We spent the last week in June in Washington DC in an Airbnb in the Mount Plesant neighborhood. Daniel was able to work with one of his co-workers who lives there, and I spent the week with the boys visiting lots of museums, the zoo and exploring the sites. We were able to visit the Air and Space Museum, The Natural History Museum, The National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Zoo. We also took a hop on hop off bus tour of the city and went to the Archives and The Washington Monument.
I hadn’t been to DC in over 20 years so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was nervous about getting around the city with the kids by myself. We managed, but here is what I learned about DC during our week long visit:
1. The metro is not that kid friendly:
I realize not everyone is trying to transport four kids, 8 years and under around town, and that in itself presents challenges, but I wasn’t prepared for how inaccessible the metro would be for strollers/wheel chairs. I figured most stations would have elevators and the challenge would just be making sure no one fell onto the track. However, what I found is that not every station has elevators, and the ones that do exist are often not working.
Most of the stations do however have escalators, which is more than I can say for NYC, so when Daniel was with us, we would leave Elliott in the stroller and just push it onto the escalator. I would hold Rowan’s hand as we went up or down, sometimes what seemed like 3-4 stories and the other two boys would stick close by us.
As much as I wanted to, I just wasn’t able to take 4 kids through the metro by myself. So, most days Daniel would help us get where we wanted to go in the morning and then he would head to work. We would sometimes spend the entire day in one location, and other days Daniel would meet back up with us for lunch and help us get back home.
2. Almost all of the museums are free and they are all around in the same area.
This was great for when one of the kids decided to lose their mind on the museum floor (which happened more than I would like to admit). I would just avoid eye contact with anyone and take them outside to cool off. We could then go back in, or just check out another museum. Most of the ones we visited were great for kids and some even had a floor specifically for kids.
3. You are going to do a lot of walking!
Walking to the metro station, walking from the metro station, walking around museums…so much walking! I was completely beat every day that we were there.Wear comfortable shoes and pack some water!
4. The city is really clean: Compared to other big cities I have visited, DC is really clean. I didn’t see a lot of trash or graffiti around the city. The metro stations and trains were the nicest I had ever seen.
5. There are police everywhere:
Almost every store we went in had a policeman standing guard at the door. There were police on horses, on foot, on motorcycles, in the air and in cars everywhere we went in the city. I never really felt unsafe, even by myself with the kids.
6. The National Zoo is a great way to spend the day:
We were able to walk to the zoo from our Airbnb so we went twice. The zoo is free and it’s really big. We staying an entire day the first time we visited. You will do a ton of walking, but there are really cool animals like panda bears, lions and even chimpanzees that will swing on wires across the walkways. The kids loved it and we took our time checking out every exhibit.
Just remember to pack your own lunch and snacks! We went the day we arrived so I did have time to stop at the grocery first and we ended up dropping $50 on lunch and snacks.
7. Four days is plenty of time in DC with little kids!
Everyone I had talked to told me they wished they had spent more time in the city, so we planned an entire week there. Our Airbnb offered a discount on a 7 night stay so that also helped make our decision to stay that long. However, I was very much ready to relax after about 4 days and there are not many relaxing options in the city (that I found anyway.)
Overall I really liked DC and would love to visit again when the kids are older or when Daniel doesn’t have to work and can spend more time with us. The city was challenging with a lot of young kids alone, but it is doable in small doses.