fun things to do with kids downtown washington dc   Travel for Kids
United States
  | Washington, DC

Washington, DC – Downtown (Penn Square)

White House
  White House – The White House, home-office for presidents, and residence for first ladies and presidential families, has tours for the public (groups of 10 or more people). You request a tour from your member of Congress, at least a month, and to up to six months in advance. Here's more information. Of course, the White House is visible from outside, and just walking by, kids can imagine all the exciting things going on inside, every day, in this historic complex.
      For an introduction to the White House, drop into the White House Visitor Center (on Pennsylvania Ave. South in the Commerce Building). The 30 min. video is a "virtual tour" of the White House, plus kids will enjoy the exhibits of first families and a history of horses over the years at the White House.
Ford's Theatre

Ford's Theatre – On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln as he watched a play in Ford's Theatre. The theatre is as it was in 1865, and kids will be impressed by the flag-draped presidential box where it all happened. The theatre is open all year, but the 30 min. talk by a National Park Ranger really makes the event come alive. Here's information about timed entry tickets (theater is free, but you'll need a ticket).

      Ford's Theatre Museum vividly recreates the life of President Lincoln during the Civil War, the Gettysburg address, and how to end slavery. Exhibits also feature profiles of the men (and woman) who plotted to kill Lincoln - kids can touch a replica of the deringer gun used, and see the real thing (it's tiny).
      And be sure to walk across the street to see Petersen House, where Lincoln died, and visit the new Center for Education and Leadership. The Center has interactive 3-D exhibits about John Wilkes Booth, manhunt and capture of the assassin, and re-creation of the funeral train that transported Lincoln back to Springfield, Illinois.
  National Building Museum – A hidden gem, this museum has a "Building Zone" for toddlers, where they can put on a hard hat, and stack up LEGO walls and towers, shop in a hardware store, older kids can build their own full size walls and structures with foam blocks in "Play, Work, Build," and there's always innovative changing exhibitions, such as an indoor beach or giant ice bergs (both were fun on a humid summer day).
    National Portrait Gallery – Pop into the National Portrait Gallery to see paintings of all the United States presidents. Plus portraits of famous Americans, such as Daniel Boone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (who fought for rights of women to vote), Edgar Allen Poe, Benjamin Franklin, Dolley Madison, Civil War generals, and more. The museum is free.
    Old Post Office Clock Tower (Waldorf Astoria Hotel) – Ride the elevator to observation deck for panoramic views of Washington, DC overall.
      Clock Tower isn’t as high as the Washington Monument, but it’s a great alternative – you don’t need reservations, and is free.
      Tip: Open daily. Entrance to Clock Tower is on 12th St. (outside the hotel).
kids books washington dc white house
Where is the White House?
Megan Stine, David Groff

Read an illustrated history of the White House, which today has a movie theater, bowling alley, and swimming pool, but first built in 1800, it was light brown sandstone and painted white. (Chapter book)



Filled with fascinating facts and photos about the most famous workplace and home of presidents and their families – secret doors in the West Wing, White House food, Christmas, fashion, sports, treasures, history, traditions and stories! (Illustrated chapter book)


1000 facts about the white house
presidential pets  
Presidential Pets
Julia Moberg

Animals in the White House, for presidents and their families. John Adams had a stable and racehorse called Cleopatra, Lincoln's son pet turkey got a reprieve, when Caroline Kennedy's dog had pups, JFK called them "pupniks" and more. Fun facts about presidents also. (Picture book)


Champ and Major: First Dogs
Joy McCollough, Sheyda Abvabi Best

Two new pets, Champ and Major, have taken up residence in the White House. Two German sheperds, Champ lived in Washington DC when Biden was vice president, so Champ is "big brother" to Major, a rescue dog, and now both dogs are going to have fun! (Picture book)


mystery kids white house washington dc Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major

Archie Roosevelt, and his brother Kermit and sister Ethel uncover a riddle and clues that lead them on a treasure hunt through the White House (aided by a ghost) to find ... (Chapter book)

And for another super White House adventure: Chasing George Washington


Abe Lincoln at Last! (Magic Tree House)
Mary Pope Osborne

Whirled back in time to Washington, DC. in 1861, Jack and Annie meet Abraham Lincoln's boys, Tad and Willie, and run around the White House. (Easy reader)


Who Was Abraham Lincoln?
Janet B. Pascal, John O'Brien

Illustrated biography of Abraham Lincoln, growing up in rural Indiana, reading to take his law license, fighting to end slavery, joys and sadness in family life, leadership in the Civil War, untimely death, and one of the most honored presidents in United States history. (Chapter book)


(More children's books on other Washington, DC pages)
travel for kids | united states | washington, dc | downtown (penn square)
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