Before we made our big move, way back when we still lived in DC, my parents, one sister, and my nephews and niece came to visit us. It was a last-cousins-hurrah before we headed overseas, and it was awesome.
Literally my two favorite girls in the whole world.
We spent that weekend hitting my top three recommended places to go with kids in Washington D.C.: a day on the National Mall, checking out monuments and memorials, a visit to a few of the Smithsonian museums, and another day at the Zoo, checking out lions, and tigers, and bears. That’s a good weekend right there.
You can also just put “seeing my parents and sisters enough” right at the top of my list of things I don’t get to do enough, so a weekend with my family always makes me smile. We drove downtown and managed to find parking, which is always a fun challenge, but it’s definitely easier than schlepping seven children on the Metro. And then we just walked. The kids ran, and jumped, and climbed, and skipped, and played.
We saw the Washington Monument, walked past the White House, stopped to relax and cool off at the WWII Memorial, and then headed back toward the Capitol Building and the air conditioned Smithsonian Museums.
Obvi, though, we got ice cream first.
My personal favorite Smithsonian museum is Natural History. Even with the dinosaur exhibit closed, it’s still the coolest. There’s an exhibit on the lower level called Qrious! that we just love.
Full of fossils and specimens of plants, animals, and bugs, you can touch and handle and learn about it all in a completely hands-on way.
Everyone from my 3-yr old niece up through my Dad was engaged and interested.
My 6-yr old nephew who wants to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist was just entranced; he spent half the time pretending HE was the scientist who’d found the specimens we were looking at, and telling us all about what we were seeing. I highly recommend checking out the Qrious! exhibit if you go to the Natural History museum — it’s one of my top DC-with-kids suggestions.
We also went to the Air and Space museum, which was so much more interesting than I remembered! We hadn’t been in years, but I was so glad we went back. I remembered it as very technical and kind of boring, but it completely wasn’t — there were so many interesting exhibits, AND we took the kids on a flight simulator ride, which was just so fun.
The next day we went to the National Zoo, which is one of my very favorite things to do in DC. It was cool and a little rainy, but not enough to make it miserable — just enough to make it NOT crowded and not too hot.
We saw all our favorite animals, and quite a few that were surprising. The Komodo Dragon took us all aback when we realized that it was not, in fact, a fallen tree trunk, but a ginormous lizard who had earned the name “dragon” quite honestly.
We roared at the lions and watched the pandas nap. We marveled at the elephants. We ate a picnic lunch, and, naturally, more ice cream.
We filled that cousins weekend up with memories and adventures and laughter and hugs, picnics and ice cream and miles and miles of walking. We ended the days with children snuggled together watching movies on the couch and grown-ups playing card games at the kitchen table: the best kind of weekend there is.