The Ultimate 3 Days in Washington DC

Washington has to be one of my favourite cities in the United States! It was so clean, there were flowerpots and gardens everywhere and almost everything we did was free! 

We spent 3 days in Washington with our two kids and I’m going to share a perfect and affordable itinerary with you. I have included what we did, where we stayed and where we ate!  

Where we stayed 


It was important for us to be able to park our car and leave it the entire time we were in Washington, so we found a hotel that was walking distance to buses, restaurants and activities. 


We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn Washington Central/White House because 


-free breakfast included  



Holiday Inn Washington Central/White House


Here is our 3 day itinerary for Washington with kids 


Day 1 


On your drive into Washington, make a stop at The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. This free air and space museum is by the Smithsonian. 


Check out the spaceship, Discovery, a Blackbird SR-71, a Concorde and many other aircrafts in the airport hangars. Also, travel up an elevator to see the view from an air traffic control tower. 


It’s free to enter, but $15 for parking.  

After checking into your hotel head over to The Wharf by bus. It’s a beautiful area along the waterfront full of restaurants and shops.


We ate dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant called Mi Vida. The decor here was very authentic. Be sure to request to eat upstairs for a fantastic view of the harbour. After dinner, walk along the boardwalk.


There are fountains for the kids to splash in at the Recreation Pier if it’s hot, or sit by a campfire if it’s cooler out at Camp Wharf. Also at the Recreation Pier, you’ll find giant swings to capture some great photos! 


Day 2 


Eat breakfast at your hotel prior to heading out for the day and then head to The White House. It’s about a 15 minute walk from the Holiday Inn. Stop at Gregory’s for a coffee and croissant to go! Spend some time taking pictures from Lafayette Square.


For a tour inside the White House, be sure to book in advance. At the moment, this is for American citizens only.  


Next, walk across the street and check out the White House Visitors Center. This is more like a museum than a visitor’s centre! It’s full of information, kids activities and videos. Kids will have fun going through an activity book, being sworn in as a White House Junior Ranger and receiving a badge and stamp in the National Parks book!

There are many free museums in the area.  Make sure to spend some time at the National Museum of American History. The name at first does not make it sound super interesting, but we actually really enjoy it.


Kids will love the many interactive displays. Anything from fashion to money to pop culture. There is so much information about American History that we had no idea about. Learn about how new technology started, trains, bicycles, ships and much more!


The museum is very clean and there were helpful staff members around to answer any questions. The museum is very large and spacious. We were there on a weekday in July and didn’t feel it was crowded at all. It’s hard to believe this museum is free!


Be warned, there are not many restaurants in this area! We had a fast food type of lunch in the American History Museum restaurant. Next time, I will pack food.  

This is a jam packed day and your kids will appreciate a rest and swim back at the hotel pool. The Holiday Inn has a rooftop pool with lovely views of Washington DC.  


For dinner, enjoy a meal at Commissary. It is just a 4 minute walk from the hotel and there is a kids menu. It is a casual restaurant with something for everyone.  


Day 3


Make sure to fill up on some breakfast at the hotel before heading out.

Make your way by bus or walking to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


Check out replicas of sea creatures from the past, an aquarium, the life-sized African Bush elephant, the Mega-toothed shark and more! The museum is free to enter and you can easily spend a few hours here. It is another large building with a ton of space to spread out and let your kids explore.



Stop for a coffee and snack at Timgad Cafe! Just a 10 minute walk from the museum. It was such a relaxing atmosphere with brightly coloured tablecloths and delicious coffee!

If you are looking for a way to get around the National Mall to see the many monuments, consider the DC Circulator!


There are many tour buses that offer guided tours around the Mall but it will cost you big bucks, especially if travelling with a family. The DC Circulator is only $1 and children under 5 are free! There are a few different routes which you can check out here DC Circulator.


I recommend doing the National Mall Route. Get on at Madison Drive and 12th Street. It will take you all the way to the Lincoln Memorial where you can get off and take some photos looking out to the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument

Another fun way for you and your kids to see all the monuments and famous buildings (such as the FBI building) around Washington DC is to rent electric scooters! You will find them parked all over the city on all the sidewalks, especially around the Lincoln Memorial area.


It is such a fun way to get around and the kids will think it is super exciting! We rented 2 of them and put the kids in front of us. We rode all the way to the United States Capitol building (getting caught in torrential rain along the way!!!).


It cost us just $10 for an hour on each scooter which you pay on an app. This was a really fun way to wind down our third day in Washington. 


I hope this guide will help you plan for a family trip to Washington DC.


If you are looking for other 3 day city itineraries, check out 3 days in Barcelona with kids and Philadelphia Weekend Getaway

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  1. Pingback: Philadelphia Family Getaway: A 2-Day Adventure Packed with Kid-Friendly Fun - Travel Itineraries with Kids-Family of 4 Adventures

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