Purchase sandwiches at a downtown café, then head to the National Mall for a picnic.
There’s something for everyone in DC’s 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park: hiking, biking, skating, horseback riding and more. Families love the park for its kid-friendly highlights: the National Zoo, the Rock Creek Park Horse Center, the Nature Center and the only planetarium in the national park system.
Take the kids to Gravelly Point, located along the George Washington Parkway near Ronald Reagan National Airport, a mere 400 feet from one of the airport’s runways, to catch up-close views of airplanes taking off and landing.
For another outdoor adventure, take Metro to Rosslyn (or rent a canoe and set sail from the Georgetown Waterfront) to explore Theodore Roosevelt Island, an 88-acre park and tribute to the environmentalist president.
Escape to the National Arboretum and ramble through 400 acres of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. It’s here that you’ll find the columns from the original U.S. Capitol, the National Herb Garden, the National Bonsai Museum and more.
Located in the Southeast quadrant of the city along the east bank of the Anacostia River, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is the only national park devoted to aquatic plants. The park spreads across 14 acres, with 45 ponds that sustain a fascinating collection of more than 100,000 water lilies, ferns and lotuses.
If you have time to venture beyond DC, Glen Echo Park in Maryland makes a perfect day trip. It's loaded with amenities like a restored 1921 carousel, a puppet theater for young children, Adventure Theatre for older children, children’s art programs and the Discovery Creek Children’s Museum.
At the southern end of East Potomac Park, near the Jefferson Memorial, Hains Point is a fun-filled destination for families complete with a mini-golf course, a playground and picnic tables.
Local families rave about Turtle Park at 45th and Van Ness Streets NW. The fenced park is outfitted with equipment for kids of all ages, including a gigantic sandbox and a "sprayground" for cooling off on hot summer days. Between Georgetown and Dupont Circle at 26th and O Streets NW, Rose Park is another popular – and easily accessed – playground for visiting families. There’s toddler-friendly equipment and plenty of room to run and play. Near Adams Morgan, Kalorama Park is a popular playground destination.
Hop into a canoe or kayak to explore the Potomac shoreline. Boathouses along the Georgetown waterfront, including Thompson Boat Center and Fletcher’s Boathouse, rent them by the day or by the hour. Fletcher’s Boathouse can also help you to secure a DC fishing license; guides are on hand in season to offer tips on what’s biting.