Cherry Blossoms in DC, photo featured in Family Travel with Colleen Kelly article Meaningful Moments and Action-Packed Fun in Washington, D.C.

Cover photo courtesy of


Planning a trip with kids to Washington, D.C.? A vacation in our nation’s capital, especially during peak tourist season in the summer, can prove daunting for first-time visitors. Don’t let the heat and humidity, crowds, or prospect of too much to see and too little time get in the way of what can be an amazing experience.

Break up each day with fun museums mixed in with monuments, providing some much needed air conditioning mid day. Book a few tours to provide a wealth of information in a fun format. Make your home base away from home a hotel with a pool to let everyone unwind before heading out in the evening. Plug these options into your itinerary and gear up for family fun:

1. The International Spy Museum – Fancy yourself a life filled with international intrigue, danger, and martinis shaken, not stirred? Then spend some time at this museum, boasting the largest collection of international espionage artifacts on public display. From the moment you arrive and receive your Undercover Mission badge, to the time you exit through a gift shop filled with fascinating souvenirs, you’ll be immersed in a highly interactive and engaging experience for kids and adults alike. Test your spy skills and learn about the role real life agents played throughout history, all over the world. Admission is a bit pricey but you can easily spend a day here. Book your tickets in advance as this is a popular tourist attraction and entry times fill up.

2. National Air and Space Museum – Trace the evolution of aeronautical and spaceflight technology and exploration at this branch of the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is free, but you must book well in advance of your visit for a nominal convenience fee or you won’t get in; it’s that popular. Movies in the planetarium are an extra charge. Among its more than 68,000 thousand objects is the world’s largest collection of historical aircraft and spacecraft. The museum has two facilities – one on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the other in Chantilly, Virginia. If time permits, and there are air and space buffs in your group, visit both, otherwise, the D.C. branch will more than fit the bill.  Engaging exhibits include using interactive screens to fly an early airplane, remotely navigate a Mars rover, and take a seven-minute “tour” of different worlds in our solar system via a nearly 360-degree screen.

3. National Museum of Natural History – Whether your crew fancies insects, gems, or fossils, you’ll find plenty of them and more in the fascinating exhibits within these halls. No need to reserve in advance and admission is free, so you can stay as long as you’d like to view some of the more than 148 million objects and specimens – the largest natural history collection in the world. Highlights include the Hope Diamond, mummies from Ancient Egypt, fossil specimens including the Tyrannosaurus rex, daily tarantula feedings, and the Butterfly Pavilion (additional fee, free on Tuesdays).

4. Mount Vernon – Venture not far from Washington, D.C. to the historic estate of President George Washington in northern Virginia, where you can tour his home, gardens, and more than a dozen historic outbuildings. You can take a self-guided audio tour of the historic area, purchase a guided mansion tour or several specialty tours including a boat cruise, visit the Museum and Education Center, dine in the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant or the Food Court, and browse the shops. Purchase grounds passes and tour tickets at the website in advance of your visit.

Tiber Creek Private Tours in Washington DC, featured in Family Travel with Colleen Kelly article Meaningful Moments and Action-Packed Fun in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy of Tiber Creek Private tours. Photo credit: Felix Pfeifle

5. Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute – Spend all or part of a day exploring the Zoo’s 163-acre park, home to more than 2,100 animals representing close to 400 different species including giant pandas, Asian elephants, gorillas, clouded leopards, lemurs, piranhas, Andean bears, and much more. There are fast food and snack options located throughout the park, as well as gift shops at the Visitor Center and by several exhibits. Kids will especially enjoy the cooling Squirt Zone, the playgrounds, and riding the carousel (additional fee). Admission to the Zoo is free but entry passes are required and should be reserved up to four weeks in advance. Parking passes are $30.

6. Tiber Creek Private Tours – For the ultimate in luxury travel and the convenience of a tour catered to your specific wishes, book a three-hour to a full-day long excursion with Tiber Creek Private Tours exploring whatever you’d like to see. Tours can include memorials and monuments and other attractions in and around the city. It can be especially beautiful to tour the monuments at night, stopping to get out at the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the Capitol, and White House among other spots for photos, detailed information, and to walk around.

7. Embark DC – Spend part of a day or an evening exploring the Wharf – a dining, shopping, and entertainment area along the Potomac River – and then take to the water on a private boat tour. Boats hold up to six passengers and can be booked for an hour and a half up to a full day. Though pricey, tours are custom tailored to guests, and include soft drinks, bottled water, and ice (you can bring your own food onboard). It’s a great way to see everything from the monuments, the Pentagon, and Mount Vernon by water, to cruising over by the airport to watch the planes come in to land just over the water. You can also embark from a variety of other docking locations, listed on the website.

8. Resorts with Pools – Washington, D.C. has a wealth of hotels and resorts throughout the city. Choosing one depends on where you want to be based and what amenities and services are important to you. The Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown and Salamander Washington DC near the Wharf both offer luxurious accommodations, restaurants on site, and indoor pools that work great for families traveling with children. The Fairmont has a full-scale fitness center and Fairmont Gold rooms, which include access to a lounge offering complimentary breakfast, evening canapés, and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day. The Salamander DC has a full service spa and a Gem Car providing complimentary access to the Wharf, near the National Mall and on Constitution Avenue on a first-come-first-served basis between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Fairmont DC Gold Club Main Room, featured in Family Travel with Colleen Kelly Meaningful Moments and Action-Packed Fun in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy of Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown
Exterior of the Salamander Washington DC Hotel, featured in Family Travel with Colleen Kelly article Meaningful Moments and Action-Packed Fun in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy of Salamander Washington DC

For more information on Washington, D.C. visit or call 202-789-7000; for information on the Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown visit or call 202-429-2400; for information on Salamander Washington DC visit or call 844-860-2741.


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