Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Destination: Washington, D.C.!

Looking for a great family get-away on a budget?  Washington, D.C. is where it's at!  Sporting numerous fun family freebies from museums and parks to historic landmarks, our nation's Capitol has something to offer visitors of all ages.  Throw in the D.C.'s excellent public transportation system (a day pass costs just $9.00 and the Metro travels all over the city!) and you've got a recipe for a ton of family fun!  Destination D.C. compiled a top 100 list of free or inexpensive things to do in Washington, D.C. from which we have culled  these Family Fun Picks:

Family Friendly Museums in D.C.:
  1. Check out the National Zoo - featuring pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.
  2. Walk among living butterflies at the National Museum of Natural History's Butterfly Pavilion (adults $6/children $5). Tuesdays are free, but timed-entry tickets are required and are available at the Butterfly Pavilion box office beginning at 10am each Tuesday.
  3. Visit the National Museum of the American Indian, where free programming from storytelling and dance festivals to music performances by Native composers and classical musicians is available to audiences of all ages. Check website for performance schedule.
  4. Play pilot in a mock cockpit at America by Air, an exhibition on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
  5. Share a slice of history with your children at the National Museum of American History. The redesigned attraction now offers visitors a rare look at the original "Star-Spangled Banner," the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem!
Family Friendly Tours and More in D.C.:
  1. Tour the National Mall with D.C. by Foot, a walking tour company that gives free, kid-friendly tours infused with games, fun facts and trivia (gratuity is recommended).
  2. Catch a performance of “Saturday Morning at the National,” National Theatre's free performance series designed for the whole family. Shows range from puppet and magic shows to showcases of music and ballet. Seating is limited and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes prior to showtime. Check website for performance schedule.
  3. Let kids roam free at Friendship Park (a.k.a. Turtle Park), D.C.'s most popular playground, located in the city's Van Ness neighborhood. Little ones love the huge sandbox!
  4. Enjoy one of the many festivals taking place throughout the year. Check Washington.org's event calendar for the latest information on the D.C.'s most popular festivals, full of activities and free-of-charge to attend including the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the D.C. Caribbean Carnival, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and more.
  5. Take a ride on D.C.'s clean and safe Metrorail system to give kids a taste of a train ride, and a break from the summer heat!
Family Friendly Food in D.C.:
  • The 100% wind-powered Austin Grill is a family-favorite offering Tex-Mex "grub" in a fun atmosphere. Kids eat for free on Tuesdays, and there’s a different special every Monday.
  • You can watch the chef make noodles in the window of Chinatown Express before ordering a big bowl to nosh on!
  • The hand-written sign above the register in Ben's Chili Bowl says that loyal supporter Bill Cosby is the only customer who can eat for free. But you can still eat for cheap at this city staple, where the famous chili half smoke is just $5.45.
  • Enjoy a veritable feast each Sunday at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. During peak season, there are more than 30 farmers offering items including fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, fish, baked goods and more. Market hours are 9am-1pm April through December; 10am-1pm January through March.
Washington, D.C. offers an inexpensive, exciting adventure for travellers of all ages!  And parents will love the chance to sneak in a little education along the way, disguised (of course) as fun!  Happy travels!
-Destination Mom

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