If it's your first time to Washington, DC, a great way to get acclimated is by taking a guided tour. Climb on board a sightseeing bus or trolley for an overview of the city’s most famous sights, or sign up for a specialty tour that appeals to your family’s interests.
Old Town Trolley and Open Top Sightseeing offer narrated hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tours year 'round, along with nighttime tours of the monuments and memorials. Open Top Sightseeing and Old Town Trolley’s routes includes stops at neighborhood attractions like Washington National Cathedral and the National Zoo.
If your family loves the water, climb aboard Capitol River Cruises on the Georgetown Waterfront for an hourlong sightseeing tour from the Potomac River. Or relive history in the spring and board a mule-driven C&O Canal Boat Ride in Great Falls Park. Costumed guides tell stories of life on the historic waterway, one of the capital’s earliest links to the west.
Take a guided tour of the monuments and memorials on bicycle, offered by Bike and Roll, Bike the Big Capital and Capital City Bike Tours. The National Mall is fairly flat, so tours are suitable for most fitness levels; smaller children can ride in tandem trailers that attach to adult bikes. Tours are offered from March through November.
DC is a pedestrian-friendly city, so walking tours are very popular. The tour season usually runs from late March through the end of October. Tour schedules vary by company, but many take place on Saturdays and Sundays.
Washington Walks offers tours of neighborhoods like Georgetown and Adams Morgan, as well as family-friendly tours of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial and the FDR Memorial. Or join A Tour de Force for a customized tour based on the interests of your group.
Want to set out on your own? Try a self-guided walking tour from Cultural Tourism DC. Routes are marked with illustrated signs that tell stories of Washington's most historic neighborhoods, including U Street, Barracks Row and Downtown.
Explore the family-fun side of the nation’s capital with the DC with Kids app. Created by veteran travel writer and longtime Washingtonian Candyce Stapen, the app features more than 250 kid-approved attractions and activities, from museum sleepovers and spy missions to festivals and free ideas. Find it on iTunes or at FamilyiTrips.com.