One of the things I had always taken for granted, while growing up in Central Pennsylvania, was the accessibility to a LOT of great cities and the opportunity for day trips. It never dawned on me until I lived far outside the area that most people don't get big city day trips, and certainly not to cities like Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York City. Living on the East Coast we take a lot of pride in the fact that America truly did "begin here" and with that pride comes a certain responsibility when it comes to educating our children, from Boston down the Chesapeake and out to the shores off of Virginia we have a ton of history to share.
Sermons aside, I could go on forever, my husband and I decided to take a little day trip down to Washington DC with our 3.5 year old daughter this coming week. While trying to decide what she would like to do the most we came across a few good websites that I wanted to pass along in case anyone else was in the day tripping mood. As most of you know Washington is packed with great adventures for kids, finding age appropriate things to do isn't hard at all, in fact narrowing it down seems to be the difficult part.
First, here is a link to a nicely compiled list of 15 things to do in DC with preschoolers: http://dc.about.com/od/childrensactivities/tp/15BestforKids.htm . We have decided on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum for our trip, they are right across the Mall from each other and "BIG" exhibits will impress our little one. Obviously the #1 attraction is the National Zoo and rightly so, it's an awesome zoo and it's free, but with the heat and it being 4th of July week we decided to skip it and go straight into the air conditioned attractions.
The other cool feature about the Smithsonian Museums, there are 19 of them, is that you can hop onto their website: http://www.si.edu/ either before or after your visit and discover more about the exhibits and their topics, like worksheets, videos and stories. They also have an interactive calendar with events listed daily for teenagers down to preschoolers, check it out before you go and get the most out of your day at the museums.
Lastly don't overlook the National Gallery of Art. It's another great FREE museum with a lot of great programs for kids. Check out their website: http://www.nga.gov/home.htm and click on "plan a visit" for more information about drop-in classes throughout the summer. They also have a cool NGAKids link on the front of the website that lets you take famous paintings and play around with the colors and distort the faces, pretty cool stuff!
Other places to check out:
1. The International Spy Museum (for kids over 8): http://www.spymuseum.org/
2. The Washington National Cathedral http://www.nationalcathedral.org/
3. The White House- (Please remember to take age appropriate children only, dress respectfully and as your mother would say "mind your manners") http://www.whitehouse.gov/.
Wish us good luck, I'll let you all know how the trip went!