I am taking my family to Washington DC the first week in June and would love to find some funn things for us to do. My husband is a military nut so we will be going to Arlington but other than that is there anything else military that is free or cheap for a family to do while we are there?
Google Smithsonian, and see all the monuments. That's a good start.
Go to a Nationals game. It's a nice ballpark and since they're a crappy team, you won't have a problem getting tickets. The Smithsonian museums are fantastic although when I went in '08 the American History one was closed. The Air & Space museum is my favorite. And everything is free. The Smithsonian doesn't have a fee, at least up to 2 years ago.
If this is your first time there, the best way is to take one of the tour bus deals.
Originally Posted by eagleexpress
They drive you around and stop for 20 or 30 minutes at all the important monuments.
It saves you lots of time trying to map them out and fight with traffic and parking.
Plus they usually have a guide that answers questions and adds historical background
stories. And, if you will call ahead to your state representative's office, they will usually
get you set up with complimentary tickets for the bus tour, and also for the capital tour.
Even if your rep is not in town, their office staff will be glad to help you.
Marine parade at Iwo Jima, check to see if they still do it. It's a twofer, because after the parade, the Netherlands Carillon plays music. When I was a kid the bell ringer let me pull a lever or two. Lots of bang for the price of a gallon of gas and a bucket of chicken (optional). Bring your own sodas.
Originally Posted by eagleexpress
There is so much to see and do. Definetely get passesfor one of the bus tours, but make certain its one that goes to arlington. You can hop on and off all day. Go to the national archives to see the constitution and the declaration of independence, as well as tons of other stuff there. The national nuseum of art will literally take your breath away, even if you don't. Think you're a huge art fine. Seeing a monet, a manet, and a picasso up close is amazing.
The holocaust museum is fantastistic. If you have young children, just do the regular tour, not the special one. Its completely appropriate for children, but I don't think the in depth one is. The air and space museum is a must see, pay for at least one imax museum. The kids wull love the space simulators at the end of the tour (although there is a cost for them).
Get tickets ahead of time for the tour of the washington monument. They're cheap, but allow you to avoid the wait with a pre arranged time to enter. I've never been but heard the spy museum is excellent. There is a cost though.
The smithsonians are all free. Look them up and plan ahead as to which ones will be of most interest. The monuments are well worth seeing. My favorites areWWII. Vietnam and the lincoln memorial. If you haven't made hotel reservations yet, the embassy suites downtown is nice and reasonable. Get up eary for the free breakfast, its good but the lines can get long by 900 a.m.
I would also suggest taking the day and walking the National Mall. To see all of the memporials they ahve along the path...can take just about an entire day. We did that when I was stationed there. Started at the Lincoln and made a loop all the way down to the WW II memorial and back.
Originally Posted by Novaheart
Used to run past that just about every morning. Seeing the Iwo memorial never got old.
Speaking of Parades...in the summer time at Ft. McNair every Wed is the Army's Twilight Tattoo as well.
Old Town Trolley tours.
Eagle, even if you are driving to D.C., it's worth it to take the trolley tour rather than trying to drive through the city all day and find parking. Many of the sites are within walking distance (assuming you don't mind a lot of walking). I took this tour with 3 kids, one of whom was supposed to be on crutches. We mostly used it to get to Arlington and to get back to the hotel after a long day of seeing the monuments and museums.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, especially if you have boys. While it sounds phenomenally boring, everyone I have ever sent there has loved it. National Archives, especially for the kids, so that they can see things like the Declaration of Independence. Kids universally love the Air and Space museum, and most will like the Museum of Natural History, even if only to see a real moon rock and the Hope Diamond.
The Mellon Gallery of Art has a very nice collection, but this may bore your kids to tears.
Remember that the only way you can get White House tours now is to call your Congresscritter, and do this way in advance, because they have a strict limit on how many they can get per year.
Your husband may want to visit USNA at Annapolis. It's a beautiful campus, and certainly a lot of great history there. You'll need a car to get up there; no public transit either to Annapolis from DC nor in the city of Annapolis itself (although the city itself is quite small and easily walked).