1. International Spy Museum
This museum may be D.C.’s best kept secret. My husband and I enjoyed it as much as our 13- year-old. Our mission began with a tricked out elevator ride and continued through multiple floors of high-tech exhibits. The self-guided interactive museum covered everything from the Civil War to the Cold War to James Bond’s car.
It may not be the best choice for toddlers (it’s not one of those museums where you can touch everything), but the eight-and-up crowd will love sitting at their own computers to locate targets on actual satellite images and playing other fun mind games.
My son went bananas over seeing “bugs” (a.k.a. listening devices) on loan from the CIA and KGB and a car cut in half to illustrate secret compartments to hide contraband or escaped refugees.
Don’t skip the gift shop at this museum. After all, you never know when you may need a safe that looks like a jar of peanut butter! You can customize your ticket with special spy experiences, camps, and even an overnight stay. Visit their website for a full debriefing.
2. Smithsonian National Zoological Park
A visit to the National Zoo is a short metro ride from downtown D.C. The park is sprawling and houses many impressive animals like a komodo dragon, a giant Pacific octopus, a clouded leopard, and their well known Giant Pandas.
We loved the Amazonia exhibit which features aquariums and rain forest environments. One level has an indoor rain forest where we came face to face with a few monkeys and exotic birds who roam loose in the canopy!
Smaller kids will enjoy Kids’ Farm which has barnyard animals they can pet and groom. F.Y.I. -- if you’re pushing a stroller it’s a lot of ground to cover, but several indoor exhibit houses and restaurants give you a chance to rest and cool off. Did I leave out the best part? Admission is free!