of the kids who offered her tips for my “Kid’s Guide to Washington, D.C”.

May is a terrific time to visit Washington, D.C., — it’s not as hot or humid as later in the summer months – especially with the return of special events, including Passport DC. It’s a month-long journey around the world highlighting DC's thriving international diplomatic community with 31 days of programming by 70 embassies and some of DC's very best cultural institutions. The Around the World Embassy Tours — the embassies open their doors to visitors — are a favorite. There are also street festivals, performances, exhibitions, workshops, and more.

Another plus: There may be more free things to do in Washington, D.C., than any other city – more than 100 – because so many of the city’s museums, including the 17 Smithsonian Museums and Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. (you don't want to miss the famous pandas celebrating their 50th anniversary here!)

Be forewarned that the popular National Air and Space Museum is closed for renovation through the fall but the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia is open daily and is also free. See thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery. Check out the Smithsonian's Fun Stuff for Kids and Teens online.

There are also free concerts (including at the Kennedy Center. Find a full list here. Free White House tours have also returned. (You must request tickets through your Member of Congress at least 21 days In advance.) And while many Covid protocols have been relaxed, check ahead If you need to reserve free timed entry, as is the case at The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Zoo and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story is the museum’s primary exhibition for young people as it tells the story of one Jewish family’s experience during the Holocaust from the perspective of a boy growing up in Nazi Germany.


Come June, more than a million people will flock to the National Mall for The Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June 22 to 26 and June 30 through July 4), the largest annual cultural event in the U.S. capital celebrating our country’s cultural traditions and those of traditional cultures around the world. Many come especially for the July 4 fireworks.

Washington, D.C., has taken a leading role in the green movement, and you can support those initiatives by leaving the car at the hotel and biking or taking public transportation. With limited parking, that's what locals do. The Metro ( is convenient, safe, and clean. There are 40 miles of bike lanes on city streets and Capital Bikeshare (, which is a self-service bike rental program.

Don't forget your bike helmet!


(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The Kid’s Guide to Philadelphia and The Kid’s Guide to Camping are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2022 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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