Thursday, June 10, 2010

10 Tips for a Family Vacation in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a beautiful city rich in history and family friendly activities.  But even family friendly cities can be overwhelming and frustrating.  Hopefully these 10 tips will help you make the most of your next visit to our nation's capital.


  • Park the mini van and take the Metro.  We paid $4.50 to park all day!  Trust me.  You don't want to drive in D.C.!!!
  • Buy a pass (1 or 7 days) for the Metro.  Trying to understand exactly how much your fare will cost can be confusing.  And if you end up getting on the wrong train you'll just have to pay more anyway.  Spend a couple of extra dollars so you can get on and off the Metro all day long with no worries.
  • Make a plan for meals BEFORE you go into the city.  Finding restaurants on the street is not easy so look them up online and print a map before you go.  Also, check the website for the different Smithsonian Museums.  Most have snack bars or restaurants in them.  Otherwise you'll end up eating from a vendor and paying a fortune for a hot dog.
  • Take bottled water for everyone and plan on buying more.  
  • Use a backpack carrier for those under 2 and leave the stroller in the van.  It's just easier to navigate the Metro and Memorials without a stroller.
  • BUT if you are spending the day walking the Mall with a child 2-4 years old, take a stroller.  She will get tired of walking.  And cranky.  And mom's shoulders will get tired of carrying her. (Not that I know from personal experience or anything.)
  • Prioritize your "Must See" list.  It is impossible to see everything.  Discussing priorities ahead of time will keep you from arguing with your spouse over where to go when the Museums are closing in an hour.
  • If you only have 1 day in the City (like we did), once you arrive go straight to the end of the Mall and begin working your way back.  I recommend starting at the Lincoln Memorial because it is furthest from any Metro station.  At the end of the day you want to be CLOSE to a station! 
  • Wear your walking shoes!!
  • Dress everyone in identical shirts.  It makes it easier to spot each other in a crowd.  And if a child wanders off a little ways everyone else knows who he belongs to. 
Have you visited Washington, D.C.?  If so, what tips do you have for making the most of your time in the city?

      2 comments:

      Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

      Great tips!

      If the museums and monuments are tricky to navigate with a stroller, a wheelchair would be SO fun!

      I am shocked to learn that a 2-4 year old can get tired and cranky. That is shocking!

      Can I admit that I think the same color shirt thing is kind of funny. Totally practical, but funny. : )

      Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

      Dawn, I think the only place that would be really tricky with a wheelchair is the Lincoln Memorial. They have an elevator but you have to look for it. Everywhere else had good ramps. The stroller was just one more thing for us to keep up with. Also, I think people tend to move out of the way of a wheelchair whereas they could care less about a stroller.

      I know the shirts is kind of goofy but I have a fear of losing a child somewhere.

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