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

Washington, D.C. – 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. (The exhibits in the Visitor Center are primarily wall displays, nothing hands-on for kids, but it's a great place to escape the heat, and there are restrooms.)
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.
    International Spy Museum – Do your kids wonder about being a spy? The International Spy Museum is the perfect place to find out (and there are more spies in Washington, DC than anywhere on earth). Kids can pick their cover and see how they do as a spy – discover tricks of the trade, try to break the codes, learn about bugging, disguises, microdots and secret inks, flashlight guns and lapel knives, surveillance, and the history of spies, including lady spies, spies in World II, Berlin and the Cold War. The Spy Museum is great for older kids and teens.
    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.
kids books washington dc white house
If The Walls Could Talk childrens books white house washington dc  
If The Walls Could Talk
Jane O'Connor, Gary Hovland

Get the scoop on the presidents and their families inside the White House. Abigail Adams hung out her laundry in the East Room, Jefferson met people in his bathrobe and slippers, Woodrow Wilson kept sheep on the lawn. Delightful caricatures of the presidents. (Picture book)


Kid Presidents
David Stabler, Doogie Horner

True tales of presidents as children – five year old Ulysses Grant could ride a horse standing up, Ronald Reagan needed serious glasses but as a summer lifeguard he rescued people, Bill Clinton played saxaphone and credited his school music with becoming president, Barry Obama had a meat-eating monitor lizard in his backyard, plus presidental report cards and teacher comments. Fun cartoons illustrate kids adventures! (Illustrated chapter book)


kid presidents
presidential pets  
Presidential Pets
Julia Moberg

Animals in the White House, for each president 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 each president too. (Picture book)


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)


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


What To Do About Alice?
Barbara Kerley, Edwin Fotheringham

“How Alice Roosevelt broke the rules, charmed the world and drove her father Teddy crazy.” High-spirited story of Teddy Roosevelt’s adventurous daughter, with irresistible illustrations! (Picture book)


What to Do About Alice roosevelt kids biography washington dc
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)


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)


The Real Spy's Guide to Becoming a Real Spy kids international spy museum washington dc  
The Real Spy's Guide to Becoming a Spy
Peter Earnest, Suzanne Harper

This is the perfect book to read before you visit the International Spy Museum, written by the director of the museum, and a spy for thirty years. What a spy's life really like, plus spy speak, quizzes and practice your skills. (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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