One of our favorite US destinations is our nation's capital, Washington, DC. Any child who has had a class in American history can appreciate or at least tolerate the monuments, museums and memorials even if they complain the whole time. But what do you do with your toddlers? You know the children I am talking about! The ones that are too big to throw in your front carrier, too big to be content sitting in the stroller but too small to be expected to walk quietly all day long through museum after museum with their hands by their sides?!? We have two of them ourselves, so we understand your trip planning issues! These are our five most favorite things to do in Washington DC with kids under the age of five.
National Museum of Natural History -- The toddlers will be captivated the minute they walk through the door and see the gigantic African bull elephant. There is a great discovery room on the first floor. Big S's favorite part-and my least favorite-was petting the Madagascar hissing cockroach. Gross.
Play on the National Mall and Memorial Parks -- Start near the Smithsonian Metro stop and head towards the Washington Monument. Have a picnic in the grass, toss a football, watch a game being played or play tag. After your playtime, walk around the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial. The kids will enjoy looking at the fountains. If you are feeling energetic, head to the Lincoln Memorial.
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum -- See real rocket ships up close! When you get there, stop by the desk and see if there is a story time event while you are visiting. There is a great hands-on discovery section in the "How Things Fly" room. Stop by the gift shop and pick up a package of Space Ice Cream!
National Zoological Park -- This zoo will keep your little ones busy all afternoon. The panda bears are so funny to watch and the kids will be surprised by the Komodo Dragons. We loved watching the seals play and the big cats stalk around. Our son didn't want to leave the elephant house even though it smelled! A note to parents: The website says that the zoo is a "short walk" from the metro. With toddlers in tow, it isn't very far but I wouldn't qualify it as a short walk!
Hop on the Metro -- The metro is our favorite mode of transportation while in DC. We do not have a metro in my city so my kids are always fascinated! From riding the escalator to watching the metro zip by, the children will be entertained for just a few bucks. For added excitement, get off at Dupont Circle. Cross the street to Hello Cupcake and pick out a scrumptious cupcake for just three bucks.
An added bonus? Except for the Metro, everything listed here is free!