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Washington DC Family Vacation Ideas with Dugouts, Espionage, and the Pony Express.WashingtoDC155Capitol From the  Museum of the American Indian and the intriguing International Spy Museum to the more cozy National Postal Museum and the new interactive Museum of Holocaust, Washington DC presents plenty of ways to have fun kids with. 

With the choices so rich and varied, museum overload is possible. Our advice is to plan ahead as a group. Each location offers a unique connection for families with school age children and many have website pages to download before your visit. We have grouped those DC facilities presenting history and/or culture on the activity option menu below.

Discover America’s roots. Directly west from U.S. Botanic Garden is the National Museum of the American Indian, the newest museum on the National Mall. Impressive statues adorn the entrance. Ducks swim among the reeds in the pond nearby, providing visitors with a reason to stop and reflect on the importance of nature. The collections of art are varied, spanning all of North America and a substantial number of artifacts from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central, and South America. The community galleries display indigenous cultural philosophies and depict geographic lifestyles, language and culture. The Rasmuson Theater on the third level showcases films and programs featuring music, dance, and theater with a native interpretation. Bonus Points: Check out the Paawats Family Activity Room -- you can handle fishing tools, practice weaving, play a matching game, learn a story, and try lots of other fun activities. Need to know: NMAI has created a Family Guide for the Museum. It identifies seven stops of particular interest to families. The guide includes ideas for looking, thinking, and discussing topics, as well as a few activities to do at home. It may be downloaded from the website. (National Museum of the American Indian 4th Street and Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20560. (202) 633-1000 or

Play “I spy” with the kids. The International Spy Museum is the only public museum in the world dedicated entirely to the tradecraft, history and contemporary role of espionage. Through the stories of individual missions and the tools and techniques it takes to complete them, the museum's permanent exhibition presents the tradecraft of espionage. Exhibits feature the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display -- many for the first time. It’s a whirlwind tour of interactive displays, special effects, and state-of-the-art audio visual programs which reveal some of the many secrets behind the men and women of the world of espionage. When you arrive at the museum you are instructed to select your “cover” – and upon “exiting the country” you’re questioned. Wrong answers could be disastrous. Kids will love the opportunity to crawl though an air duct. All ages will appreciate seeing an actual James Bond car complete with its built in defenses. Bonus Points: Throughout the year the Museum conducts KidSpy™ events for children, teens and families. KidSpy™ includes workshops, demonstrations, disguises, gadgetry, spy science, codes and ciphers as well as Spy Magic performances, in addition to Operation: Secret Slumber overnights and Spy for a Day missions. Need to know: The museum has two online activities to set the tone of the visit - Codemaking & Breaking and CODE Busters. (The International Spy Museum 800 F Street, NW. (202) 393-7798 or

Learn about “Daniel’s Story.” The Museum of Holocaust will evoke emotions and draw out plenty of sophisticated issues because it displays the complicated story of the persecution of the Jewish people. The experience will leave an impact on the family, but be prepared for a very serious occasion and be ready to answer questions that the exhibits will provoke. From the Hall of Witness you will see a special children’s exhibition. Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story describes a young boy’s experience of his family's deportation to Auschwitz. Created to meet the needs of elementary and middle school children, it presents the history of the Holocaust in ways that children can understand. Bonus Points: This is a powerful place sensitively constructed and displayed. The obvious advantage of viewing the museum with your children is that it enables you to discuss real life issues using the persecution of the Jewish people as an example. Need to know: Timed tickets required for permanent exhibition; available same day or in advance at (1-800-400-9373). It is best for children of at least 10 years. (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, DC, 20024. (202)488-0400

You’ve got mail. WashingtonDC155NPMThe National Postal Museum is an easy mini adventure near Union Station. The Museum offers hands on activities including the history of the US Postal Service, the Pony Express and the story of Owney the Postal Dog. They conduct an ongoing series of programs known as “Exploratory Post” an intergenerational, family program series providing children and their adult companions with fun and unique ways to interact with postal history. Ongoing programs include “Philately in Action” which provides visitors with the basics of stamp collecting and facilitates the creation of a stamp collection to take home. Bonus Points: Like other Smithsonian locations the website has an online game room with oodles of cool stuff for youngsters. Need to know: The lines are short and the content is suited for young children. (The National Postal Museum 2 Massachusetts Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20002. (202) 633-8185 or

See the news as it was and will be. The Newseum is one DC’s most innovative spots focusing news and the very important who, what, when, and why. The Museum salutes the stories which have been shaped by reporting. The three-story first Amendment marks the entrance area sending a strong message to visitors. The interactive presentations provide visitors with an experience that blends five centuries of news history with brand new technology and hands-on exhibits. The Newseum has seven levels of galleries, theaters, and interesting messages. The power of print is conveyed with ease and the technology needed for 24/7 news reporting is explained. Bonus Points: The NBC News Interactive Newsroom gives visitors the change to play the role of a reporter or photographer racing to break a fresh news story. Once you have filmed your story you may download it as a keepsake – cool stuff. Need to know: There’s a great news trivia game on the Newseum website. (The Newseum. 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001. Toll-free 1-888/NEWSEUM (888/639-7386) or

Ride the Metro. For many kids riding the Metro will be an event all by itself and Washington, DC's Metrorail system is safe, clean, user friendly and efficient. Daily passes are available for transit after 9:30 a.m. and offer unlimited riding for $9. Get the details at

Information researched posted by the Family Trave Images provided by Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation, US Postal Museum and FTF staff.  Copyright updated 2017.