by Bonnie Caton
Pink cherry blossom petals coat the surface of the Potomac and flower beds thick with tulips brighten the corners of the city. It’s springtime in Washington, D.C., and even if you never left the underground metro system, you’d know it. The trains that are usually filled with adults in business suits and military uniforms begin to burst with families and school groups, here to drink in the history of our nation.
It’s no surprise, really, as Spring is the perfect time to make a family visit to Washington, D.C. The weather is still cool enough to walk along the National Mall and pay homage to our larger-than-life forefathers in their majestic marble temples along the river. Plus, one of the best parts about a family trip to the nation’s capital is that most of the museums and monuments are free to visit.
If you bring your kids to Washington, D.C. this year, they’ll get a good helping of history around almost every corner. From the Museum of Natural History, with its dinosaur bones, to the jets and rockets at the National Air and Space Museum, to the castle-like Old Post Office Museum, you and your family could easily spend a month doing nothing but learning about history here.
But if you want to break out of the typical textbook tours, give your kids some hands-on learning time in one of the Smithsonian exhibits made just for kids. From an insect petting zoo to Native American bead making, to a discovery room with fossils and microscopes, your kids will be so entranced they’ll hardly know they’re learning.
One good place to start researching the right exhibits for your family is at the Smithsonian’s kid-centric website, here: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/students
Even when your kids are having fun, museum-packed days can make their heads spin. The Smithsonian suggests you give them some books to read or talk to them about the subjects they’d like to explore a week or two before you leave. You can pick up other tips and ideas for showing your kids a good time (and keeping them occupied) at the Smithsonian museums here: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/families/family_visit/index.html
There’s even a Grandparent’s Guide to the Smithsonian, here: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/families/at_the_smithsonian/grandparents_guide.html
With a little imagination and planning, you’ll be sure to find something interesting for each member of your family to visit here in Washington, D.C. And chances are, no matter how young or wise, everyone will learn something new.
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