Field Trip Central: Things to Do with Kids in DC!

Did you know how lucky your child is to grow up in Washington, DC?  There are so many exciting museums, historic sites, monuments, and exhibits to see.  Take advantage of the variety of opportunities to spend quality time with your child while exploring all the culture DC has to offer!!!   

 

Is your child into bugs and insects ?   

  • Visit the O. Orkin Insect Zoo exhibit at The National Museum of Natural History where visitors can observe live insects (10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW). Volunteers work with live insects that visitors may touch and hold. Check out the live Tarantula Feeding Demonstrations held daily on Tue-Fri 10:30, 11:30 & 1:30 pm; Sat-Sun 11:30, 12:30 & 1:30pm.  FREE admission.
  • Take a stroll among live butterflies and exotic plants at the Butterfly Pavilion at The National Museum of Natural History. This tropical oasis offers visitors a rare opportunity to get close to a variety of living butterflies from all over the world. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for ages 2-12, $4.50 for groups of 10+ w/advance phone reservations (1 free ticket for every 20), and $5 for groups of 10+ w/no advance reservations (no free ticket). Reservations recommended. Tickets are for timed-entry every 15 minutes beginning at 10:15 am; 40 tickets are alloted for each time slot. The last entry is at 5 pm. There must be 1 adult for every 10 children. The Pavilion is FREE on Tuesdays, but TIMED-ENTRY TICKETS ARE REQUIRED and are available at the Pavilion Box Office each Tuesday beginning at 10 am.

Is your child interested in healthy eating?

  • Giant Store Explorer Tours allow teachers and their students to visit Giant stores to learn about healthy eating. Students are introduced to concepts dealing with recycling, the environment, the food groups shown on the MyPyramid for Kids food guide, and the Healthy Ideas program- a symbol created to make it easy to shop for healthy foods. Teachers receive a Curriculum Guide and Poster to create classroom lessons for before & after the tour, and a sample of the Store Explorer Activity Guide, which students will receive at the tour’s end. It includes fun activities and recipes to share the fun with their family at home. Tours recommended for groups of 20 or less. Developed for kids ages 5-8 (K-3rd). Fax a store tour application form or call 800.767.7772 to schedule.

Is your child interested in collecting things?

  • The National Postal Museum (2 Massachusetts Ave. NE) displays the largest stamp collection in the world and examines the development of the postal system using interactive displays. This museum is located under Washington’s old Main Post Office near Union Station.  FREE Admission.

Does your child live for drama? 

  • The Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater is a live theater geared towards children. Classic stories and folktales are told through puppet shows, storytellers, dancers, actors, musicians, and mimes (3rd level of the S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Drive SW, on the National Mall, adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle). The closest metro station is the Smithsonian (Orange & Blue lines) and L’Enfant Plaza (Yellow & Green lines).  Advance reservations may be arranged for school groups, youth organizations, and families with children. Tickets are $6/adult, $5/ child and $4/Smithsonian Resident members. Purchase advance tickets by calling (202) 357-3030.  Shows are Mon-Fri, 10 am & 11:30 am. See current schedule of performances. 
  • Saturday Morning at the National: Take advantage of FREE Saturday morning kid-friendly performances (9:30 am & 11 am) at the Helen Hayes Gallery at The National Theatre (1321 Pennsylvania Ave, NW). Seating is limited! Tickets are Required, and are Distributed Without Charge 30 minutes Prior to Performance, on a First-Come First-Served basis, 1 ticket only, to each person standing in line. Children must be accompanied by an adult who stays for the entire show. Best for children ages 4+. Click here for this season’s performances.

Is your child a budding scientist, engineer, or inventor?

  • The National Museum of American History: There’s much to see and do at the Museum. Visit kid-friendly exhibitions and galleries that explore the arts and expand your children’s imagination. The Lemelson Center’s Spark!Lab uses fun activities to help kids & families learn about the history and process of invention. You can play games, conduct science experiments, explore inventors’ notebooks, and even invent! FREE Admission 
  • The Forensic Anthropology Lab (open through February 2011) is part of the temporary exhibition Written in Bone at The Natural Museum of Natural History. Students in grades 4-12 will learn that forensic science is far more mysterious and engaging than forensic fiction. They will use real human bones to identify and describe the gender and status of people from the past and draw conclusions about their lives. The focus of the Lab programs is to help students to use the tools and problem solving skills of forensic anthropology to collect and analyze data the way that forensic anthropologists do. Trips require a 3 week advance reservation and are FREE for all students. School program online registration is open.

