Answers from Our Experts (1)
I have a five year old and there's always something to do in DC. The museums are amazing and because they're free, we pop in for half an hour just to see the fish tank or the butterfly room at the National Museum of Natural History or to just say hi to the giant pandas at the National Zoo. I'm never on a three-hour museum death march as I sometimes am when I pay $25 to get in. Theater is terrific — Adventure Theater, Imagination Stage, the Smithsonian's children's programming of music and puppet shows are all thrilling for kids. Glen Echo Park in Maryland requires a car but your reward is an antique carousel, playgrounds, and a dinosaur hunt area. DC's Aquarium is hidden in the basement of the Department of Commerce (who knew?) and is a small but worthwhile gem. The Rock Creek Park Nature Center inspires kids' innate attraction to nature, with horses, a small planetarium, and tons of special lectures. The small water park on Georgetown Harbor attracts fun-seekers of all ages -- sometimes in suits, sometimes fully clothed -- with a gorgeous view of the Potomac River. Walk down just a few steps for young kids to get a thrill feeding the ducks.
For very young children, head to the National Building Museum's Building Zone where toddlers can construct with enormous legos and build cars from block. Run upstairs for the Play Work Build exhibit featuring giant foam blocks and a virtual building screen. The museum's main room is gigantic and on a rainy day you'll find dozens of kids just running from end to end, playing tag and enjoying the indoor fountain.
Now that it's summertime, pcik-your-own farms are up and running. Butler's Orchard in Maryland is a 30-minute drive outside of the city, but a world away with hay rides, super fast slides (adults can't stay off of them), and easy blueberry, raspberry, and apple picking. Best of all, the Dogfish Head Brewery Restaurant is on the way home to DC, where you'll sample more than a dozen of their hard-to-find craft beers.