Besides iconic institutions like the National
Air and Space Museum and the National
Zoo, there are quite a few lesser-known museums offering immersive experiences, as
outlined by Destination D.C. on its D.C. Cool
Kids website, launched this year.
The Crime Museum offers a “crack-a-safe”
activity and forensic workshops covering topics such as arson, blood, bones and DNA.
The International Spy Museum’s newest attraction, “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of
Bond Villains,” enables kids to be like James
Bond with interactive exhibits such as Operation Atomic Countdown (where visitors
race against the clock to disarm a missile)
and Hang Time (which tests visitors’ ability
to hold on to a bar a la Bond hanging from a
helicopter). The National Building Museum’s
“amazing arches” exhibit invites families to
build a 7-foot-tall arch out of soft blocks.
The city’s most venerable institutions are
also keeping it fresh with new attractions like
Qrius, a 10,000-square-foot “learning lab” for
tweens and teens which opened in late 2013
at the National Museum of Natural History,
offering hands-on, experiential activities in
seven learning areas.
A fun feature on the D.C. Cool Kids site
features local kids sharing their favorite spots,
such as ice cream parlors and hamburger
joints, as well as insider tips like feeding the
ducks at the Georgetown Waterfront Park.
Last summer, the National Zoo welcomed
a giant panda cub named Bao Bao, who is on
exhibit in the Panda House. In celebration,
several District hotels have created panda-
The Fairmont Washington, D.C.’s Panda
Package offers guests a welcome kit filled
with a stuffed panda, zoo map, giant panda
fact sheet, panda postcard, Zoo Tycoon 2
computer game, a zoo pencil and sticker and
a zoo scavenger hunt sheet. For every Panda
Package booking, Fairmont will donate $10
per night to the Friends of the National Zoo’s
Giant Panda Conservation Fund. Panda
Package rates begin at $189 per night.
The Fairmont itself is very family-friendly.
The Fairmont Gold ninth floor has its own
private check-in and concierge and includes
full American breakfast and snacks in the
lounge throughout the day. The lounge is
perfect for babies and toddlers who snack often and want more space to run around in.
In the spacious Fairmont Gold Executive
Suite, the bedroom and sitting area are separated
by a wide TV stand, and the sitting area and hallway are large enough to comfortably fit a crib
and allow privacy from the rest of the room.
Another family perk at the Fairmont is its
pool, which makes a huge difference for kids,
especially in a city like Washington where
there is so much serious stuff to see.
“No matter how interesting the destination, kids run out of steam, and an afternoon
swim is a great carrot to dangle to get them to
focus and behave while hitting museums in
the morning,” Vazquez said.
And as with all Fairmont hotels, kids age 5
and under eat free off the Fairmont children’s
menu, while kids age 6 to 11 eat for half price
off the regular menu. Rates start from $499
for the Fairmont Gold Executive Suite. See
Beyond chicken fingers
Before a long day of D.C. trekking, have
brunch at the new Cafe Deluxe on M Street
Northwest, inside the Hilton Garden Inn. The
fifth outpost of this local chain, Cafe Deluxe
is a modern, airy diner with an exceptionally friendly staff. Crayons, a kids menu with
games and the very popular ricotta pancakes
make it extra-friendly for kids. Visit www
Traveling with kids in D.C. doesn’t mean
eating off kids menus. The swanky, new Eno
Wine Bar at the Four Seasons in Georgetown offers unique wine flights (the “Acid
Trip” offers “high-acid, racy white wines”)
and cheese flights to pair them with. As
grown-up as this sounds, in the early evening, local Georgetowners bring their little
ones, who enjoy grilled cheese, deviled eggs
and chocolates while the parents sip wine.
Casa Luca is another great spot for the
family. The owner, Fabio Trabocchi, from
Italy’s Le Marche region, opened it after patrons of his higher-end eatery, Fiola, said
they wanted a place to take their kids to. The
large, fun trattoria is decorated with Trabocchi’s family photographs and named for his
son. Don’t miss the homemade pastas or
the grilled meats with rosemary. Visit www
Leisurely learning for kids in D.C.
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By Johanna Jainchill
Washington has long been a top choice for kids for both fun and educational vacations. “D.C. has always been a popular destination for fami- lies; it brings schoolbook history to life,” said Henley Vazquez, CEO and co-founder of Feather+Flip, an on- line family travel resource.
Clockwise from top:
The National Building
Museum; the Four
Seasons’ Eno Wine
Bar; a Fairmont Gold