A Parents’ Guide to a Spring Break Staycation in Washington, DC

Posted by Robin Gellman and Jess Rosenbaum on 3/18/15 3:48 PM

Top Tips to Make Your Spring Break Full of Fun & Adventure

Spring has finally broken, and it can be the best weather of the season here in the nation’s capital. Why spend hundreds on plane tickets and hotels and have the hassle of airports and long, stifling car rides? Why not try a Washington DC Staycation and do a little family bonding in the sunshine while touring the sights…taking in a show at the Kennedy Center or flying on a zip-line? Create new adventures for your entire family right at home, in Washington, DC, and the surrounding area.

Here are some kid-friendly activities for your springtime Washington, DC, staycation. Search the web for coupons and use your AAA Card for discounts when you can! Oh, and even though the snow has melted, take a sweatshirt!

Events and Exhibits

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Annually, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. Peruse the festival’s events page for featured activities that get you walking around our majestic city. View the cherry blossoms while floating around the Tidal Basin in a paddle boat. Boat rentals start on March 20, 2015. Don’t forget the Blossom Kite Festival—on the grounds of the Washington Monument, Saturday, March 28.

LEGO Castle Adventure at Port Discovery Children’s Museum

A builder’s paradise! Kids of all ages will enjoy designing their own castles or be inspired by the baby dragon and four model castles built by LEGO designers. Older builders will enjoy testing defenses with a LEGO catapult. Hop in the car and spend the day in Baltimore!

The Circus

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Legends is coming to the Verizon Center, March 19-22, 2015 and to the Patriot Center in Fairfax, April 8-19, 2015.

Kennedy Center: NSO Family Performance of “The Magic Horn” Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

  • Come early for the Musical Instrument "Petting Zoo" in the lobbies of the Eisenhower Theater. Young concertgoers can get up close and hands-on with the instruments they'll see played on the stage—from violins, trumpets, and oboes to trombones and percussion.
  • Stay after the 4:00 pm concert for a Kids' Chat. Young audience members can ask questions and hear engaging stories in an up-close-and-personal talk with the concert artists.

Politics & Prose Book Store

A talk about Jinx’s Fire with author Sage Blackwood (Ages 9 – 13) 

March 24, 2015 10:30am: Jinx’s Fire is the final book in Blackwood’s trilogy. It “finds Jinx trying to unite the denizens of the forest of Urwald against threatening forces on all sides: the Bonemaster still lurks in the heart of the woods, King Reven is set on conquering the land, and the harsh desert of Samara looms just on the other side of the magical pathways Jinx has created. Even as Jinx struggles to get the ornery and staunchly independent Urwalders to work together, something is sapping the sentient forest’s power, the power on which Jinx relies to work magic.” 

Newseum—Be A Reporter!

The interactive Newseum allows visitors to experience major news stories through the eyes of journalists. Take this opportunity to play a TV reporter or a weatherperson on a real news set. View an actual 12-foot high concrete section of the Berlin Wall while learning its history. And, view thousands of prize-wining photographs of historical events. The museum also has date-specific special programming like the upcoming one on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 2:30pm: “Inside Media: The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted: The Story Behind the List” at Knight TV Studio. 

US Botanic Garden Conservatory

Connect with the earth and see what is springing up this spring. Visit this ever-changing plant museum, right on the National Mall. Founded by 200 years ago by George Washington, this garden teaches the value of plants to the well being of humans and to earth's fragile ecosystems. Ask for a Junior Botanist kid's backpack of exploration (free), for ages nine and above. Or, drop in on March 22, 2015 from 10:00am-2:00pm to design a kite for the Blossom Kite Festival. 

Out and About

Tour the National Mall with “DC by Foot” Tour Company

Let the kid-friendly tour guides walk you around town. The tour is free with a gratuity recommended. The guides infuse the tours with games, fun facts, and trivia. Tours include the Arlington Cemetery Walking Tour, the Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour, and the Twilight Washington Bus Tour.

The National Zoo

See something new every time you walk through the zoo! Elephants, armadillos, bald eagles, tigers, bears, poison dart frogs, and so much more. And don’t forget to visit the birds in the aviary and the monkeys in the often-missed Amazonia Exhibit.

Sandy Spring Adventure Park: Zip-Lining & Tree Adventure

Opens on March 20, 2015: Climb trees, ride the zip line, or figure your way out of a challenging wooden labyrinth. The Adventure Forest has 13 trails, 29 zip lines, six difficulty levels and almost 200 challenging bridges. The park offers twilight climbs on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 7:00 pm.

Gravelly Point Park

Right next to National Airport with an incredible view of the Washington skyline, it’s a beautiful spot for you to take a picnic and watch the planes take off.

In-line Skating Trails Around the District of Columbia

Here is your guide to rollerblading in and around DC. How cool is that!

National Harbor

Kids can climb on the awakenings statue on the beach, ride the Ferris wheel, or tour a great nearby children’s museum. There are many good food options and galleries too.

Audubon Naturalist Society: Woodend

There’s no admission fee to roam 40 acres of meadows and trails at Woodend Nature Sanctuary in nearby Chevy Chase, MD. Spring is a great time to see the wildflowers!

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: O. Orkin Insect Zoo

Do you have a budding naturalist in the family? Or an insect enthusiast? Visitors to this exhibit can touch live insects and even watch a tarantula feeding demonstration—three times, daily! If your child likes this exhibit, check out the butterfly pavilion, too.

Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium

The nature center displays are a little dated, but the interactive planetarium show and friendly rangers makes a visit worth it, especially for small children. Hiking trails are nearby.

Frying Pan Park and Kidwell Farm

Want to get out of town? Take a road trip out to Herndon, VA to see the baby animals at Kidwell Farm, take a wagon ride, or visit the country store at Frying Pan Park. Both the wagon rides and country store are open in March.

Scott’s Run Hike

Scott’s Run, right off of Georgetown Pike, is a great hike for energetic kids. There’s a waterfall and plenty of places to skip rocks.

Biking on the C & O Canal

Load the bikes in the back of the minivan and head on down to Georgetown. Park underneath the Whitehurst Freeway and hit the towpath or the Capital Crescent Trail.

Mini Golf at Cameron Run Regional Park

Enjoy the warmer weather and play all 18 holes at this Alexandria, VA park, just minutes outside of DC. Also on site: batting cages and a play structure that’s 30 feet tall! 

And Finally . . . 

For many other great activities for kids that are “Spring Break Friendly,” please browse “A Parents' Guide to a Winter Break Staycation in Washington, DC.” From trapeze school and Bounce U to indoor splash parks and the Spy Museum, you’ll find something you and the kids will love. Have a wonderful time!

Do you have some other ideas? Please comment below—we'd love to expand the list.

Looking for a school for your child?

Lowell School is an independent school in the Colonial Village neighborhood of Washington, DC, that offers Pre-Primary, Primary, and Middle School programs. It offers a rigorous and hands-on curriculum that nurtures each child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn, and supports the development of individual voice and self-reliance. For more information, please call 202-577-2000, email admissions@lowellschool.org, or follow Lowell on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Topics: Family Activities