Summer in the City: Warm Weather Fun in The Nation’s Capital
by kellie geres The Washington, D.C. metro area, including Northern Virginia and Maryland, is a mecca of activities for nannies and families, especially during the summer. With so much fun to be had, there’s no time for the summer doldrums in the DMV! From a quick trip to a museum or a day trip to a new local neighborhood for indoor fun to beat the swampy D.C. summer humidity, there are plenty of activities to keep nannies and kids of all ages busy.
In the District
Washington, D.C. is known for its museums, and The Smithsonian Institute has several offerings. Kid favorites include the Air & Space Museum where you can see real airplanes, the Museum of American History where you can see relics from America’s past, including Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, and the Museum of Natural History where the Hope Diamond is on display. Leave your petty cash at home because unlike many other major cities, admission to these museums is free (there is some cost for certain special events). The museums are Metro accessible by the blue/orange lines Smithsonian stop, which brings you right to the National Mall. While you’re there, check out the monuments and the carousel near the Smithsonian Castle. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes; you’ll be doing plenty of walking. Grab a snack, water, or ice cream treat from one of the many food carts lining the street.
While many of the museums are gathered together near the National Mall, don’t forget about the Newseum. Admission is $21.95 for adults, $12.95 for youth, and free for kids under 6. Keep in mind that one ticket gives you two days to complete your visit.
No trip to DC with kids is complete without a visit to the National Zoo and its famous pandas. Admission is free, but if you plan to drive, arrive early; parking can be pricey and is always in short supply. Consider a Zoo membership, which can get you savings on parking and added extras for future visits, but if you prefer to walk, the zoo is just a short walk from the Woodley Park Metro (red line). Plan breaks because you’ll be on your feet for awhile checking out all the animals.
For a fun day at the park, nannies, parents, and kids can’t get enough of Turtle Park. Located in northwest D.C. near American University, this play place is popular for kids of all ages and a great spot to meet new nanny friends.
For tourists young and old, a DC Duck Tour is a great way to see the city, including its many famous monuments and landmarks, from land and sea… well, the Potomac River. Riders are given a pair of souvenir duck lips; when blown into, they say “quack!” and are sure to make your charge light up with happy memories for years to come.
Looking for camps and classes? Make sure to check out local government pages for info on area offerings, classes, swim lessons, art camps, and much more. Activity Rocket also provides listings of area camps, classes, and more.
Northern Virginia has plenty to offer, so much so that an entire book was written on the topic. Kid Trips, Northern Virginia Edition features hundreds of tips and trips for families who live in or are visiting the area. One of my favorites on a hot day is the Water Mine water park, a great place to gather with your nanny friends and charges for a day of wet and wild fun! You can find other water parks in your area here.
Looking for an interesting place for a picnic and a walk? Check out Old Town Alexandria’s cobblestone streets and waterfront, and stop in for ice cream at Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream.
In Arlington, visit the owl (but use quiet voices!) at Gulf Branch Nature Center.
Don’t want to trek all the way into the city for a trip to the zoo? Consider hitting up the Reston Zoo for all the attractions of a zoo without the hustle and bustle of D.C. traffic, parking, and crowds.
Maryland has a lot to offer in day trips, too. Looking for adventure? Six Flags is a short drive away and offers amusement, rides, a water park, and lots of fun!
The ultimate day trip is a drive up to Baltimore (one hour or less for most of the D.C. area). Visit the historic waterfront, the National Aquarium, and for the ultimate indoor adventure visit Port Discovery Children’s Museum.
Shop and Play in Downtown Silver Spring. Little ones love the fountains on Ellsworth Avenue and you’ll love the variety of shops and restaurants, from Thai and FroYo to toys for Fido and H&M, complete with an always well-stocked children’s section. All of these options and more are just a short walk away from the Silver Spring stop on the red line.
For a great indoor play place to get out of D.C.’s notoriously swampy heat, try Kidville or Be With Me Playseum, both located in Bethesda. Make a day of it and walk a few blocks over to All Fired Up where your charges can paint their own pottery. End the day with a treat at Georgetown Cupcakes’ Bethesda location.
Are you into the arts? There are plenty of options to choose from in the D.C. area. Virginia offers Wolf Trap for kids and adults, with plays and concerts galore. Maryland has the Strathmore, Imagination Stage, and Glen Echo to choose from to get your arts fix.