Manual National Mall: The Complete Guide (The Complete Guides to Washington, D.C. Series Book 1)

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Washington, DC is one of the most impressive national capitals in the world.

Getting around DC

There are certainly many free things to do in Washington DC with kids. The National Mall is the two-mile, tree-lined, open area that extends from the Washington Monument to the Capitol. Most of the free attractions are located here including ten of the Smithsonian museums and many of the monuments and memorials. If there was only one attraction my kids could have seen during our visit, it would be the White House. Per their request, we saw the White House during the day and at night and its front and back views.

Most of us are interested in visiting residences of royalty and heads of state during our travels which is why castles, palaces and the White House are such popular attractions. Viewing the White House from the outside is free but separated by large fences. Free tours of the White House are available but must be requested with a Congress member up to six months in advance but no less than 21 days in advance.

Cameras and video recording devices are not allowed on tours. The acre zoo includes about 2, animals from more than different species. It features giant pandas, lemur island, cheetahs and an ape house. Daily programs include educational talks, animal feeding demonstrations and meeting adorable creatures so check their schedules. Before visiting, be sure to print and download activity sheets like scavenger hunts and zoo-per Bingo from the National Zoo website.

There is no better place to learn about the US paper currency than the U. Bureau of Engraving located on 14 th and C Streets.

The free 40 minute tour starts with an introductory video on the production process and history of the money. The gallery tour showed how money is printed, cut and stacked including watching the quality control person inspect stacks of hundred dollar bills.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Tours are only available during weekdays. It was too bad that picture taking was not allowed during the tours. The visitor center and store had some great products made to look like the US currency and some interactive displays. Different dollar denominations as well as how counterfeit money looks were displayed on the walls.

A big hit was the tube of shredded money for height measurement.

Museum in DC | National Air and Space Museum

Free walking tours are available to learn the history, art and architecture of the buildings. Family tours, led by docents, are also available for those with kids ages 6 to The Young Readers Center at the Jefferson Building is a special area to read books to kids, surf kid-friendly sites on Internet stations and attend story times and special programs. Print an activity sheet to spot the hidden animals around the building during a visit.

This particular museum, located near Dulles Airport in a Virginia suburb, has become a family favorite for us. We loved how spacious and less crowded this hangar was compared to other museums. Various space-related exhibits include satellites, rockets, capsules, astronaut food and spacesuits. Sign up for the free docent-led tours available daily at AM and PM and also get the kids an activity sheet at the welcome center desk.


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Special themed tours are available. Visit the DC by Foot website for details and to make reservations. I hope this will grow into a collective guide of free family-friendly attractions of places all over the world. Wow, sadly I missed all of these except for the White House, and believe me I could have used some free activities when we were there.

Sorry to hear you missed these activities, Steve. We did too. Just another reason for you to go back to DC. Quite a lot of places to enjoy as a family. The photos of library and the monument looks amazing. Really must go back.


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Note that street parking is often limited near the National Mall. It wasn't easy to build Washington Monument. The structure was originally designed by Robert Mills, with construction beginning in The combination of the Civil War, the Know Nothing Party's rise to control of the Washington National Monument Society through an illegal election and lack of funding led to a halt in construction in When construction resumed in , marble was used from a different quarry, and time and weather erosion have led to the difference in color, which begins at the foot mark.

The monument was finally completed in by Thomas Casey and the U. Army Corps of Engineers and an elevator was added to the monument in