Does your son or daughter want to grow up to be Bob the Builder? 

  • There is something for families to do everyday at the National Building Museum. Visitors can participate in The Amazing Arches activity and in Discovery Carts on weekends. Families can “check out” a Family Toolkit loaded with cool things to help explore the Museum architecture. The Building Zone play room is open daily and is great for a rainy day! Designed for children ages 2-6 – kids can build with soft Legos™ and blocks; curl up with an architecture picture book in the book nook; vroommwith dozers and construction play trucks; and pretend to be a craftsperson complete with hard hats & tool belts!  FREE admission ($5 donation suggested).

 Is your child interested in history?

  • The Portrait Stories program offered by The National Portrait Gallery inspires students to learn about the men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the United States. From discussing a portrait and listening to an age–appropriate biography to creating a related hands-on art activity, students gain firsthand knowledge about fascinating individuals. The 60-min Portrait Stories program is for groups of 10–30 students and includes looking at ONE portrait, reading the biography, and completing the art activity. The 90-minute extended program is for groups of 10–60 students and includes the above as well as looking at an additional 5 portraits in the collection. All school programs are FREE and are available from Oct-May of each year, except where noted. (K-3rd)

Have you ever asked your child if they think money grows on trees?  

  • Take your child on a tour of The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (14th & C Streets, SW). Visitors see how U. S. paper currency is printed, stacked, cut and examined for defects. The Bureau also prints White House invitations, Treasury securities, identification cards, naturalization certificates, and other special security documents.  FREE admision.

Is your child an artist in training?

  • Color Me Mine Studio offers fun, education based classes for K-6 grades making their own pottery.  They can bring the classes to you or you can bring your group to their studio.  It’s perfect for a mommy (or daddy) & me day, a play date, a school field trip, or a family activity because they can cater to a variety of ages in a single session.  The kids get to choose a ceramic piece, sketch a design or use a pre-made graphics, select paint glaze colors, paint, and then after they fire the piece in the kiln – take home the finished product.  Cost depends on the type of pottery chosen.
  • Visit the Corcoran Gallery of Art on select Saturday mornings throughout the year for themed, 90-minute Family Workshops designed especially for kids and families! Family workshops begin in the galleries with an interactive tour followed by an artist-led activity in our art studios. Take home your own work of art inspired by your visit to the Gallery. Ages 8–12 and their adult companions. Space is limited and advanced registration is required. Workshops run from 10:30 am–12pm. Tickets are $8 per child for Corcoran Members at the Family level and above and $12 per child for general admission. Register online or by phone at 202.639.1770.

Does your child love animals and the outdoors?

  • Something is always happening at The National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave. NW).  Daily programs include animal training, feeding demonstrations, and keeper talks.  FREE Admission.  Click here for current schedule
  • Have you ever been woken up by the roar of powerful lions?  Or heard the early morning call of playful gibbons?  If not, spend the night at The National Zoo for the wildest slumber party around.  Snore & Roarovernights take place between Jun-Sep. Online registration begins April 7 at 10 am.  The adventure includes: a 2 hour exploration of an animal house or exhibit area, led by a Zoo keeper, a late-night flashlight hike through the Zoo, lodging in a 4-person tent under a blanket of stars on Lion/Tiger Hill, continental breakfast and a family-friendly morning activity.  Children must be 6+ to attend.  A paying adult must accompany anyone under 18, and a minimum of 1 adult must chaperone every 3 children (under 18).  Tickets range from $65-$100/person depending on the tour selected.

Looking for a way to teach your child about tolerance and humanity? 

  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem (100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW) is a memorial to the millions who died during the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II. The permanent exhibition presents a narrative history of the Holocaust, the annihilation of 6 million European Jews by Nazi Germany from 1933–1945.  The exhibit uses 900+ artifacts, 70 video monitors, and 4 theaters showing film footage and eyewitness testimonies of Nazi concentration camp survivors.  FREE Admission. 

Court is now in session! 

