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Top Things to Do in Summer, Kids’ Edition

Museum sleepovers, mazes and more

  • PRINT

What's a kid to do in DC this summer besides visit the monuments, memorials and museums? That's what we're here to tell you. From museum sleepovers to being a TV reporter, we've gathered up the summer's most fun things to do, all for the kids. Here’s what’s on our list.

Experience 'The BEACH' Indoors
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax at The BEACH. Step inside the National Building Museum’s Great Hall and enter a 10,000-square-foot display featuring games along the shoreline, drinks to cool you down and a special ocean made of recyclable plastic. Experience classic summer fun ... without the need for sunscreen.
When
July 4-Sept. 2; ticketed attraction
Where
National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

Spark!Lab
One of the most popular attractions at the National Museum of American History until it shut down for renovations, the all-new Spark!Lab reopens on July 1. The creative experience is connected to the new "Places of Invention" exhibition, and puts kids inside a fun inventor's workshop where they can make their own discoveries. Kids ages 7-11 can challenge themselves to solve “39 Clues,” a free self-guide available at the information desk.
When
Re-opens July 1; admission is free
Where
National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001

A Real Night at the Museum
Did Ben Stiller and company have you wishing for your own "Night at the Museum"? Smithsonian Institution is here to help. Kids ages 8-12 (and their chaperones) can enjoy a one-of-a-kind summer sleepover. Spend a night at either the National Museum of American History or National Museum of Natural History and explore exhibits, solve a mystery and watch a movie.
When
Various dates from May-August; $135 per person or $120 for members
Where
National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560

Espionage at Mount Vernon
Mystery and mischief abound at Mount Vernon, the home of first U.S. President George Washington. Use "The Agent 711: Revolutionary Spy Adventure App" to decode messages, interact with secret ink and spot double agents, all as part of an 18th century intelligence lesson in Spy Training at Mount Vernon. Budding spies will be given instructions, along with a code book and game map, to go about solving mysteries all over the grounds. Accomplishments can be shared on social media.
When
All summer long; app costs $2.99 to download
Where
George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA 22121

“Be a TV Reporter” at the Newseum
You’re on in 3, 2 and 1 … rolling! Get your feet wet in the world of on-air news reporting at the Newseum’s interactive “Be a TV Reporter” display. Record your own news segment in the NBC News Interactive Newsroom and then watch a clip of your broadcast at newseum.org/myvideos.
When
Permanent exhibit; $23 for adults; $14 for kids 7-18
(Get free admission for up to four kids 18 and younger with purchase of an adult or senior admission, July 1-Sept. 7)
Where
Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

CSI Summer Camp
Kids ages 12 and up can do their best crime scene investigation routine at Crime Museum’s CSI Summer Camp. This hands-on experience will have your kids in the lab looking for evidence and taking crime scene photographs.
When
Morning/Afternoon Camp: July 6-10. Full Day Camp: July 20-24. One-Day Camp: July 15. Admission starts at $145.
Where
Crime Museum, 575 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

Operation Spy
Think you have what it takes to be a spy? Go to the International Spy Museum and spend an hour on Operation Spy, an interactive exhibit where you play a spy and have to do everything from decode audio messages to escape from a high-security compound. Young James Bond fans will also get a kick out of the ongoing exhibit dedicated to his diabolical enemies entitled "Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains."
When
Daily; $14.95 for just Operation Spy or $28.95 for combo ticket with access to museum afterward.
Where
International Spy Museum, 800 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

Millennium Stage
Like clockwork, every night at 6 p.m. a new performer takes to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Acts run the gamut from live local bands to spoken word poets and everything in between – all within the stunning Kennedy Center, where you can also find the flag of your home state in the Hall of States (or nation in the Hall of Nations).
When
Every day; free
Where
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566

Weekend with Science
The Koshland Science Museum offers weekenders a chance to think critically with its Hands-On Science program. Budding researchers and scientists will explore various scientific marvels, such as putting your memory to the test, understanding the effects of aging and more.
When
Weekends; $7 for adults, $4 for students, $4 for active-duty military
Where
Koshland Science Museum, 525 E Street NW, Washington, DC

Reach Monumental Heights

Get the best view of the city from 500 feet off the ground with a Washington Monument tour to the top of the obelisk. One of the most spectacular times to reach the peak of the monument is at night - the National Park Service now conducts evening tours.
When
May 12 - Labor Day, tours run every 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where
Washington Monument, 2 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Looking for even more ways to wow the kids in the District? Check out Hands-on Attractions over on DC Cool.