The Ultimate 4 Day Washington DC Itinerary For Your Family

Are you planning on a family adventure to the nation’s capital, a city full of history, culture, and iconic landmarks? Well, you’re in the right place since this post will cover an awesome 4 day Washington DC itinerary for your family. Each day is full of exciting activities that will appeal to all ages in your family for a thrilling visit to the nation’s capital.

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DAY ONE

Smithsonian National Zoological Park

A day at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park is a great start to an adventure. It’s home to over 2,700 animals including nearly 400 species. This extensive collection includes pandas in one of the most popular exhibits.

With so much to see, It’s a perfect way to spend the day with your family. The zoo is also easily accessible by DC Metro, which is the preferred method of arrival because of the limited parking. It’s also great that the zoo is free.

White House

After a visit to the zoo, head south via the red line to the White House. It’s an opportunity to see the most famous location in Washington DC. You can get a great view of it from the north side of the building just off Lafayette Square.

You can also walk around to the south side of the building to get a view that includes the south lawn.

There are tours available free of charge Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 12:30 am. But you have to send in a request at least three weeks in advance and be selected.

DAY TWO

National Museum of African American History

This museum provides a profound journey through carefully curated exhibits and immersive experiences. Newly constructed in 2016, the museum welcomes some 2 million visitors per year. It includes the African American experience from Slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and beyond. 

Once you’ve completed this museum it’s an easy walk down to the next stop.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

If you want to know all there is to know about American history, this is the place. It’s full of interactive exhibits, artifacts, and all types of activities that make history come alive.

They include the Star Spangled Banner, First Ladies Inaugural Gowns, and so much more. There was a lot more here than we anticipated and was a fun place to visit for our family. 

Look out for some of the hands-on activities and displays that the kids will love such as the Spark! Lab and Places of Invention.

Washington Monument

Once you leave the History Museum head west to the Washington Monument. This is a landmark that can be admired from far away but it’s even better to see it up close. The over 500-foot tall obelisk is a marvel to see. It’s free to visit and enter and it’s possible to go to the very top by reserving tickets for a ride.

World War II Memorial/Martin Luther King Memorial/Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The World War II Memorial is a very short walk from the monument making it the closest of the series of memorials. Each monument is unique in its way and seeks to preserve the meaning and importance of significant events that defined the 20th century in American History.

The World War II memorial is anchored by a fountain and surrounded by 56 pillars which represent the States and Territories along with a pair of triumphal arches.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is a massive granite statue of the famed civil rights leader. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the most visited memorial, is a long black granite wall with an accompanying walkway that honors those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

The Reflecting Pool is just off of the World War II Memorial and provides a line down to the Lincoln Memorial. The famous pool is an excellent spot to take photos and get photos with the Lincoln Memorial in the background. 

Lincoln Memorial

This massive memorial is a highlight of the National Mall. It’s a spot where you want to have time to climb the steps and wander around a bit.

The architecture is fascinating with its Greek columns, capitals, and symmetry. It’s highlighted by the massive statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln in the interior.

The view from the top of the steps down the National Mall is excellent. We’ve found that the best time to visit is right before sunset when the golden light cast down the mall is very scenic.

Also, be sure to walk all around to the back of the memorial. Again this is best done in the evening near sunset as the fading sun casts its light through the columns along the side and against the back of the memorial.

DAY THREE

United States Capitol

Start day three with a visit to the US Capitol where you can get a free tour. Make sure to schedule a tour ahead of time on the website. The tour is a guided tour of the Crypt, Rotunda, and National Statuary Hall.

Not only will you be able to enjoy the history throughout but also the famed architecture which includes the famous capitol dome. The tour is also an educational experience for the family.

Library of Congress

After a visit to the US Capitol take a short walk over to the largest library in the world. It includes a massive collection of maps, books, manuscripts, photos and so much more.

If you decide to take a tour, you’ll get an even more detailed experience of this fascinating landmark. Not only is it a captivating tourist stop, but it still functions as an invaluable resource for researchers, students, and scholars.

Be sure to check the schedule for any of its special exhibits or programs, some of which may even be included in your tour!

United States Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden is a colorful change of pace from the Capitol and Library of Congress. It houses a dazzling array of some of the most diverse species of plant life in the world.

Experience everything from tropical rainforests to arid deserts. There are also family-friendly activities, interactive exhibits, and educational tours available.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Of all of the museums that Washington DC offers, this remains an absolute favorite. We make sure to stop through every time we visit. With its fascinating collection of spacecraft, aircraft, and aviation artifacts this is a must-see!

The museum not only takes you on a journey of the discovery of human flight, but it puts you right in the middle of it allowing you to experience it all. There are plenty of interactive aspects to the museum including displays, simulations, and hands-on activities. 

DAY FOUR

Georgetown

A visit to Washington DC wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of its most famous neighborhoods. Georgetown is a collection of picturesque residential neighborhoods with its scenic streets and 18th and 19th century architecture as well as exclusive retail and restaurants. 

We enjoyed merely walking the streets soaking in the atmosphere and admiring the beautiful homes on the way to the main streets for some shopping and dining. 

Many nationally famous brands could be found here alongside more boutique brands.

South of M St. NW are side streets that can connect to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail.

Go further south and you can find a nice park on the banks of the Potomac River.

Georgetown Waterfront Park

Giving gorgeous views of the Potomac River, Key Bridge, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Georgetown Waterfront Park is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the scenery. If you wait a bit further in the day, it’s also a great spot to watch the sunset. 

Ideal for families, the Park includes green spaces, benches a playground, and walking paths along the river. 

If you want to be a bit more active you can kayak the river. You can also take a boat tour or just watch the boats sail by.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The Center is regarded as an architectural masterpiece and can be toured. With a tour, you can take in the building’s grandeur. Some tours include a behind-the-scenes look at rehearsal and backstage spaces. 

Perhaps even better than a tour is to experience a performance at this iconic venue. There are numerous free performances via the Millennium Stage. Check out the website for a calendar of performances.

Our family had an unforgettable evening enjoying a fine musical performance at this legendary venue and best of all, it was free!

HOW TO GET AROUND WASHINGTON DC

Parking in Washington DC is notoriously a nightmare. If you search ahead of time, you may be able to find suitable parking. We used an app to find decent parking so that we could park and then walk to where we wanted to go. However, the best way to get around is likely to use the metro system. 

There is a limited number of metered parking spots along the National Mall, but they generally have a 2-hour limit which isn’t much time if you plan on visiting several spots at once. 

The Metrorail system is an extensive system that links various neighborhoods and major attractions within the DC area. Bus routes can help fill in the rest if walking becomes a bit much.

WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON DC

If you’re looking to save on your visit to Washington DC, then you’ll likely end up staying across the river in Virginia. Areas like Crystal City and Rosslyn, both in Arlington, Virginia are some of the best options that provide a combination of budget-friendly options and not having a long commute into the city.

As a bonus, they both are connected by the Metrorail which will make getting in and out of the city much easier and cheaper.

If you’re not as budget conscious then consider some of the more popular areas to stay when visiting Washington DC.

ENJOY YOUR STAY IN WASHINGTON DC WITH YOUR FAMILY

A 4-day itinerary in Washington DC provides an excellent mix of history, culture, and fun for the whole family. It gives you enough time to appreciate and experience the various aspects of Washington DC that makes it such a special place to visit. Now that your itinerary is set, make sure you know what to pack for a trip to Washington DC, and what else to know before you go.

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Ultimate 4 Day Washington DC Itinerary For Your Family
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