Washington DC for Families: A Short Holiday Guide

Washington DC guide
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Searching for a short Washington DC for Families guide? You’ve reached the right place. The nation’s capital is brimming with history in the form of museums and memorials as well as plenty of green space to get out and enjoy the fresh air. How to get started in this fabulous weekend destination? Stroll past the White House or the Capitol buildings on your way to the National Mall.

Explore the different trendy markets, shops, and boutiques that are dotted throughout Washington D.C., and then sit back and relax over a fantastic meal at one of the many eateries the city has to offer. 

Dance the night away or listen to lively jazz music at one of the clubs found downtown. No matter how you spend your weekend exploring Washington D.C., you will not be disappointed.

(Travelers tip: Don’t let shopping bags and souvenirs slow you down. Leave your bags at a luggage locker while you are out and about exploring this epic city. 

A Short Washington DC for Families Guide:

What to See

  • National Mall

    The National Mall is not your typical mall, it is a long, grassy area where many of the iconic national monuments reside. At the eastern end of the National Mall is the United States Capitol building and the White House is on the northern side.

    The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is also accessible from the National Mall. With over 1,000 acres, the National Mall is one of the most popular attractions in Washington D.C. with more than one million visitors each year.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech here right in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and scenes from the movie Forrest Gump were also filmed at the National Mall.

  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

    The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is actually a collection of museums that are open 364 days a year and admission is free. The main building of the Smithsonian is an impressive 1.5 million square feet.

    There are over 145 million different collections housed at the Smithsonian, it is the biggest natural history collection in the entire world. You can easily spend an entire weekend exploring this fantastic museum and still not see it all.

    washington DC for families
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  • White House

    Home to the President of the United States, the White House is brimming with history and even if you do not get to tour the inside, the outside is just as impressive from behind the tall fence.

    Every president since President John Adams has lived and worked at the White House. It’s one of the best-known addresses on the planet. Everyone knows 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • United States Capitol

    This iconic domed building is the meeting place for two of the United States’ governing bodies: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Capitol Building is a great place to visit, even for just a quick look around.

    Since you only have a weekend to explore Washington D.C. you will want the shortened or abridged tour of the United States Capitol where you will see the highlights.

  • Lincoln Memorial

    The Lincoln Memorial pays homage to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, and his accomplishments during his short time in office. The memorial is located on the western side of the National Mall.

    It is across from the Washington Monument and is a fantastic place to snap photos. The statue of Abraham Lincoln was completed in 1920 and designed by Daniel Chester French.

    Read the Gettysburg Address, one of Lincoln’s most famous speeches as it is inscribed inside the temple of the memorial. His second inaugural address is also inscribed for those to relive history.

  • Washington Monument

    You cannot miss the Washington Monument, located on the eastern side of the National Mall. It is an obelisk that rises high above all other monuments in the area and is dedicated to George Washington, the first President of the U.S.

    The monument towers above the Reflecting Pool and is one of the most recognizable monuments in Washington D.C. It is a must-see when you are exploring for the weekend.

    The Washington Monument stands over 554 feet and is the tallest obelisk in the world as well as the tallest predominantly stone monument in the world.

  • Smithsonian National Zoological Park

    This is definitely a must-go on any Washington DC for Families guide. Spend a few hours at one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. while exploring Washington D.C. Since it is part of the Smithsonian Institution, admission is free. The Smithsonian Zoo opened its doors in 1889 and has two locations.

    The first location is in Rock Creek Park and is 163 acres.  The second location is in Front Royal, Virginia at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, a 3,200-acre campus. 

Where to Eat

  • Quill

    Located across the street from the National Geographic Museum, Quill is an upscale lounge and restaurant where you can enjoy signature cocktails and dine on elevated bar cuisine.

    Give the Croquet Monsieur a try, it is made with Virginia ham, Gruyère cheese, and a béchamel sauce served on sourdough bread. The cheese plate served with fruit chutney and crackers is a great starter while you wait for your entrée.

  • Keren Restaurant

    When you are in town for the weekend, you have to try this amazing Ethiopian restaurant. Keren Restaurant is the perfect place to sit back and relax after a day of sightseeing in Washington DC. The ambiance is refreshing and quiet.

    There are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on the menu. The menu consists of authentic Ethiopian dishes such as red lentils and beef called Misr wat served with Injera bread. The Shiro and kitfo dishes are also wonderful.

  • Ambar Capitol Hill

    Dedicated to preparing healthy eastern European dishes, Ambar Capitol Hill is a restaurant you do not want to miss when you are in the city for the weekend. Ambar also has vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on the menu.

    The kale salad is delightful and not bitter, the grilled shrimp with a corn puree is also very good. You may also like the slow-roasted lamb or crusted salmon. Come for happy hour and stay for dinner at Ambar Capitol Hill.


Pack your bags and spend the weekend exploring Washington D.C. Everyone should see this iconic capital city at least once. Make an itinerary and hit the streets for a few days of fun and excitement as you explore the incredible sights.