Visiting the National Mall with kids can be a bit daunting as there are so many attractions it’s hard to know where to start. To help you out, here are our picks for what to do if you are visiting the National Mall with Kids.
The National Mall is the centrepiece of downtown Washington. It is an open air National Park and it and many of the features within it and near it are run by the National Park Service. The National Mall runs from the Washington Monument to Capitol Hill at the East end and the Memorial Parks (sometimes referred to as the National Mall West area) runs from the Lincoln Memorial to The Washington Monument.
Many other cool things are right near by including the National Archives, the White House and the Capitol Building.
Visiting the National Mall with Kids
The United States Botanic Gardens was a lovely place to take the kids particularly since the weather was kind of chilly when we went in February. There is a large indoor conservatory which is open year round as well as outdoor gardens. A few areas including the children’s garden are closed during the winter but there is still plenty to see and the admission is free.
The Smithsonian Carousel is an unexpected bit of kid friendly entertainment. Sometimes you can even kind other forms of entertainment such as puppet shows nearby. See more about the Smithsonian Carousel here.
The US National Park Service operates many historic sites, monuments, parks and national memorials in the Washington, DC area. At most visitor centres and Ranger Stations you can collect National Park Passport Stamps (cancellation stamps) – there is no area in the United States where you can collect more of these stamps at once than at the National Mall. The Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument and the Vietnam Memorial are just a few examples. See more about US National Parks and Memorials here.
The National Mall has two outdoor sculpture gardens the Hirshorn Museums’ Sculpture Garden and the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. The gardens feature modern art pieces and are a great place for kids to get an introduction to art in a less stressful environment.
Read more about the art galleries and sculpture gardens at the National Mall here.
The Smithsonian Castle is a great place to start when you are considering which of the numerous Smithsonian museums and art galleries along the National Mall. The building contains the Smithsonian’s visitor centre and has small displays about each of the Smithsonian museums.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is perfect for kids. They have exhibits on dinosaurs, insects, butterflies and mammals and more. Make sure to stop off in the Discovery Room.
This museum is very impressive with air and space artifacts that you will not see anywhere else. It is very kid friendly and even has a gallery designed just for kids.
Read more about visiting the Smithsonian Museums with kids here.
Visiting the National Mall with kids was an amazing experience – I can hardly believe how many cool things we saw. I had always wanted to go to Washington, DC but never thought I would actually end up going. Now that we’ve been I really hope to go back with the kids when they are a little bit older.