  • The Supreme Court (One 1st St, NE) is in session Oct-April and visitors may view sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The Supreme Court Building is open throughout the year from 9am-4:30 pm Mon-Fri.  Visitors can participate in a variety of educational programs, explore exhibits and see a 25-minute film on the Supreme Court.  FREE Admission

Don’t forget to take your kids to visit some of America’s most famous sites! 

  •  The White House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW) is the oldest public building in Washington, DC and has been the home of every president except George Washington.  Public tours of the White House are limited to groups of 10 or more and must be requested through one’s member of Congress.  The White House Visitor Center is open to all and features a 30-minute video and exhibits about White House architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders.  FREE Admission.

Does your child hug trees? 

  • The U.S. Botanic Garden is a living plant museum located on the National Mall which showcases an impressive state-of-the-art indoor garden with approximately 4,000 seasonal, tropical and subtropical plants. (1st Street, SW, between Maryland Ave. and C St).  Learn about the importance of plants to the well-being of humankind and to earth’s fragile ecosystems and highlights the diversity of plants worldwide, as well as their aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological significance. The Conservatory and exhibits are open daily from 10 am-5 pm. Teachers are welcome to bring students to visit for their own educational activities or to attend USBG sponsored activities. Reservations are not needed, but 1 chaperone is required for every 7 students. Check for any planned closures or other special events as your trip date approaches. Call the Public Programs staff at (202) 225-1116 with any questions. FREE Admission. 

Does your child wish he or she could visit a foreign land? 

  • The National Musuem of African Art offers Jambo! thematic tours.  These tours are tailored to the needs of specific grades or ages of the group and are based on objects and themes reflected in the museum’s exhibitions.  Imaginative strategies and touchable objects–such as textiles, ceramic vessels and wooden sculptures–help young audiences learn to look at forms, materials, techniques and meanings of African art.  Call Frank Esposito at 202-633-4633 or email him at espositof@si.edu to arrange a tour.  Tues, Thurs and Fri 10:30 am; Sat & Sun 11 am, 1 pm or 3 pm.  The Museum is located on the National Mall between the Smithsonian’s Arts & Industries Building and the Sackler Gallery of Art.  The main entrance is located in the Enid Haupt Garden at 950 Independence Ave, SW.  Take metro to Smithsonian (Blue & Orange lines); exit on the Mall or Independence Ave or L’Enfant Plaza (all lines except Red) and exit Maryland Ave/Smithsonian Museums.  Tours are approximately 1 hour for up to 40 persons.  FREE Admission.

Is your child interested in the military? 

  •  The former shipyard for the United States Navy houses The National Museum of the U.S. Navy (9th & M Sts. SE, Building 76) and the Navy Art Gallery with exhibits and artwork from the Revolutionary War to the present.  This is a great attraction for kids because of its interactive exhibits including naval artifacts, model ships, undersea vehicles, sub periscopes, a space capsule, a decommissioned destroyer and more.  The Museum is open Mon-Fri from 9 am-5 pm and from 10 am-5 pm on weekends & holidays (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day).  Persons above the age of 16 are required to have a valid government-issued ID card (driver’s license, State ID, passport, or Common Access Card (CAC)).  Guests accompanied by children under 16 will be responsible for those children.  Large handbags and backpacks may be searched by Security.  Personal vehicles are permitted on weekends ONLY.  Vehicle registration and proof of insurance or rental agreement are required.  During the week, parking is available for a fee in the lot adjacent to the Navy Yard at the intersection of 6th and M St SE.  FREE Admission.

Does your child want to grow up to to be the Mayor of DC?  

  • Visit the John A. Wilson Building, home to the executive offices of the Mayor and the DC Council.  Through FREE guided tours, learn how the Council functions, how this building was built, and how citizens can participate in the DC legislative process. (1350 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. directly across from Freedom Plaza/the corner of 14th St. & Penn Ave).  Visitors must enter through the main entrance on Penn Ave. and tours begin in the 1st Fl main foyer.  Tours last 45 minutes and are given daily from 10 am- 2:30 pm.  To schedule a tour, complete a Tour Request Form and forward it to youthprograms@dccouncil.us at least 7 business days before the proposed tour date.  Contact the Council’s Office of Youth Programs at 202.724.8161 if you have questions.  Prior to the tour, please note safety procedures and prohibited items.