Washington, D.C. has an ever-evolving political climate, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of fun for families to enjoy together this summer. We’ve partnered with Keryn Means, a family travel blogger at Walking On Travels (and current D.C. resident) to get her tips on what’s hot and how to stay cool this summer in the District.
D.C. can be overwhelming for residents, let alone visitors. Although the actual land mass isn’t that big, there is so much to do that a family can easily become distracted by the free museums, parks and green spaces, and political intrigue this city has to offer. The most important thing to remember, and what I have to constantly remind myself since we moved to the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia), is that there will always be more to see than you can cram into a week or a weekend, and that is OK. Pick what interests you most, and go from there. Not sure where to start? Try out some of our family favorites in the city during the hot and humid summer months.
Attend a Nationals Game
You can never go wrong with a baseball game in the summer. The crowds, the food, the fun — it just spells summer. The Nationals, Washington, D.C.’s hometown National League MLB team, has a rabid fan base who take the game seriously. If you really want to see some semi-cross town rivalry, don’t miss a Nationals versus Baltimore Orioles game. Cool off beforehand with a little tailgating in the Canal in Yards Park, and load up on food at one of the new restaurants popping up in the Navy Yard, one of D.C.’s fastest growing neighborhoods.
Hike Through Rock Creek Park
It’s hard to think about hiking when it is over 90 degrees in the sun, plus you have to wade through all of that D.C. humidity. Rock Creek Park is the perfect solution, as there is plenty of shade, a flowing creek, and more than enough trails for everyone to enjoy. Pack a few snacks or a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grass, or bring your bikes to see just how many miles you can cover in the city’s largest park.
Fly High at the National Air & Space Museum
Sometimes you just have to get out of the sun and enjoy one of the nation’s best museums. The National Air and Space Museum is so impressive, it takes two entire complexes to house all of the amazing aircraft the Smithsonian has gathered. For the classic experience, head downtown to the original National Air & Space Museum; if there aren’t enough jets, rockets, and exhibits there for you, drive out to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia where the Smithsonian keeps the really big planes in a massive hanger for all to enjoy.
Enjoy Special Exhibits at the National Building Museum
The past two years have seen two of the city’s most anticipated exhibits opening at the National Building Museum, and we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. In 2015, the museum partnered with Snarkitecture to open The BEACH, a massive ball pit and white-washed beach featuring white balls to jump, bounce and scramble through. It was a workout for parents and a blast of balls for kids. Families waited for hours to get into this exhibit. ICEBERGS opened in the summer of 2016 and is being hailed as a great place to cool off with the kids and explore the beauty of these frozen behemoths. What will the coming years bring? No one knows except the curators, but you can bet families across the D.C. metro area can’t wait to find out.
Take a Free Monument Tour Around the Tidal Basin
Not all tours around the city are written up in printed form. Some are just naturally available to you if you just show up. The Tidal Basin is best known for its cherry blossoms, but summer is a great time to introduce you and your children to a few of the city’s most impressive memorials. Start at the Jefferson Memorial and continue walking to your left. You will soon come across the FDR Memorial and the MLK Memorial. It is easy to get to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial after this walk if you just haven’t had enough. When the kids get antsy and need a break, try flying a kite on the green around the Washington Monument. The wind gusts can really get your favorite kite flying high.
Kayak Along the Potomac
No one really swims in the Potomac. In fact, it is illegal to do so in some parts, but plenty of people kayak and paddle board along the shores. Head to the Key Bridge Boathouse to rent a boat and enjoy a little time on the water as a family. Seeing the city from the river is just one of the many unique ways to discover the area in a way not many visitors ever will during their visit.
Eat Your Way Through the Markets
Washington, D.C. isn’t a well-known foodie destination, and the locals like it that way. Although the cuisine in the past has leaned towards old-style French cuisine and steakhouses where politicians and lobbyists made deals, the past administration brought a resurgence of young professionals, chefs and entrepreneurs. Food lovers are swarming to Union Market and Eastern Market to enjoy Sunday brunch and Taco Tuesdays. Dupont Circle boosts one of the best farmers markets, where you can meet the local farmers who bring in produce, or grab a bite from an aspiring chef. Visitors are slowly figuring out that the D.C. food scene is growing, but we won’t be advertising that anytime soon. We like to keep this food secret to ourselves.
Catch an Outdoor Movie
Rain showers do pound through Washington, D.C. in the summer, but not enough to stop some outdoor entertainment. Pack up a picnic dinner and a few blankets to snuggle up as you watch a movie the entire family can enjoy on the National Mall with Screen on the Green, or at a neighborhood movie festival.
Get to Know the Neighborhoods
Cultural Tourism DC has several self-guided walking tours that will show you the best the city has to offer in each of the District’s distinct neighborhoods. Walk through history as you explore the Civil War to Civil Rights: Downtown Heritage Trail or create your own neighborhood tour as you do a little shopping in Georgetown after grabbing coffee and cupcakes at Baked & Wired. Every D.C. neighborhood is unique and caters to a different crowd. Find out which ones speaks to you and your family the most.
Panda Play Time
One of Washington, D.C.’s most beloved families does not live in the White House. No, you will find these cuddle friends at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, along with their daughter Bao Bao and son Bei Bei like to call D.C. home and show visitors exactly how to make the most of a hot summer day. You may see papa Tian Tian taking a bath in his outdoor enclosure, or mama Mei Xiang tending to her newest little one Bei Bei. These panda bears are part of a breeding program with China to make sure the panda bears, which are rapidly disappearing in the wild, are able to continue to thrive and reproduce. Bei Bei and Bao Bao will return to China when they are four years old so they can enter the breeding program and mate with other pandas across the globe since they cannot mate with their parents or each other.
Keryn Means is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads visit travelocitygnomads.com.
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