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Washington, D.C.'s Top 10 : Children's Attractions

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  1. National Air and Space Museum

    Kids’ dreams are founded on and inspired by these ravishing soaring devices and spectacular rockets, while their parents and grandparents can reminisce over the early days of aviation and see how far we’ve come. End the visit by treating children to a scoop of the freeze-dried ice cream.

    National Air and Space Museum
  2. National Zoological Park

    The animals in Washington, D.C.’s zoo are housed in large, recreated natural habitats and are close enough to be clearly observed. Sea lion demonstrations never fail to delight. The Kids’ Farm is an educational, interactive, outdoor exhibit, where children can touch and learn about farmyard animals .

    National Zoological Park
  3. National Geographic Society Explorers’ Hall

    These first-class exhibits explore the major domains of society, including foreign cultures, nature, archaeology, and superb photography. The hall is at the forefront of designing and constructing interactive and immersive displays to involve visitors in their fascinating subject matter. Kids need little direction here – they take to the explorations and activities enthusiastically, sometimes with a more immediate grasp than adults. The well-stocked shop complements the exhibitions.

    • 17th & M Sts NW

    • Open 9am–5pm Mon–Sat, 10am–5pm Sun; closed Dec 25

    • Dis. access

    • Free

  4. Verizon Sports Center

    Children love the energetic events here. The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus performs here, along with touring ice skating spectaculars, professional wrestling, hockey games and many top-name pop and rock acts. The food is better than usual at an arena and, naturally, is geared toward kids .

  5. National Building Museum

    This interesting museum runs regular programs for families, where children and parents can learn about various methods of construction, architecture, and design. Together, families can build edible houses, learn about different construction materials, or solve a city’s transport problem. The permanent and visiting exhibitions will also appeal.

    National Building Museum
  6. National Aquarium

    The star attraction for children here is the 2pm feedings: sharks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, piranha on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and alligators on Fridays. The aquarium houses about 300 specimens in its glass tanks, and provides easy-to-understand informative material about freshwater habitats and the oceans and the marine life they support. Inquisitive little visitors always surround the touch tank. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, and children’s questions are handled with aplomb .

    Turtle, National Aquarium
  7. Discovery Creek Children’s Museum

    This outdoor-oriented center for children aged between one and eleven years provides wonderfully engrossing activities that bring to life aspects of local nature, science, arts, and history. The museum has five locations in the D.C. area, including the only surviving one-room schoolhouse and the historic stables in the beautiful Glen Echo Park. Daily programs for children are always popular with Washingtonians.

    • 7300 MacArthur Blvd

    • Call 202 488 0627 for opening times

    • Closed major hols

    • Adm

  8. National Museum of Natural History

    There is plenty here for young visitors, in particular the Insect Zoo featuring live specimens of giant hissing cockroaches and large leaf-cutter ants, and the Dinosaur Hall which contains a cast of a nest of dinosaur eggs and reconstructions of dinosaur skeletons. The new, interactive Hall of Mammals features 274 taxidermied exhibits from a variety of environments. For another hands-on experience, the Discovery Room allows children (and adults!) to hold objects like crocodile heads and elephant tusks.

    • Constitution Ave & 10th St, NW

    • Open 10am–5:30pm daily; Closed Dec 25

    • Dis. access

    • Free

  9. Smithsonian Carousel

    In front of the Arts and Industries Building at the Smithsonian is a delightful authentic carousel with brilliantly painted hand-carved animals. It only operates in good weather, but don’t miss this bit of old-world fun if you have the chance. It also makes a refreshing break for kids beginning to tire of the surrounding museums.

    • 900 Jefferson Drive SW

    • Open 10am–5pm daily; Closed Dec 25

    • Adm

  10. Rock Creek Park Nature Center

    The short nature trail here is only 1-mile (1.5-km) long so it is easily negotiated by children. Many native species can be spotted en route, including foxes, racoons and deer. There is also a small planetarium. A number of activities that appeal to children, including arts and crafts workshops, are scheduled throughout the year. On a sunny day, this is also a great place to bring a picnic, and enjoy one of the city’s truly natural environments. In other parts of the park there are also tennis courts and horse riding trails.

    • 5200 Glover Rd NW

    • Open 9am–5pm Wed–Sun

    • Free

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